Bioproducts from Forest Fibres - Forest Business

 Trees in autumnBioeconomy and Forestry -- Seizing Opportunity

Forests are a part of the natural global carbon cycle, using and storing carbon to grow and then releasing it when they die and decompose. Because of this, wood is a renewable, carbon neutral alternative for
  • artificial sweeteners
  • bio-composite plastics
  • electrical energy
  • pharmaceutical drugs
  • resins/glues
  • soil additives
  • textiles
  • transportation fuels such as diesel and ethanol
The Alberta forest sector is uniquely positioned to benefit from bioeconomy opportunities through
  • access to a sustainable feedstock supply
  • reducing their use of fossil fuels and achieving energy self-sufficiency
  • diversifying products and revenue streams; and
  • recycling of waste materials into useful and marketable products
Bioenergy and Biorefineries

What is Bioenergy?

Bioenergy is any renewable energy or fuel derived from biological sources. Along with agricultural products and livestock waste, there are several sources of woody materials for bioenergy in Alberta, including:
  • Construction debris
  • Forest fibres, including logs, limbs and post-production waste and debris piles
Bioenergy Potential in Alberta

Bioenergy is capable of becoming a major part of Alberta's renewable energy mix. A Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was announced in 2008, in the Provincial Energy Strategy, that will require either biodiesel or ethanol to be blended into commercial fuels at an average rate of 5 per cent ethanol blend and 2 per cent biodiesel.

Alberta has the potential to produce:
  • 700 million litres of biodiesel
  • 300 million litres of ethanol
  • 150 megawatts of power from syngas
  • 25 megawatts of power from biogas
Developing the Bioeconomy in Alberta

The Government of Alberta is committed to fostering opportunities to further develop an Alberta bioenergy industry. For several years, through Alberta's Nine-Point Bioenergy Plan, three provincial programs were administered by Alberta Energy to proponents who wanted to develop bioenergy projects: The Nine Point Energy program ended in 2011.

The Federal Government also committed to renewable energy technology development through programs at Sustainable Development Technology Canada, which support the commercialization of the next generation of Canadian biofuel technology.

Pulp Mills as Biorefineries

There are a number of bioenergy facilities in Alberta and more under construction. They utilize agricultural, livestock, wood, and other waste materials as feedstock for the production of electricity, ethanol, methanol and combined heat and power.

A biorefinery is an integrated processing and conversion facility for organic materials:
  • Organic materials, including wood fibres, agricultural fibres, corn and other waste materials are broken down into individual chemical components (carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen).
  • The chemical components are then converted into a variety of products such as:
    • pulp
    • paper
    • fuels
    • power
    • bio-chemicals
    • biomaterials and fibres for textiles, and more
Alberta's seven pulp and paper mills (4 kraft, 2 mechanical/high yield, 1 newsprint) offer tremendous opportunity for industrial diversification. The province's kraft pulp mills are already net contributors to Alberta's electrical grid, capable of generating some 415 MWH of power. That's enough power to provide electricity to 38,180 homes for a year.

Alberta pulp mills are among the most advanced and efficient in North America and remain poised to take advantage of emerging opportunities.

Related Information
  • Alberta Biomaterials Development Centre (ABDC)
    The ABDC helps industry create new products from wood, agricultural fibre and other bio-based feedstock. As one of the largest, most comprehensive biofibre development programs in the world, ABDC provides a single window to access all the biomaterial expertise Alberta has to offer.
  • Alberta Biorefining Conversion Network (BCN)
    Based out of the University of Alberta, BCN is an organization working to support provincial research communities in the areas of biorefining and biomass conversion technologies.
    By striving to form strong partnerships between academia and industry, the BCN promotes research programs that are structured towards achieving commercializable outcomes. It is helping position Alberta more firmly as an early adopter of the emerging global bioindustries sector.
  • Alberta Innovates -- BioSolutions (AIBio)
    AIBio is a publicly funded corporation that invests in research and innovation to grow prosperity in Alberta's agriculture, food and forestry sectors.
  • Alberta Innovates -- Technology Futures (AITF)
    AITF is transforming the way research and innovation happens in Alberta. Through collaborative processes, AITF assists researchers and Alberta businesses in bringing their ideas from bench to market.
    Through the wealth of knowledge gained from its heritage organizations, AITF is evolving its expertise to meet the challenges of tomorrow while creating a simple way for its stakeholders to access the resources they need today - funding, business development, testing and commercialization support.
  • Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC)
    The CCEMC is a not-for-profit, independent organization with a mandate to expand climate change knowledge, develop new 'clean' technologies and explore practical ways of implementing them.
  • Connecting With the Forest Industry: Acquiring Cellulosic Feedstock Sources in Alberta -- Jun 16, 2010 (2 pages, 2.1 MB)
  • Forest Bio-fibre, Carbon, Carbon Sequestration Benefits -- Apr 2010 (3 pages, <1 MB)

For more information on bioproduct development, contact the Forest Industry Development Branch:
For more information about the content of this document, contact
This information published to the web on February 18, 2016.
Last Reviewed/Revised on May 3, 2017.