Nova Scotia provincial funding partners the Department of Natural Resources and Innovacorp are jointly contributing $667,000 to Halifax, NS-based energy giant Emera Inc’s $1 million into a new private-public partnership forestry innovation “hub,” based in an Innovacorp of office in Dartmouth, NS.
Nova Scotia Forestry New PPP Innovation Hub
Nova Scotia provincial funding partners the Department of Natural Resources and Innovacorp are jointly contributing $667,000 to Halifax, NS-based energy giant Emera Inc’s $1 million into a new private-public partnership forestry innovation “hub,” based in an Innovacorp office in Dartmouth, NS, said the Chronicle Herald July 8.
Two partners are providing key services to the project; Bioapplied Innovation Pathways, a private partnership, and FPInnovations, a not-for-profit research institute serving the forestry industry in Canada.
The money is for the Forestry Innovation Hub, which launched last year through Innovacorp and is mandated to connect Nova Scotia’s forestry industry to innovative new uses for wood and wood byproducts. The goal is to diversify the forestry industry away from traditional pulp and paper mills.
The hub will work as a place to connect Nova Scotia’s industry to companies that have already designed products that could be sourced, at lease in part, from Nova Scotia.
Clean-tech work could be expanded to other traditional industries, including agriculture, oceans and waste management.
The Nova Scotia Forestry Innovation Hub has been in development for almost a year. The hub’s plan is to work with industry to turn residual wood into biofuel and other green products, according to LocalXPress July 7.
Products already exist that use wood and wood byproduct to make replacements for plastics and cement.
Work is already underway elsewhere in Canada and around the world to commercialize such value-added technologies as new building materials, plastics and chemicals that stem from waste wood. Nova Scotia start-ups include Cellufuel, which has a biofuel demonstration project in Brooklyn, Queens County.
Any intellectual property developed by the hub will be industry-owned said Emera President and CEO Chris Huskilson.
A principal consultant to the project, Rod Badcock, said to the Chronicle Herald the government partners and Emera had formed a governance committee to guide the work, which was being done by an informal partnership, in which he plays a principal role.
An Emera-owned biomass plant in Point Tupper, Cape Breton, is now only running during periods of peak electricity demand, which makes wood chips available for other uses.
As for Bioapplied Innovation Pathways, it is a partnership between Badcock and Gregory Maloney and their respective companies: Fusion Intel, registered in Nova Scotia, and Enoptec, registered in Quebec.
The hub project is just one of Bioapplied’s clients. Another client is CelluForce, whose shareholders are the pulp and paper company, Domtar; Schlumberger Limited, a global technology company serving the oil and gas sector; and FPInnovations. CelluForce supplies wood-based cellulose nanocrystals, or nanocrystalline cellulose, for industrial products.
One the objectives of the hub partners is to find domestic markets for new industrial products, such as biofuel, which may be processed from wood fibre.
Emera, which indirectly owns the province’s two major biomass plants, seems attracted to the commercial prospects for diverting low grade wood to higher value products at a time when there is less demand for burning biomass to produce electricity.
The biomass plant in Point Tupper, Richmond County, is owned by Nova Scotia Power, which is owned by Emera. This year the plant was downgraded from a must-run, round-the-clock enterprise to a plant that is only fired up as demand peaks.
Since it began producing electricity at the plant in 2013, the provincial utility has built up a significant forest supply chain. It likely has excess stockpiles of waste wood and may have contracts for more forest biomass than it can use, said the Chronicle Herald.
Being studied are things including new market opportunities and alternatives for petroleum products with bio-based fuels in marine diesel and heating oil applications. Another initiative is looking at how forestry contractors can integrate technology, innovation and best practice to help improve their performance.
“We’re committed to making Canada a global innovation leader,” said Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for ACOA. “To do so, we must experiment, explore and adapt. Investing in research and development is the first step on the path to long-term economic growth.”
“Emera recognizes that the forestry and re- source sectors are vital parts of Nova Scotia’s economy,” said Chris Huskilson, president and CEO of Emera Inc. “We are pleased to support this collaborative initiative meant to foster industry participation and generate economic opportunities.”
Press Release July 7, 2016: Natural Resources Dept –
Government of Nova Scotia,
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency –
Government of Canada,