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National wood conference focuses on bioenergy

“Thanks to the focused efforts of EECA wood energy projects team there has been a widening of the potential customer base for forest products companies selling renewable energy, particularly bioenergy from wood. Our conference will highlight this and other opportunities for both users and supplies of biomass,” said John Stulen, FIEA’s event director for the Residues to Revenues Conference series.
“We have seen a bit of growth and diversification in wood energy markets as wood producers move to better understand the needs of their bioenergy customers. As a result we’ve some good case studies – from the customers’ perspectives as well – which feature in the coming industry conference, said John. The FIEA conferences are being held on 30/31 March at the Distinction Hotel in Rotorua and again at the Bayview Eden Hotel in Melbourne on 4-5 April.
As well as putting particular focus on case studies with both suppliers and buyers/users discussing their ‘real’ experiences this year’s Residues to Revenues Conference will feature an international keynote speaker from John Deere Forestry in the United States. The FIEA keynote speaker will be Nathan (‘Nate’) Clark who has been for many years working at a high level with Government officials to influence public policy in regard to renewable energy.
Clark spent several years as the Director of Public Policy for John Deere Forestry in the US. He will explain the vision and role of their subsidiary company – John Deere Renewables. In his address he will highlight the commitment made by the company to many aspects of renewable energy, well beyond the biomass harvester for which they are already well known.
With the 2011 running of this long-standing FIEA event there will be a new focus on recent developments in pyrolysis technologies for producing various products including biochar, but also a wider range of outputs. Several key developments are now in the final stages of commercialisation and as a result there will be at least one full session devoted to this fledgling-but-now-proven technology.
Biochar technology will feature in several parts of the conference with both New Zealand research being reported on by Dr Jim Jones from the centre of excellence at Massey University and commercial biochar developments being covered by Dr Adrianna Downie from Pacific Pyrolysis in Australia.
For sawmills with wet wood wastes, commercial solutions are now close at hand from a New Zealand wood technology company, Lakeland Steel, based in Rotorua. The proof of the pudding, they say, is in the eating – and the proof of practical pyrolysis is in a pilot plant. Lakeland Steel now has an operating pilot pyrolysis plant which will be running as a demonstration unit on the second day of the Rotorua conference. Practical and originally targeted at sawmiller’s with wet wood sawdust waste flows, pyrolysis plant developer, Doug Stewart has extended the capability of this pilot plant to use several different waste streams to produce its three bio-products. Delegates attending the Rotorua event will get to see a live demonstration the Lakeland Steel plant on their Rotorua site.
Another key presenter who will summarise global changes since the very popular FIEA Residues to Revenues event in 2009 will be Don Roberts a senior executive with major bank CIBC in Canada. Don gave a global perspective on wood bioenergy’s big issues in 2009 and he will give a presentation to the 2011 event on what has changed since then. Don has since been promoted to run an investment group within CIBC’s North American operation focused solely on clean technology – of which bioenergy from wood is a key part. His presentation will once again give a valuable global perspective to this Australasian event, with his global expertise in clean technology developments.