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Scoping Study of Canadian Biomass Inventory Data and Tools

Executive Summary

The Government of Canada has committed to reducing national annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% from a 2005 baseline by 2030.  This requires a reduction of 200 Mt CO2e from the current (2015) level.  In order to achieve this reduction, the Government of Canada plans to implement several impactful policies, including the forthcoming Clean Fuel Standard (CFS).  It is intended that the CFS, which will require a reduction in the life cycle GHG intensity of fuels used in Canada, will lead to annual GHG reductions of 30 Mt CO2e by 2030.  Evidence from other jurisdictions with existing low carbon fuel standards, which are similar to the CFS but only applied to the transportation sector, indicates blending biofuels and bioenergy is likely to be a dominant compliance approach.  Delivering a significant proportion of the 30 Mt CO2e CFS reduction goal with bioenergy/biofuels will require a substantial volume of biomass.

To support CFS design, Natural Resources Canada sought to better understand the data, analyses, and tools currently available to accurately inventory and cost domestic biomass resources.  Torchlight Bioresources was contracted to identify and describe the information resources that are available and contrast these with the information resources required to complete a future comprehensive national inventory and regional cost curve assessment.  The information derived from this comparison was then used by TorchLight to provide recommendations on future inventory and costing projects/initiatives, including creation of regional biomass cost curves, which would support the design and implementation of the CFS.  In addition, TorchLight was tasked with preparing a high-level, order-of-magnitude national inventory of biomass resources and projections on future biomass production.

The inventory of biomass supply and cost information resources indicated that most of the data and tools required to prepare a static national biomass inventory and regional biomass cost curves is available, but generally unorganized for the needs of the CFS policy designers.  A substantive, 6-month biomass inventory and CFS compliance costing project could bring together this information and conduct analyses and scenario modelling to inform CFS policymakers of policy design impacts prior to CFS release.  A budget, timeline, key tasks, and scope for a project are described in this report.  The high-level biomass inventory showed biomass production and availability can vary significantly over time, particularly because many of the feedstocks that are used for bioenergy and biofuels are residues or co-products of primary agriculture and forestry operations.

Full report available upon request. Please contact  Low Carbon and Alternative Fuels at nrcan.lowcarbonandalternativefuels-carburantsafaibleteneurencarboneetalternatifs.rncan@canada.ca

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