Friday, August 31, 2007

Appropriate development for Ontatio

Rather than concentrating on corn ethanol -- a bad idea at the best of times, completely inappropriate for Ontario -- we should be looking at a diverse set of renewable energy options in Canada, including the forestry industry. So imagine my surprise when it turns out that the Ontario government is, in fact, embracing sanity on this score. Although it seems to partly rely on re-branding the industry as "biofibre", because apparently "bio-" is this year's "i-".
As the province's largest power user it is anticipated that the forest industry will use forest biofibre to replace fossil fuels to reduce the costs of heat and electricity for their manufacturing processes and at the same time offset significant electrical demand on Ontario's power system," says the draft.

But the envisioned biofibre industry would accomplish much more, including the creation of new business opportunities. "Resources such as forest biofibre will be used to replace non-renewable inputs for the production of biomaterials, bioenergy, biopharmaceuticals and other bioproducts."

Indeed, the draft continues, "the demand for forest biofibre is anticipated to increase and become more diversified."

Emerging technologies will make forest biofibre increasingly useful. New enzymes and bacteria can be used to help turn the material into ethanol fuel, and some companies considering this approach are already looking at towns like Hearst as possible sites for cellulosic ethanol plants.

Pyrolysis machines will be able to convert the biofibre into bio-oil and synthetic gas used for heating and power generation, or char for agriculture enhancement and carbon storage.

The oils extracted from forest biofibres can even be broken down or mixed into various chemicals used to produce everything from plastics to foods. On a more basic level, the material can just be burned directly for heat or electricity.

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