Center of Excellence for Forest Biomass Sustainability

NCASI Forest Biomass Cooperative is now the
Center of Excellence for Forest Biomass Sustainability

NCASI established the Forest Biomass Cooperative (FBC) in 2010 to sponsor and direct scientific investigations that support the sustainable production and use of biomass grown in forestry and agro-forestry settings. Participation in the FBC has been open to biomass producers, traditional forest products companies, and new users of biomass feedstocks. The business case is straightforward – New and established participants in forest biomass markets need scientific information to address environmental and sustainability issues. Priority topics include effects of biomass production and use on wood supplies, biodiversity, water quantity and quality, air quality, and greenhouse gas emissions. Failure to address these topics could result in regulations and/or market campaigns based on perception rather than on factual data, potentially imposing excessive constraints and costs on the production and use of biomass resources.

Since its inception, the NCASI Forest Biomass Cooperative has been addressing technical questions about the environmental aspects of using forest biomass to produce renewable materials and energy. Priority topics of study include air quality issues for biomass processing facilities, sources and sinks of greenhouse gases associated with forest-based value chains and forest sustainability. Please refer to Corporate Correspondent Memorandum No. 13-013 for an update on accomplishments.

Reassessing the FBC Value Proposition

NCASI reexamined the value proposition of the FBC in late 2013, given changes in government policies and shifts in industrial landscape as it pertains to biomass feedstocks. The founding vision of the Cooperative was to create a forum where studies relevant to the use of biomass as fuel for electrical power generation, could be carried out. However, the use of wood pellets and other forest-derived biomass for energy in industrial and residential applications has been increasing in Western Europe for several years, and has begun to expand in North America as well. Biorefineries that utilize cellulosic biomass to produce ethanol and other liquid fuels, even though in their infancy, are expected to demonstrate commercial viability over time. The trend therefore suggests industrial-scale manufacturing of an increasing number of non-traditional products that involve biomass feedstocks.

After this reassessment, the FBC has been realigned to appeal to a broader cross-section of industries utilizing biomass as feedstock to make products, including pellet manufacturers, bio-fuels companies, drop-in fuel additive manufacturers, etc. NCASI’s expertise in LCA, carbon accounting and neutrality, and sustainable forestry topics is very relevant to these additional industry sectors. A more comprehensive value proposition for FBC emerged out of this reassessment as shown below. The decision was also made to rebrand the FBC as the NCASI Center of Excellence for Forest Biomass Sustainability (CFBS). The primary mission of the CFBS continues to be to conduct technical studies that support sustainable use of forest biomass resource in North America.

Membership in the CFBS

Companies engaged in timberland management and/or the manufacture of traditional forest products (pulp, paper, building products) can be part of the CFBS through their NCASI membership. Other for-profit companies are eligible to participate as CFBS Affiliate Members if they are engaged in the generation of electricity or the manufacture of alternate products using biomass feedstocks. Examples include companies engaged in (a) biomass harvesting and transportation; (b) generation of electrical or thermal energy from biomass; (c) modification of biomass to produce liquid, solid, or gaseous fuels; (d) conversion of biomass into renewable materials other than pulp, paper or building products; and (e) providing equipment, materials, or technical consulting services to companies participating in forest-based value chains.

Companies interested in the NCASI CFBS are invited to contact Ashok Jain (US) or Kirsten Vice (Canada).