238 239 cut it down,bring it to your sawmill and then cut it up into lumber,”Bassett says.“In the process of doing that,about 50 percent of the tree is wasted.That waste is in the formof woodchips,bark,sawdust and shavings.About half of that waste is woodchips, which generallyflows to a pulpmill and ultimately gets turned into paper.But the sawdust,shavings and barkwere simplyburned–theydidn’t have any value.So every sawmill in the old days would have a‘beehive burner,’which looks like amassive teepee, and all thewastewas collected up,thrown in there and burned.Today,we take that samewastematerial and turn it intowood pellets,which obviates the need for burning it.Eventually it is burned,but it’s burned to create electrons,rather than smoke.” Bassett explains howburningwood pellets for fuel ismore environmentally friendly in a number of ways,when compared to coal and natural gas: “Coal-fired power stations are prettyold technology and probably the best efficiency that you’re going to get is 40 percent or thereabouts.That’s the amount of heat that you can generate byburning coal that can be turned into electrical power.The remainder is basicallywaste heat.Combined Cycle Gas technology ismore efficient because it essentiallyputs the heat through the system twice,so you get more electric- ityout of it.You’re still,however,burning fossil fuel -material that has up until that moment been safely sequestered underground.The process of mining it is an activity that in itself burns a lot of fossil fuel.So does transporting it to the power station.Ultimately, in burning it there’s no renewable‘return circuit’on fossil fuels.Once you’ve taken it out of the ground and you burn it,the carbon dioxide it produces just goes straight into the atmosphere. “Wood, on the other hand, can be thought about in much different and more renewable terms.This is because while the tree is growing from a little gan supplying bags of pellets to Canada and the United States for use in the heating of homes. “During those years, there was an emerging trend for wood pellet residential heat in Europe, too,”Bassett explains.“Fur- nace and water heating manufac- turing companies became involved in making home heating appliances aimed at weaning their customers off imported gas,which came large- ly from Russia, and was very expen- sive. So, they needed an alternative and, as a result, a lot of the housing, starting from the late‘80s onward in Europe,was designed for wood pellet heating.” Pinnacle began exploring the idea of usingwood pellets as a greener replacement for coal in thermal power plants,based on developments in Scandi- navia,which has a long historyof usingwood as a combustible fuel for both large scale heat and power generation.“The Scandinavian governments were some of the earlyadopters of subsidizingrenewableenergyin the formof wood or biomass derived electricitygoing into the grid,”says Bassett.“They started consuming quite a lot of wood pellets in places like Sweden,Denmark,and to some extent,Finland.One of Pinnacle’s very early shipments was a combined vessel that it sharedwith another BC producer that carried around 10,000 tons into Sweden.This effectively started our export effort.” All of Pinnacle’s wood fiber comes fromsawmill- ing operations in Canada,particularlyBC.“The saw- milling business is onewhere you take amature tree, AT A GLANCE PINNACLE RENEWABLE ENERGY INC. WHAT: A manufacturer and supplier of wood pellets WHERE: Richmond, British Columbia WEBSITE: www.pinnacle pellet.com PINNACLE RENEWABLE ENERGY INC.