The governments of Europe, North America and Asia all subscribe to an energy policy that integrates the development of biofuels and bioenergy.
Because of its forests, British Columbia has a major asset for the production of wood-based biofuels. The University of British Columbia (UCB) therefore has a clean energy research center within its faculty of applied sciences. This center is developing a process for the development of biofuels and chemical compounds based on wood. From a technical point of view, biofuel production platforms exist but they still need to be improved and compared in their efficiency to produce value-added products. It would be necessary to create "bio-refineries" which would convert the biomass into multiple products divided into fibers, energy and various chemicals (from polymers to pulp). The principle of converting biomass into ethanol is divided into three stages which each produce both a compound necessary for the next stage and a directly exploitable product. Thus the first stage produces lignin and cellulose, the second of sugars which, when fermented, produce ethanol in the third stage. Lignin, sugars and ethanol are directly usable products.
The concept of "bio-refinery" is optimal from an economic and environmental point of view by using all the components of the wood. Thus, the exploitation of only 25% of the wood infected by the pine beetle, a pest insect, could cover the gasoline needs of British Columbia for five to ten years. The damage caused by the beetle decreases the market value of the forest. In addition, the accumulated dead wood greatly increases the risk of a major fire. The development of bioenergy could curb this phenomenon by justifying the cost of felling and reforestation, thereby improving forest management.