Business View Civil and Municipal | April/May 2022
16 CIVIL AND MUNICIPAL VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3 GUEST SUBMI SS ION mean an increase in the supply of forest biomass available to the communities and industries that can use it. Forest Biomass and Climate Change A second advantage of using forest biomass to produce electricity is the positive contribution it makes to combating climate change. Canada’s Boreal Forest absorbs and stores extremely significant amounts of carbon dioxide. New growth continuously draws carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, however, at some point absorption stops and old forests start emitting carbon dioxide. By harvesting mature trees to produce a variety of forest products, carbon is stored for many decades rather than being released to the atmosphere, further enhancing efforts to mitigate climate change. For wood fibre that cannot be used for traditional forest products, electricity can be generated from forest biomass, creating a reliable, renewable, affordable and climate friendly alternative to more carbon-intensive options. Trees store carbon in the form of wood. Even when trees are harvested, carbon remains stored in the wood. Products created from the harvested wood like lumber, plywood, flooring, and furniture, lock away carbon in our homes and workplaces for decades. Even pulp, paper, and other consumer products, which are manufactured largely from wood left over from the production of lumber, store carbon through to the end of their life cycle. According to the Ontario government, public forests store an estimated 7.2 billion tonnes of carbon. However, wood products from Managed Forests store 25.5 million tonnes of carbon. This is comparable to the annual emissions from about 28.6 million passenger vehicles. From an environmental perspective, according to the Pembina Institute, the consuming of wood biomass by itself, when compared to natural gas, produces 80% less emissions. A Proven Technology Third, Northern Ontario already has a positive history of the use of forest biomass in the creation of electrical energy. Several existing and former pulp and paper mills, in conjunction with their respective sawmills, have used left over fibre as a fuel to generate steam and electricity for their own use as well as in some cases selling it to the provincial electrical grid. There are currently 5 biomass facilities operating across the North –Atikokan GS, Resolute FP in Thunder Bay, Atlantic Power’s Calstock facility, Hornpayne Power and GreenFirst in Hearst. Three out of the five are combined heat and power facilities with the remaining two solely generators for the grid. All of those facilities are scheduled to have their power purchase agreements renewed for a five- year period. There are a total of 15 communities who benefit from the jobs and related economic activity that are created just from the existing biomass facilities.