July August 2005
 

 

 

 

Conference Discusses Tapping Wood for Energy

During a time of rising energy prices, using wood residue as an energy source will be front and center as a topic at the Residual Wood Conference being held October 19 - 21 in Vancouver.

By Paul MacDonald

Right now in North America, there is the equivalent, in energy values, of millions of barrels of oil in reserves — reserves that are currently untapped. At a time when oil prices are reaching near record highs, and prices at the gas pumps match those lofty levels, an international conference coming in October will focus on the technologies that can deliver energy from residual wood fiber currently not being utilized by the forest industry or the energy industry. The Residue-To-Revenue Residual Wood Conference, being held October 19 - 21 at the Delta Vancouver Airport Hotel, will have a strong focus on energy related solutions and technologies for wood waste at a time when global energy demand continues to grow, and supplies of wood residue that could meet that need are readily available. “With energy prices so high, we are at a point where we can move forward with new technologies and achieve critical mass in generating energy from residual wood,” says conference cochair and industry consultant Bill Carlson, of Carlson Small Power Consultants. “This is probably the best time ‘window’ for going ahead with projects involving wood waste and biomass since the late 1980s.”

Due to the relatively large capital requirements and long-term purchasing commitments, interest in projects involving the use of renewable energy sources such as residual wood, rises and falls with energy prices. In addition to the energy focus, the Residual Wood Conference will offer a broad overview of what is going on in residual wood utilization in North America and Europe, especially in the forest where Europeans are working to get the most out of their wood fiber. “We will be taking a look at how projects have used residual wood and why and how they have been successful,” says Carlson. This is the sixth Residual Wood Conference, reflecting the ongoing importance of dealing with residual wood.

Stuart McCormick, leader for residuals and solid waste management issues for Weyerhaeuser, is the past cochair of the conference and a current committee member. He says that each conference has seen increasing interest in residual wood, but rising energy prices bring the issue into sharper focus. “It’s amazing how interested businesses can get in looking at alternative sources of energy, such as residual wood, when their fuel costs are going through the roof.” Also co-chairing the conference is Michael Jordan, Corporate Environment and Energy Manager for Canfor, one of North America’s largest lumber producers. In the past, increases in the price of Conference Discusses Tapping Wood for Energy During a time of rising energy prices, using wood residue as an energy source will be front and center as a topic at the Residual Wood Conference being held October 19 - 21 in Vancouver. oil have been seen as temporary “spikes,” with prices falling after an initial jump.

But a number of prominent energy analysts are now predicting high energy prices are here to stay — making alternative energy sources such as residual wood very attractive. Added to that, there is a fast-growing trend for power utilities to use power generated from green sources, such as residual wood and biomass. A number of public utilities have undertaken to procure a percentage of their energy on a “green” basis. The use of residual wood — compared to using fossil fuels — for power generation could contribute to solving problems related to the generation of greenhouse gases and climate change. There is no question that green energy from the forest holds great promise for North America, says Carlson. “The continent holds the equivalent of many millions of barrels of oil in the millions of cubic meters of wood residue and biomass that already exists. While it may take high tech plants to convert this residue into energy, it doesn’t involve drilling a single oil or gas well.” Carlson noted that residual wood and biomass technology may be costly, but also has a number of advantages. “It is renewable and we have all the biomass we need in the forests of North America — we don’t have to import any of it from the Middle East or other unstable regions of the world.” Besides generating energy from biomass, Wild Fire/Healthy Forest Initiatives, Climate Change and the Kyoto Accord will be among the topics addressed by an international group of speakers. In addition to two full days of speakers, the conference will also profile — through the Supplier’s Showcase — the technology and products of more than 25 companies involved in the residual wood business.

Held every two years, the conference is sponsored by Logging & Sawmilling Journal, Canada’s leading forest industry magazine, and Timber- West, of Edmonds, Wash., the leading forest industry magazine covering the American West. Valon Kone Brunette Ltd. is a major sponsor of the conference and other sponsors include Natural Resources Canada and the Forest Products Association of Canada. Registration for the Residue-to-Revenue Conference — being held October 19 - 21 at the Delta Vancouver Airport Hotel in Richmond, BC —c an be obtained by contacting Jan Raulin at Logging & Sawmilling Journal, (604) 990-9970, or by e-mail at tenaj@telus.net. The full conference lineup can be viewed at the Logging & Sawmilling Journal website at www.forestnet.com.

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, October 18, 2005