Market Snapshot: Canada’s Bioenergy Industry in Transition

Release date: 2016-07-06

For decades, Canada’s bioenergy industry has been dominated by biomass, which is comprised of wood, wood waste, and pulping liquor.Footnote 1 It is used in everything from home wood-burning fireplaces to large industrial boilers. Biomass is the second largest form of renewable energy in Canada after hydro power.

Biomass accounts for a sizeable share of the energy used in the manufacturing sector, amounting to 17 per cent of that sector’s fuel use, and accounting for over half of the energy used in the pulp, paper, and wood products manufacturing subsectors in 2014. Contraction of the pulp and paper industry, one of the most energy-intensive industries in Canada, resulted in a 30 per cent decrease in biomass consumption over the last decade.

This decrease Quebec in biomass use has been partially offset by increased use of liquid biofuels, namely ethanol and biodiesel. Current federal Renewable Fuels Regulations (2010) require five per cent renewable content in gasoline and two per cent renewable content in diesel and heating oil.

Source and Description

Source: Canada's Energy Future 2016

Description: The line graph compares industrial biomass energy consumption to biofuels (ethanol/biodiesel) consumption in Canada between 2005 and 2014. Biomass use in manufacturing decreased 30 per cent over this time frame while biofuel use increased 13 per cent. Combined biomass and biofuels use decreased 13 per cent.

Given Canada’s abundant bioenergy resources, which include everything from forestry residue to diverted municipal waste streams,Footnote 2 there is potential for a much larger Canadian bioenergy industry.Footnote 3 Recent policies at the federal level, such as the incentive for renewable/clean technology announced in the Federal Budget 2016, and at the provincial level, such as renewable fuel standards in B.C. and Ontario and the intent to double bioenergy use in, also point to bioenergy’s likely growing role in Canada’s evolving energy system.

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