Residues2Revenues 2022 saw an amazing turnout of well over 350 delegates, both in person and remotely involved in the conference, pre and post-event workshops and exhibitions. Not only were NZ companies in attendance but a strong contingent from across Australia travelled into New Zealand and live links were set up for a record number of delegates drawn from across Europe and North America.
It was a record attendance. It reflected the growing recognition amongst forest owners and those involved in log harvesting and transport that the demand for alternatives to fossil fuels has the potential to transform the forestry sector. Biofuels, bioenergy and a range of renewable bioproducts increasingly are being added to the industry’s more traditional wood products. The economics of better-utilising 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 are finally starting to stack up.
Low emissions energy to replace fossil fuels with electricity or solid biofuels is top of the Government’s agenda. Large industrial-scale heat and energy users throughout the country are firmly following the Government’s lead. The move to transition from fossil fuels is already well underway. Significant conversions have been made across the country with major announcements on new investments being made now almost every month.
With this burgeoning demand for biofuels, at a regional level, there’s considerable potential for forest owners and suppliers of wood residues to aggregate and coordinate the collection, transport and processing of woody biomass. For industrial heat users looking to convert 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 reliable quality.
This changing landscape means that forest owners, those involved in logging operations and those with surplus waste from sawmilling and wood manufacturing operations are looking at satisfying this current and projected future demand. Is the forestry sector in a position to supply? The answer from those attending the Residues to Revenues 2022 event was a resounding yes.
However, there was recognition that the current supply models are not ideally suited to meet market demand and production efficiency, nor in many cases do they deliver consumer confidence. Discussions at the event centred on changing the prevailing supply model to progressively drive scale and supply chain reliability. It was felt that growers, processors and in some cases consumers, all needed to be part of the supply contract model and that greater volumes of wood biomass are needed to meet the current and projected future demand.
The event was able to showcase with practical case studies and commercial insights from those involved in biofuel harvesting, transport and delivery, just how the forestry and wood processing sector was going to be able to best capitalise on this opportunity. Feedback from Residues2Revenues is being collated and the shape and format of any future event will be announced by the Forest Industry Engineering Association at a later date.