Today, Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), John Yakabuski, released Ontario’s draft Forest Biomass Action Plan (FBAP). In August 2020, the Minister launched the province’s “Sustainable Growth: Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy,” which built on its draft Forest Sector Strategy released the previous year. Among the commitments in the Forest Sector Strategy was a commitment to develop a Forest Biomass Strategy to help improve the provincial forest industry’s cost competitiveness by maximizing the use of mill by-products and enabling the province to reduce the need for more carbon intensive fuels.
The province’s draft FBAP was drafted in conjunction with MNRF, the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines (MENDM) and the Forest Sector Advisory Committee. The draft FBAP describes actions Ontario proposes to take to support the use of forest biomass, specifically mill by-products and forest biofibre over the course of five years.
The draft FBAP is divided into the following sections:
- Forest Biomass Advantage – defines forest biomass, bioproducts and current and potential uses
- Ontario’s Forest Biomass Advantage – highlights Ontario’s advantage and strength in the sector
- Unlocking Ontario’s Potential – identifies challenges and initial steps that have already been taken
- Objectives and Actions – outlines five objectives and 29 actions the plan proposes to commit to
- The Road Ahead – connects the action plan back to the province’s Forest Sector Strategy and the next steps to implementation
The draft FBAP’s five objectives:
OBJECTIVE 1: Identify pathways to markets for forest biomass
OBJECTIVE 2: Support demand for forest bioenergy and bioproducts
OBJECTIVE 3: Improve the business and regulatory environments for the use of forest biomass
OBJECTIVE 4: Support holistic, culturally relevant pathways for Indigenous community involvement in forest biomass value chains to support reconciliation between Indigenous communities and the Crown
OBJECTIVE 5: Communicate, collaborate, and inform on forest biomass opportunities
The FBAP also works to:
- Include a specific focus on the role of bioenergy through combined heat and power (CHP) systems, of which the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) also released new regulations last month to significantly shorten timelines for environmental approvals, recognizing the environmental and efficiency benefits found through the technology.
- Draw the connection between biomass and energy and speaks to pathways to combustion, pyrolysis, hydrothermal liquefaction, gasification and thermochemical processing, as well as the role that biomass has already played in Ontario’s coal-generation phase-out.
- Reference that that existing facilities that consume biomass for electricity generation are provided ongoing access to the provincial market at fair compensation for the value they provide to Ontario’s electricity system and, where possible, removing barriers that prevent biomass facilities from optimizing their assets.
- Commit the Government of Ontario to advocating in favour of forest biomass users and provincial interests during the creation and implementation of national climate change initiatives, such as the Clean Fuel Standard.
- Reiterate the government’s recognition in the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan of the role that biomass can play in reducing emissions when used as a bioenergy feedstock for other industries (e.g. steel, lime, cement) and when used as a heating fuel for northern, rural and indigenous communities.
The draft FBAP has been posted on the province’s Environmental Bill Registry for consultation for 45 days, ending on June 21st. The FBAP along with its 29 proposed actions may be found here and the government’s news release can be found here.