Friday Offcuts 18 May 2012
We'll be meeting with Australian treatment companies and suppliers next week in Melbourne for the Australian leg of this technology series. This week I've included a short story on one of the presentations - an outline of a New Zealand company that's stepped outside their normal manufacturing and have taken on thermally modified wood treatment - in order to diversify their own production and markets. This is the first TMT process in Australasia. Other details coming out of this latest series will be profiled in future issues of Friday Offcuts.
In this week’s issue we have two stories on China. The first is a sobering piece suggesting that the country’s real estate bubble may well have popped and that a host of factors are lined up to undermine China’s economic growth. The second discusses the desire by the country’s central government to grow the pulp and paper industry. On the back of this directive, Chinese pulp and paper companies plan on continued expansion with overseas resources and production facilities high on their lists of possible projects for future investment.
We've also included details of this regions annual update on carbon forestry, Carbon Forestry 2012 and a short story on a couple of major scholarships that have just been picked up by NZ forestry students. On a lighter side, check out the very latest resource for attracting younger students into forestry in the "Younger Generation" story this week. Now, that's really thinking outside the square.
This week we have for you:
Carbon Forestry 2012 is here
Forestry has been an essential component of New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) since the very beginning. Forestry is New Zealand’s largest potential carbon sink and, as the ETS continues to grow in importance to NZ businesses, so does its investment future.
Last year over 250 forestry and finance business leaders came together for Carbon Forestry 2011, the first event of its type focused on carbon forestry and carbon trading opportunities. While 2011 set the scene, much has already changed. There is a raft of new legislation, a dramatic drop-off in carbon trading and pricing during late 2011 and early 2012, the banning of some international emissions units and uncertainty surrounding the future alignment of New Zealand and Australia’s trading schemes.
This has led to uncertainty in the marketplace. The immediate future and opportunities that exist in carbon forestry is being readdressed. Carbon Forestry 2012 has been designed with key New Zealand forestry companies and maori landowners along with New Zealand, Australian and international carbon traders, brokers and financial companies.
Carbon Forestry 2012 runs in Auckland on 22-23 August. The programme, which can now be downloaded off the event website, www.carbonforestryevents.com will provide an essential update on the future for carbon forestry for both the financial and forestry industries in this part of the world.
Australasia’s first heat treatment operationTunnicliffe Timber Company Ltd presented this week at the Wood Preservation 2102 event in Rotorua. Around 100 delegates involved in timber treatment in New Zealand were given a practical insight into the increased interest in thermal rather than chemical treatment of wood and the opportunities that exist with this sort of technology in this part of the world.
The company is a long established small business that’s been operating in the Eastern Bay of Plenty in New Zealand since 1929. Their core business is in remanufacturing of RS kiln dried lumber for niche markets such as timber joiners and door manufacturers.
Commercialisation of thermal modification technologies (TMT) started in Europe (Finland, France and the Netherlands) in the 1990’s. Internationally, production of TMT is still relatively small with an estimated 300-330,000m3 (65% of which was using Thermowood technology) produced last year. The main products being produced are cladding and decking with production concentrated so far in North America and Europe.
Tunnicliffe picked up a Thermowood kiln in 2008 as a means of trialling a new technology, diversifying their production process and markets, providing them with a competitive advantage and solving a few issues around problems that they were having with the instability of Radiata pine with some joinery products. It was also was ideal for a product line they had, providing chemical free timber for beehive boxes.
A range of new products including timber joinery have been developed capitalising on the benefits of treatment uniformity, improved machinability, improved wood finish through resin removal and improved durability. Details of the process are contained in the presentation. The TMT wood has been well accepted by local customers, it’s certainly got a place in the local market and provides a new opportunity for traditional wood treatment operations to diversify their operations. Daan Olthuis, MD of Tunnicliffe will also be giving a similar presentation to Australian wood treaters in Melbourne next week.
Wood modification technologies and an array of exciting and innovative new solid wood and panel products are also going to be profiled from around the world in a new technology series planned for mid-October for New Zealand and Australian companies. Details on the Wood Innovations 2012 series can be found on the website, along now with full programme details for both venues.
NZ carbon forest purchase celebratedTwo Government ministers visited Marlborough to celebrate the purchase of a forest to be used as a carbon sink by NZ Carbon Farming. The carbon credits to be generated by a 400-hectare Wairau Valley forest managed by PF Olsen have already been sold to Fonterra to offset the dairy company's emissions.
The forest is one of several permanent forests the group is developing throughout New Zealand in partnership with forest owners, including farmers, local bodies and iwi. NZ Carbon Farming is privately owned and operated by a group of New Zealand business people who saw opportunities around the introduction of the emissions trading scheme. The wholly New Zealand owned, operated and financed company was specifically set up to seize the opportunities created by the carbon trading market.
The group currently leases more than 15,000 hectares of post-1989 registered forest, managing the carbon credits on behalf of 42 forest owners. The company owns a further 3000 hectares of Kyoto-compliant forest that it is in the process of converting to "carbon sinks". This equates to 6.1 per cent of New Zealand's total post-1989 registered forest and 7.4 per cent of the total units issued to post-1989 forest owners, making it the largest single supplier of post-1989 sourced units in the New Zealand market place.
The company has also purchased 9000 hectares of marginal farmland, which is earmarked for planting new carbon forest. Source: Marlborough Express
Attracting the younger generation to forestryYou have to take a look at this. We picked up this classic video from Tree Frog Daily Forestry News who in turn had seen it in a Twitter post by the Private Forest Landowners Association of BC. We’ve often talked about vehicles to attract younger students into forestry. Check out this Ecological Dynamics Rap.
Described as "A rap by two Antioch University New England students for a Tom Wessels ecological dynamics of landscapes class", it is an amusing way of sharing a forestry message with young prospective recruits to our sector. So, do you think locally we can produce something of a similar vein and get it out to schools or is it a step to far for many of us still working in the industry?
UK timber frame market about to boomA report by MTW Research forecasts that by 2016 timber frame sales in the UK will grow by 60% in volume and 80% in value, outstripping the expected pace of growth in other areas of the construction market.
Low-carbon regulations such as the Code for Sustainable Homes are cited by the report as key drivers where the timber frame industry is responding well and meeting changing market demand patterns and influences, with timber recognised as the least carbon intensive building material.
MTW Research based its report on financial data from 80% of the industry. It showed high levels of optimism amongst the UK timber frame suppliers, with more positive signs of investment from commodity retail, leisure and other commercial applications.
The report states that sales of timber frame, SIPS, and volumetric timber buildings increased by some £30 million in 2011 with much of the demand coming from share growth in house building and minimal additional demand from organic growth or non-residential sectors. However, demand patterns are likely to shift from mid-2012 onwards as commercial construction regains ground.
According to MTW, there are also a number of market-led initiatives that should boost value growth in the near term. Overall, report predicts growth across all sectors of the timber frame construction market in the near to medium term, underlining rising levels of optimism throughout most of the industry. For more information click here
A clearer picture of tropical carbonTropical forests, alongside boreal forests and wetlands, are prime ecosystems for storing carbon. Now, researchers have created a new high-resolution map of carbon storage in tropical forests that could play an important role in effective forest management.
Shades of russet, yellow and deep green between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn circle the globe, providing the clearest picture yet of the world’s above-ground tropical biomass – essentially, plants and trees. The data are mapped at a resolution four times greater than previous measurements in a 2011 study.
Researchers led by Alessandro Baccini at the non-profit Woods Hole Research Center gathered two years of laser satellite, or Lidar, data to develop the image. More than 300 field visits across Latin America, Africa and Asia were used to confirm and calibrate the Lidar data on carbon stocks before the final measurements were projected onto an interactive map.
Both the map and the data are available online, fulfilling the goal of allowing any institution, researcher, policy maker or student to use the information. For full details on the story and link to the study, check out the latest R&D Works Newsletter
Gunns sells hardwood business for AU$28mGunns announced this week that a contract for the sale of its Heyfield hardwood sawn timber business had been executed, with the deal expected to wrap up in late May. "Completion of this transaction will finalise the exit of the company from operations based on native forest wood supply," Gunns said in a statement on Tuesday. The new owners, Australian Sustainable Hardwoods have announced that all 200 employees are expected to keep their jobs. Gunns stopped processing native forest woods in Tasmania in June 2011 and has since sold its mainland-based operations in Western Australia and Victoria. It has also received offers for its export woodchip operations, including the Port of Portland facility in western Victoria.
Has the China housing bubble burst?For years analysts have warned of a looming real estate bubble in China, but the predicted downturn, the bursting of that bubble, never occurred - that is, until now. In a telling scene a couple of months ago, Shanghai property developers started slashing prices on their latest luxury condos by up to one-third. Crowds of owners who had recently bought apartments at full price converged on sales offices throughout the city, demanding refunds. Some angry investors went on a rampage, breaking windows and smashing showrooms.
To read the full article click here.
Top New Zealand industry scholarships for 2012Two scholarships have recently been awarded to outstanding students from the School of Forestry. The Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA) awarded the $2,500 FIEA Scholarship to Jessica Brown who is completing her last year of a Bachelor of Forestry Science degree at Canterbury University.
The Scholarship is the first which will be awarded to students over five years by FIEA and builds on its recent contribution of over $50,000 through its Educational Fund to upgrade saw sharpening and levelling equipment at the Waiariki Institute of Technology.
The other major award, the Southern Wood Council Forest Products Scholarship went to a first year student, George Ferguson, originally from Oamaru, who is starting his first professional year at the School of Forestry in 2012. The award is valued at a total of $4,500 over the three final years of professional study and follows the first recipient of the award last year, Sarah Naylor.
"We’re delighted to award both students, Jessica and George (attached photo) with industry support to assist them with their University studies" says Brent Apthorp, FIEA Director and SWC Secretary. "Both were outstanding academically and in their work experience, as were all of those applying this year for the two Scholarships. The industry’s certainly well placed with the calibre of students currently being attracted to professional study through the University of Canterbury".
A first for timber education and skills in AustraliaThe University of Tasmania’s Centre for Sustainable Architecture with Wood (CSAW) presents another first in timber education and skills to partner its Graduate Certificate in Timber (Processing and Building). CSAW Director, Associate Professor Greg Nolan, announced the release of the Centre’s first free podcast: short online videos on fundamental aspects of using or producing timber and wood products.
"We want to start with an immediately useful subject so this first podcast is about using a moisture meter. We also wanted the information to be accessible to everyone so it is available on YouTube and as a free download from CSAW’s website".
"The idea of timber podcasts really came from industry colleagues, especially builders and those in hardware stores. They wanted clear information about timber use for their staff and their customers. We hope our podcasts can provide that. They will be short, only deal with a single topic and be available for free at any time online. This
podcast is an example of that approach" Professor Nolan said.
A series of monthly podcasts are planned, with several already in production. Check out YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/WoodArchitecture
Australian sawmill hit by biofuel policyThe owner of Australian Solar Timbers, a sawmill on the north coast of New South Wales, Australia, says federal government policy has forced him to lay off more than 30% of his workforce and cut production to four days a week, according to a report by ABC News.
Douglas Head accused the Australian Greens of trying to shut down the native hardwood industry, and the Australian Labor Party of hypocrisy, after MP Rob Oakeshott, who represents Lyne in New South Wales, lost a motion to have wood waste classified as a biofuel.
Head said allowing sawmills to burn wood waste from their processing operations would not lead to excessive logging, but would allow the conversion of sawdust and shavings to renewable energy using Australian technology. In addition, the waste is used in the manufacture of biochar, a consolidated carbon product which can be used in agriculture and as a soil improver.
Head said using mill waste would reduce carbon emissions at Australian Solar Timbers by 27,000 tonnes per year, and would burn the equivalent of 7,000 tonnes of coal which would otherwise have been left in the ground. Source: ABC News
China - the great wall of moneyExpect to see well-funded Chinese companies chasing opportunities to secure fibre resources globally. These companies are motivated by the Chinese Central Government’s aspiration to increase domestic and offshore fibre security as part of its plans to grow the pulp and paper industry sector. Chinese offshore investments present opportunities, and potentially challenges, for existing industry players in target regions. Companies with fibre assets may have opportunities to sell, joint venture or to develop other forms of collaboration with the Chinese companies.
In March 2012, Pöyry participated in a China Pulp and Paper Industry Symposium in Jinan, Shandong Province organized by China Paper, a leading industry magazine. Of significance at this year’s event was the review of the Central Government’s latest five-year plan for the pulp and paper industry. This plan started in 2011, and includes the following key aspects:
- Measured and sustainable growth in manufacturing capacity
- Continued focus on fibre availability
- Encouraging plantation development locally as well as offshore investment in forest resources (and production facilities -pulpmills)
- Improving local recovered paper collection.
The Chinese Central Government sets the policy directions for the pulp and paper industry. However, as distinct from Western models, under China’s planned economy, the government implements the policy through approval of projects. Consequently, pulp and paper companies operating in China develop their strategies to comply with these policy directives. The implementation of the policies is then enhanced by given access to finance for qualifying projects.
Despite the planning, some Chinese paper and paperboard companies are facing lower margins due to over-investments in new capacities across a range of paper grades. Consolidation has been slow, but is needed to introduce more capacity discipline to reduce the supply overhang. The Chinese Government is already actively promoting consolidation by setting up state-owned pulp and paper conglomerates.
Despite these issues in some grades, the five year plan calls for further growth. It comes as no surprise that a broad range of pulp and paper companies have indicated their intention to continue to expand. In recent discussions with these companies, Pöyry found that investments in overseas resources and production facilities were high on their lists of possible projects.
Regions of particular interest include Africa, South America and Indo-China. Investment opportunities being considered are also quite varied. Besides the globally-announced and marketed investment opportunities, the Chinese also have access to opportunities that arise as an offshoot of the Chinese Government’s active support of a broad range of aid-related projects in the developing world. Other opportunities occur as part of some Chinese companies’ involvement in infrastructure and mining businesses.
There appear to be many investment options. Although the actual amount of Chinese investment in overseas forest resources remains modest to date, this will change. We expect more near-term interest in investment opportunities because of the factors discussed above; availability of finance, the impetus for growth from the Chinese Government’s policies, and the emergence of consolidated state-owned pulp and paper enterprises.
Source: Rudolf van Rensburg, Pöyry
LanzaTech buy’s into US bioenergy companyThe technology to transform wood into ethanol on a large scale has yet to be developed. LanzaTech, the company that purchased Range Fuels’ assets in a foreclosure sale in January, may just be the first. The sale of Range Fuel’s assets was arranged after the Department of Agriculture (USDA) rejected a deal that would allow the company to transfer its debt obligations as well as its facility and equipment to LanzaTech.
It turns out the New Zealand-based company, which has developed a proprietary gas-liquid fermentation process to produce fuels and chemicals, found a much less expensive way to acquire Range’s assets. On January 3, 2012, they purchased the Soperton, Georgia facility for US$5.1 million. Under the name Freedom Pines Biorefinery, the Soperton plant will be LanzaTech’s first production facility.
According to LanzaTech’s website, the company will “leverage some of the existing technology at the facility alongside [its] own proprietary technology to produce clean, renewable and domestic fuels and chemicals from the bountiful waste biomass in the region.”
As LanzaTech’s head of external relations, Freya Burton, told Melody M. Bomgardner of Chemical & Engineering News: “We are planning to leave up some of the plant’s technology—potentially the gasifier. If it works, that would be fantastic”. If the gasifier does not work, she adds, it is still a good buy for the firm. “We got the facility for its location and access to cheap feedstock from local timber operations.” Source: Forest2Market
Timber investment firm looks at biomass energyTimber investment firm RuralAus Investments Ltd. is planning to apply for a grant to build a biomass energy facility on Australia’s Kangaroo Island, Weekly Times Now reported on 3 May. The facility would make use of 15,000 hectares of bluegums that were planted as part of an agribusiness managed investment scheme by failed Great Southern during the mid-2000s. RuralAus CEO John Ipsen said his company would manage the trees in such a way that 60% would be burned to create renewable energy, and the other 40% turned into sawlogs. The proposed facility would create 30 jobs.
Trial wood digester back on the agendaClaims that the main ingredients for paint, plastics, industrial alcohol, fuel and even artificial sweetener can be produced from willow trees in a single process would seem to be the stuff of science fiction. But an ODT reporter Allison Rudd discovered a Taupo-based company which has perfected the technology with the help of a New Zealand research and development team.
In 2008, Vertichem Technology general manager Kevin Snowdon was excited. The unique triple-processing wood digester technology developed by Auckland company Genesis Research and Development had been proven and Vertichem was set to build a pre-commercial trial processing plant in New Zealand. Then came the global credit crisis, and the company's plans were put on hold.
Now, Vertichem "was coming out of a valley of death", Mr Snowdon said, and a trial plant is on the agenda again, with construction expected next year. More >> Source: Otago Daily Times
Buy and Sell
...and one to end the week on...a good woman
Irrefutable proof that a good woman can bring balance and stability to your life. I don't pick em - they are just sent in and I pass them on. OK - a couple more just to finish up on.
And on that note, have a great weekend. Cheers.
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