A $700,000 investment to help forest companies create jobs by turning their waste wood into high-value bio-products will address many of the recommendations from government's Bio-Economy Committee, Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, said today.
The Bio-Economy Committee, chaired by John Yap, Parliamentary Secretary for Clean Technology, was formed in July to identify ways to expand B.C.'s bio-economy. Its report highlights the need for government to take a leading role in developing the bio-economy:
As part of that role, the Province has provided $700,000 to FPInnovations, the world's largest private, non-profit forest research institute, to gauge the extent of B.C.'s bio-economy today, and help industry identify cost-effective fibre available for new projects, including areas affected by the mountain pine beetle. This will help international investors identify opportunities in B.C., as well as give government the data it needs to develop programs and policies to help the province's bio-economy expand.
FPInnovations will also assess mills in the B.C. Interior for opportunities to add innovative bio-product streams to their current operations. These products could be a combination of energy, green chemicals and other bio-materials, which can reduce waste, create jobs and improve the mills' bottom lines.
Products being made from wood fibre today include renewable fuels, textiles, light-weight plastics, food additives, pharmaceuticals and oil. On the drawing board are things like bio-active paper products, including facial masks that deactivate viruses; composites for airplane structures; jet fuel additives; and a substitute for petroleum products used to manufacture rubber for tires.
FPInnovations will also examine how trucks used in the forest industry can reduce emissions and save energy, which may include using bio-fuels produced in B.C.
MLAs Yap (Richmond-Steveston), Bob Simpson (Cariboo North), Eric Foster (Vernon-Monashee), John Rustad (Nechako Lakes) and Ron Cantelon (Parksville-Qualicum) sat on the Bio-Economy Committee, which made five key recommendations in its report:
- Establish a clear, long-term bio-economy vision.
- Improve access to fibre and feedstock.
- Establish a technology development strategy.
- Develop markets for B.C. bioproducts and aggressively market B.C.'s advantages.
- Integrate the bio-economy's infrastructure needs into provincial initiatives.
The Province's investment, funded within its existing fiscal plan, adds to the $600,000 FPInnovations has received from the federal government under the Transformative Technologies Research Program of Natural Resources Canada. With that funding, FPInnovations has been undertaking a series of research projects aimed at developing emerging and breakthrough technologies.
John Yap, Parliamentary Secretary for Clean Technology and chair, Bio-Economy Committee -
"This research funding is an example of the timely action our committee has recommended government take to develop a stronger and more robust bio-economy for British Columbians."
Pierre Lapointe, president and CEO, FPInnovations -
"This is a very exciting time to be engaged in transitioning the B.C. and Canadian forest sector to a dynamic and innovative future, including developing some 'game changing' new bio products."
"With our provincial and federal government and forest sector partners, we have the opportunity to lead in developing and delivering environmentally superior, competitive new products to the global marketplace."
Hon. Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources -
"Last July in Vancouver the federal government announced the Transformative Technologies Research Program, providing $25.5 million for the development and implementation of innovative products and processes that would enable the industry to extract greater value from the forest. Today's provincial announcement builds on that momentum, helping the sector become more economically competitive and environmentally sustainable."
- B.C. has more than 200 bio-products and bioenergy companies, plus one of the world's largest available supplies of bio-mass, much of it wood from trees killed by the mountain pine beetle.
- Wood waste is one of the most abundant, cost-competitive and environmentally friendly biomass resources.
- The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development predicts the bio-economy will contribute 10 or more new drugs a year by 2015, and 10 per cent of chemical production by 2030.
- LifeSciences BC estimates that B.C.'s renewable energy sector provides more than 18,000 jobs and generates over $1.9 billion in revenues. It has been identified by PricewaterhouseCoopers as the third largest renewable energy sector in the world, behind only Germany and California.
- Nexterra Systems and the University of B.C. are demonstrating the world's first installation of a unique biomass-fuelled combined heat and power solution developed by Nexterra and GE Power & Water's gas engine division.
Bio-economy Committee report: www.gov.bc.ca/jti/down/bio_economy_report_final.pdf
BC Bioenergy Network: www.bcbioenergy.com
LifeSciences BC: www.lifesciencesbc.ca/Sub-Sectors/BioProducts/
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation