Ontario seeks comments on draft Forest Biomass Action Plan

By Erin Voegele | May 10, 2021

The Ontario government on May 6 released a draft Forest Biomass Action Plan for public review and comment. The plan, in part, aims to support demand for forest bioenergy, including heat and power generation.

A statement released by the government explains that the development of the Forest Biomass Action Plan is a key commitment of Ontario’s forest sector strategy for sustainable growth, which was released in August 2020.

The draft action plan outlines five primary objectives, including supporting demand for forest bioenergy and bioproducts; identifying pathways to markets for forest biomass; improving the business and regulatory environments for the use of forest biomass; supporting holistic, culturally relevant pathways for Indigenous community involvement in forest biomass value chains; and communicating, collaborating and informing on forest biomass opportunities.

The draft action plan outlines several actions that the government of Ontario can take to support demand for forest bioenergy and bioproducts. As part of that effort, the report states the government should ensure that existing facilities that consume biomass for electricity generated are provided ongoing access to the provincial market at fair compensation for the value they provide to Ontario’s electricity system. This includes recognizing and removing barriers that prevent biomass facilities from optimizing their assets.

The draft action plan also calls on the government to publish a report that quantifies the financial contribution of forest biomass to individual facilities and the entire forest sector, and its socio-economic contribution to local communities and the provincial economy.

In addition, the report states that the government should provide resources for the development of community-led projects that use forest biomass; advanced the use of forest biomass in the production of biofuels for heat through the Ontario Bioheat Initiative; create a provincial bioheat strategy to increase production and consumption of domestic biofuels; engage with potential industry users to integrate forest biomass into supply chains; and pursue government procurement to reduce the embodied and operational carbon footprint of buildings, energy, and other products through the use of strategies such as life-cycle assessment and certified sustainable materials.

Public comments on the draft Forest Biomass Action Plan can be filed through June 21. Additional information is available on the Environmental Registry of Ontario website