Turning Wood Residue into Revenue
The Residue-To-Revenue Residual
Wood Conference — being held November 5 to 7 in Richmond, BC — will look at
current uses for residual wood and the exciting emerging markets.
By Paul MacDonald
of the interest in energy-related residual wood solutions in the North American
forest industry seems to rise and fall with energy prices, notably natural gas
prices. When natural gas prices rise, the interest is greater—and
in wood-related energy solutions declines when prices fall. If anything, the
outlook for natural gas supplies and prices should drive the industry to look
very seriously at residual wood powered systems. "Energy prices are still a big
driver for residual wood energy systems," says Mel Spitler, co-chair of the
Residue-To-Revenue Residual Wood Conference. The 5th Biennial Residue-To-Revenue
Residual Wood Conference will be taking a look at all the advantages, including
energy savings, dealing with wood residue in an effective manner, as well as the
other variety of options available.
The conference will feature a wide
range of respected and knowledgeable speakers from across North America, who
will review current uses for residual wood, as well as possible future markets
for this increasingly valuable resource. Spitler noted that natural gas prices
are much higher than they were two years ago at the last residual wood
conference. As a result, the topic will be even more front and center this time
around. The war in Iraq caused higher prices as a fallout from high oil prices.
The worrying thing for the industry is that the war is over, and oil prices have
dropped, but natural gas prices are still high.
Hal Kvisle, TransCanada's chief
executive officer, testified at the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce
hearing on natural gas supply and demand: "We estimate natural gas demand growth
of more than 15 billion cubic feet per day by 2012, but supply growth from
traditional North American sources is not expected to be more than 5 billion
cubic feet per day." According to some industry reports, natural gas demand in
North America is increasing at about 2.5 percent a year whereas supply is
increasing at about one percent and production from many older gas wells is
declining quite rapidly.
The forest industry is growing to
realize that its best longterm interests lie
coming up with a long-term solution for wood residue—regardless of whether
energy prices are high or low. Spitler said the conference is also working at
getting an overview of what is going on in residual wood utilization in Europe,
especially in the bush where the Europeans are working to get the most out of
their forests. "The overall goal is to achieve much better utilization of the
forest fiber and reduce energy costs," says Spitler. At the same time, the
conference will also be looking at how to handle residual wood generated at the
mill, whether the fiber is in the form of sawdust or solid wood, as in the case
of trim ends.
Residual wood in the forest is
expected to be of growing interest in the U.S., with recent moves by the Bush
administration to allow stepped-up forest management, to reduce the number of
wildfires. This would mean removing underbrush and smaller wood materials—which
helps to fuel extremely damaging wildfires—and which will now be available for
utilization, such as power generation. Stuart McCormick, Weyerhaeuser's
company-wide leader for residuals and solid waste management issues, is co-chair
of the conference with Mel Spitler.
He notes that while energy will
certainly be of high interest at the conference, the conference content will
also be very broad in scope. "Producing energy from residual wood continues to
be of high interest to people in the industry," says McCormick. "But we’ve also
made sure that other emerging issues, such as climate change and carbon credits,
will be covered with our speakers and presentations." "There are a lot of people
in the industry who are looking to come up with economical solutions to deal
with their residual wood," McCormick says. "There is no ‘one size fits all’
solution that works for everyone. But people who have attended the previous
residual wood conferences have told us that they left with ideas from both the
conference speakers and the industry people they met informally at the
conference. It can generate some different ideas on how to deal with what
remains an untapped resource."
The conference is produced by
Logging and Sawmilling Journal. The title sponsor of the conference is Valon
Kone Brunette Ltd, with silver sponsors BC Hydro and Natural Resources Canada.
Among the topic areas to be covered at the conference will be: • the handling
and separation of wood residue, • carbon credits, • biofuels, • assessing
emerging technologies and how mills can reduce their dependence on outside
Speakers at the conference will
• Kirstin Castro-Wunsch, KC Environmental Group Ltd. - Wood Residue to
• Konrad Fichtner, Earth Tech Canada Inc. - Gasification of Wood Residues •
Brian McCloy, BW McCloy & Associates - Climate Change and Carbon Credits
• Kendall Pye, Vice-President, R & D, Lignol Innovations Corp. - Understanding
the economic readiness of biomass to ethanol.
For further information, please
contact conference coordinator Jan Raulin at (604) 990-9970, fax (604) 990-9971,
or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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