Home Members & Resources Quarterly Pellet Update from WPAC: January 2022

Quarterly Pellet Update from WPAC: January 2022

by Karen Brandt

Welcome to the Wood Pellet Association of Canada’s January newsletter. We hope you enjoy reading it and we welcome your feedback.

You can view a PDF version of this newsletter by going to https://www.pellet.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/WPAC-NEWSLETTER-JAN22-ENG-FINAL.pdf. This publication is also available in Japanese. 日本語版を読む

Message from the Executive Director

Gord Murray

Welcome to the Wood Pellet of Canada’s January newsletter. We hope you enjoy reading it and find it informative. WPAC welcomes your feedback.

“To know your future you must know your past,” is a philosophy that fits well with the Wood Pellet Association of Canada’s approach to its annual general meeting, held on Sept. 21, 2021. This well-attended virtual meeting focused on the growth and achievements of the past year with an eye on the work ahead for our association, our growing membership and our sector at large.

Looking back, our 2020-2021 priorities included enhancing the reputation of superior, reliable, sustainable and ethical business practices, providing leadership on behalf of the Canadian sector in the Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) and completing two of the regional risk assessments (Quebec and BC), with three more underway. This year we also ramped up efforts domestically, focusing on challenging information that doesn’t accurately reflect the potential of wood biomass, and we initiated significant advocacy across Canada at every political level.

Of course, our top priority was safety. Our sector cannot be successful if our colleagues aren’t safe. Key partnerships with the BC Forest Safety Council, the Biomass and Bioenergy Research Group at the University of British Columbia and Dalhousie University, and the participation of nearly 40 organizations are driving safety research and innovation in our industry, and I am extremely proud of this world-class work and collaboration.

People drive safety. You will see great examples of this in our special focus on safety in this newsletter. The safety initiatives featured represent a collective effort to make our workplaces safer.

People also drive better workplaces. People like Kelly Cooper, Founder & President of the Centre for Social Intelligence (CSI), and the folks at the Canadian Institute of Forestry (CIF-IFC) who are leading the Free to Grow in Forestry initiative. WPAC is committed to embracing diversity amongst our employees and contractors, where each individual has opportunities and access to resources to reach their full potential.

Every day, I am awed by the dedicated women who bring their expertise and passion to this sector. Women like my colleague Fahimeh Yazdan Panah, PhD, PMP, P.Eng, WPAC’s Director of Research and Technical Development  Like many others who walk among us, such as Megan Evans-Owen at Fibreco, also featured in the newsletter, these women are using their professional skills and unique talents to make a difference in this world, to make a cleaner, more sustainable world.

I am pleased and humbled by the high degree of support, enthusiasm and active participation of WPAC members in developing and approving a resolution that formally adopts our values of diversity, equality and inclusion. WPAC: Our Commitment to a Better World truly sets out the collective values of our membership.

Looking forward, our 2021-22 priorities include building on our market outreach and advocacy efforts, completing the SBP regional risk assessments for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and moving forward on assessments for Alberta and Saskatchewan. Domestically, we will work to grow the market with a focus on the Maritimes. We will also establish a research advisory group in cooperation with the University of British Columbia to tap into the full potential of pellets in the bioeconomy.

We are also working to support the BC provincial government’s climate targets in the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030. Positioning our renewable forests as central to the bioeconomy and the fight against climate change, the plan is well aligned with the practices and aspirations of the wood pellet industry in British Columbia. We see increasing First Nations participation in our sector as critical to our long-term success.

Over the past year, the world has had its eye on “beautiful British Columbia,” a province, and her people, literally put to the test, facing fires and floods on top of the pandemic. The recovery from these extreme weather events will be long for many, but our sector, our members will keep delivering product to customers despite the interruptions to highways and roads and infrastructure. We will keep giving. And our sector will double down to do its part in the fight against climate change.

As we move ahead as an organization, may we continue to meet the challenges we face with the unfailing optimism, teamwork and sustained commitment and dedication I am humbled to witness each day. It is truly an honour to work alongside the best of the best.

Our Unparalleled Value of Safety

Treating forest workers fairly, with the highest priority placed on the health and safety of employees, is a critical value that is embedded in the Wood Pellet Association of Canada’s sustainability statement. With an awareness that each company’s individual safety performance reflects on the reputation of the entire industry, WPAC’s Safety Committee’s is committed to sharing knowledge in an effort to raise our members’ safety performance to the highest level.

Since 2014, the WPAC’s Safety Committee has put together a yearly Work Plan to explore and hold ourselves accountable to continually searching out new technologies and research, as it relates to creating a safer culture, communicating best practices and safety news, and collaborating across the country on all safety matters.

Scott Bax, Chair of WPAC’s safety committee, is impressed with the commitment to safety across the sector and by the collaboration. “Our ambitious commitments have resulted in remarkable progress with the effort of hundreds of dedicated individuals and organizations who are continuing to create a world-class safety system for bioenergy,” said Bax.

Workplan Focusses on Leadership & Collective Safety

The 2021 Work Plan focused on important areas of leadership that have been advanced to benefit the collective safety of our industry. These areas include:

  • Continuing to advance the Critical Control Implementation Plan, between industry and WorkSafeBC, and completing facility risk evaluations using the bowtie method.
  • Forming a Working Group to make recommendations for improving belt dryer safety.
  • Sharing best practices on deflagration isolation to stop potential flame propagation between interconnected equipment in pellet plants.
  • Developing basic plant operator competency assessment with BCFSC and hosting two webinars as part of the safety foundation webinar series.
  • Making recommendations on our local nitrogen supply initiative and building an effective fire emergency response plan.
  • Developing and implementing a Safety Foundation Certificate Program consisting of six on-demand webinars and quizzes, in cooperation with WorkSafeBC and UBC Biomass and Bioenergy Research Group, BioMass Canada and our media partner Canadian Biomass Magazine, to share knowledge and educate industry.
  • Evaluating and standardizing incident reporting to elevate awareness of hazards.
  • Continuing to hold monthly Safety Committee calls, host webinars and distribute communications that promote and foster a safety culture across the industry.

Getting to Safer By Isolating the Problem

WPAC partnered with the BC Forest Safety Council (BCFSC) and Dalhousie University on an initiative to improve pellet industry practices, regarding equipment isolation. Process safety and hazard analysis expert Kayleigh Rayner Brown, P.Eng., M.A.Sc., director of Obex Risk Ltd., was commissioned to analyze deflagration isolation for safer operation and conducted the work alongside BCFSC safety advisor Bill Laturnus.

“In one of my interviews with a pellet producer it became clear deflagration isolation also helped productivity,” explains Rayner Brown.  “After adopting this approach, they had an event at the plant that in the past would have taken it down for two weeks but in this case the plant was only down for 24 hours and sustained zero damage.”

A resource guide, summarizing the findings, is published on WPAC’s webpage https://www.pellet.org/safety/.

Belt Dryer Safety Symposium Drives Safety Through Sharing Learnings

In cooperation with the BC Forest Safety Council, WorkSafeBC and media partner Canadian Biomass, WPAC held the Belt Dryer Safety Symposium for more than 70 participants. The purpose of the symposium was to share the learnings from combustible gas incidents and for individual operators to share in-house safe operating procedures with their industry colleagues. Key learnings can be found on WPAC’s website www.pellet.org/safety.

WPAC Members Leading Ground-Breaking Safety Initiative

WPAC safety committee members recognized that pellet plants remained vulnerable to Major Unwanted Events, such as explosions, fires and fatal accidents. These incidents cannot always be prevented through traditional approaches to safety, and after some research and a strong endorsement from WorkSafe BC, we decided to pursue a process called Critical Control Management (CCM.)

“Critical Control Management will help companies understand their equipment better; employees will be able to operate and maintain the equipment safely and improve its reliability; and plant managers will know what activities are most important,” explained WPAC’s Executive Director Gord Murray.

Together WPAC and BCFSC, in conjunction with the industry, completed bowties and critical controls for WorkSafeBC this year.

Fibre Pile Management: Best Practices for Safety, Efficiency and Quality

Part of a four-year research project involving WPAC and BioFuelNet Canada, and funded through the federal Canadian Agricultural Partnership, this partnership has resulted in research related to best practices on the safe handling and storage of pellets.

The Biomass and Bioenergy Research Group (BBRG), a world-class research group of engineers and scientists based at the University of British Columbia, has published the latest information based on the centre’s research in a Fact Sheet, posted on our website.

One-Stop Safety Resource

Looking for information on safety initiatives and tools in the wood pellet industry? Can’t find the link to that safety factsheet or presentation that you saw awhile back? Look no further than the Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC)’s new One-Stop Safety Resource, available online for anyone looking for up-to-date information and resources on safety.

Resources include a handy list of WPAC members, information from meetings, workshops, and webinars, Canadian Biomass magazine articles, and key documents related to the numerous safety initiatives that WPAC, in conjunction with partners including the BC Forest Safety Council, have undertaken since 2014.

2022 Safety & Innovation is a Collective Effort

Our continued success will be determined by our partnerships, by listening to our members and their workers, and effectively communicating every day.  Our reputation and the trust of our employees and their families depend on it. We will have more to report on our 2022 Work Plan in the next newsletter.

CleanBC Roadmap to 2030

The BC provincial government’s CleanBC Roadmap to 2030 positions our renewable forests as central to the bioeconomy and the fight against climate change, and is well aligned with the practices and aspirations of the wood pellet industry in British Columbia.

With 14 production facilities across British Columbia, over 2500 direct and indirect jobs, and $750 million in annual revenue, we are already a key part of BC’s forest bioeconomy.  WPAC is ready to do more to help the Province and our local communities achieve our collective economic, environmental, and social objectives. The products we make every day:

  • Provide a clean, efficient and renewable source of energy that advances the transition to a low carbon economy
  • Support sustainable forest management and 100% utilization of harvested fibre
  • Add value to forest sector outputs and create new jobs
  • Are a critical starting point for biorefineries
  • Play a key role in second generation liquid biofuels and advanced renewable bio-materials

The Government’s Roadmap identifies the need to minimize slash pile burning and encourage fibre utilization as a key element of the strategy. Our industry exists primarily to make better use of forests that are already being harvested. All of our fibre is either a direct by-product of the lumber industry, or the purposeful extraction of dead, diseased or damaged, or low-quality trees. We see the opportunity to capitalize on this unused resource and in return grow jobs and produce more responsible, renewable clean energy.

As we embark on solidifying these opportunities, we are excited about the possibilities we see for the wood pellet industry in British Columbia. The policy principles, with further input from First Nations communities and stakeholders from across our sector, will enable British Columbia to leverage its traditional natural resource strengths and support its aspirations to be a competitive low carbon economy leader.

Our Commitment to a Better World

WPAC’s board of directors has now approved a resolution that formally adopts our sustainability statement. The support, enthusiasm and active participation of WPAC members has resulted in a document that truly sets out the collective values of our membership.

Our statement addresses our collective expectations for protecting ecosystems and respecting the value of our forests, communities, the rights of Indigenous people, and employees. It highlights our members’ collective efforts and commitment to forest sustainability through compliance to regulations and rigorous enforcement practices, forest renewal and carbon reduction. It also speaks to accountability through third-party certification and our engagement in maintaining social license.

Fundamental to our success is working with suppliers who share this commitment to sustainable forest management, with goals to improve forest utilization by enhancing growth and ensuring the best use of the forest and forest products, all the while reducing environmental impacts.

“We understand the importance of sustainability to our local and Indigenous communities and customers,” emphasized WPAC Chair Vaughan Bassett. “Wood pellets sourced from responsible producers in well-regulated countries like Canada are unquestionably sustainable and a vital part of the global quest for clean energy solutions.”

Delivering on these expectations takes a collective effort and our Board believes there is no other jurisdiction on earth better positioned and more committed to achieving these goals than Canada.

Striving to be Among the Most Diverse and Inclusive Association

Kelly Cooper, Centre for Social Intelligence

Kelly Cooper, Centre for Social Intelligence

WPAC is committed to embracing diversity amongst our employees and contractors, where each individual has opportunities and access to the resources to reach their full potential.  Our Commitment to a Better World includes a specific commitment to strive to be among the most inclusive and successful trade associations by actively seeking out diversity across our industry.

In addition, WPAC is honoured to support the trailblazing efforts led by Kelly Cooper, Founder & President, Centre for Social Intelligence (CSI), and the Canadian Institute of Forestry (CIF-IFC) and their Free to Grow in Forestry initiative, with a focus on moving “from action to traction.” The national coordinated approach, reaching into the regions, is where real traction can take place to shift the workplace culture to be more welcoming of all Canadians.

Entering Phase 2 of its execution, organizations in the regions will be provided with the knowledge and skills necessary to integrate these skills into the day-to-day operations that foster an inclusive workplace culture. Engagement with the forest sector will include leadership training for executives and for employees, setting the stage for what the regions can expect from the initiative and creating clear roles and responsibilities for executive leaders.

“We are excited to see the great work happening across the forest sector in Canada. It aligns well with our values and commitment,” said WPAC’s Executive Director Gordon Murray. “We will work closely with Kelly’s organization and welcome her participation in some of our initiatives which are planned for 2022. These include a series of webinars to support our members’ ongoing efforts to embed diversity and inclusion and make it ‘real’ across our sector.”

SBP Standards Revisions Update

As part of its commitment to continual improvement,  the Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) launched a formal review of Standards 1-6 in 2020. Through certification to SBP, we are able to provide added assurance that woody biomass – mainly wood pellets and wood chips used for large-scale energy production – is sourced from legal and sustainable sources.

Since the SBP standards were first launched in 2015, SBP has secured a firm foothold in the international market for sustainable biomass used in industrial-scale energy production. Five years in, SBP is taking stock to ensure that the standards are fit-for-purpose, not only for the markets they already serve, but as an off-the-shelf system of standards for emerging biomass markets. SBP includes six standards:

  1. Feedstock Compliance
  2. Feedstock Verification
  3. Requirements for Certification Bodies
  4. Chain of Custody
  5. Collection and Communication of Data
  6. Energy and Carbon Balance Calculation

The revision process is being informed by the experience of the past five years, changes in the external environment, such as new or revised legislation, advances in best practice, and ideas and suggestions from stakeholders.

“This is an important process to our business. Ensuring standard revisions take into account the nuances of the Canadian pellet sector, including existing forest policy and other legislation, is critical,” said, WPAC’s Executive Director Gord  Murray. “We have involved our members throughout this process and  appreciate their input and on-the-ground experience to ensure the standards keep pace with evolving social trends while remaining economically viable.”

SBP recently completed its second round of public consultation, which is now being reviewed by the technical and standards committees, and it is expected the SBP Standards 1 to 6 v 2.0 will be released in the first half of 2022. To learn more visit SBP’s website or call Gord Murray.

WPAC and BC Government Invest in West Coast Supply Chain Growth

Work in progress summer of 2021 wholly own by Pinnacle/Drax

The wood pellet industry in British Columbia has seen robust growth, and to ensure the province is ready to grow with it, WPAC is pleased to announce BC’s support through a government Supply Chain Resiliency Grant of $390,000 from the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation.  The secured funds have gone towards expansion of the Prince Rupert corridor; adding railway tracks, storage and creating an overall stronger and more resilient logistical rail system for the West Coast.

This proactive initiative by WPAC and its members stems from the over 30% increase of exported wood pellet volume in 2020, and from November 2020 to October 2021—an additional 400,000 metric tonnes of pellets was exported to Japan alone out of the Port of Prince Rupert.

The Port of Prince Rupert is projected to see another 60% increase, resulting in two million metric tonnes of wood pellets passing through the Westview Terminal over the next two to three years, totaling an additional $165 million in revenue.  The Westview Terminal is wholly owned by Pinnacle Renewable Energy, part of the Drax Group.

The investment means major producers of wood pellets, such as Canfor, Witset First Nation, Skeena BioEnergy, La Crete Sawmills, Vanderwell, Pinnacle/Drax, West Fraser and Premium Pellet, will be better able to mitigate any supply chain risks due to weather, late vessels, or mechanical problems. At a time when BC’s infrastructure has suffered catastrophic damage due to recent weather events, this investment mitigates disruptions to the hundreds of jobs associated with production and logistics, without impacting customers.

Now more than ever, WPAC and its Western Canadian members are even better prepared to supply the world with a responsible, renewable and clean source of energy.

Day In the Life, with Roy Brouwer at BioPower, Ontario

Roy Brouwer – Fuel, Pet Bedding and BBQ Pellet Aficionado at BioPower, ON

Roy Brouwer claims his job isn’t terribly glamourous, but The Wood Pellet Association of Canada was excited to sit down with him and talk about what it’s like to work on the mill floor at BioPower in Atikokan, Ontario.  We’re pleased to welcome Roy as our first interview in our new regular feature: A Day in the Life –

WPAC: How did you get your start?

Roy: I went to college for Forestry at Fleming College here in Ontario. I took a job in Fish and Wildlife for a number of years, then decided to work at a local lumber mill. Finally I moved over to pellets here at the Atikokan BioPower mill.

WPAC: When you started working in lumber there weren’t any pellet mills in Ontario. What happened to all the mills’ residuals waste?

Roy: It’s crazy now to think we were using beehive burners at the lumber mill. At the time, there were 16 sawmills in the area, no pellet mills; all the shavings and such just went up in smoke! Now working here and making pellets, it feels like I’ve come full circle and I really like that.

WPAC: What does a typical day look like?

Roy: I’m all over place! Today I got in at 6:50am and I’m here until 7pm, working two stations to fill in for someone in the control room. It’s a long day, but it’s interesting because there’s lots to do.

I’m checking on stock for our different bagged products, deliveries coming in and going out – raw materials, finished products. We’re not running the bagger today, otherwise I’d have to look in on that too. I also spend a lot of time on pellet quality from different perspectives; we have a home heating product, industrial pellets for Ontario Hydro, pet bedding and even BBQ pellets. They all have different controls to look after in the lab.

WPAC: What’s your favourite part of the job?

Roy: Honestly, the day to day – you can go to some places and it’s the same thing every day.  But here, I could be doing something different every few hours.

WPAC: Tell us about the Northern Flame BBQ pellets?

Roy chuckles: One day the whole plant smelt like coffee! We’ve tried using cocoa too which was pretty neat. Trying different materials for a food grade pellet, the trial and error, test runs – we’re always learning.

WPAC: Can you offer some advice to someone looking to work at a pellet mill?

Roy: If you want to get into the industry, you have to start at the bottom, learning all the aspects of the job to be good.

I started in the lab, then the control room. I’ve been a loader and utility, helped millwrights, worked on the bagger, and quality control. You should learn all the aspects to making a good pellet; fiber, spec, how to make the machines run their best. Then you can pass it on, too. That’s rewarding.

If you’d like to learn more about Fleming College, and its natural resources program like the one Roy took, click here.  Northern Flame grilling pellets (We’re told they make for delicious heat!) are available through Amazon here.

Wood Pellet Export Markets with a Focus on Canada

by Dr. William Strauss

The Wood Pellet Association of Canada would like to thank Bill Strauss, PhD and MBA, President of Future Metrics for his generous contribution and insight on the export market outlook as we reflect on 2021 and the future.

The industrial wood pellet markets have been growing at an annualized rate of about 1.66 million metric tonnes per year from 2010 through 2021. Table 1 and Figure 1 show exports from the major pellet exporting regions.

Table 1- Major Exporting Regions Annual Exports

Figure 1 – Major Pellet Exporting Regions

FutureMetrics expects demand to increase by 8.9% from 2021 to 2022 and by another 14.8% from 2022 to 2023. In 2023 FutureMetrics expects modest new demand in the US and Canada as decarbonization policies evolve. Japan and Germany are expected to add about one million tonnes per year of demand in 2023.

Figure 2 – Industrial Wood Pellet Past Demand and Forecast for 2022 and 2023

However, under a scenario in which US, German, and Japanese policy evolves over the next five years, demand for pellet fuel could grow at an annualized rate of 3.73 million metric tonnes per year. Figure 3 shows this scenario.
As FutureMetrics has discussed in its white papers (free to download from the FutureMetrics website), given the increasing frequency and severity of climate change induced events, and current policies for decarbonization in Japan and Germany, this is a plausible scenario. That is, if policymakers and the general public can be educated on the efficacy of substituting pellet fuel for coal and motivated to promulgate supporting policies.

Figure 3 – Forecast Pellet Fuel Demand under Evolving Policy

Western Canadian pellet producers have already established a strong presence in the rapidly growing Japanese market. As Figures 4 and 5 show, Canada is on the brink of reclaiming its leadership in Japanese market share for imported pellet fuel.

Figure 4 – Canadian and Vietnamese Pellet Imports into Japan

Figure 5 – Canada and Vietnam Market Share in Japanese Market

As long-term offtake agreements between Canadian producers and Japanese buyers ripen, Canada’s market share will increase.  After Japan finalizes its sustainably and GHG emissions criteria for imported biomass (probably before the end of 2022), it is likely that some Vietnamese producers will be challenged on the sustainability of feedstock.  It is also likely that some palm kernel shell (PKS) imports will be challenged on issues related to palm oil production (for example, land use change and child labour).  Longer shipping distance on smaller vessels may also promote a carbon footprint disadvantage.  These influences will benefit pellet producers with strong sustainability credentials and optimal supply chain carbon footprints.

The large US pellet producer, Enviva, has publicly announced offtake agreements into Japan in the millions of tonnes per year.  Once those contracts ramp up, the US will join Canada and Vietnam as major suppliers to Japan.  To date however, the US has not been a significant supplier.

Table 2 – Canada and US Pellet Exports to Japan

There is a likelihood for significant new pellet fuel production capacity to be developed over the remainder of this decade.  Canadian producers with competitive fiber costs, globally respected sustainability credentials, and the potential for optimal GHG footprints from both the west and east coasts are well-positioned to be part of the supply build up.

5 Questions with Megan Owen-Evans, President of Fibreco

Megan Owen-Evens at Fibreco Terminal, North Vancouver, BC

With over 25 years of terminal operations experience, Megan Owen-Evans had to put all her industry tenure to use when joining Fibreco in North Vancouver, British Columbia, as their President in June 2020. A little more than a year and a half in, she has seen an entire career’s worth of challenges, but under her leadership the terminal is stronger and more resilient than ever.

We were grateful Megan took the time to speak with the Wood Pellet Association of Canada about  family influence on her career, leadership, and the growth she is overseeing to ensure Canadian biomass gets a safe and efficient start on its marine journey to customers around the globe.

WPAC: How did you get your start in the industry?

Megan: Honestly, this wasn’t my first choice. It was my Dad who suggested I apply when I was twenty-one.  I accepted a job with the grain terminal Cascadia and I was sweeping and shoveling.  I started as a general labourer and I really appreciate starting out that way.

I went from there to a Supervisor’s role with part of Cascadia’s group Viterra, another grain terminal. Viterra sent me to school, and I got my Bachelors of Business Administration from Simon Fraser University here in British Columbia.  When I graduated, I went back to Cascadia, but this time as the Operations Manager.

WPAC: What led you to a career change and Fibreco?

After 24 years I was open to something new. “When I was approached by Fibreco about the role of President, I was hesitant because I really liked my team.  But it was worth having a conversation. I was impressed it was a local BC business and being in forestry spoke to me too.

My Dad was in pulp and paper, my Stepdad was a lumber broker; it was a positive influence and I felt good that Fibreco’s values also really aligned with mine – they had a family feel. I was also really attracted to the sustainability end of it with pellets, and as Fibreco was also diversifying into grain, it seemed like a natural fit I could bring experience to.

WPAC: You’ve seen more than your fair share of challenges since starting with Fibreco in July 2020 – a sudden silo collapse in September, raging wildfires impacting logistics, and continued issues from the severe rain BC has received.  How do you lead a team and a company to success when some things are out of your control?

Megan: We simply settled into the realization that we can’t control these things. Customers have obviously been upset through these incidents, so our strategy was to be transparent – communicate as much as possible and keep the communication lines open

Fibreco’s success is fully to the credit of our team. We support other areas of business though times of uncertainty. Like after the silo collapse, we asked ourselves, ‘In the meantime, how can we promote our rail dumper productively? How can we best prepare for the ship loader?’  We’re a tight close-knit group, which I’m grateful for. The board and shareholders were amazingly supportive too, they really believe in the business and really want to grow the business.

WPAC: Fibreco has seen over $100 million dollars in investments, what does this mean for pellet producers in Western Canada?

Megan: From an equipment reliability perspective these investments have really put us ahead!

The most obvious addition is our new 11-story ship loader. We’ve increased our pellet MT loading per hour and we’re still making tweaks to increase it even more. We also expanded our rail yard to take 140 cars which is huge for customers. The rail car dumper too has been upgraded. I’ve never seen so much come online so quickly! With new systems, however, you don’t see productivity increase overnight, but we’re seeing it now and we’re seeing it month over month. It’s all really starting to get exciting and it’s so rewarding.

WPAC: So what’s next for you and Fibreco?

Megan: Our next steps are all about optimizing our assets; that’s our focus in the near term.  Also a large part of our site isn’t developed, so we’re looking at that too.  We want to see how we can position ourselves to support, and keep up with, the further growth of our customers and Canadian biomass abroad.

Another successful year (online!) for the WPAC Annual Conference

Despite the limitations virtual meetings bring, nearly 200 delegations from Canada, and beyond, came together online for the Wood Pellet Association of Canada’s Annual Conference on September 20th, 2021. Discussions focused on  how our industry can support safe and reliable renewable energy globally.

WPAC was pleasedl to welcome speakers and moderators like British Columbia’s Chief Forester Diane Nicholls, who believes we have yet to fully utilize Canadian wood pellets here and abroad, and Jonathan Levesque at Biomass Solutions, who spoke about bioheat and bio energy solutions in Eastern Canada that can be applied across the country.

Policy director Giulia Cancian of Bioenergy Europe and communications expert Karen Brandt of Brandt Strategy Inc put the spotlight on emerging policy trends, like EU’s Fit 55 and British Columbia’s Modernizing Forest Policy, as a call to action for the industry. But this also came with a need for more constructive communications and fact-based dialogue.

The importance of safety, being the foundation of our ability to produce wood pellets, was not overlooked; BC Forest Safety Council’s Cherie Whelan moderated a panel with safety leaders Dr. Fahimeh Yazdan Panah, WPAC; Kayleigh Rayner Brown, Dalhousie University/Obex Risk Ltd.; Grace Cox, Canfor; and Dr. Shahab Sokhansanj, UBC. The panelists discussed their projects on safety foundations webinars, critical control management and process safety.

WPAC would also like to thank our media partner, Canadian Biomass magazine, for their support of the conference, as well as gold sponsors Danson’s Grills, Kahl, and Pinnacle Renewable Energy, part of the Drax Group, and our other sponsors: CN Rail, Fink Machine, SGS and Stela Drying Technology.

If you missed the event live you can find it here and we welcome you to join us next year in-person in Vancouver, BC, on Sept. 19-21, 2022.