British Columbia is the largest bioenergy-producing region in North America with capacity of 4,300 GWh/yr and the Cariboo-Chilcotin Coast region’s bioenergy sector is positioned well for continued growth and development. The region offers a strong economic and investment climate in the forest sector, ongoing bioenergy technology innovation, existing commercial capacity, and growing forest sector business activity. The region is home to many businesses and organizations engaged in research, development, manufacturing, and engineering in a sector that is fueled by growing global demand for renewable energy.

Central and northern British Columbia has the largest availability of wood biomass in the country. The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations estimates there are approximately 3.1 million cubic metres of potential forest tenure available for use as biomass for energy. This, in conjunction with a network of companies located throughout the region, with large capital investments in the forest and the emerging bioenergy industries and whose entrepreneurial activity is driving the development and implementation of new technologies, are assets to the overall positioning of BC as a global bioenergy leader.

Learn more about pursuing biomass energy opportunities and technologies in British Columbia.

The British Columbia Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Housing

The British Columbia Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Housing is the legislative body responsible for regulation of the bioenergy sector within the province and implementing the BC Bioenergy Strategy. The BC Bioenergy Strategy was designed to help British Columbia reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen its long-term competitiveness and electricity self-sufficiency. The strategy intends to turn the challenges of the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation into new opportunities, and looks to future bioenergy technologies including wood pellets, cogeneration, and biocarbon to foster a sustainable competitive advantage. The BC Bioenergy Strategy directly supports the commitments made in the BC Energy Plan and is a key contributor to achieve their emission reduction goals.

The British Columbia Bioenergy Network

British Columbia has a number of organizations committed to positioning the province to take a leadership role in the advancement of next generation bioenergy on a global basis. Notably, the BC Bioenergy Network was established in 2008 with a $25 million grant from the provincial government, it is an industry-led initiative that is a catalyst for deploying near-term bioenergy technologies and supporting mission-driven research to build a world class bioenergy capability in British Columbia. The BC Bioenergy Network is committed to maximizing the value of BC’s biomass resources; developing mission-driven research development and demonstration projects; reducing greenhouse gas emissions; networking and partnering in BC, Canada, and internationally to advance BC’s bioenergy sector; and levering funding to support BC-focused bioenergy technology and applications.

Northern Bioenergy Partnership

The BC Bioenergy Network and the Omineca Beetle Action Coalition provided startup funding towards the Northern Bioenergy Partnership that is committed to positioning Northern British Columbia as a national leader in a technologically advanced, forest-based bioenergy industry, the Northern Bioenergy Partnership. The Northern Bioenergy Partnership is an industry-led coalition of businesses, academic institutions, government and First Nations organizations involved in the bioenergy industry in northern British Columbia. The Northern Bioenergy Partnership’s strategic focus is to develop a bioenergy “center of excellence” for the province of BC by driving the growth of the forest-based bioenergy sector. The success of Northern Bioenergy Partnership is measured by jobs, investment, and the region’s contribution to climate change objectives through the sustainable use of forest biomass.

Wood Pellets

Canada is one of the top producers of wood pellets in the world and British Columbia is the source of roughly two-thirds of national pellet production. Around the globe, most of the pellets produced are used domestically. This is not the case in British Columbia, as the principal market exports to power generation facilities in foreign countries.

Wood pellets are principally manufactured from wood waste (typically sawdust and shavings) residuals created in the production of lumber or other solid wood product processing, as well as from wood recovered from grinding and chipping of non-merchantable timber in forests. Pellets have several advantages over other fuel sources, including a consistency in size and shape that makes them easy to transport, and a lack of artificial or toxic ingredients that render them hazard-free to handle and eliminates the possibility of toxic spills. In addition, pellets are more efficient than other fuels and offer a net carbon reduction if they displace non-renewable fuels.
Producing pellets out of wood residue is a well-established industry in central and northern British Columbia. As of 2012, Canada had 42 pellet plants with 3 million tonnes annual production capacity. Of these pellet plants, a total of 9 are located in north central BC. In 2010, Canada's pellet plants operated at about 65% capacity - producing about 1.3 million tonnes per year, while in 2011 almost 1.9 million tonnes of pellet production was exported.

Pinnacle Renewable Energy Group

Pinnacle Renewable Energy Group operates two plant locations within the Cariboo-Chilcotin Coast region; one facility in the City of Quesnel, and another in the City of Williams Lake.

Pinnacle Renewable Energy Group (hyperlink:, a private company founded by the Swaan family of Quesnel, has been in operation for over twenty years and is the longest established pellet producer in Western Canada. Located in the heart of the lumber industry in central BC, Canada, Pinnacle has access to an excellent and abundant source of raw materials. Pinnacle produces a variety of products carrying their brand name: premium softwood pellet fuel and pine animal bedding pellets. Pinnacle also produces custom products for companies in uniquely branded packaging. A large portion of Pinnacle’s production is for the bulk domestic and overseas market.

Today, the company operates five pellet plants across BC with a production capacity of 1.04 million tonnes of wood pellets annually. All plants operate twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and are located in an arc centered on Prince George, with Burns Lake and Houston on the western arm and Meadowbank, Quesnel, Williams Lake and Armstrong going south through the Cariboo.

Fibre Supply

Fibre supply comes from a mixture of mill residuals, harvesting waste materials, and whole logs. Pinnacle Pellet Inc. currently produces over 500,000 metric tonnes per year of carbon-neutral quality wood fuel pellets.

Bulk Pellets

Making up approximately 90% of its sales, Pinnacle currently ships bulk product to customers throughout North America, Western Europe and Asia. Individual bulk shipments range in size from 40 tonne truckloads and 100 tonne rail hopper cars to 4,000 – 47,000 metric tonne per ship cargo holds. Pinnacle utilizes several BC port facilities including Fibreco Terminal, the Kinder Morgan Terminal in North Vancouver, and the Ridley Terminal in Prince Rupert.

Contact Information

Leroy Reitsma
Senior Vice President,
Pinnacle Renewable Energy Group
4252 Dog Prairie Road
Quesnel, British Columbia
V2L 6K9, Canada
Phone: (800) 967-9777

Pacific BioEnergy Corporation

Pacific BioEnergy is a privately-held company that has positioned itself to be the leading integrated manufacturer and supplier of wood pellet biomass fuel in Canada.

Founded in early 1994, Pacific BioEnergy was among the first to pioneer wood pellet fuel manufacturing in Canada, and in 1998 successfully pioneered the bulk commercial overseas market for Canadian produced wood pellet fuel. Today, Pacific BioEnergy focuses on international bulk industrial energy sales.

Pacific BioEnergy has secured fibre supply through ownership of forest licenses and long term contracts, and is targeting production capacity of approximately 1,000,000 tonnes of wood pellet fuel per annum by 2013. Today the company produces up to 400,000 tonnes per year at its plant in Prince George, British Columbia.

Market and Facility Development Status

Commercial Production – Prince George, BC
Commercial production at 400,000 tonnes of wood pellet fuel per annum.

Fibre Supply

The current Prince George pellet plant requires approximately 450,000 m3 of fibre per year, which is met via contracts for sawmill residuals, forest debris, and whole logs. The expanded plant at Prince George and both Greenfield projects will require approximately 800,000 m3 of fibre each year. Finally, the pellet plant will be supplied by the 750,000 m3 annual cutting rights from the recently acquired forest license in the Quesnel Timber Supply Area.

Contact Information

Brad Bardua
Chief Financial Officer,
Pacific BioEnergy Corporation
Suite 1508 – 999 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
V62 2W2, Canada
Phone: (604) 602-1099


Cogeneration is the process whereby a single fuel source, such as natural gas, is used to produce both electrical and thermal energy. An onsite cogeneration system is more efficient than a utility operated central power plant, since thermal energy that would otherwise be wasted is captured for use at the facility. The result is a much more efficient use of fuel which can generate substantial savings for the end user.

Canada has a large, well-developed forest sector and is one of the world’s largest exporters. The forest industry exported $41.9 billion in paper, pulp, lumber, board, and other forest products in 2005. The production of woody biomass is proportionate with production of forest goods. The pulp and paper sector is the largest industrial source of biomass cogeneration, accounting for 88%. This sector is able to meet 60% of its own energy demands through biomass cogeneration.

British Columbia is the largest bioenergy-producing region in North America, with a capacity of 4,300 GWh/year, and was the first province in Canada to announce a bioenergy strategy. The province’s pulp and paper sector is composed of 20 mills and currently employs 15,200 people in manufacturing. BC aims to reduce its electricity impact by setting a goal to become energy self-sufficient, with 90% of its power to come from clean sources.

Atlantic Power Corporation

Atlantic Power Corporation operates the NW Energy Cogeneration Plant within the community.

The Atlantic Power Corporation’s power plant in Williams Lake is a $150 million wood waste fuelled electric generating plant. Each year it consumes over 600,000 tons of wood waste from local sawmills to generate 67 MW of electricity for sale primarily to BC Hydro. The plant is the largest biomass power plant in North America and it has enabled the Williams Lake sawmills to close their beehive burners, improving the air quality in the Williams Lake valley.

The Williams Lake Project is a 66 MW biomass-fired generating facility located in Williams Lake, in south-central BC. The project commenced commercial operations in April 1993. Atlantic Power indirectly owns 100% of the project.

Williams Lake sells energy generated at the facility to BC Hydro under a long-term Power Purchase Agreement expiring in 2018. Biomass fuel is provided to the project under short-term and long-term wood waste supply agreements with various suppliers. Biomass consumed at Williams Lake consists of wood waste from sawmill operations and forestry management.

For career opportunities with Atlantic Power Corporation, please visit the company’s website at:

Contact Information

215-10451 Shellbridge Way
Richmond, BC V6X 2W8
Telephone: 604-238-2000


The limitation of biomass as a source of bioenergy is its low energy density which restricts its economic distribution. Thermochemical biorefining technology converts renewable biomass into an energy density similar to that of coal. Wood-based bioenergy had been revolutionized through the development of wood pellets. Biocarbon, produced from the same type of biomass as wood pellets, is the next generation energy pellet, having an energy density ~70% higher than a wood pellet. The biocarbon pellet has the following advantages over the traditional wood pellet (on an energy basis):

  • roughly 70% higher energy density 
  • lower fossil-fuel transportation costs 
  • lower fossil-fuel footprint 
  • smaller storage requirements
  • more versatile biomass input
  • any carbon containing material can be utilized
  • can utilize hog, slash, and other woody residues
  • does not produce ‘off-gases’ during storage or transportation
  • scalable and modular which allows for biomass sourcing not available to wood pellets

Pioneer Biomass

A division of Pioneer Family Timber Partnership, operates a facility within the City of Williams Lake.

Pioneer Biomass grinds logging debris to provide fibre for residual fibre users; currently grinding 40 loads per day, with a goal of 500,000 m3 in the next year. Pioneer Biomass was formed to focus on increasing its utilization of logging residuals as well as primary log breakdown and log exports. The key components of the company are a sort yard and the grinding of logging residuals.

There has been a lot of interest and speculation in recent years for using beetle wood for bio-energy but this is mostly for the future facilities that could be built if fibre is cheap enough and financing is available. Wood pellets and power production comprise the bulk of the existing consumption of wood residuals. Capital Power Corporation and Pinnacle Pellet Incorporated are the largest users in the British Columbia operating area and Pioneer Biomass is fortunate to be the sole residual fibre provider for both.

Contact Information

Phil Theriault
Project Supervisor,
Pioneer Biomass Inc.
351 Hodgson Road
Williams Lake, BC  V2G 3P7
Phone : 250-392-4777

Nations Energy Corporation

Nations Energy will provide an innovative biomass-to-energy project, in Anahim, BC, through an exciting joint venture with West Chilcotin Forest Products, in which West Chilcotin will provide feedstock for the project.

Nations Energy Corporation is an integrated sustainable bioenergy company focused on the creation of carbon neutral energy and bio fuels from prolific sources like Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) killed biomass. The MPB is an infestation that has killed 675 million cubic metres of timber in British Columbia. However, MPB timber has significant value as it can be used to create bioenergy.

Nations Energy is uniquely positioned enjoying First Nations support and meaningful involvement in all aspects of the company's business in order to leverage this extensive supply of MPB feedstock through a portfolio of bioenergy products that address the rapidly growing biomass energy market and provides much needed economic growth for First Nations partners.

Contact Information

Nations Energy Corporation
300-1055 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC V6E 2E9