The Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation and Alberta Innovates commissioned TorchLight Bioresources to prepare a discussion paper on the potential role of biomass and biocleantech in Canada's climate and economic strategy. This discussion paper, entitled "Biomass Innovation: Canada's Leading Cleantech Opportunity for Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Economic Prosperity", is available for download.
This paper serves as the basis and justification for holding the BioCleantech Forum.
Canada has a tremendous opportunity to build upon its inherent strengths and take a cleantech leadership position in the production of bioenergy and bioproducts produced from sustainable biomass. This document, which identifies why biomass should be the cornerstone of Canada's greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction and economic growth policies, is intended to initiate a dialogue between policy makers, large GHG emitting sectors, and biomass feedstock and technology suppliers that will result in deployment of Canada's biomass resources to reduce GHG emissions. Reasons for pursuing biomass cleantech innovation include:
Biomass can reduce GHG emissions from Canada's largest and fastest growing sources
Canada's unique GHG profile, dictated by a large landmass, northern climate, resource-based economy, and the 3rd lowest electricity GHG intensity in the G20, means deployment of electricity-based renewables, such as wind and solar, will not address the largest and fastest growing sources of emissions including oil and gas extraction and processing, heavy duty transportation, and process/space heat. Deployment of biomass can.
Biomass can be economically utilized in Canada's existing carbon-based infrastructure
Biomass is the only source of renewable carbon that can be used within the existing fossil-fuel infrastructure, including coal-fired power plants, oil sands operations, transportation fuel distribution systems, the vehicle fleet, natural gas pipelines, heavy industry (steel, cement, fertilizer) facilities, and residential and commercial building heating systems. This avoids stranding valuable assets and can enable market access for Canada's other natural resource products including oil, gas, chemicals, metals, and minerals.
Biomass creates far more jobs than other renewables and builds upon human resource strengths
Projects that utilize biomass can create 10 times more operating jobs than wind and solar on an energy output basis. In addition, production of bioenergy and biofuels economically complements the production of higher-value products such as food, lumber, pulp, biochemicals, and bioproducts that produce significantly more jobs than energy on a feedstock input basis. Many of the skills developed by workers in the oil and gas, chemicals, pulp and paper, utility, and food processing sectors are in demand by bioenergy, biofuel, and biochemical producers.
Biomass provides significant economic development opportunities for Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples can play a major role in the development and management of bioenergy and bioproduct projects as providers of traditional knowledge of ecosystems, suppliers of biomass, operators of facilities, exporters of bioproducts, and consumers of bioenergy – particularly in remote and isolated communities.
Biomass provides immense cleantech innovation and technology development opportunities
Deployment of commercial biomass conversion technologies can create sustainable livelihoods today and form the basis for a biotechnology and cleantech innovation-based bioeconomy, replete with high-quality bioproducts research, technology development, and commercialization jobs. Management of Canada's extensive biomass resources also offers vast potential for linking high tech industry development with resource management via big data, GIS, drones, and remotely-operated/autonomous machinery and vehicles. These cleantech, high tech, and biotech innovations can become high-value exports for Canada.
Canada has more biomass per capita than any other country on Earth
No other country has the combined forestry, agriculture, and urban biomass resources of Canada and others recognize the climate mitigation value of Canada's biomass resources by importing large volumes for use in heating, electricity generation, and transportation. As described in this report, domestic residues ('wastes') alone could provide 20% of Canada's yearly energy supply.