Bioenergy and Bioproducts

Key Facts:

  • Bioenergy is the second-largest source of renewable electricity after hydro
  • Canada is the second-largest exporter of wood pellets worldwide
  • The majority of bioproduct revenues were generated in Ontario and Quebec

Learn more about the forest bioenergy and bioproducts

Bioenergy

In 2015, biomass energy use in all sectors (residential, commercial, industrial, transportation and agriculture) accounted for 6.1% of Canada’s total energy use. The majority of bioenergy sources were wood pellets, firewood, wood waste and pulping liquor.

While biomass contributes mainly to heat energy, it also contributes to electricity generation.

Biomass is the second-largest source of renewable electricity after hydro. In 2016, it accounted for 3.1% of electricity generation from renewable resources (such as hydro, wind, solar and biomass) and 2.0% of all electricity generation in Canada.

Canada’s installed biomass electricity generation capacity was 2,702 megawatts in 2016, growing 49.8% from 2005 to 2016.

Biomass share of Canada's total energy use, 2015

Forest industry graph
Text version

This graph shows the percentage of Canada’s total energy use in 2015 by electricity (19.8%), natural gas (30.6%), motor gasoline (17.1%), oil (15.0%), aviation gasoline and turbo fuel (3.0%), still gas and petroleum coke (5.2%), biomass (6.1%), and other (3.2%).

 

Biomass share of Canada's total electricity generation, 2016

Forest industry graph
Text version

This graph shows the percentage of Canada’s total electricity generation in 2016 by hydro (58.5%), wind (4.6%), biomass (2.0%), solar (0.5%), nuclear (14.6%), coal (9.2%), natural gas (10.0%), and oil and diesel (0.5%).

 

Wood pellets

Wood pellets are a form of fuel made of wood shavings, bark, sawdust and chips held together by compression or the addition of a binder. They have a low moisture content and are easily transported over long distances.

Canada is the second-largest exporter of wood pellets in the world, with $396.7 million in wood pellets exports representing 11.9% of total global exports in 2017. 

Total Canadian wood pellet production in 2017 was 2.9 million tonnes, a year-to-year increase of 1.6% from 2016 and an increase of 32.4% from 2012. British Columbia was the top producer in Canada with 2.1 million tonnes, representing 72.2% of the national total.

Global ranking for wood pellet exports by value, 2017
Rank Country Percentage of world value (%)
1 United States 26.0
2 Canada 11.9
3 Latvia 8.2
4 Estonia 7.0
5 Austria 6.0
All others* - 40.9

* All others includes 39 countries.

British Columbia represents the largest share of Canadian exports, with 78.0% of total exports by value at $311.3 million. The top three markets for wood pellets from British Columbia are the United Kingdom, Japan and Belgium.

Top export markets and share of total value of exports by province – wood pellets, 2017
Province


Share of total value of exports (%)

Top export markets

Export market value
(ranked by top markets by province) (C$)
British Columbia 78.0 United Kingdom 230,749,284
Japan 42,669,792
Belgium 20,715,512
Quebec 13.0 United States 38,823,547
United Kingdom 9,926,449
Italy 4,167,274
New Brunswick 6.1 United Kingdom 22,489,735
United States 1,744,006
Alberta 1.4 United States 5,512,684
Nova Scotia 0.5 United Kingdom 1,920,000
Belgium 119,608
Ontario 0.1 United States 525,552

Bioproducts

As reported in the 2015 Bioproducts Production and Development Survey, bioproducts are defined as products produced from biomass (e.g. biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel; bio-gas and bioenergy; organic chemicals such as biopolymers; bio-pesticides; plant-made biologics; non-conventional construction materials and composites; intermediary biochemicals; and biomaterials if produced in a non-conventional manner). The following products are excluded: food, nutraceuticals, feed (livestock feed and pet food), medicines, and forestry-based bioproducts produced in a traditional way (such as lumber and paper).

In 2015, 190 businesses were engaged in bioproducts production and development, using either forest- or agriculture-based biomass.

Total bioproduct revenues were $4.3 billion in 2015, with the majority of revenues coming from biofuels, (63.6%). Total employment in the sector was 4,118.

From 2009 to 2015, bioproduct revenues increased from $1.3 billion to $4.3 billion, while total employment increased from 3,019 to 4,118. The percentage of revenues spent on research and development decreased from 3.4% to 1.7%.

The majority of bioproduct revenues were generated in Ontario and Quebec, which accounted for 44.4% and 25.8% of the national total, respectively. Similarly, Ontario and Quebec accounted for 40.4% and 33.3%, respectively, of the total bioproduct employment in Canada.

Bioproduct revenues, 2015

By product type
By product type
Product Revenues (thousand C$)
Biofuel 2,715,874
Bioenergy 140,027
Organic chemicals* -
Materials and composites** 370,549
Intermediary biochemical and biomaterials 49,529
Other bioproducts* -
Total 4,268,941

*Data suppressed.
**The total for materials and composites was suppressed. This number includes only composites and bioplastics.

With employment by region
With employment by region
Region Revenues (thousand C$) Direct employment
Atlantic provinces 35 51
Quebec 1,103,150 1,370
Ontario 1,894,151 1,662
Prairies 1,178,777 587
British Columbia 92,828 447
Canada 4,268,941 4,118

Sources

Statistics Canada, Report on Energy Supply and Demand in Canada 1990–2015 and Natural Resources Canada, Residential End-Use Model.  Canada’s Secondary Energy Use and GHG Emissions by Energy Source. Total End Use Sector.

National Energy Board. Canada’s Renewable Power Landscape 2017 – Energy Market Analysis. Table 1 Electric Capacity and Generation in Canada.

Statistics Canada. Merchandise trade data (obtained via Global Trade Atlas) (accessed July 12, 2018).

Statistics Canada. Merchandise trade data (accessed June 28, 2018).

Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service. 2017 Report on Bioenergy In Canada. (Internal Report.)

Statistics Canada. 2015 Bioproducts Production and Development Survey.

Statistics Canada. Results from Statistics Canada’s Bioproducts Production and Development Survey 2009.