Entrepreneur Michael O'Shea wants to build five large-scale plants in the province at an estimated $1.2-billion a pop to produce second-generation biofuels from trees
KONRAD YAKABUSKI - THEGLOBEANDMAIL
- June 20, 2009
Biofuel that doesn't compete with food is good, but I'm not sure cutting down trees is the best idea either. --Ed.
Michael O'Shea recalls what it was like growing up amid the burgeoning mill towns north of Quebec City in the 1960s, when jobs at local pulp and paper plants were as lucrative as they were plentiful. The ticket to the good life they provided is now mostly part of the folklore, much like the days when a job on a GM assembly line was considered a sinecure.
Last year, AbitibiBowater Inc., the limping newsprint giant currently restructuring under court protection from its creditors, closed its paper mill near Mr. O'Shea's home in Donnacona, Que., eliminating 260 jobs for good.
The void left there, as in the dozens of other mill towns across Canada that have lost their principal employer in recent years, is a gaping one.
When those high-paying jobs go, there is nothing to replace them, Mr. O'Shea observes. It's time to get a new forest industry for a new era.
Mr. O'Shea thinks he knows how. He has founded Montreal-based AP Fuels Inc. to push forward a bold proposal to build five large-scale biorefineries at an estimated $1.2-billion a pop that would produce second-generation biofuels from trees.
His idea has good timing going for it. Beyond bailouts or stopgap aid such as the $1-billion Ottawa offered Wednesday to combat U.S. pulp subsidies Canada's forest industry needs an entirely new business model if it is to remain a substantial creator of wealth.
Cleaner, second-generation biofuels may be the solution or at least part of it.... [Read More]