Grand Falls-Windsor — There’s a potentially lucrative wood pellet business in this province and it’s grabbed the attention of the Newfoundland and Labrador Lumber Producers Association.
“We’ve got tabs on what’s happening there in Grand Falls-Windsor,” said manager Gloria Saunders.
Two of five proposals the provincial government received for the now-defunct AbitibiBowater mill in Grand Falls-Windsor were for sawmills and wood pellet production.
Saunders’ group represents not only sawmills, but other sectors of the forestry industry, which is why the association is interested in the wood pellet market.
Wood pellets are a clean, renewable resource that can be made from the waste materials from sawmills and other forest operations, or trees that would be cut down otherwise because of insect infestations.
Forests don’t have to be logged out to produce wood pellets.
They also burn cleanly, with little in the way of pollutants. Pellets are classified as a carbon-neutral energy source, since they introduce no new carbon to the existing cycle.
Right now, only three operations in the province are making pellets — Cottles Island Lumber in Notre Dame Bay; Blanchard’s Pelletizing, a division of Blanchard’s Cabinets in Bishop’s Falls; and a business soon to be operating in Roddickton.
The world market also seems to be interested in a home heating source that is cheaper and greener than oil, and produces less contaminants than traditional wood stoves.
“They don’t put out nearly as much of the toxins that oil does,” Saunders said.
More stores are carrying bags of pellets now, and more businesses in the home heating industry are selling the stoves.
Still, Saunders says the province should do more to promote the advantages of wood pellets.
Wood pellet production is a $280 million-a-year industry in Canada. The country’s annual wood pellet production is about 1.4 million tonnes, approximately 14 per cent of the 10-million-tonne global market.