Implications of Expanding Bioenergy Production from Wood in British Columbia: An Application of a Regional Wood Fiber Allocation Model

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Energy has been produced from woody biomass in British Columbia for many decades, primarily within the pulp and paper sector, using residual streams from timber processing to create heat and electricity for on-site use. More recently, there has been some stand-alone electricity production and an increase in the capacity to produce wood pellets, both using “waste” from the sawmill sector. Hence, most of the low-cost feedstock sources associated with traditional timber processing are now fully employed. Although previous studies modeled bioenergy production in isolation, we used a fiber allocation and transportation model of the British Columbia forest sector with 24 regions to demonstrate that it is necessary to consider the interaction between use of woody feedstock for pellet production and electricity generation and its traditional uses (e.g., production of pulp, oriented-strandboard, and others). We find that, despite the availability of large areas of standing mountain pine beetle-killed timber, this wood does not enter the energy mix in a dedicated salvage timber harvest to energy system. Further expansion of biofeedstock for energy is met by a combination of woody debris collected at harvesting sites and/or bidding away of fiber from existing users.

Keywords: bioenergy production from wood fiber; competition for fiber; mountain pine beetle

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2010

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