Mark 9-10 March 2022 in your calendar. Residues to Revenues 2022 is returning due to an opportunity the New Zealand industry cannot miss.
The growing demand for alternatives to fossil fuels has the potential to transform the forestry sector into a provider of biofuels, bioenergy and a range of renewable bioproducts alongside more traditional wood products.
Pressure is being bought to bear by the NZ Government. It’s aiming for low emissions transport. It’s made the decision that all Government-owned facility heating is to be from low emissions energy by 2035 replacing fossil fuels by electricity or solid biofuels. Other drivers being considered by the Government include introducing a ban on new coal-fired boilers (low/med temp), the phasing out of existing coal boilers by 2030 (temp below 100 C) and a levy being proposed on coal users.
Heat and energy users throughout New Zealand are following the Government’s lead and transitioning from fossil fuels. Larger-scale industrial operations have already announced that they’re switching. Fonterra plans to reduce carbon emissions from manufacturing sites by 30 percent by 2030 and it’s committed to not installing any new coal boilers. It has21 factories in New Zealand, some already using a mix of renewable electricity with wood biomass conversions in progress. At a regional level, heat plant conversions are also now well underway. In Southland, over 60 of the region’s 150 thermal heat plants in schools, hospitals and commercial businesses have been converted to carbon efficient fuel sources, including wood biomass.
Major investment is required in creating a New Zealand biofuels industry. Te Uru Rākau, as part of the Forestry and Wood Processing Industry Transformation Plan currently being progressed, is developing business cases for companies to invest in biofuels and the solid fuels sector in New Zealand. The plan will include a focus on wood-based products that will provide a large source of residues which will be used to produce three priority products; biocrude oil, liquid biofuels (such as sustainable aviation fuel) and solid fuels such as wood pellets.
With burgeoning demand for biomass, at a regional level, there’s considerable potential for forest owners and suppliers of wood residues to aggregate and co-ordinate the collection, transport and processing of woody biomass for industrial heat plant users. The demand for wood residues is there now – and it’s growing quickly.
To capture this additional opportunity though, the forestry and wood products industry has to be organised. Currently for larger operations, there is a lack of confidence around fuel supplies. For industrial heat users, typically, if converting from fossil fuels, they want to easily secure their new fuel supplies BUT, it has to be simple to specify, simple to order, the delivery of the fuel has to be easy, it has to be timely and the feedstock has to be of a known quantity and of a reliable quality. Is the forestry sector in a position to supply?
The potential right now is immense – and it’s growing as the wood harvest increases. The volume of forest residues, bin wood, offcuts left on landings, short length or malformed logs that won’t meet MDF, pulp-mill or chip export log specifications and sawmill residues in most regions continues to climb. Technologies to extract and process the residues streams likewise is improving.
Bio-fuel is a new product line for the forestry sector. So, how can the forestry and wood processing sector best capitalise on this opportunity?
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