Biomass, for this research study, is defined as the by-products of forest harvesting and management, including all woody parts, such as tree tops, branches, bark, stumps, needles, and leaves. Biomass is the wood waste left behind after logging or thinning, as well as residues from the manufacturing process, and from forests damaged by wildfire, insects, disease, or other natural disasters. Biomass can also come from organic municipal, industrial, and agricultural processes and wastes, and energy plantations.
Biomass utilization is the “harvest, sale, offer, trade or utilization of woody biomass to produce bioenergy… and bio-based products”. With rising fuel costs, increasing uncertainty of resource supplies and energy markets, and concern over climate change, utilizing wood waste has become a more attractive and feasible endeavour. Biomass utilization has the potential to reduce dependence on non-renewable energy, reduce energy costs and increase self-sufficiency, reduce wildfire risk, offset greenhouse gas emissions, develop new opportunities for the forest sector, enhance rural economies, and improve forest health and sustainability. Several jurisdictions, including BC, NWT, Yukon, Alaska, and many European countries, have biomass utilization strategies and have made investments and advancements in modern biomass energy systems and innovations. The International Energy Agency reports that “bioenergy is expected to account for 17% of all energy by 2060, up from 4.5% today”. While biomass utilization, simply put, is the use of organic matter – something humans have been doing for thousands of years, the use of wood “waste” has become a topic of considerable interest, investment, and innovation around the world in recent years, with a variety of usages being explored and employed.