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Woody biomass sources and present knowledge
By Tony Kryzanowski
Research conducted by the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre (CWFC) over the past decade shows that there are numerous sustainable sources of wood biomass that could support bioenergy or bioproducts development in Canada.
To help industry and investors perform preliminary assessments of potential wood biomass sources when developing business cases for a bioenergy or bioproduct investment, CWFC, in conjunction with the Canadian Forest Service (CFS) is updating and improving its national spatial database of opportunity and purpose grown wood biomass sources, and making it available to the public through the Biomass Inventory Mapping and Analysis Tool (BIMAT).
The following table represents current potential wood biomass sources and current knowledge related to these sources.
For more information about wood biomass options as well as the BIMAT update, contact Derek Sidders at (780) 435-7355 or Derek.Sidders@nrcan.gc.ca or Brent Joss at (780) 435-7223 or Brent.Joss@nrcan.gc.ca
AI Bio funds new research chair to support forestry bio-initiatives
By Tony Kryzanowski
While Alberta forest companies may see the value of considering the production of bio-products as part of a diversification strategy, examples of doing so on a commercial scale are practically non-existent.
Creation of a new research chair at the University of Alberta, with $250,000 in financial support from Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions (AI Bio) will provide industry with access to detailed computer modeling that will help companies answer many critical technical and economic questions related to the production of a wide variety of bio-products.
Dr. Amit Kumar, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the U of A, has been appointed to the new Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada/Cenovus/Alberta Innovates Associate Industrial Chair in Energy and Environmental Systems Engineering.
“Dr. Kumar’s new industrial research program will help private sector industries, investors and government policymakers make informed decisions about long-term energy planning in Alberta’s agriculture and forest sectors,” says Dr. Stan Blade, Chief Executive Officer of AI Bio. “The program’s modeling tools can assess all stages of the supply and demand chain and provide solid information for Alberta’s bio-industries to become more competitive and environmentally sustainable.”
Kumar says he and his colleagues have already done considerable work in the area of establishing the pathways from the forest to the finished product, looking at technical and economic challenges along the way. He added that what the total $4.4 million contributed by the research chair partners over the next five years will do is help researchers continue the project work they have already started. This includes work for AI Bio and various forest companies, such as data-intensive computer models that assess the cost of production of different types of bio-products, like energy, bio-fuels, ethanol and hydrogen peroxide, taking the feedstock from the forest to the production plant.
“What our models do is give industry a picture and an assessment of the cost of manufacturing these products on a commercial scale,” Kumar says. “We also do a lifecycle assessment for greenhouse gas emissions along the whole manufacturing value chain of a number of pathways of production.” This includes providing unique, side-by-side comparative assessment of the production and greenhouse gas emission potential of various bio-products.
Researchers are also working in the area of forecasting and planning, by developing computer models such as the Long Term Energy Forecasting and Planning (LEAP) model to calculate energy consumption through an energy demand tree. The model assesses scenarios of penetration of technology, including advances in equipment fuel efficiency and its impact on production cost as well as greenhouse gas emissions.
Researchers are also being encouraged to consider all avenues in addressing some of the biggest technical challenges related to the production of bio-products—one being biomass transportation and logistics from the forest to a production facility. For example, they have already done considerable work on the idea of converting solid wood biomass into a slurry at the source and transporting it to possibly an ethanol production plant by pipeline. So far, they have determined that even if a 36” to 40” pipeline network had to be built to transport the wood biomass slurry, it would still be cheaper to transport the raw material using this method than if it were transported by truck or rail.
One important priority of the Chair’s research program is to provide government policymakers with guidance on what potential bio-pathways exist within Alberta’s forestry sector, which ones are the best bets in the short, medium and long term, as well as accessing each product’s potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Overall, the research program is developed under the guidance of a technical advisory committee, which includes representation from the investment partners.
An overall objective of the research program is to consider various ways that potential bio-products manufactured by the forestry sector can be integrated within the existing hydrocarbon industry, by providing it with bio-products or bio-fuels that could be used by this industry.
Kumar offers an open invitation to any and all forestry companies to become partners in support of the Chair’s
For more information about this new research chair and its research program, please contact Dr. Amit Kumar at firstname.lastname@example.org or (780) 492-7797.
Tapping value-added agroforestry products from private forest resources eligible for financial support
By Tony Kryzanowski
There is a wide array of specialty products that can be harvested from a forest by woodlot owners and landowners interested in agroforestry that can potentially provide a supplementary income. Some ventures could even become full-fledged, full time businesses.
The Canadian and Alberta governments through the Growing Forward 2 program can provide financial support on a cost-shared basis to individuals to help them investigate and launch potential business ventures related to value-added and specialty products from the forest, and to help develop marketing strategies for these products.
The Growing Forward 2 program, which came into effect in April, has a mandate to drive an innovative, competitive and profitable Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector. In Alberta, Growing Forward 2 reflects an increased focus on three areas: research and innovation, competitiveness and market development, and adaptability and industry capacity.
Toso Bozic, Agroforester with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, says some of the potential products that can be derived from a forest resource are specialty solid wood products like furniture components, flooring, siding, fencing not readily available in retail stores, as well as log home packages, Christmas trees, firewood and birch syrup.
“The key is that you have to be very specialized,” he says, “which means that there are very few people involved in the business. You need to have a good understanding of how to operate the business, as well as how to meet the needs of your various clients, which can be quite different.”
Many producers of value-added and specialty products from the forest will find that their best marketing avenue is the Internet, as well as local word of mouth. Bozic says marketing is one area where the Growing Forward 2 program can really help many budding entrepreneurs as well as assist them in developing pre-feasibility studies, a business plan, paying for the testing of food products, and financing the purchase of specialized machinery.
He says the two main Growing Forward 2 programs that business developers of value-added and specialty products can tap into are the Business Opportunity Program and the Business Management Skills Development Program.
Under the Growing Forward 2 Business Opportunity Program, successful applicants are eligible for reimbursement of between 50 per cent and 75 per cent of certain non-capital costs related to researching and planning a new business venture.
Eligible non-capital costs include feasibility studies for new opportunities, business plans (expansion and restructuring), market research, value chain development, pricing models, marketing plans, business management mentoring or coaching and succession plans (one per farm business).
Established producers and processors will be reimbursed for 50 per cent of eligible consulting fees to a maximum of $5,000 per activity to a maximum of $30,000 for the life of the program.
New entrants will be reimbursed for 75 per cent of eligible consulting fees to a maximum of $5,000 per activity to a maximum of $30,000 for the life of the program.
Producer groups and agri-industry associations will be reimbursed 75 per cent of eligible consulting fees to a maximum of $30,000 for the life of the program.
Producers, agri-processors, new industry entrants and groups of producers or agri-food industry associations are eligible to apply for funding under the Growing Forward 2 Business Opportunity Program.
Under the Growing Forward 2 Business Management Skills Development Program, successful applicants are eligible for reimbursement for 75 per cent of eligible costs for approved business skills development training courses.
Established agriculture producers, new producers, agri-processing industry staff and producer groups will be reimbursed for 75 per cent of tuition fees or the cost to hire an instructor for a group skill training course.
Maximum payments: Individuals can apply for multiple projects to a maximum of $10,000 per individual for the life of the program. Groups can apply for multiple projects to a maximum of $20,000 per application and a maximum of $40,000 for the life of the program.
The following groups are eligible to apply for funding: producers in Alberta who have an established primary business in the production of crops or livestock; agri-food processors with an established business in Alberta, including owners and senior managers; new entrants into Alberta’s agriculture and agri-food industry who will have a primary business in production of crops or livestock, or a processing business; senior managers, executive directors or directors on a board that represents an industry organization, producer group or processor; and groups of producers or agri-food industry associations seeking training for their organization or board members.
For more information about the Growing Forward 2 program, visit http://www.growingforward.alberta.ca, or contact Toso Bozic at email@example.com
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