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Logging & Sawmilling Journal’s Residual Wood Conference—held in October in Vancouver—was a tremendous success, selling out for both attendees and exhibitors.

By Paul MacDonald  he 7th Biennial Residual Wood Conference held in Vancouver in October was a tremendous success, reflecting both the high interest in best utilizing residual wood from the forest industry and a very strong line-up of speakers and exhibitors.

“This was the most successful residual wood show we’ve ever had,” said show manager Jan Raulin. “We were sold out for both attendees and booth space.” Logging & Sawmilling Journal has long been committed to the development of the residual wood sector of the industry, as evidenced by the fact that this was the seventh residual wood conference (the conference is held every two years). The first Residual Wood Conference was held back in 1995.                 

“We’re proud to have been a part of helping the residual wood sector of the industry grow and develop for more than a decade with the conference,” says Rob Stanhope, publisher of Logging & Sawmilling Journal. “And we look forward to continuing to contribute to its development with the next conference, in 2009.”                                   

A major focus for the conference was using residual wood to generate energy, and the wood-to-energy outlook looks very bright, driven by high energy prices. At the time of the conference, the price of oil—an energy benchmark—was on its way to the $100 a barrel mark, breaking all previous records.                                   

One of the conference speakers, Jim Bowyer, president of Bowyer and Associates, noted that a consensus is emerging that peak petroleum production is in sight. While there has been a tremendous focus on ethanol and biodiesel production from agricultural products as a result, this development could also open the door for energy from residual wood products, Bowyer said. “In the future, all of these liquid fuels will be made from the cellulosic parts of forest and agricultural plants, and wood will be a preferred raw material,” he explained. “The biofuels  and biochemicals potential is stimulating forest industry investment and new cooperation between the forest and energy sectors.”                                   

Dick Carmical, general manager of The Price Companies of Monticello, Arkansas, also spoke at the conference and said it was time for countries to turn their problems—such as America’s “addiction to oil”—into opportunities. He noted that there are huge opportunities for the forest industry to produce energy from biostock, such as healthy and diseased trees, underbrush, sawdust, wood chips, wood pulp and black liquor.                                   

A move to bioenergy could have a dramatic effect on the US financial situation, essentially turning the US trade deficit into a trade surplus, he added. A presentation made on behalf of Hakan Ekstrom of Wood Resources International noted the tremendous potential for forest residuals in the bush. “Substantial volumes of biomass are left after a traditional clearcut when only sawlogs are being removed. With the increased demand for renewable resources for energy, there is renewed interest in collecting branches, tops and stumps to supply district heating plants,” the presentation noted.                                   

“Large volumes of beetle-killed wood in British Columbia are going to be available for energy consumption, including wood pellet production, over the next 10 years.”                 

Craig Sutherland, deputy chief forester of BC, said that there are going to be increasing amounts of residual wood in the province because of the mountain pine beetle infestation. “Fibre supplies in BC are more dynamic than ever,” he said. “New markets are emerging, and competition is increasing for residuals.” Janice Larson, of the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum, said that the province has “enormous” bioenergy and renewable energy resources. “The mountain pine beetle can be the platform upon which we expand and develop bioenenergy opportunities.”                                   

The dinner speaker at the Residual Wood Conference, Fred Deneke, spoke about the “25 x 25” initiative, the goal to have America’s forests, farms and ranches provide 25 per cent of the total energy consumed in the United States by the year 2025.                                   

Woody biomass, Deneke noted, is available year round from multiple sources, and its net energy ratios are large and positive.                                   

“Rising fuel and energy costs and advances in technology are improving the economy of forest-based biorefineries. “Forestry and agriculture can play a major role in helping the United States achieve energy independence,” he said. “An enormous and historical opportunity is on the horizon. We have the technology, capacity and leadership to offer new energy solutions.”