This summer Canfor Corp. officially marked the opening of its two new pellet plants collocated at company sawmill sites in Chetwynd and Fort St. John near Vancouver, British Columbia, with a grand opening event at each facility, including a ribbon-cutting ceremony and plant tour attended by local delegates and others. Combined the plants have a capacity of 175,000 metric tons of industrial-grade wood pellets—Chetwynd produces 100,000 metric tons and Fort St. John has the capacity to produce 75,000 metric tons of wood pellets.

Plans for the development of the $58 million project were first announced in September of 2014 when a partnership with wood pellet fuel supplier Pacific Bioenergy Corp. was established to construct and operate the facilities under the joint venture. Now, less than two years later, both plants are online. The Chetwynd plant has been fully operational since December of last year, and the Fort St. John plant reached full operations earlier this year.

The plants mainly utilize their collocated sawmill residue, while the rest comes from the open market and other Canfor sawmilling operations. “Both facilities play an important role in maximizing the value of our fiber with its production of sustainable wood pellets from once waste-bound sawmill residues,” said Gillian Redmond, communications and corporate affairs manager with Canadian Forest Products Ltd. “By turning waste into a valuable green energy source, the pellet plants enhance our utilization of sawmill residues and contributes to Canfor’s overall sustainable value proposition.”

Another sustainable element to Canfor’s Chetwynd facility is that it’s self-sufficient in renewable heat and electricity. Canfor installed a combined-heat-and-power (CHP) unit at the plant with 3 MW of capacity. Twenty percent of the heat from the energy system is used for electricity, which amounts to an estimated 21,000 megawatts per year of electricity, equivalent to the amount required to power 1,470 homes. The remaining 80 percent is used to dry sawdust prior to its use as feedstock for pellet production. The installation of this system was supported through BC Hydro’s Power Smart Load Displacement Program.

These two new plants join Canfor’s 217,000 metric-ton-capacity pellet facility in Houston, British Columbia, owned and operated in partnership with Pinnacle Pellet Inc. and the Moricetown Indian Band. “Together, our three plants serve Europe, North America and Asia,” Redmond said.

Canfor exports pellets from the Port of Vancouver.