First step on a crooked path

On April 8, 2016, the NS Government announced that the Nova Scotia Power biomass plant will no longer run 24/7, which the Ecology Action Centre and others called ‘a great first step’ to eliminating biomass”. I shared that optimism. However, it wasn’t long before alternative uses of the “low grade” wood were being promoted such as marine biofuels (see posts below: Bio-based fuels and What is this hub?).

If we can't burn it, we'll find another way to use it.

“Biomass is Biomass. If we can’t burn it, we’ll just find another way to use it. After all, we pay next to nothing for it.”

The word from the woods in recent days is that while the burning of biomass has slowed, the cutting of it has not… the contracts for fibre are in place and it just being directed elsewhere. In fact, the dropping of the 24/7 requirement was what NSP wanted for purely business reasons – it was not a move towards eliminating biomass by the NS Government.

In the meantime, I am told, there is a glut of wood on the market, prices are down and some wood yards have closed. The innovation folks expect that to be temporary as we “divert.. low grade wood to higher value products at a time when there is less demand for burning biomass to produce electricity.”

The producers of those higher value products can be expected to pay even less for “low grade wood” than when it was burned for electricity. Don’t expect them to pay more for high grade wood, and don’t expect them to stay in Nova Scotia after a few decades (or less) when forest productivity has dropped even more and we are no longer “competitive”.

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