La Coop federee invests in Prairie Bio Energy

By Erin Voegele | June 19, 2012

Montreal-based La Coop fédérée (LCF) has signed an ownership agreement with La Broquerie, Manitoba-based advanced biomass company Prairie Bio Energy Inc. Under the agreement, LCF assumes 50 percent ownership over the intellectual property held by the PBE Group. According to information released by the companies, the new partnership will allow LCF to become a Canadian leader in the promotion of agricultural biomass by supporting projects, products, practices and equipment through an authorized distribution network.

LCF represents nearly 90,000 members in 103 cooperatives, and provides agricultural producers with goods and services they need to operate their businesses. PBE, alternatively, has developed a biofuel pellet made primarily from straw that is designed to replace coal. 

 “Our new association with Prairie Bio Energy, leader in its sector in this country, is very promising,” said LCF CEO Claude Lafleur. “There is enormous potential for the local producers here. The expansion that La Coop fédérée is undergoing in Canada, among other things through the acquisition of companies in the crop production sector, is opening the door to multiple markets. The synergy is there. The leadership from across Quebec is moving forward through our actions in the biomass sector.

There are several reasons LCF cites as contributing to its desire to partner with PBE. Information supplied by the two companies noted that LCF’s cooperative business model made it important to find a partner in the biomass sector that understands and practices cooperative ideologies and sustainable practices. In addition, BPE knowledge of biomass logistics, material handling, value added transformation and combustion were attractive. LCF also noted that BPE has developed several installations of its Blue Flame Stoker in district heating applications, possesses and entrepreneurial spirit, has a network that spans across North America, and has developed strong working relationships with other members of industry.

According to LCF, combining knowledge, resources and networks will benefit both companies and allow for substantial growth throughout Canada over the next few years, while providing a means to enhance the biomass value chain. LCF also stated that for the time being it will work with PBE to structure a new company with representation in Manitoba and Quebec.

LCF also describes several activities that are planned this year as part of the partnership. These include:

  1. - The completion of a pilot-scale plant transformation facility that would include a biomass research facility in La Broquerie
  2. - Planning for a potential large-scale biomass transformation center in Quebec at a decommissioned feel mill site
  3. - Implementation of a Blue Flam Stoker biomass multi fuel system at the Centre de Développement Bioalimentaire du Quebec.
  4. - The completion of several studies on conducting feasibility studies with Sonic Energy to evaluate large scale biomass energy project
  5. - Market trials and research in regard to the Simply Straw product line


Information provided by LCF noted another future objective will be to determine the market potential for biomass heating systems across Canada. “Quebec has an excellent potential to implement an energy sector based on biomass,” said Stéphane Gauthier, co-founder of PBE Group. “There is a big enough population to launch many projects. And the cost of fossil fuels is higher here than in Manitoba.”