Biomass & Wood Pellets

  • Photo: Sandy McKellar

British Columbia (B.C.), Canada is a key supply region for high quality biomass wood pellets derived from byproducts of a globally recognized sustainably managed forest products industry. Pellets are made from compressed wood fibre and in B.C., the raw material is mainly logging residues. This includes timber killed by the mountain pine beetle infestation, sawmilling scraps and waste wood, compacted sawdust and planer shavings. Using waste byproducts for pellet production eliminates the regulated requirement to burn this waste material through reducing fire hazards and avoiding the risk of disease and pest infestation. 

The pellet industry has grown rapidly in the past 10 years, and as of 2015, 13 pellet plants in B.C. have a combined capacity of 2 million tonnes per year. The largest market for pellets is Europe and the main uses are power generation and heating of residential and commercial buildings. 

Green power from biomass
The production of green power from B.C.’s kraft pulp mills has also increased significantly in the past 10 years. In 2013, B.C. produced more biomass energy than any other region in North America. To keep their energy costs in line and generate a new source of revenue, most B.C. kraft mills have upgraded or installed power generation equipment and are using biomass-based cogeneration to produce excess electricity for the provincial power grid. The steam produced in the biomass and chemical recovery boilers generates this electricity which is used in the operations as well as supplying the provincial grid.