Forestry: A Suc­cess Story in Clean Tech

Policy - - Contents - Derek Nigh­bor

The Cana­dian forestry sec­tor has be­come a leader in clean en­ergy and clean tech, both in in­dus­try and com­mu­ni­ties it serves. The in­dus­try has al­ready met the 2016 Paris Agree­ment tar­get of re­duc­ing GHG emis­sions to 30 per cent be­low 2005 lev­els by 2030. Derek Nigh­bor, head of the Cana­dian For­est Prod­ucts As­so­ci­a­tion, tells a Cana­dian suc­cess story.

For more than three decades, the Cana­dian for­est prod­ucts sec­tor has been a leader in the in­no­va­tion, de­vel­op­ment, and uti­liza­tion of clean tech­nolo­gies—and in do­ing so, has po­si­tioned it­self at the fore­front of en­ergy change that ben­e­fits the en­vi­ron­ment and the econ­omy.

The pulp and pa­per sec­tor be­gan show­ing signs of suc­cess in re­duc­ing green­house gases (GHGs) in the 1990s. Through­out the 2000s, some 30 fa­cil­i­ties across the coun­try were up­grad­ing their en­ergy sys­tems to pro­duce green elec­tric­ity from biomass. To­day, enough elec­tric­ity is pro­duced across the Cana­dian for­est prod­ucts sec­tor to power the city of Van­cou­ver for an en­tire year. Over the course of this trans­for­ma­tion, the sec­tor has cut its GHGs by ap­prox­i­mately 67 per cent.

The in­dus­try has con­tin­ued to gain mo­men­tum by ad­vanc­ing its clean en­ergy agenda with a to­tal in­vest­ment of more than $2 bil­lion in in­no­va­tion de­vel­op­ment.

Be­tween 2010 to 2015, for ex­am­ple, Can­for Cor­po­ra­tion in­vested a to­tal of $400 mil­lion in cap­i­tal up­grades to its Prince George, Bri­tish Columbia fa­cil­ity which in­cluded $58 mil­lion to in­crease the fa­cil­ity’s power gen­er­a­tion and en­ergy ef­fi­ciency.

The in­vest­ment paved the way for a strate­gic part­ner­ship with Li­cella Fi­bre Fu­els and Can­for Pulp through which the two com­pa­nies re­searched op­por­tu­ni­ties to in­te­grate Li­cella’s unique and patented Cat­alytic Hy­drother­mal Re­ac­tor (Cat-HTR) up­grad­ing plat­form into Can­for Pulp’s kraft and me­chan­i­cal pulp mills.

Through the con­ver­sion of biomass, which in­cluded wood residue from Can­for Pulp’s kraft pulp­ing pro­cesses, the Cat-HTR was rec­og­nized as a tech­nol­ogy that could re­port­edly take be­tween 20 to 30 min­utes to pro­duce a re­new­able biocrude oil that would lead to the pro­duc­tion of next-gen­er­a­tion bio­fu­els and bio­chem­i­cals.

In re­cent years, other Cana­dian in­dus­try lead­ers have been equally proac­tive in im­ple­ment­ing clean tech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ments. Amidst a num­ber of clean en­ergy de­vel­op­ments came the world’s first cel­lu­lose fil­a­ment plant, in Que­bec. In 2013, FPIn­no­va­tions launched a rev­o­lu­tion­ary three-year re­search project on cel­lu­lose fil­a­ments (CF). Work­ing with the newly formed Kruger Bio­ma­te­ri­als Inc, the world’s first cel­lu­lose fil­a­ment demon­stra­tion plant was opened in Trois-Rivières. The plant has a five-tonne a day pro­duc­tion line and op­er­ates on a sim­ple and ef­fi­cient chem­i­cal-free process that only uses me­chan­i­cal en­ergy and wood fi­bres.

A Cana­dian in­no­va­tion, CF is an en­gi­neered bio­ma­te­rial ex­tracted from wood pulp fi­bre through me­chan­i­cal peel­ing. The process does not re­quire the use of chem­i­cals or en­zymes and does not pro­duce ef­flu­ents, mak­ing them en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly and well-suited for the Cana­dian for­est in­dus­try. CF is con­sid­ered a highly in­no­va­tive wood-fi­bre-based bio­ma­te­rial that will con­tinue to have a trans­form­ing im­pact on Canada’s for­est prod­ucts sec­tor due to its ca­pac­ity to be in­te­grated into other ma­te­ri­als and en­hance their strength, light­weight, and flex­i­bil­ity char­ac­ter­is­tics.

Enough elec­tric­ity is pro­duced across the Cana­dian for­est prod­ucts sec­tor to power the city of Van­cou­ver for an en­tire year. Over the course of this trans­for­ma­tion, the sec­tor has cut its GHGs by ap­prox­i­mately 67 per cent.

There are a num­ber of ex­am­ples of biomass be­ing used out­side of the sec­tor, in­clud­ing the Bioen­ergy Re­search and Demon­stra­tion Fa­cil­ity (BRDF) that opened in Bri­tish Columbia in 2012. In part­ner­ship with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and forestry part­ners such as FPIn­no­va­tions, Canada’s wood prod­ucts re­search in­sti­tute, and the Cana­dian Wood Coun­cil, the Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia (UBC) launched the fa­cil­ity—a $34 mil­lion clean en­ergy struc­ture that pro­duces clean heat and elec­tric­ity from re­new­able bioen­ergy.

The BRDF daily op­er­a­tion re­quires two to three truck­loads of tree trim­mings and wood chips di­verted from lo­cal

mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, sawmills, and land clean­ing op­er­a­tions—and gen­er­ates the same amount of clean elec­tric­ity as what it would to take to power 1,500 homes. At the same time, it has also re­duced UBC’s nat­u­ral gas con­sump­tion by 12 per cent, not to men­tion the cam­pus’ green­house gas emis­sions by 9 per cent which is the equiv­a­lent of tak­ing 1,000 cars off the road.

At the time it was built, the BRDF fa­cil­ity, 1,900 square me­tres in to­tal, rep­re­sented the first North Amer­i­can com­mer­cial ap­pli­ca­tion of Cross Lam­i­nated Tim­ber (CLT). So, not only did the fa­cil­ity pro­duce green en­ergy, it was built us­ing CLT, which is now much more widely used in North Amer­ica, with one such man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity oper­at­ing in B.C.

CLT is a multi-lay­ered wooden panel where lay­ers are stacked in a per­pen­dic­u­lar fash­ion and glued to­gether us­ing hy­draulic or vac­uum presses. From a builder’s per­spec­tive, the end re­sult is a ma­te­rial that is faster and less costly to use, stronger, able to be turned into pan­els off-site and ahead of time (no mat­ter the weather), and sus­tain­able.

In ad­di­tion to the nu­mer­ous clean in­no­va­tion ad­vance­ments, Canada also has a frame­work in place that specif­i­cally sup­ports those ini­tia­tives. Launched last year by the Cana­dian Coun­cil of For­est Min­is­ters (CCFM), Canada’s For­est Bioe­con­omy Frame­work lays the ground­work for a for­est bio-econ­omy of the fu­ture that iden­ti­fies sus­tain­able bio-based ma­te­ri­als from healthy forests avail­able for high value-added man­u­fac­tur­ing.

The frame­work high­lights in­no­va­tion, col­lab­o­ra­tion, and in­vest­ment, and opens the door to fur­ther en­hanc­ing the sus­tain­abil­ity of Cana­dian forestry on a pub­lic pol­icy frame­work. Wood is the one truly sus­tain­able build­ing ma­te­rial as it is sourced from Canada’s forests that are among the most strictly reg­u­lated in the world, and it se­questers car­bon both in the for­est and af­ter trees be­come wood prod­ucts in build­ing con­struc­tion. This in­cludes high-rise com­mer­cial build­ings, oth­er­wise re­ferred to as tall wood struc­tures.

Since the in­tro­duc­tion of CLT in North Amer­ica, tall wood build­ings such as Brock Com­mons, an 18-storey mass tim­ber stu­dent res­i­dence lo­cated at UBC, are be­com­ing more ev­i­dent. In Que­bec City, the Orig­ine Eco-Con­dos de­vel­op­ment will, when com­pleted, be the tallest tall-wood con­do­minium struc­ture. The build­ing con­sists of 12 storeys of mass tim­ber sit­ting above a one-storey con­crete podium and un­der­ground park­ing garage. The build­ing’s el­e­va­tor and stair­well shafts are con­structed with Cana­dian CLT and the build­ing’s de­sign has been mod­elled af­ter Con­struc­tion of Tall Wood Build­ings in Canada which was pub­lished by FPIn­no­va­tions.

Two years ago, Canada’s For­est Prod­ucts As­so­ci­a­tion of Canada (FPAC) chal­lenged in­dus­try mem­bers across the coun­try to ex­ceed green­house gas emis­sion tar­gets with their 30 X 30 Cli­mate Change Chal­lenge.

In sup­port of Canada’s com­mit­ments to the Paris Agree­ment, Canada’s for­est sec­tor pledged to the an­nual re­moval of 30 mega­tonnes (MT) of CO2 per year by 2030—more than 13 per cent of the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment’s emis­sions tar­get. It also made the for­est sec­tor the first to vol­un­tar­ily con­trib­ute to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s cli­mate goals.

Wood is the one truly sus­tain­able build­ing ma­te­rial as it is sourced from Canada’s forests that are among the most strictly reg­u­lated in the world, and it se­questers car­bon both in the for­est and af­ter trees be­come wood prod­ucts in build­ing con­struc­tion.

The sec­tor cal­cu­lated the 30MT re­duc­tion could be reached by fur­ther im­prove­ments to for­est man­age­ment ac­tiv­i­ties to max­i­mize car­bon stor­age, in­creas­ing the use of in­no­va­tive for­est prod­ucts and clean tech to dis­place ma­te­ri­als made from fos­sil fu­els, and find­ing fur­ther en­ergy ef­fi­cien­cies at mill sites.

The Cana­dian for­est prod­ucts sec­tor con­tin­ues to stay ahead of the curve in how it is de­vel­op­ing and ad­vanc­ing clean tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion for a clean en­ergy, zero-waste bio-econ­omy fu­ture.

The in­dus­try re­mains com­mit­ted to do­ing its part to trans­form Canada into a bio-en­ergy and bio-ma­te­ri­als pow­er­house and is proof that ad­vanc­ing clean tech­nol­ogy works for the en­vi­ron­ment and the econ­omy, cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for Cana­di­ans to be part of a work­force that is in­creas­ingly among the green­est in the na­tion. Derek Nigh­bor is CEO of the For­est Prod­ucts As­so­ci­a­tion of Canada.

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