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

Quarterly Pellet Update from WPAC: June 2022

by Adam Dras

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

The case for accelerating the green transition
Message from WPAC’s Executive Director, Gordon Murray

Greetings! We publish this issue of our newsletter during a global crisis that most of us probably never envisioned. The unprovoked war in the Ukraine has highlighted the urgent need to transition to clean, renewable and responsible sources of energy. In her speech to the European Parliament Plenary, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said “It is our switch to renewables and hydrogen that will make us truly independent. We must accelerate the green transition. Because every kilowatt-hour of electricity Europe generates from solar, wind, hydropower or biomass reduces our dependency on Russian gas and other energy sources. This is a strategic investment.”

In response, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson in increasing exports of oil and gas to Europe, said, Our European friends and allies need Canada and others to step up… they need our help in getting off Russian oil and gas in the short term, while speeding up the energy transition across the continent.”

Mean action on climate change continues to progress at the G7 Climate, Energy and Environment Ministers Meeting in Berlin, Germany in May where Canada actively supported global efforts to phase-out of unabated coal-fired power, and decarbonizing electricity systems by 2035.

Despite these commitments from the Canadian government, we remain disappointed that the Minister has decided to eliminate all funding to Canada’s pellet sector. Clearly wood biomass plays an important role in these efforts since The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading authority on climate change, has recognized the significant GHG mitigation potential of biomass – as much as 80 to 90 percent – provided that it is developed sustainably and used efficiently.

There is a shortage of 3.5 million tonnes of wood pellets in Europe now which has caused countries like Denmark, Netherland, and Belgium to switch back to coal and other fossil-based fuels for heat and power production. Canada is the second-largest wood pellet exporting country in the world which can help enormously with European energy security. WPAC members stand ready to assist; and as you can see throughout this newsletter, we view pellets as a strategic investment today and in the future for Canadians and everyone globally trying to make the world a better place.

Join us in Vancouver: WPAC Conference and AGM
Save the dates: September 20-21, 2022

Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle Downtown Hotel, Vancouver, BC

We are pleased to announce that our AGM will be back to in-person this year. Join us in Vancouver, British Columbia September 20-21 for an action packed two days. We are also making plans for a tour into British Columbia’s interior. Stay tuned for more details, coming soon! For registration, program and exhibitor information, please visit https://wpac-agm.pellet.org/

International panel confirms important role of wood pellets from sustainably managed forests
The recently released International Panel on Climate Change 6th assessment report, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, has concluded the growing demand for biomass offers both opportunities and challenges to mitigate and adapt to climate change and natural resource constraints.

The report states, “…forest-based solutions support ecosystems’ capacity to adapt to climate change, including better regulation of microclimate, increased groundwater recharge, improved quality of air and water, reduced soil erosion, improved and climate-adapted biodiversity habitats, expansion of biomass, as well as continuous provision of renewable wood products.”

Read more here.

New video series highlights the Power of Pellets
From communities across British Columbia’s vast interior to the Indigenous lands of the KitsumKalum, the “power of pellets” is masterfully demonstrated, through the eyes and ears of the people on the ground, in a series of five new videos produced by the Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC) with support from Forestry Innovation Investment.

Wood pellets create a “real opportunity to take the land that we live on and develop an economic resource,” concludes Diane Collins, General Manager for the KitsumKalum Economic Development Group of Companies. “We’re happy to be a part of the forestry industry, utilizing as much as 100% of every tree. We have a real strong belief in doing things that are good for the environment, good for the community, and good for the trees. I think because this is such a green and renewable energy product the community, in general, totally supports wood pellets.”

Unleashed, the opportunities for using pellets at home and around the world are almost limitless. Watch the videos here .

WPAC members committed to ambitious safety work plan for 2022
WPAC members’ unparalleled value of safety is laid out in our Safety Committee’s 2022 Work Plan, which includes several key initiatives:

  • Advancing Critical Control Management;
  • Promoting Control System Conformity with ISO or other accepted standards;
  • Improving belt and rotary drum dryer safety by establishing a working group to analyze and improve rotary drum dryer safety;
  • Sharing best practices on deflagration isolation and hosting a symposium to share information;
  • Supporting industry in basic plant operator competency training;
  • Training and supervision of workers by hosting a four-part webinar series focussing on leading safety initiatives and innovations;

To read the full 2022 WPAC Safety Work Plan visit www.pellet.org/safety

New report on deflagration isolation released
The Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC), BC Forest Safety Council (BCFSC) and Dalhousie University have released their final report:  Analysis of Deflagration Isolation in Wood Pellet Production for Safer Operation.

The final report, published on WPAC’s webpage, www.pellet.org/safety provides important information on:

  • the different types of deflagration isolation systems commonly used in wood pellet facilities and how they work;
  • common locations for isolation systems in wood pellet production;
  • the installation, operation, and maintenance of isolation systems to improve understanding;
  • summaries of the failure modes and degradation factors associated with these systems; and
  • considerations for how these failure modes and degradation factors can be managed to make systems more reliable and effective.


Shining a light on bioenergy
Like most regions of the world, the Canadian Province of New Brunswick is electricity supply-constrained, making up only 21 per cent of energy consumption in the province. It lacks the low-carbon dispatchable resources of other jurisdictions.

The fact is the solution lies in its own forests. The province is home to five wood pellet plants that produce approximately 350,000 tonnes per year. This fuel has an energy content of over six Peta Joules (PJ) and could replace all heating oil and natural gas consumed by commercial and institutional buildings in New Brunswick. However, due to little local demand, over 90 per cent of its wood pellet production is exported.

As the world looks to bioenergy, isn’t it time Canada did the same? You can read more in the latest issue of Canadian Biomass Magazine.

WPAC pellets advancing clean energy solutions for Canadians
WPAC’s Maritime Working Group (MWG), comprised of members from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, are advancing wood pellet bio-heat opportunities for the Canadian marketplace that could save Maritime homes and businesses up to $1 billion in heating costs annually while reducing GHG emissions by 3.2 million tonnes each year.

Currently the MWG is focussed on the commercial and institutional scale market segments. The MWG feels a strong sense of momentum in the Maritime provinces and is optimistic this will result in more opportunities to sell wood pellets domestically. Most recently it has:

  • Met with high level government and business leaders to:
    • present a proposal for how NB could use wood pellet bioheat to displace coal from Belledune Power Station;
    • present recommendations to NB Standing Committee on Climate Change;
    • discuss with MPs the benefits of wood pellet bio-heat and to request their support for pro-biomass policies;
    • explore with NB Power executives how wood pellets could play a stronger role in reducing peak electricity demand from Belledune Power Station while lowering heating costs and GHG emissions; and
    • engage with EfficiencyOne in Nova Scotia to discuss how the government could support increased use of bioheat.
  • Advocated to the president of the Treasury Board of Canada to have wood pellets be eligible for use in federal government-owned buildings.
  • Together with the NS Government, completed an engineering study on converting government buildings to wood pellet heating systems.


Videos highlights the benefits of ENplus®
Originally launched in Germany more than a decade ago, the ENplus® quality standard has since been endorsed by hundreds of producers and traders of wood pellets in countries around the world. Now a series of three short videos, in French and English, explains why this seal has grown to become the world-leading premium quality scheme for wood pellets.

Watch the ENplus® videos here to discover all the reasons for committed pellet professionals to become certified.

BC bioenergy: The case, controversy and considerations from a sustainability expert
Italy-based forester and sustainability expert Shauna Matkovich shares observations from her recent trip to British Columbia to explore the opportunities and challenges for bioenergy in the province. Matkovich explores some of the challenges for biomass and provides important takeaways for Canada’s forest sector. Read more here.

Diane Nicholls joins Drax as vice president of sustainability
British Columbia’s former chief forester, Diane Nicholls, has joined Drax Group as the company’s vice-president of sustainability for North America. A Canadian forester with over 25 years’ experience in forestry and sustainability, Diane will lead Drax’s North American biomass sustainability strategy.

“Sound forest management is also our best tool for enhancing wildlife habitat, ensuring clean water, contributing to carbon sequestration and supporting the local communities with jobs and economic opportunities. I look forward to advancing my work around forestry stewardship with Drax,” — Diane Said.

You can read more about Diane’s new role here.

Belt dryer safety final report released
WPAC’s belt driver working group (BDWG) has released its final report on belt dryer safety, after more than 50 meetings in 2021 and a symposium that was held in 2020. The belt dryer working group (BDWG) was composed of 25 members with representatives from Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC), BC Forest Safety Council (BSFSC), dryer manufacturers (Stela and Prodesa), pellet producers, safety equipment suppliers, consultants, academia, and technology providers. The BDWG, compromised of four sub-groups, reviewed current equipment for contamination removal, dryer safety controls related to fires, fire warnings, and fire suppression devices. Their findings and recommendations can be read in a brief report on WPAC’s website.

Key recommendations include:

  • removing infeed contaminants and resisting the urge to ensure clean feedstock enters dryers;/li>
  • using indirect-heated belt dryers instead of direct-heated belt dryers;/li>
  • applying additional controls besides the ones provided by the dryer manufacturers, such as spark detection and suppression in the burner channel, below belt internal deluge, Infra-Red (IR) thermal detection above and below belts, and controlling contaminants from entering the burner; and
  • employing the bow tie analysis approach to review and update safety procedures looking for any missing steps.


A perfect match: European boilers and Canadian wood pellets
Significant progress is being made on the adoption of European boilers into Canada paving the way for Canadians to replace oil and coal with the renewable and clean energy that wood pellets can provide.

Canada’s Provincial-Territorial Advisory Committee (PTAC) is developing a white paper containing possible standardization solutions to allow for a larger variety of European boilers to be brought to market in Canada. One possible solution under consideration is for a new appliance standard to be developed to address deviations between existing standards. The paper will be presented to PTAC for comment later in 2022. Read more here.

Members of EU parliament consider primary woody biomass ban
Members of the European Parliament’s environment committee have suggested changes to the European Commission’s proposed revision of the 2018 renewable energy directive (RED).
Of particular interest to supporters of Canadian wood pellets is the detailed definition of primary woody biomass that would include all roundwood felled or otherwise harvested, and all wood obtained from removals from forests, including wood recovered because of natural mortality and from felling and logging. Most of Canada’s biomass comes from boreal forests where they do not generally get any older than 140 years because natural processes of fire and insect attacks will damage and destroy older forests if they are not harvested.’
WPAC members and customers are also concerned with the unnecessary and burdensome proposal to implement the cascading principle which is seen as largely addressed in the marketplace already.
There are many more steps to complete RED’s legislative journey to law including approval by other committees and the EU’s Council; with a final vote expected later this fall. WPAC will continue to monitor and engage through Bioenergy Europe and through the federal government and its embassies.

Sustainable Biomass Program update
Canada’s European and UK industrial customers – primarily large-scale electricity generators – continue to rely on SBP certification as evidence of wood pellet sustainability. WPAC continues to participate with SBP on two fronts:

SBP Standards Revision Process

The process to revise SBP’s six standards began in May 2020 and is not likely to be completed until the third quarter of 2022. Gordon Murray is a member of SBP’s Standards Committee that is overseeing the standards revision process. Currently, third drafts of the standards are being reviewed by SBP’s Technical Committee (TC). Field testing – including at some Canadian operations – will begin in June. Once the TC has completed its work, the standards will be passed to the Standards Committee (SC) for review and approval, prior to being sent to SBP’s board for ratification. SC’s membership includes balanced representation from civil society and industry.

Regional Risk Assessments

SBP regional risk assessments (RRAs) for the provinces of BC and Quebec were completed and approved during 2021. WPAC has been cooperating closely with an independent working group, led by forester Brenda Hopkin, on preparing regional risk assessments for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. New Brunswick is approximately 90% complete and Nova Scotia is about 75% complete. Both projects have been put on hold due to a decision by NRCAN to withhold further funding support to WPAC under the Export Opportunities Program. When these RRAs are eventually approved by SBP, pellet operators can rely on them as evidence for their SBP certifications.

The Sustainable Biomass Program has published its annual review for 2021, noting another year of growth with a 12 per cent increase in Certificate holders and an increase in geographic reach, taking the number of countries with an SBP presence to 33. The SBP’s annual review is available at: www.sbp-cert.org/documents/annual-reviews.