Bioenergy conference attracting top speakers

Plans are smoldering for the next edition of the International Bioenergy Conference.

Held in Prince George every two years, the conference brings together heavyweights in the burgeoning industry. Some of the featured speakers were unveiled this week for the June event.

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Chris Turner is the author of the international bestseller Planet Simpson, in which he comments on modern popular culture. He also penned the acclaimed Geography of Hope: A Guided Tour of the World We Need, followed by The Leap: How to Survive and Thrive in the Sustainable Economy, and this past year he released The War on Science. Through these books he has become a luminary on the topic of living within our means at a household and cultural level.

"He’s sure to inspire with his revolutionary but optimistic thoughts on what it will take to shift society’s thinking about renewable sources of energy such as biomass, and how we can survive and thrive in the sustainable economy," said event manager Cam McAlpine.

Also on the keynote agenda is a nationally recognized journalist well known for his broadcasting appearances and his prolific newspaper writing. Jeffrey Simpson was inducted into the Order of Canada for his books and articles detailing Canadian policy and cultural conditions. One of his recent books is Hot Air: Meeting Canada's Climate Change Challenge.

"As a leading thinker and analyst on politics, policy and economics, Jeffrey brings an insider’s look at the key policy drivers that will be required to bring Canada’s renewable energy sector to the forefront of sustainability," McAlpine said.

Also featured are well-known industry insiders such as Bill Strauss, the winner of the International Excellence in Bioenergy award in 2012, Seth Walker of RISI, who will provide a view of the industry from 30,000 feet, Joseph Seymour from the U.S.-based Biomass Thermal Energy Council and Gordon Murray of the Wood Pellet Association of Canada.

Additional featured speakers include:

Ken Shields - chairman of the board, Canadian Bioenergy Association

Deborah Elson - vice-president of stakeholder relations, Canadian Renewable Fuels Association

Matt Bovelander - senior consultant (bio-solutions), Indufor Asia Pacific

Paul Lansbergen - vice-president, Forest Products Association of Canada

Steve Price - executive director (bio-solutions), Alberta Innovates

Brent Boyko - director of biomass business development, Ontario Power Generation

McAlpine said the event has grown over its 10 years to be "the largest wood-based bioenergy conference in Canada" and the sector itself has grown along with it. In addition to the innovative panelists and a thick line of exhibitors encircling the proceedings at the Civic Centre, delegates will be able to take part in "expanded industry tour offerings" and sets of business-to-business meetings that foster the bioenergy economy still further.

Prince George is at the vanguard of the wood bioenergy industry, with several successful companies based in this region.

The event takes place June 11 to 13.

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