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Information Exchange

The Residue-To-Revenue Residual Wood Conference continues to be a solid forum for exchanging information about residual wood.

By Paul MacDonald

The Fourth Biennial Residue-To-Revenue Residual Wood Conference held in November proved to be a success, in spite of the current uncertainties in the Canadian forest industry.
The conference drew attendees and speakers from throughout North America and also attracted some attendees from overseas. With a cross-section of representation from the forest industry in both Canada and the United States, the conference was an opportunity for industry people to exchange ideas on an informal basis with suppliers, as well as others in the industry who share the challenge of working with residual wood.

The complete presentations from the Residual Wood Conference are available in bound format for a limited time for $100, plus GST, and can be ordered by contacting the Logging and Sawmilling Journal office at 604-990-9970 or by e-mail through stanhope@forestnet.com

"Considering what is going on in the industry, especially the situation with the US countervail and tariffs on Canadian lumber, we were happy with the turnout for the conference," said Rob Stanhope, publisher of Logging and Sawmilling
Journal. The magazine sponsored the conference.
"Our co-chairs, Mel Spitler and Stu McCormick, have our thanks for working so hard to put together a top-notch program of speakers.
"We look forward to the next conference scheduled for November 2003 and we believe the economic environment for the industry will have improved in that time," added Stanhope.
Both Spitler, of Melvin R Spitler Consulting and McCormick, leader of residuals, solid waste and groundwater specialists network for forestry company Weyerhaeuser, expressed their thanks to the wide array of speakers who agreed to make presentations at the conference. "We had great co-operation from people in the industry in both Canada and the US," says Spitler.

Despite the drop in energy prices, some forest companies are taking a longer term approach and are still moving ahead with residual wood-powered energy projects, which were outlined at the Residual Wood Conference.

"It takes time and effort to put these presentations together," added McCormick. "The people involved in the conference are truly committed to moving the information base ahead and making the best use of the residual wood resource."
The conference had a strong focus on the use of residual wood for energy generation, with a number of presentations on biomass energy and forests as a source of fuel. The conference also featured speakers who outlined the wider residue utilization opportunities.

There was a Suppliers Showcase, where attendees were able to talk directly with more than 20 suppliers to the residual wood sector about the latest in technology and equipment. Responding to the interest in energy savings on the part of the industry, some suppliers took the opportunity to focus on that area.
The showcase featured a broad range of companies involved in the residual wood industry. "There were lots of good ideas and very helpful information from the suppliers," commented one attendee. The showcase, as well as the reception preceding the conference and a dinner following the first day of presentations, provided excellent opportunities for attendees to mingle and talk about common residual wood challenges.

The interest in generating power from residual wood was heightened in late 2000 and early 2001 with the huge increases in energy prices, especially for heavy natural gas users such as sawmills. Although energy prices have fallen considerably since then, there continues to be a strong interest in achieving energy savings through residual wood.

That was the feeling of Ian Corrigall of VKB, the title sponsor of the conference. He noted that it was encouraging to hear the plans of companies such as Canfor and the Canadian Gas and Electric Company, which are moving ahead with a combined heat and power project for Grande Prairie, Alberta.

"I thought the theme for the conference was very good, there was a good array of speakers and we received good feedback," said Corrigall. VKB was also part of the Suppliers Showcase at the conference. "Times are hard in the industry right now, but there was a solid core group of customers at the show."
In addition to VKB, other sponsors included BC Hydro, Natural Resources Canada and Forest Renewal BC. BC Hydro's involvement is part of the utility's effort to encourage alternative energy sources. It has set a target of acquiring 10 per cent of new power from renewable "green resources" such as wood waste and wind power, provided they are competitive in terms of costs. Natural Resources Canada has an incentive program, the Renewable Energy Deployment Initiative (REDI), designed to help business and industry purchase certain types of biomass and solar heating systems.
Summarizing the conference, feedback forms submitted by attendees included comments saying the conference was successful in both learning about and obtaining the highest and best value for residual wood fibre, as well as for making contacts and getting updated on the technologies. Overall comments included "well organized and informative" and "good value for attendees, suppliers and sponsors".

The conference evaluation feedback showed that attendees were interested in both specific areas and broader residual wood topics. Evaluation comments rated the information on cogeneration from residual wood as being the "most interesting" part of the first day of the conference. Other attendees were looking for information on biomass. "Companies are looking for information and know little about biomass," said one attendee.

Some suggestions were made on how to change conference content next time around, including adding a technical tour to the conference.

"We received some very positive and constructive feedback for the next conference in 2003," said Jan Raulin of TeNaj Consulting, which co-coordinated the conference. "We'll be reviewing all of the evaluations to determine how we might make some changes to ensure the conference remains relevant to the industry."

The complete presentations from the Residual Wood Conference are available in bound format for a limited time for $100, plus GST, and can be ordered by contacting the Logging and Sawmilling Journal office at 604-990-9970 or by e-mail through stanhope@forestnet.com

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This page last modified on Thursday, October 07, 2004