Canadian alliance to advocate for biorefining sector

By Erin Voegele | July 25, 2011

An alliance of energy-related trade organizations in Canada is calling on the nation’s federal, provincial and territorial governments to act now to develop a comprehensive energy strategy. The coalition, known as the New Economy Alliance, aims to support the development of a national energy vision that would include clean, renewable bioenergy from a broad range of natural resources.

The alliance is bringing together Canadian associations representing forestry, chemicals, agriculture, renewable fuels and biotechnology with the goal of promoting innovation in new technologies that would add value to Canada’s vast natural resources. According to information released by the alliance, producing biofuels, biochemicals and biomaterials would maintain and create jobs, generate economic growth, enhance Canada’s competitiveness and be environmentally beneficial.

The Canadian Renewable Fuels Association has joined the New Economy Alliance. Doug Hooper, past chair of the CRFA board who serves as chair of the government affairs committee for the alliance, said the group is working to find opportunities to jointly advocate for the types of strategic policies and regulations that would assist those in the biomass industry. He notes that there are significant opportunities in Canada to develop technologies and biobased industries around forest resources, agricultural resources and municipal solid waste feedstock.

Regarding biofuels, Hooper noted that the Canadian biodiesel and ethanol industries have worked together jointly under the banner of the CRFA to advocate for the policy measures that would produce a competitive environment for biofuels in Canada. “Going forward, it’s become a larger conversation,” he said. “We’re not just making biofuels now from first-generation feedstocks, there is opportunities across forest residues, municipal solid wastes and new feedstocks, such as algae, and there is a complex of biochemicals and bioproducts that are also trying to enter the market….It’s pretty clear now that we’ve got…a broader opportunity and we need to engage these alliances that are working in those growth area to work together.”

Additional members of the New Economy Alliance include BIOTECanada, Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Chemistry Industry Association of Canada, CropLife Canada, Forest Products Association of Canada and the Sustainable Chemistry Alliance. The alliance will be working with governments to advance the bioeconomy across the agricultural, forestry, chemical, manufacturing and energy sectors. According to the alliance, integrating new bioprocessing technologies within established industrial plants will deliver a vast array of renewable, value-added alternatives, such as solvents, plastics, paints, adhesives, textiles, and consumer products. As its initial step, the group is challenging energy ministers now meeting in Kananaskis, Alberta, to develop a national energy vision that would include clean, renewable bioenergy from a broad range of natural resources.

Hooper stressed that the New Economy Alliance is highly focused on how to incentivize investment and innovation in the biorefining sector. “In Canada, we are very good at harvesting our natural resources,” he said. “What we are looking to do is capture more of the value-added economic benefit, create jobs, and supply the growing demand for renewable products.” 

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