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BioÉnergie La Tuque awarded CA$5.9 million for biorefinery demo project

In Canada, the Government of Québec has announced that it will award funding totaling CA$5.943 million (≈EUR 3.85 million) to Bioénergie La Tuque (BELT), a non-profit organization, under a program called Technoclimat from Transition Énergétique Québec (TEQ) for a project to develop and demonstrate the potential of producing advanced biofuels from locally-sourced forestry waste in La Tuque, Québec.

In Canada, the Government of Québec will award funding totaling CA$5.943 million (≈EUR 3.85 million) to Bioénergie La Tuque (BELT), a non-profit organization, under a program called Technoclimat from Transition Énergétique Québec (TEQ) for a project to develop and demonstrate the potential of producing advanced biofuels from locally-sourced forestry waste in La Tuque, Québec (graphic courtesy Neste).

Bioénergie La Tuque (BELT), the Council of the Atikamekw Nation (CNA), and Finland-headed Neste Oyj, the world’s leading renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel provider, have been collaborating on the project since 2017.

The partners have been jointly assessing the feasibility of utilizing sustainably-sourced forest-based biomass, particularly harvesting residues – such as branches and tops that are not suitable for sale – in the production of advanced sustainable biofuels.

Our biorefinery project is a great example of regional and international collaboration, with several local players including the Council of the Atikamekw Nation, the Coopérative Forestière du Haut-St. Maurice, the Forest School of La Tuque, FPInnovations and Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR), and our partner Neste, the world’s leading producer of renewable fuels and the third most sustainable company in the world. The project will significantly contribute to the economic development of our local communities and to the reduction of GHGs for Quebec’s transportation sector. We would like to warmly thank the Government of Québec which, through this significant financial participation in the pre-commercial phase of the project, shows its support and trust in our vision, said Patrice Bergeron President of BELT.

The awarded funding will be used to continue project development and plant design, which are key enablers for making further decisions regarding the potential of building a renewable fuels plant in the area.

Once in place, this biorefinery could produce advanced renewable biofuels based on forest logging residues from the Haute-Mauricie region in Québec.

Neste is very grateful for the funding provided by the Québec Government, demonstrating the government’s strong support for our aim of bringing new volumes of sustainable lower-emission fuels from locally-sourced raw materials to the market. Additional biofuel volumes are crucial for replacing fossil fuel use, making a positive impact towards reaching local and global emission reduction targets. Our long-term collaboration with BELT is a great example of the many initiatives Neste is engaging in to further increase the company’s positive impact on fighting climate change on a global level, said Lars Peter Lindfors, SVP Innovation at Neste.

Aligned with green economy goals

This biorefinery project is perfectly in line with the goals of the Government of Québec towards a greener economy. The advanced biofuel will be fully compatible with existing infrastructure and therefore an excellent candidate for supporting the energy transition into the next decade.

Autumnal colours of a mixed managed forest landscape, species, and age classes north of Saint Raymond, Québec.

Thus the project has the potential to significantly reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from Québec’s transportation sector, allowing the province to reach significantly larger emission reductions than what is currently projected.

The project supports the development of Quebec’s bioenergy sector and has the potential to have a positive impact on the local economy. This project can be seen as an important step forward in establishing the Province’s capabilities to produce sustainable biofuels.

The demand for such fuels is likely to increase locally and across Canada as both the Québec provincial government and the federal government continue in their initiative to implement a low-carbon fuel standard. Demand for low-carbon, renewable fuels is also growing globally as businesses and cities around the world look for ways to meet climate goals.

The La Tuque Bioenergy project has the immense potential to pave the way for the establishment of the first biorefinery to produce renewable fuels from residual forest biomass. This technological demonstration is in line with the planned energy transition for Quebec and is part of our vision of a lower-carbon economy. Together, we can join forces for a sustainable energy future, said Jonatan Julien, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Minister responsible for the Côte-Nord region.

Well-positioned to utilize forest residues

Importantly, Québec’s established forest product industry and commitment to sustainable forestry management (SFM) mean that the Province is well-positioned for biofuels production that converts forestry residues into renewable products.

Carrying tree-length low-grade pulpwood with a clam bunk skidder to a landing for roadside woodchip production.

Leaving harvesting residues unutilized in the forests hinders the forest regeneration process and thus slows down carbon sequestration. Removing part of it, while maintaining the regeneration capacity of forest soils, supports Québec’s sustainable management of forests and maintains biodiversity.

The region developed around logging, yet at the moment residues from this industry are rotting in the woods. In a coherent energy transition towards a greener economy, projects that make it possible to recover what is currently considered to be waste is aligned with Atikamekw’s values of improving the use of the territory’s resources. These are not perfect industries, but by acting wisely, we can combine economic, social, and environmental development. We have to be ambitious and smart to achieve social, economic, and environmental success. Through the development of projects like this the transition to a better future can be made, said Constant Awashish, Grand Chief of the Atikamekw Nation.

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