Association News and Publications

On November 21, Canada's environment minister Catherine McKenna announced the country's plan to virtually eliminate the use of traditional coal-fired electricity by 2030. However, Ottawa recognizes that provinces need flexibility and is willing to negotiate agreements that would allow some plants to stay open so long as equivalent emission reductions are achieved elsewhere. The federal government has agreed to negotiate a deal with Nova Scotia that will allow the province to burn some coal after 2030 in high-demand winter months, while it achieves deep emissions reductions in its electricity sector.

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In 2014, EU Member States agreed on a new Climate and Energy Framework that sets new targets for the year 2030: (1) at least 40 per cent cuts in GHG emissions (from 1990 levels), (2) at least 27 per cent share for renewable energy, and (3) at least 27 per cent improvement in energy efficiency.

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When handled properly, wood pellet fuel is safe and benign. Wood pellets are made by drying and compressing pure wood particles. Naturally occurring lignin softens during pelletizing and then hardens during the cooling process to bind wood particles together as pellets. It is hard to imagine how such a pure product could be dangerous.

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With the wood pellet industry hurting from low fuel prices, warm winters, and unhelpful government policies in many countries, is there a light in the gloom? The potential of global markets was the topic de jour during the annual Wood Pellet Association of Canada conference, which took place in Harrison Hot Springs, B.C., Sept. 20-22.

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The Netherlands (NL) was briefly the world's largest importer of industrial wood pellets for co-firing. Under its former biomass support scheme - Milieukwaliteit van de Elektriciteitsproductie or MEP – wood pellet consumption for co-firing peaked at about 1.5 million tonnes annually. However, from 2012 and 2014, imports declined rapidly and eventually stopped altogether, as power utilities' MEP contracts expired.

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