Home Members & Resources Quarterly Pellet Update from WPAC: June 2021

Quarterly Pellet Update from WPAC: June 2021

by Todd Humber

Welcome to the first issue of the Quarterly Pellet  Update from the Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC). In this issue you’ll find the following stories:

You can view a PDF version of this newsletter by going to https://www.pellet.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/WPAC-NEWSLETTER-VOL1ISSUE1.pdf

This publication is also available in Japanese. 日本語版を読む


Message from the Executive Director

Welcome to the Wood Pellet Association of Canada’s inaugural newsletter. As the voice of Canada’s wood pellet industry, we are pleased to be able to share news of our rapidly growing and diversifying sector. These newsletters will be published quarterly, and feature updates on markets, technology and innovation, safety, sustainability and more.

Already, 2021 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Canada’s wood pellet sector, with world markets and domestic opportunities coalescing with global green energy policy to drive strong demand and significant growth forecasts for wood-based bioenergy.

With the tremendous growth seen within our sector over the past five years – with production increasing from 1.9 million tonnes in 2015 to 3.2 million tonnes in 2020 – Canada has become a major player in the global biomass energy trade. For more information on our members, Canadian Biomass Magazine has published their 2021 map found here https://www.canadianbiomassmagazine.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/CBM-PELLET-MAP-APR21-JLR-LR.pdf

With that expansion has come a higher profile, and higher global stakes in the sustainability credentials of our members. WPAC recognizes the need to demonstrate the strong environmental performance of Canada’s wood pellet sector – that we are committed to directing 100% of harvested trees to their highest and best use, not contributing to deforestation, and supporting a low carbon economy by transforming fibre that was once wasted into responsible, renewable energy.
Our Asian Wood Pellet Conference in February brought together nearly 300 scientists, energy producers, government regulators and forest managers from across Asia and North America. For those unable to join the conference, the presentations, ranging from market forecast to climate policy and greenhouse gas emissions comparisons, are available on our website here
www.canadianbiomassmagazine.ca/virtual-events/wpac-asian-wood-pellet-conference.

Speaking of our website, we are pleased to highlight the launch of our new and improved WPAC website, at www.pellet.org. The new site provides an improved user navigation experience and updated information and resources to support members, customers and stakeholders. We invite you to check out the new site, and would welcome your feedback.

Looking ahead, we are excited about the new investments being made to further expand Canada’s pellet capacity. The announcement of the acquisition of Pinnacle Renewable Energy by large UK bioenergy producer Drax is an exciting development in the global reach of Canada’s pellet sector.

We are also excited by the recent announcement from Sumitomo, one of Canada’s longest and largest pellet customers, on the creation of their new Energy Innovation Initiative (EII). This new entity is aimed at creating a next-generation business that will support a carbon-neutral society and a sustainable energy cycle. WPAC members’ underlying principles around responsible forest utilization and fibre sourcing align well with this new initiative, and we look forward to supporting the EII’s goals which include CO2 capture, storage and utilization.

We hope you enjoy the highlights featured in this first edition of the WPAC newsletter, and we welcome your comments and suggestions for future issues.


BioPower Donates $25,000 for New Seniors Centre

BioPower Sustainable Energy, a leading Canadian manufacturer of commercial and residential grade wood pellets, recently donated $25,000 towards the construction of the new Aspen Court Seniors Living in Atikokan, Ontario. Aspen Court Seniors Living is a new community hub offering seniors a safe, affordable and supportive place to live, close to home in Northwestern Ontario.

“Seniors have been essential employees to our local and regional businesses, and they continue to be important contributors to the area’s social and economic fabric,” says Mark Guillemette, CEO of Biopower Sustainable Energy. “We wanted to help address the seniors housing crisis in the area by donating to this really important community building project.”


WPAC Members Leading Ground-Breaking Safety Initiative

WPAC members, in partnership with the BC Forest Safety Council, have been working on an exciting safety initiative that we believe has the opportunity to deliver real benefits to our sector, which has already achieved great gains in safety performance.

Despite strong safety performance, 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.)

Kayleigh Rayner Brown, P.Eng., M.A.Sc., is a Research Associate at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia and a leader in the field of CCM and Inherently Safer Design, which is a process focused on eliminating hazards through design rather than mitigating risk through safety measures. She has worked with industrial partners on process safety and hazard analysis in the nuclear, petroleum and aerospace manufacturing industries and is supporting WPAC in our CCM initiative. With colleagues from the BC Forest Safety Council, she has been leading workshops across WPAC member plants in British Columbia. The results from these workshops are being analyzed to produce recommendations to advance Inherently Safer Design in pellet plants.

WPAC and its members are proud to lead this work in partnership with the BCFSC and Dalhousie University, the Dust Safety Academy and with support from WorkSafe BC. You can learn more about the pilot here https://www.pellet.org/critical-control-management/


Safety Update

Every day, WPAC members and their employees work tirelessly to ensure leading safety practices are implemented and embraced. We know we will be measured by our collective efforts as an industry; our reputation and the trust of regulators, the general public and the families of employees depend on this. That we achieved this and more in 2020 was no small feat in the context of a global pandemic.

Safety performance in 2020 was strong across WPAC members, and these results are a testament to the commitment and focus of member companies and the WPAC safety committee.

Over the past year, the safety committee has undertaken several key initiatives aimed at advancing safer workplaces and mitigating or eliminating hazards. These include an educational video produced to help operators minimize the risks associated with combustible syngas. In addition, WPAC, in co-operation with the BC Forest Safety Council, WorkSafeBC and media partner Canadian Biomass, held the Belt Dryer Safety Symposium.

WPAC has released a new safety foundations webinar series. This collaborative safety series advances WPAC members’ commitment to sharing best practices to improve safety, and provides core modules on safety fundamentals for the pellet sector. To take the course and earn your certificate, visit https://www.pellet.org/webinars/wpac-safety-foundation-webinar-series/


WPAC Study Confirms Canadian Wood Pellets Support a Low Carbon Economy

First of its Kind Study in Canada Confirms Pellets Produce 91% Less GHGs Than Coal

More than 90% of all of Canada’s wood pellets are exported, and with the nearest customer, Japan, nearly 4600 nautical miles away, Western Canada’s wood pellet industry set out to demonstrate emissions savings through a scientific research study.

With contribution of data from WPAC member facilities and funding from the Government of Canada, we engaged Laborelec to do this work. Laborelec is a global research and solutions organization that supports and accelerates efforts to transition towards a carbon-neutral world, through reduced energy consumption and more environmentally-friendly solutions. Laborelec belongs to Engie, who are amongst the world’s largest power generating companies.

For this study, we used third party audited GHG reports for each of the 17 plants we studied. We also relied on the most widely accepted default values (g C02/MJ) from the European Union’s Joint Research Centre.

The results showed that wood pellets fired in Japan produced only 8.37% of the GHG emissions produced by coal (more than a 91% reduction). Wood pellets from the Southern US State of Alabama, a much longer sea journey still only produced 20.08% of the emissions produced by coal (nearly an 80% reduction).

To learn more about this study methodology, results and next steps, download our latest fact sheet, https://www.pellet.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/WPAC-GHG-FINAL.pdf


Skeena Faces Covid Head On

It’s been over a year since Covid-19 workplace guidelines have impacted pellet mills across Canada, causing them to develop new procedures to protect personnel and productivity. Skeena BioEnergy, in Terrace, British Columbia, has set a great example for how they’ve evolved their mill standards to keep their team safe.

Skeena acted quickly at the onset of Covid with not just PPE for staff, but by also installing air circulators in shared spaces like the lunch and control rooms for improved air quality.

“We also didn’t want anyone to feel afraid coming into work or feel forced to because they needed a pay cheque so we added a pay subsidy program so if someone had to take time off due to covid, be isolated or look after a family member or close contact they could feel confident they still had a job here,” said Greg DeMille, the General Manager at Skeena.

Like many WPAC members, Skeena also experienced some issues with their supply chains.

“We’ve definitely seen delays, some significant, especially for supplies out of the US or Europe. We have very little control over that, so it’s been all about planning a head; stocking up on items and adding two, three or even four weeks on supplies,” explained Greg.

Putting an even bigger focus on mill maintenance has been part of their ongoing success; ensuring parts last and there’s no production downtime while waiting for a part to come in the mail.

Greg is also proud of how well everyone has adapted to using new platforms when face-to-face meetings aren’t possible. “We’ve fully emersed ourselves in Teams and video communications, we’re using new ways to get out information because want to be transparent. I’m surprised how well all the staff members were able to grasp on to all these different tools, they’ve done great!”

Skeena achievements through Covid have been a group effort, and while everyone hopes the pandemic will be over soon, production and moral remain high for Greg and his team.

MV New Pinnacle Maiden Voyage Increases Service to Japan

The MV New Pinnacle, Fibreco Terminal, North Vancouver BC

Pinnacle Renewable Energy, part of the Drax Group, recently leased a 39,000 DWT Handy class vessel to increase service to meet the growing demand for wood pellets in Japan. The MV New Pinnacle made her maiden voyage in March. Since then, the 20 crew members on board have been sailing an almost continuous cycle lasting approximately 17 days between Vancouver and Japan, delivering wood pellets to fulfill Pinnacle’s many supply agreements.

“We are excited to have created this dedicated wood pellet service for our Japanese customers. This leverages our already favorable geography and creates a service delivery package for Japan that will be unrivalled in the wood pellet sector,” said Vaughan Bassett, Senior Vice President of Sales and Logistics at Pinnacle.

The vessel adds value to Pinnacle’s already comprehensive logistical program and keeps the environment in mind as she performs efficiently at both full and reduced speeds and consumes only Very Low Sulpher Fuel Oil and Low Sulphur Gas Oil. The antifouling paint covering the New Pinnacle and her five holds also provides low friction to support fuel economy.

At time of publication, the New Pinnacle will delivering to customers in Japan then returning to the Westview Terminal in Prince Rupert, BC to reload.


WPAC Inspiring First-Ever Maritime Bioheat Conference

The Wood Pellet Association of Canada and our media partner Canadian Biomass Magazine were pleased to present the first-ever Maritime Bioheat Conference, Net Zero by 2030: Growing the Region’s Largest Source of Renewable Energy on June 2nd with over 200 streaming attendees.

The Conference highlighted how transiting to local, natural, and renewable resources, provinces like Nova Scotia and New Brunswick can reduce CO2 emissions by 3.2 million tonnes per year or about 16% of the Canadian Clean Fuel Standard’s 2030 target for liquid fuels.

Institutions like hospitals, school districts, business owners, forestry professionals and biomass equipment retailers learned how meeting this target it could save nearly $1 Billion for household and commercial heating.

The conference brought together experts from Canada and Europe to discuss the role that biomass can play in eliminating energy poverty, while reinvigorating the forest industry and keeping Canada’s environmental goals in focus.
If you missed your opportunity to attend and would like to learn more please visit https://www.canadianbiomassmagazine.ca/virtual-events/maritime-bioheat-conference/


Five Questions with Jenna MacDonald, Port of Belledune

Jenna MacDonald, VP of Marketing for the Port of Belledune

Jenna MacDonald has been supporting the development of exports from Atlantic Canada for the last 14 years through her work at the Port of Belledune. As the Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Government Relations, Jenna is an integral part of the team looking for ways to improve and expand the Port which has helped WPAC members keep up with international demand for Canadian wood pellets. When Jenna isn’t at the Port you can find her pressure-cooking artisanal stocks and broths or working on her lifestyle blog: www.theresashoeforthat.com

WPAC was lucky enough to have Jenna be the first to answer our Five Questions segment, where we feature members of the industry who impact and support how we do business.

How did you end up working for Port of Belledune?
After I graduated with a B. Comm, Marketing & Finance from St. Mary’s University in Halifax, I was really interested in getting a job at the Port. There weren’t a lot of jobs available at the time, but I was pretty determined. So, I started sending letters to the CEO at the time with some ideas. I wrote him a lot until they finally granted me an interview and I ended up taking a newly created Business Development position.
What surprised you the most about working there?
Not only the complexity of the shipping industry but just how small it is. Even though the global transportation of goods is a huge industry, I realized that that every industry within the industry has its own little community too. It’s still all very niche.

What part of the job gets you the most excited?
It’s a lot like a puzzle; the best way to optimize and develop shipments plus all the routings. I’m a problem solver at heart, I’m always trying to solve all these puzzles for our customers, to produce at the highest rate, to help the Port and our customers’ businesses grow.

How has the wood pellet industry changed since you started at the Port of Belledune?
It’s getting bigger! We’ve recently had
three more customers come on board. Groupe Savoie and JD Irving are two of those customers, both started as sawmill companies and they’ve been able to integrate wood pellets into their operations by using their own residuals. It’s a great win for New Brunswick, our forests and the wood pellet industry.

The fact is I have a real soft spot for wood pellets. When I took the job in 2007, the Port had just started talking to Shaw Resources, and their first shipment of wood pellets was in 2008. When I started in the business development side of the business, pellets were my first project. It’s been so exciting to see this industry grow and the demand for Canadian wood pellets.

What can we expect from you and the Port of Belledune next?
In 2020 we exported just shy of 180,000 MT of wood pellet cargo in 2020. Our goal is to beat that record in 2021 with more than 300,000 MT of wood pellet exports projects! We’re constantly expanding and building new storage to help make this possible, including a new 4,647 m2 wood pellet housing on Terminal 3 to increase cargo-handling capacity.

We’re also focusing on green initiatives. We want to be a carbon neutral logistics hub, exploring biofuel and we’re focused on shipping more environmentally friendly products, like wood pellets. The Port has also been Green Marine Certified since 2018, and we’re always challenging ourselves to improve our performance, surpassing regulatory compliance.


13 Years of Putting Waste to Work with PacBio

Instead of letting the unwanted treetops, limbs, low-quality logs, and dead trees go to waste after logging companies finish harvesting, Pacific BioEnergy in Prince George, British Columbia, is harnessing the potential of that waste and turning it into clean energy in the form of wood pellets.

For decades this waste, or slash, would end up burned in controlled fires to prep the site for replanting. But in 2007 John Stirling, President and CEO at PacBio, saw the opportunity to better utilize these residuals. Working with local sawmills, contractors, and logging companies to develop an in-forest grinding system, PacBIo has recovered and repurposed 1.67 million metric tonnes of slash for pellets which have been shipped to global customers to use as clean, renewable energy and to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

“Over the past 13 years we have transported 71,000 wood chip truckloads of slash out of the forest and into to our local plants creating jobs along every step of the supply chain while improving local air quality and helping customers in Europe and Asia reduce their carbon footprint,” said Stirling.

Today PacBio’s pellets have found markets in Asia and Europe with customers who appreciate BC’s environmental credentials and the responsible use of fibre.