Report Says Opportunities Exist for BioEnergy in Northeast North America

Jan. 5, 2009 - Actions must be taken to implement renewable energy technologies in the Atlantica Region’s forest products industry, says a new report released today by the Atlantica BioEnergy Task Force.

The study, compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) recommends 15 distinct actions to be taken in the areas of sustainable forest management, biomass management, energy policy, education, research and development and technology implementation that will drive the Atlantica Region to the forefront of the renewable energy economy.

The Task Force is comprised of regional government, industry, utilities, federal and regional organizations and post secondary institutions who have the mandate to ensure the future sustainability and prosperity of the forest products industry across three jurisdictions: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the state of Maine, which together constitute the Atlantica Region (the “Region”).

“The Region is rich in forests and has historically depended on the forest industry to drive its economy,” says Bruce McIntyre, leader of PwC’s Forest, Paper and Packaging practice in Canada and a partner in the firm’s Sustainable Business Solutions practice. “But the Region is now struggling to attract new investment and is facing the added challenges of high log and wage costs, weak markets, and energy costs that are above average. Without new investment the business prospects for the Region’s forest products sector are bleak, with little room to improve energy efficiency, develop emerging technologies or generate new sources of revenue.”

Yet, the study shows that there are opportunities to revitalize the forest industry and its competitiveness by making use of available wood feedstock—a renewable asset—for the production of bioenergy, biofuels, biochemicals and other bioproducts in an environmentally conscious manner and thus enhancing sustainable economic development in the Region. However, it remains unclear how much wood feedstock is available for use in bioproducts and at what cost this can be brought to market, which also acts as an investment suppressor to those technologies that could make the biggest difference to the forest industry.

“The forest products industry across the Region is facing numerous challenges,” says Thor Olesen, Executive Director of the Atlantica BioEnergy Task Force. “The Task Force represents a collective response to these challenges with full representation from the affected stakeholders. This is an invaluable opportunity for open dialogue in the Region.”

McIntyre added, “These issues and opportunities could apply to the forest industry right across North America.”

The PwC report puts forth recommendations in the following areas:

  • Sustainable forest management
  • Transportation infrastructure
  • Transmission and distribution systems
  • Technology
  • Greenhouse gas strategy
  • Market development
  • Financial support
  • Regional collaboration in research and education

The summary report, including recommendations can be found by visiting www.atlanticabioenergy.com

SOURCE: PricewaterhouseCoopers

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