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FESBC grant helps convert wood fibre into electricity

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A grant from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) is helping to convert wood fibre to generate electricity.

The funding will allow speciality transport company Valley Carriers to bring 24,000 cubic metres of wood fibre into the city of Merritt to be utilised as bioenergy instead of burning it in slash piles.

Valley Carriers initially explored an opportunity to use a forest slash bundler to see what it could recover in waste residual forest fibre piled along forestry roads in the area. The pilot hoped to prepare biomass bundles that could be transported by regular logging trucks; however, the company modified its approach following a full evaluation of the bundler and opted for a more conventional grinding operation.

The funding has made it possible for Valley Carriers to extend its grinding operations and keep up to 10 people employed with 5,750 ‘person-hours’ generated from this project. Ben Klassen, CEO of Valley Carriers, said the grant is projected to generate $1.75 million (€1.18 million) in revenue that will help to support the community that has endured ‘multiple sawmill curtailments and closures’ over the last decade.

“The project trial has some initial challenges, but what we appreciate about working with the team at Valley Carriers is its approach and innovative style,” said Dave Conly, operations manager at FESBC.

“They have been able to pivot and get into the grinding business to assist the local economy in improving forest fibre utilisation. By all accounts, it has been a great success so far and a benefit to BC’s environment and economy.”

With the $416,029 (€280,500) grant from FESBC, the recovered fibre will be delivered to Merritt Green Energy and used to generate electricity. When the residual fibre is utilised instead of burned in slash piles, there are fewer greenhouse gas emissions, contributing towards BC and Canada’s climate change targets.

Derek Mobbs, interior operations manager at Valley Carriers, commented: “The FESBC funding is allowing us to provide a solution for fibre removal that was previously burned because of high hauling and transport costs.

“It is great to see the wood fibre in the brush piles being utilised instead of burned and to see extra value created out of our local timber resources.”