Sunday, March 31, 2013
Gerald W brown * 7202 County Road U * Danbury, WI 54830 Phone 715-866-8535 Gerald Brown is solely responsible for the content in this newsletter LOS ANGELES TO STOP USING COAL-FIRED POWER BY 2025, MAYOR SAYS SEALASKA SWITCHES BOILER SYSTEM TO PELLET POWER USDA'S LOCAL INVESTMENT IS $153M SINCE 2009 CANADIAN BIOENERGY ON FIRM SUSTAINABILITY FOOTING STUD LUMBER SHORTAGE PREDICTED NORTH DAKOTA OIL FILTERS ILLEGALLY DUMPED, TRIBAL OFFICIAL SAYS BIOMASS SECURE POWER SECURES LOCATION FOR LA. PELLET PLANT BLOOMBERG BRINGS GOOD NEWS FOR BIOMASS MINN. HOUSE ENERGY POLICY COMMITTEE ADDRESSES 2 BIOMASS BILLS MINNESOTA UTILITY OFFERS RENEWABLE ENERGY GRANTS UPDATE ON GREENHOUSE GAS STRATEGY ACTIVITIES NORTHWEST TERRITORIES BIDS CALLED FOR £150M WOOD PELLET STORAGE FACILITY SFI APPLAUDS EU'S NEW ILLEGAL LOGGING RULES LEARNING ABOUT LIGNIN AT CRIBE DOMTAR INAUGURATES COMMERCIAL LIGNIN PRODUCTION CANADIAN TOWN WINS GRANT FOR BIOMASS HEATING SYSTEM SIERRA CLUB SUES DTE OVER ALLEGED VIOLATIONS AT COAL-FIRED PLANTS WOOD PELLET PLANT COULD COME TO BR PORT SPECIAL PROGRAM SUBSTANTIALLY LOWERS ENERGY AUDIT COSTS FOR POULTRY PRODUCERS CANADIAN PELLETS HEADING TO THE UK CONFLUENCE ENERGY ACQUISITION NEARLY DOUBLES PELLET CAPACITY CANADIAN WOOD PELLETS WANTED NEW PLAN CALLS FOR WOOD CHIPS TO FUEL PUBLIC BUILDINGS NEWPAGE DULUTH CUTS JOBS WAUSAU PAPER TO CLOSE BRAINERD, MINN. SPECIALTY MILL CHOPSTICK PLANT TO OPEN IN WHITE PINE, MICHIGAN THERMOGEN TO BUILD $80 MILLION TORREFIED WOOD PELLET PLANT NEAR EASTPORT, MAINE CANADIAN WOOD PELLETS WANTED ARS RESEARCHER STUDIES HOME HEATING WITH SWITCHGRASS PELLETS BIOMASS BASED HEATING SYSTEMS CHEAPER AND CLEANER THAN OIL BASED ONES TOWN HOPES FOR JOBS TAPPING CALIFORNIA'S HUGE OIL FORMATION LOS ANGELES TO STOP USING COAL-FIRED POWER BY 2025, MAYOR SAYS March 1, 2013 By Dorothy Davis Content Director Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has said the city will stop using coal-fired power within 12 years, reports Southern California Public Radio. During an event sponsored by UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, Villaraigosa revealed plans to sign an agreement that would end the use of what was once the city's most-used energy source by 2025. “In a couple of weeks I will be signing agreements to get completely out of coal by 2025,” Villaraigosa pledged. Villaraigosa’s ambitions go back to the start of his first term in 2009 when he set an initial goal of eliminating the use of coal-fired generation to power L.A. by 2020. However, issues with the city’s utility such as the political battle over a carbon tax and energy rate increases have stalled the initiative's progress. Further complicating the issue are the terms of the city’s contracts with the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station in Arizona and Intermountain Power Plant in Utah, which provide nearly 40 percent of L.A.'s power. Nevertheless, Villaraigosa was firm in his comments at the event on a plan to end the city’s relationships with the two plants. “We’ll be out of Navajo, 2015. Intermountain looks like 2025,” Villaraigosa said. “It will be a big deal.” Supporters of the initiative are saying the plan is viable, pointing to recent reports that the Navajo Generating Station is facing significant challenges to remain operational. New federal environmental regulations would increase operating costs at the plant by an estimated $1 billion, which could force its closure in time to meet Villaraigosa's 2025 objective. In addition, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) outlined in its 2012 Integrated Resource Plan it will consider selling its share in the Navajo Generating Station by 2015, four years ahead of its scheduled lease end date. Concerning the Intermountain Power Plant, LADWP said the facility is considering a conversion to natural gas by July 2025. Yet, any future plans must also have the approval of California’s 35 other purchasers of the plant’s power before moving ahead. As of this release, neither the mayor’s officer nor LADWP have made an official announcement on the planned phase-out. More information on environmental regulations regarding coal-fired power can be found at PennEnergy's research area. SEALASKA SWITCHES BOILER SYSTEM TO PELLET POWER Posted: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 By JONATHAN GRASS Sealaska is bringing a renewable energy into Alaska, starting with Sealaska Plaza. The building has been outfitted with a wood-pellet boiler system that replaces its oil-based system. Back | Next "There's been a large push to have renewable energy throughout the region," said Sealaska Executive Vice President Richard Harris. "One source is biomass heating." All offices in the building will be completely converted to the renewable heat source, which will fire up Nov. 8 and be commissioned the following day. Wood pellets are a renewable energy source made from condensed sawdust and wood chips, essentially byproducts of other wood manufacturing products. Sealaska's renewable energy coordinator Nathan Soboleff described it as "using a product that used to be discarded." They are constructed at high pressures, making the pellets very dense. As there are no glues or additives, the pellets are completely combustible without waste, plus the density produces little ash because there is little moisture. Soboleff said this prevents visible emissions from the smokestack. He said it produces little ash that flows into an ash container that only needs to be emptied up to 12 times a year. "The best use of wood is producing heat, not electricity," Soboleff said. "The nature of a wood pellet leads itself to an easy heating system because they flow easily and can automatically feed into a boiler system. That makes it user-friendly." Harris said the new system will burn 280 tons of wood pellets a year, replacing 35,000 gallons of heating oil a year. Soboleff described how this demonstrates wood pellets as a cost-saving measure for heat as well. Soboleff said buying a ton of pellets at $300 is equivalent to buying heating oil at $2.52 a gallon on a per million BTU basis. Since heating oil sells at more than $3 a gallon, this would result in a significant cost savings, he said. He added no one in Southeast Alaska has paid $2.52 per gallon of heating oil in at least five years. In rural areas, the cost of oil can be much more. Harris cited a school in Kake that spends more than $4 a gallon. "The cost of burning wood over oil the payback may be in as little as four or five years," Harris said, noting that depends on the amount used. He said Sealaska's own saving estimate is $1 million within 25 years. Plans for the conversion have been in the works for about a year, and construction began Sept. 1. Synergy Systems, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sealaska, acted as construction managers for the project, supervising and bringing together all the technical advisors and other personnel for each aspect. Harris said he's particularly proud that the construction was overseen by a Sealaska subsidiary. Synergy's construction manager, Sam Bergeron, said it's about 85 percent complete with all the major systems in place. He said it was a simple conversion from the oil-burning system. The new system was helped by an emerging energy technology grant from the Denali Commission. The grant is for implementing existing viable technologies in Alaska. One of the grant's conditions is the heating system serve as a research and development project for the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The university has installed monitors and will evaluate the system, including costs and emissions, as it goes, making all of the reports public. "We call it a marquee project because it's here in the capital and right near the legislature and it's all very visible, very public," said Harris. The idea is that Sealaska will serve as a model for other companies plus homes to convert to wood pellets for heat. Soboleff said wood pellet energy is a new entity in Alaska and is still rare in North America, yet has been used in Europe for more than 30 years. As such, the technology for the system already existed so nothing had to be invented. He said this helped Sealaska prove it was a viable and economically feasible alternative. Harris said by implementing the system here, other buildings can use those designs for their own buildings and even personal homes. He said the idea is already getting around and the Federal Building in Ketchikan is working with a contract for biomass energy, specifically for wood pellet burning. Another step toward the Alaska introduction is the bulk delivery system for wood pellets for commercial-sized buildings. As there are no bulk wood pellet dealers in Southeast Alaska, Sealaska sells pellets by the ton. Harris said he hopes the idea will lead to more sellers here. Bergeron said there is interest in making a small pellet mill in Ketchikan. Soboleff said a home using wood pellets would purchase them in 40-pound bags rather than bulk. Harris said the board of directors has been wanting the company to head toward a green initiative, which initiated the process toward wood pellet burning. He said part of that initiative is to create new sustainable energies. "We said someone ought to put one of these systems in and decided 'Gee, it ought to be us,'" he said. Sealaska will maintain its hydro boiler as a backup system. Soboleff said he provides information on renewable energy solutions. He can be reached at 586-9278. • Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. USDA'S LOCAL INVESTMENT IS $153M SINCE 2009 JEDC to get $100,000 continue Southeast Cluster Initiative Posted: December 13, 2011 - 12:03am Michael Penn / Juneau Empire Jim Nordlund, Alaska director for rural development at the USDA, points to a chart showing how over $150 million in federal money has been invested in Southeast Alaska in the last three years to promote economic development during a press conference at the Hangar on the Wharf’s ballroom on Monday. Along with Nordlund are Beth Pendelton, regional forester for the Forest Service, Danny Consenstein, executive director for the Alaska Farm Service Agency and Brian Holst, executive director for the Juneau Economic Development Council. By RUSSELL STIGALL JUNEAU EMPIRE With over $153 million invested in Southeast Alaska in the last three years, it would be hard to find a local industry not touched by the United States Department of Agriculture. The funds go to both strengthen existing industries and to help build up new ones — whether investing in schools for oyster farmers, or helping build out wood pellet energy infrastructure. Small loans even go to help start up new small businesses, say, by helping obtain a business license. In an attempt to make these and future investments as effective as possible, the USDA announced an award of $100,000 to continue to fund the Juneau Economic Development Council’s Southeast Cluster Initiative. Early this year JEDC was asked to bring together interested and motivated Southeast Alaskans to create working groups based around four important Southeast industries. Three are established industries: ocean products, forest products and visitor products, while the last is the emerging renewable energy industry. More than 130 individuals have participated in the effort to date, according to the JEDC website. While JEDC started its Cluster Initiative with these four industries, JEDC Executive Director Brian Holst said additional industries, such as health care or mining, will be added in the future. Over the last several months, these working groups created dozens of ideas to clear hurdles and create opportunities for economic growth in Southeast. These ideas include working with the University of Alaska system to develop tourism industry training as part of its business school or using young growth wood to build facilities in the region, Holst said. These groups will present these ideas to each other, agency heads and the public at the Southeast Alaska Economic Cluster Summit in Juneau at Centennial Hall Tuesday through Thursday. This marks in important step in the Cluster process as it is the first time all four working groups have come together to “advance the work of the clusters, the initiatives, and by extension, the Southeast Alaska economy,” according to the JEDC website. This summit will include working sessions and progress reports by the individual Cluster work groups, sessions on common issues impacting regional economic foundations and an industry and government policy panel discussion. Department heads from all of USDA’s agencies are in Juneau for the summit — the Forest Service, Rural Development, Economic Development and even the Farm Service Agency. “It turns out that mariculture, shellfish farmers, qualify for a lot of those programs. These are some of our people,” said Danny Consenstein, executive director of the Alaska Farm Service Agency. Other experts on hand will come from private industry, the University of Alaska system, state agencies, legislators, Sealaska Corp., Southeast’s Native Village corporations and municipal governments. For more information or to stream the summit, visit www.jedc.org/summit. • Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at email@example.com. CANADIAN BIOENERGY ON FIRM SUSTAINABILITY FOOTING March 1, 2013, Quebec - Never mind what you hear from Greenpeace or the NIMBY crowd - Forest bioenergy is a good alternative to fossil fuels in Canada. That was the main message from sustainability experts at the Canadian Wood Pellet Heating Conference. Held in Quebec City February 27-March 1, the event was presented by the Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC) and QWEB. An entire session on the first day was dedicated to environmental issues and sustainability, and featured presentations from both Dr. Evelyne Thiffault, forest biomass research scientist with Natural Resources Canada, and Amelie Samuel-St-Laurent, project manager with nature Quebec. "Forest bioenergy is a great idea," Thiffault stated in explaining its potential role in displacing fossil fuels. "Looking forward, the drivers behind it will only get stronger with time." Still, she noted some challenges as well, including a negative reaction often based on poor forest management in tropical countries around products like palm oil. "There are really good stories about forest bioenergy, and really bad ones. As an industry you need to be sure you are in a position to tell the really good stories, and to differentiate yourself from the scandals we see elsewhere." Both speakers noted that the carbon cycle makes forest bioenergy a much more palatable energy source than any fossil fuel, but cautioned that not all bioenergy sources or products are equal. The number one pellet fibre supply, mill residues, are "exemplary" as Thiffault explained. So too are construction waste material. Others, such as harvest residues, are also generally excellent supplies if managed with forest sustainability in mind. When it comes to off-species, salvage harvesting, and roundwood, both speakers agreed that the stories can still be very positive compared to fossil fuels, but the carbon debt will take a little longer to repay. "Context matters," Thiffault explained. "Your fibre mix matters, but so too does the end use. Is it local CHP, is it shipping to the EU? It is all renewable, and they can all work, but some will make a better story than others as far as your footprint." Thiffault has been involved in extensive trials involving various harvest residual removal levels in different forest types. In most cases their is no negative impact on stand productivity, but she added that in some cases there was, so the application and intensity needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis. "There are many safeguards to forest bioenergy development in Canada compared to other parts of the world. First we have forest management regulations that have been recognized as among the most stringent in the world. Bioenergy harvesting must operate in that context. Second, we have the highest certification rate in the world. Finally, we are conducting research on the ground and talking about it at conferences like this. As long as that all continues, I feel confident that the industry is developing properly." Samuel-St-Laurent challenged producers to maximize the environmental benefits of bioenergy, by optimizing the sources used, streamlining transport, and encourage the use of domestic heat and CHP as much as possible. In the latter case, governments and communities clearly have a key role to play. STUD LUMBER SHORTAGE PREDICTED by WOOD MARKETS | Mar 2013 As U.S. new residential lumber demand more than triples from 2009 to 2017, lagging stud lumber output and capacity is expected to create huge supply chain dislocations with soaring prices as the outcome, according to a new report. North American Stud Industry and Market: Current Situation and Outlook to 2017, a new report by International WOOD MARKETS Group is an extensive survey of the North American lumber industry on how the impact of rebounding U.S. lumber demand will strain the supply chain. The survey of stud lumber producers is indicating that shortages of stud lumber can be expected, at times, over the next two to five years as the U.S. housing recovery heads back towards 1.5 million housing starts (and most likely even higher). The report will include: • Estimates of when North American stud lumber production could start to lag demand in the housing sector as well as other end-use segments. • Analysis on the potential supplies from Europe: it will take higher prices to allow European stud mills to consider exports to the U.S., and there limitations in terms of domestic log costs, mill configurations, planer capacity, shipping costs, currency exchange and market risk. • Annual price forecasts: for benchmark solid sawn and finger-joint stud products in key lengths to show where prices are headed and if price premiums between producing region will hold or change, based on market demand and preferences. • Annual North American market demand forecast for studs: including projections of species, grade, lengths, size, geographic region, and customer segments in 2017 as compared to 2012. • The potential supply response to 2017: by producing region and stud type (i.e., solid sawn, finger-joint, imported, and steel), taking into account fibre supply constraints. • Annual forecast of potential capacity: of North American and European stud mills, as well as random length mills that are able to cut PET stud products. • China and Japan: how export markets can further impact demand and prices for studs. "It is already evident that rising U.S. demand from the recovering U.S. housing market is going to put serious demand pressure on stud lumber supply," states the report. "It also appears that many companies have not yet properly assessed the full impacts on their business from the potential of this new stud demand surge. There will be big winners as a result of how business plans are adjusted to account for the projected demand for stud lumber as the recovery continues, including possible acquisitions and even mergers." NORTH DAKOTA OIL FILTERS ILLEGALLY DUMPED, TRIBAL OFFICIAL SAYS Associated Press Posted: 03/06/2013 12:01:00 AM CST Updated: 03/06/2013 09:49:14 AM CST Potentially radioactive filters used in the oil industry are being illegally dumped in fields and garbage containers and along roads on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in western North Dakota, tribal officials say. The filters used to screen fluids at oil wells look like small nets and might attract children and endanger their health, according to Edmund Baker, the Three Affiliated Tribes' top environmental official. Baker issued a public notice and said he plans to attend meetings around the reservation to educate residents about the danger, according to a report from the Bismarck Tribune. Some communities are isolated and not aware of oil field waste issues, he said. North Dakota health rules prohibit the disposal of radioactive waste above a minimum level at any landfill in the state. Health and industry officials are studying the possibility of new waste management rules for disposal in specially permitted landfills. Baker said he was alerted to the problem of illegal filter dumping when a tribal garbage delivery was stopped at a McKenzie County landfill and fined for attempting to bring in the filters. The drivers were unaware the filters were in their load, he said. The tribe in late 2011 announced efforts to crack down on oil companies improperly disposing of waste on the reservation, which lies in the heart of the oil patch that has seen production boom in recent years. Those efforts included hefty fines for violators. "This office is asking the communities to report any illegal activity regarding the dumping or the abandoning of these filters within our boundaries," Baker said. The filters have been found throughout the reservation but particularly in the Mandaree area, he said. BIOMASS SECURE POWER SECURES LOCATION FOR LA. PELLET PLANT By Chris Hanson | March 07, 2013 • Biomass Secure Power is also proposing to develop storage and chipping facilities at the Port of Natchitoches on the Red River. Port of Natchitoches As of March 1, Biomass Power Louisiana, a subsidiary of Biomass Secure Power Inc., secured a six-month option to lease a site where it is proposing to build a new pellet plant. The plant is a four-phase project set to be completed over several years. Phase one consists of three production lines capable of producing 340,000 tons of white wood pellets a year from whole trees and chipped fiber. Upon completion, the first phase will have the capacity to produce 1 million tons annually. The scope for the first phase will be released April 2013, with construction beginning summer 2013. Torrefied pellets will be incorporated into the first production line in the second phase. Upon securing a buyer for the torrefied pellets, all lines developed during phase one will be modified to produce either standard grade or torrefied pellets, depending on the request. In addition to the Baton Rouge Plant, Biomass Secure Power is proposing to develop storage and chipping facilities at the Port of Natchitoches on the Red River. From there, they would store and process logs before shipping to the main plant in Baton Rouge. The wood pellets are destined for Europe, and the company is currently in talks with Asian and European power plants for long term off-take agreements. The plant is partially funded by the Port of Baton Rouge by using municipal bonds sponsored by the port authority. BLOOMBERG BRINGS GOOD NEWS FOR BIOMASS By Bob Cleaves | March 04, 2013 • Last month, Bloomberg and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy released their Sustainable Energy in America 2013 Fact Book, a comprehensive overview of the state of sustainable energy in the U.S. This joint project is an annual evaluation of the entire sustainable energy industry and its many sub-industries, including biomass, which delves into changes over the past year and projects what’s ahead. I wanted to share with you some of the highlights contained in this year’s report. Overall, biomass fares pretty well, especially when compared to the other renewables. The news is not all good, but the trends show a resilient biomass industry that, despite some challenges, fights and achieves growth. The best news from the report is that it seems that the federal and state support the industry has fought for and earned is paying off. This support, mostly in the form of federal tax credits and state renewable portfolio standard programs (RPS), has translated into significant investment in the biomass sector. Though significantly lower than solar and wind due to high capital costs and the need for long-term power purchase agreements (PPA), annual investment in the biomass sector averaged just over $900 million between 2008 and 2012. The report notes the importance of the federal Production Tax Credit and the Investment Tax Credit, both of which are available to biomass, observing that “These tax credits are truly the lifeblood of the renewables industry as they allow renewable energy technologies to be more cost competitive with other sources of generation. Thus any potential expiration of these credits inevitably unsettles the industry.” Fortunately, these credits were recently enhanced as part of the fiscal deal package, allowing new facilities to qualify if construction is begun by the end of 2013, rather than completed by the end of this year. The Biomass Power Association is working toward an extension of the PTC deadline this year as part of our government relations efforts. Equally important was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which, through the 1603 grant program administered by the Department of the Treasury, provided a much-needed strategy for developers to fund the ITC in an efficient manner. While not every state policy has been supportive of biomass in recent years, the fact book indicates that many states are truly looking to biomass as a realistic and reliable alternative to fossil fuels, and their policies are contributing to overall growth. The report correctly notes that while “support for renewables at the federal level has had its dramatic ups and downs over the past five years,” state-level support has been more reliable and uniform, with 29 states enacting an RPS. Importantly, each of the 29 states’ RPS programs embrace biomass energy. The report also notes, “Since 2008, interest in dedicated biomass combustion has started to pick up, driven by attractive state subsidies or feedstock availability.” The report made some interesting observations relating to biomass and utilities. First, utility-scale projects are responsible for the largest percentage of new renewable generating capacity in recent years. The reasons cited for this include declining capital costs coupled with the availability of federal and state incentives. While growth across the renewable sector varies widely by technology, the growth of utility-scale biomass continues, albeit haltingly. On the other hand, biomass growth appears relatively small when compared to other renewables. According to the fact book, annual asset finance for biomass generation was substantially lower than the funding received by the wind and solar sectors, due to the smaller number of bankable projects. Capital tends to be available for biomass projects that have in place a PPA, and also an experienced engineering, procurement and construction contractor and some protection against feedstock availability and price risk. None of these factors are deal breakers on their own, but finding the right combination of funding and expertise can be a challenge, as so many biomass entrepreneurs are aware. For biomass, the biggest takeaway in the fact book is this: while it’s great news to see that the federal funding we’ve been working so hard for has indeed contributed to industry growth, it’s all the more crucial for us to keep advocating for biomass on the federal and state levels. I encourage everyone reading this to continue sharing your biomass stories with your elected officials. Author: Bob Cleaves President and CEO, Biomass Power Association www.biomasspowerassociation.com firstname.lastname@example.org MINN. HOUSE ENERGY POLICY COMMITTEE ADDRESSES 2 BIOMASS BILLS By Erin Voegele | March 08, 2013 • On March 4, the Minnesota House of Representatives Energy Policy committee held hearings for two biomass energy-related bills. The first, H.F. 623, addresses biomass project development by the cities of Hibbing, Minn., and Virginia, Minn., in partial fulfillment of the biomass electric energy mandate issued to Xcel Energy by the legislature as part of the 1994 Prairie Island nuclear waste storage compromise. The second, H.F. 780, would allow waste heat used for heating or cooling and the displacement of fossil fuels by biomass-generated thermal heat to apply toward a utility’s energy saving goal, which is 1.5 percent of the previous year’s retail sales amount. H.F. 623 was introduced on Feb. 14. A House research bill summary published on the legislation notes that the 1994 Prairie Island nuclear waste storage compromise called for the development of 110 MW of biomass-fueled electrical capacity. If signed into law, the bill would specify various elements of an amendment to the power purchase agreement that must be negotiated by mid-April and approved by the state Public Utilities Commission. Specifically, it applies to electric and steam generation facilities owned by the municipalities of Hibbing and Virginia. The facilities were converted from coal to biomass several years ago. The amendment includes a fuel cost adjustment, requiring Xcel to reimburse the plant ownership for all costs to procure and transport the fuel used to produce energy covered by the power purchase agreement. H.F. 780 was introduced in the Minnesota House of Representatives on Feb. 21 and referred to the Energy Policy committee. Regarding biomass, the legislation would allow the state commerce commissioner to approve biomass-generated thermal heat used to displace natural gas heating within city buildings or college campuses to count toward a utility’s natural gas savings goal. Similarly, the bill summary notes that for similar biomass projects that displace fuel oil or propane in areas where natural gas service is not available, the commerce commissioner may allow utilities to count the energy savings realized at a rate of 1 KWh per 3,415 Btu. MINNESOTA UTILITY OFFERS RENEWABLE ENERGY GRANTS By Erin Voegele | March 08, 2013 Minnesota state law requires Xcel Energy, a utility operating within the state, to set aside money each year for its Renewable Development Fund. The RDF was created in 1999 as part of the 1994 Radioactive Waste Management Facility. Essentially, the law requires Xcel to contribute money into the fund for the casks of spent nuclear waste fuel being stored at its Prairie Island nuclear power plant. The money comes from Xcel Energy customers. According to the company, it contributes $19.5 million in the fund each year. Currently, Xcel has up to $30 million available to invest in renewable energy projects and research focused on new ways to produce electricity from renewable sources. The utility recently announced it is accepting grant proposals under the fund. According to information published by Xcel, grants are available for various-sized projects in three categories: energy production, research and development, and research funding for Minnesota institutes of higher education. The last funding cycle tool place in 2007, when 91 project proposals were submitted. A total of 24 projects received a combined $22.6 million. Biomass, solar, hydro and wind projects are all eligible. Active biomass projects that have received funding through the program include a feedstock pelletization R&D project sponsored by Minnesota Valley Alfalfa Producers, an R&D project sponsored by the University of Minnesota to provide guidelines for biomass removal from fields, a biogas system sponsored by RCM Digesters Inc., a project to demonstrate equipment to supply farm-grown trees to power plants sponsored by Energy Performance Systems, a gasification project sponsored by Coaltec Energy USA, an indirect wet biomass liquefaction system gasifier project sponsored by the University of North Dakota, a loss of mains project sponsored by Northern Plains Technologies, and a feedstock production, pre-processing and delivery system project sponsored by the U of M. The application deadline is April 1. Additional information is available at http://www.xcelenergy.com/rdf I wish you luck with your applications. UPDATE ON GREENHOUSE GAS STRATEGY ACTIVITIES NORTHWEST TERRITORIES Mar 11 2013 Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to update the people of the Northwest Territories one of our key initiatives to respond to the global climate change problem: The NWT Greenhouse Gas Strategy. As Members will recall, the Greenhouse Gas Strategy is one of the driving forces aimed at reducing our energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, particularly within our Government’s operations. It is this Strategy that drives related initiatives in the areas of alternative energy, energy efficiency and climate change adaptations. More importantly Mr. Speaker, the Greenhouse Gas Strategy is having a positive impact with direct emissions from Government of the Northwest Territories operations down 30 percent during the 2001 to 2011 time period. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources recently updated this important Strategy to build on these successes. The newly revised 2011-2015 Greenhouse Gas Strategy goes beyond the GNWT and identifies actions in all sectors – government, industry and communities – to increase energy efficiency and identify new clean sources of renewable energy. There is strong support from a broad spectrum of interests for our continued efforts to increase the growth of renewable energy sources for the NWT. Solar electricity is quickly becoming almost as cost-effective as burning diesel. There is already about 262 kilowatts of solar electricity capacity installed here. Battery-based off-grid solar applications account for 90 kilowatts while grid-interconnected systems are responsible for the other 172 kilowatts. The recent expansion of the Fort Simpson solar energy project by 178 panels, a joint project between the Northwest Territories Power Corporation and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, will displace about 100-thousand kilowatt hours of diesel generation per year, and remove 84 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent from the atmosphere. Mr. Speaker, this is just one of 27 solar projects we funded this year. Interest in the potential of solar electricity continues to grow. The Tåîchô Government is proposing proposed utility-scale solar projects in two of its communities, which will allow us to determine the maximum solar capacity on their grid. Biomass currently constitutes about 12 percent of total heating fuel consumption in our communities. More than 130 wood and wood pellet stoves and boilers have been installed in people’s homes this year with support provided by this Government. During the past five years, we have commissioned 11 biomass heating systems in larger government buildings resulting in the displacement more than 2.4 million litres of heating oil, equivalent to about 16 percent of the GNWT’s heating fuel consumption. These projects have reduced more than 6,500 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from government operations. The demand for biomass energy continues to grow as communities realizes the potential for energy reduction and the opportunities for local supply. We continue to work with Aboriginal governments and communities to assess the best approach for developing forest industry opportunities and local biomass fuel production to support more biomass energy developments. Mr. Speaker, interest in establishing a wood-pellet manufacturing facility in our territory will provide significant economic benefits and employment opportunities in communities where they are most needed. Our role is to support the sustainable development of a local forest industry. Biomass energy and supply are providing an avenue to accomplish this by providing essential forest planning support, resource information, and advice to communities and entrepreneurs on sustainable development and management of our forest resources. Actions being taken by industry, communities and Aboriginal partners complement the work we are taking and are essential to helping us achieve our long-term goals. For example, the Diavik Diamond Mine installed four wind turbines that started production in September 2012. These turbines have a total generation capacity of 9.2 mega watts and are expected to reduce emissions by 12,000 tonnes per year. The City of Yellowknife just received recognition from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for the steps it is taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Through their Community Energy Plan, the City has reduced its emissions by 10% since 2004. The Tåîchô Government recently installed a biomass fired district heat system that will provide heat to seven buildings in Behchokö . This system will reduce heating oil use by 200,000 litres per year and eliminate 530 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year. The Tetlit Gwich’in Council in Fort McPherson is now installing a biomass boiler in their community and are taking steps to start harvesting their own local wood supply to provide the fuel. Mr. Speaker, I have mentioned only a few of the businesses and communities taking steps in the same direction that the GNWT is moving because these are cost effective measures. We have demonstrated that there are ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in ways that make financial sense. We will need to continue with this work. While we are on track to meet our next target of stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions at 2005 levels by the year 2015 it will be a challenge to continue to identify and implement actions that can meet the energy needs of our growing economy. At the recent Energy Charrette, many participants discussed the need to ensure the NWT has access to clean, reliable energy at competitive prices. The implementation of actions outlined in the revised Greenhouse Gas Strategy is occurring on a cooperative and collaborative basis with a wide range of government, non-government and industry groups. This approach will move us all closer to our common goal of a strong and sustainable North. Thank you. BIDS CALLED FOR £150M WOOD PELLET STORAGE FACILITY Aaron Morby | Mon 11th March | 7:01 Peel Ports is pressing ahead with plans to build a huge wood pellet dockside storage facility at the Port of Liverpool. The massive storage depot will supply a biomass power station planned at the port. Operators of the port say the project is likely to be split into two phases with construction of phase one estimated to cost around £60m to store up to 100,000 tonnes of wood pellets. The scope of the full ‘Biomass Import and Storage and Outloading to Rail’ project is expected to come in at an expected cost of £150m and create facilities to ultimately store up 350,000 tonnes of wood. It is planned as a designa and build contract and will include supply and installation the train and road transport loading facilities equipment. Also included will be, all required control and automation systems, all fire detection and suppression systems. The new facility is expected to be built at Alexandra Dock 3 at the site of an old grain terminal to supply a nearby power station. Mersey Docks and Harbour Company is working to a tight timetable with PQQs dues inb y 26 April for a contract to be signed at the end of June. The project is due to complete in September 2014. Contact. Richard Woosnam tel: 01519496000 or email: email@example.com SFI APPLAUDS EU'S NEW ILLEGAL LOGGING RULES by SFI | Mar 2013 A leading forestry organization applauded the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR), which took effect March 3 and prohibits illegally harvested timber or products derived from such timber to be brought in the European Union. "Illegal logging undermines responsible forest governance, damages wildlife habitat, and reduces the potential for forests to provide stable supplies of products and support local communities," saidKathy Abusow, President and CEO of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI) . "The EUTR, just like the U.S. Lacey Act, is an important regulatory tool to address illegal logging and enable legal global trade in forest products." Abusow is speaking at The Economist World Forests Summit in Stockholm, Sweden, on the timely topic of timber regulations that prohibit the sale of illegally harvested timber. On this panel, Abusow applauded timber regulations as one of many important mechanisms to combat illegal logging. She also asked the audience to remember that while illegal logging is a global problem, responsible forestry is the solution given the many economic, environmental, and social values that working forests support. "The European Commission has recognized that forest certification programs can be an important tool to help suppliers meet EUTR requirements," Abusow said. "Products certified to forest certification standards, including PEFC and SFI, are demonstrating they have mechanisms in place to avoid illegal fiber in the supply chain, and are committed to promoting responsible forestry." While forests certified to the SFI Standard exist only in the U.S. and Canada where there is negligible risk of illegal logging, and 98% of the fiber sourced by SFI Program Participants for their North American facilities comes from the U.S. or Canada, SFI has mechanisms to assess and address risks to avoid illegal sources of supply. In addition, in recognition that it takes a variety of interests, mechanisms, policies and tools to address illegal logging and more importantly to promote sustainable development, SFI has been supportive of tools to assist purchasers of forest products in securing products from legal sources, including the Forest Legality Risk Information Tool developed by the World Resources Institute. The SFI Program is internationally recognized and has been endorsed by the independent Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). Ben Gunneberg, PEFC Secretary General, said "PEFC International has undertaken measures to revise its PEFC Chain of Custody standard to be fully aligned with the due diligence requirements of the EUTR. The EUTR is expected to drive increased market interest in forest certification as the simplest and most credible tool currently available for demonstrating legality and minimizing risk." While forest certification is not accepted as automatic proof of EUTR compliance, as the European Commission cannot formally endorse non-regulatory instruments, forest certification is referenced in the EUTR and supporting regulations and guidance as a potential tool for risk assessment and mitigation. The European Commission has specified that certification or other third-party verified schemes may be taken into account where they meet certain criteria, all of which PEFC and SFI Standards meet. LEARNING ABOUT LIGNIN AT CRIBE New FPInnovations lab pushes research forward. Written by Andrew Macklin The continued emergence of the Canadian bioeconomy has increased the need for homegrown solutions for pushing the agenda forward. As provinces work to expand opportunities for research and development for a variety of bioenergy solutions, the establishment of the Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-economy in Thunder Bay, Ontario, has provided the needed funding for a new lab that looks to learn more about the marketable value of lignin. An overhead view of the lignin pilot plant operated by FPInnovations at the Resolute Forest Products mill in Thunder Bay. ________________________________________ In June of 2011, CRIBE announced that it was providing $850,000 for the establishment of a world-class lignin lab and demonstration plant at the Resolute Forest Products (RFP) mill site (formerly AbitibiBowater) in Thunder Bay. In addition, Natural Resources Canada provided $500,000 in funding for the project, which is being run by FPInnovations (FPI). The demonstration plant is the first facility of its kind in North America. The plant has been directly integrated into the kraft mill process at RFP. Testing and evaluation of lignin is done in the FPInnovations lab onsite, with further testing and evaluation of lignin and its product applications at other FPI labs as well with various research and commercial partners. Lignin, once it has been extracted from a black liquor sample, undergoes a series of tests to determine what its best product application is. ________________________________________ Part of the work that needed to be done in advance of constructing the demonstration plant was to determine an effective system for lignin extraction based on the kraft mill process already in place at Resolute. “In our process, the lignin precipitates from the black liquor as a solid when the black liquor is acidified,” said Kirsten Maki, associate research leader for the Bio-Economy Technology Centre. “The resulting slurry is sent to a filter press, where the lignin solids are trapped in the filter while the remaining black liquor passes through the filter media. The lignin is then squeezed, washed, and dried with pressurized air, and is discharged as a clean cake of lignin at around 60% solids. This cake can be dried further and then crushed, ground or pulverized, depending how fine a product is desired.” One of the key reasons for linking the demonstration plant directly to the kraft mill process is the production of lignin to meet the growing demands of end users. The initial production capacity is 100 kilograms per day, which has already been met by Resolute. As a result of the current lignin resources made available from the demonstration plant, over 25 organizations from across Canada, the United States and a handful of international partners have already received samples of the lignin for use in product development. “Our largest order to date, approximately two tonnes, went to a phenol formaldehyde resin manufacturer – the lignin can replace some of the phenol in the formulation,” said Maki. “The expectation is that resin will be among the first higher value/higher volume uses of lignin derived from kraft black liquor (versus using lignin for its fuel value).” Collecting Samples Smaller samples of the lignin created at the demonstration plant are being used in the research conducted at the FPInnovations black liquor and lignin evaluation lab located on the same site. The large quantity available from the extraction process at RFP will allow for in-depth testing, helping to determine variations in lignin quality based on the type of wood and the process by which the lignin was extracted. Black liquor samples are sent to the FPInnovations Lignin Lab from across Canada by companies looking to understand the best end-use for the product. The lab and pilot plant also has the capacity for accepting black liquor and lignin samples from across Canada and around the world. Those samples are voluntarily sent by manufacturers looking to understand the characteristics of the lignin to determine the best end use for the product. Currently, lignin is being evaluated by companies across Canada as an alternative to petroleum-based chemicals used to make products such as carbon fibre, pharmaceuticals, resins, rubber additives, and thermoplastics. As researchers are able to provide thorough evaluations of lignin samples from a variety of wood species, these companies will be able to gain a greater understanding of the lignin they will need in order to produce the highest quality product. At the same time, researchers at the lab also gain that same knowledge, which will allow for the creation of an extensive database of information for comparing lignin samples from around the world. The tests being run on the black liquor and lignin samples are being conducted by a four-member team of researchers from FPInnovations, and supported by the work of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Thanks to a partnership between FPInnovations and the Lignoworks network, in co-operation with The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, students from major universities across Canada have access to the lab to assist graduate-level research being done in relation to both the extraction process and lignin-based product development. The research and development that will result from the work being done at the lab will provide significant benefits for the bioproducts industry in Canada. The constant, available supply of lignin will help the industry move from the production of lignin-based products at the laboratory sample level to a much larger scale. The evaluation of the demonstration plant’s performance will help FPInnovations, and its engineering partners at NORAM, understand the design requirements necessary to increase the scale of lignin production. Classifying, researching, and evaluating lignin from different extraction processes and wood samples will give producers a real understanding of the most effective end uses for those same lignin samples. The world-class lab and demonstration plant at RFP in Thunder Bay, in partnership with FPInnovations, has the potential to provide the needed research and development to vault Canada to the forefront of the global bioproducts industry. DOMTAR INAUGURATES COMMERCIAL LIGNIN PRODUCTION Written by CNW March 12, 2013, Montreal, QC – Domtar Corporation announced that it has successfully installed a commercial-scale lignin separation plant at its Plymouth, North Carolina mill, the first U.S. facility of its type in over 25 years. The production of BioChoice lignin began in February, with a targeted rate of 75 tons a day, destined for a wide range of industrial applications as a bio-based alternative to the use of petroleum and other fossil fuels. The successful installation of commercial-scale lignin removal capacity at the Plymouth Mill is the culmination of a research and engineering project launched by Domtar in 2010. This project was further boosted when the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy awarded the company a grant through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative. Domtar's lignin operation sets a new path for the industry and also marks the latest sustainability milestone for a company that has long been recognized as an industry leader in forest certification and environmental stewardship. "Our vision is to be a global leader in fiber-based innovation," said Bruno Marcoccia, Domtar's director of research and development. "A big part of this is our focus on partnering with best-in class collaborators to develop new products and markets for a wide portfolio of initiatives, like BioChoice." "The possibilities for making a real difference in terms of offering manufacturers a bio-based alternative to the use of petro-chemicals is truly exciting," said Hasan Jameel, a professor in North Carolina State University's Department of Forest Biomaterials. "This is a big win for sustainability on two counts - Domtar improves the efficiency of its pulp-making process, and at the same time the market gets a reliable, high-quality source of this underused material with so much potential." A wide range of potential applications for BioChoice lignin exists, including fuels, resins and thermoplastics. CANADIAN TOWN WINS GRANT FOR BIOMASS HEATING SYSTEM By Infrastructure Canada | March 13, 2013 • The Village of Telkwa will receive $680,230 from the Government of Canada through the Gas Tax Fund transfer to retrofit their municipal building and install an innovative biomass heating system, as well as to develop a sustainable subdivision plan. "Building clean energy infrastructure is an investment in the economic prosperity and long-term sustainability of Telkwa," said Bob Zimmer, Member of Parliament for Prince George—Peace River. "I am pleased our Government is supporting this environmentally friendly initiative that will create jobs, strengthen the local economy and support the growing needs of the community." The Village of Telkwa will improve the exterior of their municipal building and install a biomass heating system, which will burn waste wood from the forest around the community. The new system is intended to provide heat to the municipal building, a nearby business, a school and four residences, and will enable the Village to become a leader in green energy for Northern BC. The completed project is expected to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by almost 10 metric tons a year. The sustainable subdivision plan will include a review and recommendations on how best to update the municipality's subdivision control bylaw. "We are very excited to receive the Gas Tax funding to retrofit the exterior of our municipal office and to establish a district heating system," said Telkwa Mayor Carman Graf. "The Village of Telkwa recently structured their official Community Sustainability Plan within the principles of a long-term planning framework that established guidelines and principles related to economic, environmental, social and cultural sustainability. This project fits perfectly into that framework." "Protecting our environment creates a stronger B.C. and sets the stage for a positive range of health, social and economic outcomes," said Bill Bennett, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development. "This biomass heating system, which will assist Telkwa in achieving their Climate Action goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, is a great example of the type of innovative green infrastructure that will help build sustainable, resilient communities in this province." "Telkwa's project will lead to cleaner air and reduce the cost of operating their municipal building for years to come," said Union of British Columbia Municipalities President Mary Sjostrom. "I am very pleased to see the Gas Tax Fund supporting this district energy system." Since 2006, the Government of Canada has made unprecedented investments in infrastructure. Through the Gas Tax Fund alone, municipalities across the country have received over $10 billion in transfers for local priority initiatives. Making this fund permanent at $2 billion annually was part of Canada's Economic Action Plan—a plan to help create good jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity. Between 2006 and 2014, British Columbia will receive more than $1.56 billion from the Gas Tax Fund to improve local infrastructure. The Union of British Columbia Municipalities administers the Gas Tax Fund in B.C., in collaboration with Canada and British Columbia. SIERRA CLUB SUES DTE OVER ALLEGED VIOLATIONS AT COAL-FIRED PLANTS March 13, 2013 By Dorothy Davis Environmental group the Sierra Club has filed a lawsuit this week against DTE Energy and certain subsidiaries for what it claims are at least 1,400 violations of the federal Clean Air Act across four Michigan coal-fired power plants. The suit filed Tuesday claims DTE’s Belle River, River Rouge, St. Clair, and Trenton Channel coal-fired plants are outdated and lacking the pollution controls required to meet federal regulations on emissions. According to the suit, each violation relates to an instance when visible emissions from the plants exceeded opacity limits. The opacity of a power plant's visible emissions is often used as an overall indicator of the level of particulate matter. The Sierra Club said the violations listed in the suit are based on data obtained from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which it claims reveals emissions from the plants exceeded the opacity limits allowed by their pollution permits repeatedly between 2007 and 2011. However, DTE spokesman John Austerberry has responded saying the plants in question are in compliance and any exceeding opacity limits were “brief events, lasting a matter of minutes.” “All of our plants operate fully compliant with state and federal emissions regulations,” said Austerberry. “I suspect it’s more of a strategy to get headlines than anything else.” Austerberry also highlighted that DTE has invested more than $2 billion over the past decade toward emissions controls at its power plants, with plans to invest up to $2 billion more towards continued environmental upgrades. DTE currently operates six coal-fired power plants in Michigan, serving 2.1 million electric utility customers and 1.2 million natural gas customers through its subsidiaries. Read the full complaint filing here: Sierra Club vs. Detroit Edison Co., DTE Energy Co. and DTE Electric Co. WOOD PELLET PLANT COULD COME TO BR PORT BY CHAD CALDER Advocate business writer March 13, 2013 0 Comments A Canadian company is looking to build a wood pellet facility on 90 acres of Port Allen property owned by the Port of Greater Baton Rouge. Biomass Secure Power Inc., of Abbotsford, British Columbia, has an option on the property south of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and north of Northline Road that is good through August. A company executive said Wednesday that there is a good chance construction will begin then. Jim Carroll, Biomass’ president and chief executive officer, said the plant could ultimately be a $400 million investment, if all four phases are built, and would produce 4 million tons of wood pellets per year. The first phase will have three production lines, the first taking about 14 months to build and the second and third completed within 18 months from groundbreaking. The three lines will produce about 1 million tons of pellets per year. Carroll would not disclose whether Biomass has any contracts lined up or if the project is financed, but he said he is confident that work can begin by about August. “We don’t see any problem with completing everything we have to complete in that timeframe,” he said. The company, shares of which trade over the counter, created Biomass Power Louisiana LLC to operate the plant. Port Director Jay Hardman said the port has given Biomass some standard terms for leasing the land and for wharfage, but said a final lease would come before the port commission. The commission would have to deal with other issues, such as who would own the infrastructure if the two parted ways. He also said the port will make sure Biomass has signed contracts for customers who would burn the wood pellets for fuel before signing an agreement, a lesson learned from its dealings with Point Bio Energy. Point Bio had an option on port property but was taking a long time to get its financing together. The port decided to market the property, and Point Bio later leased land from Sun Plus Inc. near the port. Like Point Bio, Biomass would sell the pellets it produces on the open market, Hardman said, making it somewhat different than a $30 million pellet transport facility that United Kingdom-based multinational Drax Group has planned at the port. Drax would manufacture its pellets in plants in Morehouse Parish and in Mississippi and bring them into the port facility to be shipped out for use as fuel in Europe and by Drax itself. SPECIAL PROGRAM SUBSTANTIALLY LOWERS ENERGY AUDIT COSTS FOR POULTRY PRODUCERS Posted: Monday, March 18, 2013 11:00 am Producers in the nation’s No. 2 broiler state could potentially save thousands of dollars each year on the energy needed to heat, light and run small motors in their poultry houses. Identifying energy inefficiencies and suggesting solutions to reduce them are the goals of audits now available to Arkansas poultry producers, thanks to a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. The audit program showed an average potential energy savings of 28 percent for participants in its first year. Those savings add up quickly in a field where energy costs are almost 60 percent of a typical contract broiler grower’s variable production costs, and energy costs have quadrupled since 2000. For a fee of $380, rather than the $1,500 other auditors can charge, an energy professional will visit a producer’s operation and inspect the farm’s configuration, processes and equipment that affect energy efficiency. The specialist will provide recommendations that, once implemented, can yield important savings in energy costs. Producers can also apply for additional grants to help pay for the recommended changes. Energy-savings plans can include recommendations such as using energy efficient light bulbs, installing air circulation fans under ceilings to improve heating efficiency, replacing double siding doors with roll-up seal doors and using radiant brooders. One grower in Lincoln County learned of potential savings of about $3,000 a year – 24 percent – on gas and $2,250 a year, or 29 percent, on electricity from the audit. Findings from audits on 40 poultry farms showed the potential to save more than 226,000 gallons of propane and 2.4 million kilowatt hours of electricity. Two USDA competitive funding programs can help offset the costs of implementing the recommended energy related upgrades, which, to date, have averaged about $120,000 per farm, assuming a four-poultry house farm. A farm energy audit is a requirement for applying for these grants. The Natural Resource Conservation Service offers 75 percent assistance for eligible producers to implement conservation practices, and the USDA Rural Development Agency’s Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP, is a 25 percent cost-share grant. While the grants can’t be combined to cover 100 percent of costs, farmers can still apply for both, according to Yi Liang, assistant professor-air quality for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “Producers can use one for their lighting upgrade, for example, but could use another to retrofit energy efficient heaters,” she said. The audits are funded by a USDA Rural Development grant awarded to Liang and Thomas Costello, both of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. Approximately 10 audit slots are still available. Farmer should apply for the audits as soon as possible to ensure the audits are completed by April 30 – the grant’s end date. NRCS field office staff can help farmers apply for the On-Farm Energy Initiative, that includes the energy audit and the 75 percent cost-share, energy-related retrofit grant. NRCS contact information can be found at www.ar.nrcs.usda.gov/contact/field_offices.html. CANADIAN PELLETS HEADING TO THE UK UK’s Tilbury Power Station may be a major buyer of Canadian wood pellets. Written by Gordon Murray In November 2011, a boatload of wood pellets left Vancouver bound for the United Kingdom. Four weeks later, pellets from that ship were among the first to be burned at the newly converted biomass power station at Tilbury, a small port town 40 kilometres east of London. Sandy Ferguson of BC Bioenergy Network and I visited Tilbury Power Station (TPS). Owned by RWE npower (RWE), TPS is the first major coal-fired power station in the world to be converted to run on 100% sustainably sourced wood pellets. With three power units totalling 750 MWe of capacity, TPS is the largest dedicated biomass plant in the world. From left to right: Mark Flower, Gordon Murray, Sandy Ferguson and Chrissie Martin at Tilbury Power Station. ________________________________________ Operation of TPS on biomass rather than coal has resulted in greenhouse gas savings greater than 70% in comparison to coal. The conversion has also resulted in significantly lower emissions of NOx, SOx, dust and ash. In fact, the ash from wood pellets is coveted by farmers for use as fertilizer. Upon our arrival at TPS, we were greeted by RWE representatives Nigel Staves, plant manager; Steve Bradley, project manager; Mark Flower, engineer; and Chrissie Martin, environmental consents manager. Our hosts were justifiably proud of their power station and most enthusiastic about its future. TPS is located at an ideal site on the bank of the River Thames, tucked just a short distance upriver from the North Sea. There is a deep-water jetty capable of receiving Panamax class vessels, eliminating intermediate freight costs. Since TPS hasn’t any facilities for land storage of wood pellets, when pellets are unloaded from ships, they are conveyed directly into the boilers. Once one ship is unloaded, another ship must be ready to take its place immediately to prevent the plant from running out of pellets and having to shut down. TPS can only operate for about six hours between shipments. Pellets are unloaded from ship-holds using Vigan pneumatic ship unloaders, which are essentially gigantic vacuum cleaners that suck the pellets out of each ship-hold and deposit them onto conveyors that transport the pellets into the power plant. From its opening as a biomass plant in December 2012 until its expected closure in July 2013, TPS is expected to use around 1.3 million tonnes of wood pellets. RWE is now looking into the option of extending the life of TPS, enabling it to operate as a dedicated biomass power station for another dozen or so years to around 2027. The company has submitted planning applications for the modifications that are necessary to extend the life of the power station. If successful, the plant will be closed for 15 months while construction is carried out, and then come back on line in 2015. When completed, the plant will deliver performance and emissions levels as if it were a new plant. Once completed, TPS will operate with thermal efficiency above 37%. The plant will consume around 2.7 million tonnes of sustainably sourced, renewable wood pellets each year, which will be sourced 30% from RWE’s own 750,000 tonne-per-year pellet plant in Waycross, Georgia; 60% from Canada; and 10% from Europe. Steve Bradley and Mark Flower explained the rationale behind pellet quality specifications. We learned the importance of small particle size due to the inability of coal mills to reduce particle size below what arrives in pellets. If particle size is too large in the boiler, then the particles will not fully combust, resulting in carbonization of the ash, thus poor fuel efficiency and difficulty in ash disposal. Pellet durability is also important because excessive dust is hazardous and is an explosion risk. Chlorine content is important because excess chlorine combines with hydrogen to create acid resulting in corrosion of the boilers. And nitrogen and sulphur levels are important as well, because if levels are too high, it leads to unacceptable emissions into the atmosphere. Since that first shipment in November 2011, Canada’s pellet producers have shipped many more thousands of tonnes of pellets to Tilbury, thereby contributing to the greening of the UK’s power supply. We wish RWE all the best as the company works toward extending the life of Tilbury Power Station and Canada’s pellet producers look forward to sending many more boatloads in the future. ________________________________________ Gordon Murray is executive director of the Wood Pellet Association of Canada. He encourages all those who want to support and benefit from the growth of the Canadian wood pellet industry to join. Gordon welcomes all comments and can be contacted by telephone at 250-837-8821 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. CONFLUENCE ENERGY ACQUISITION NEARLY DOUBLES PELLET CAPACITY By Anna Simet | March 21, 2013 • Confluence Energy has nearly doubled its production capacity. Confluence Energy Kremmling, Colo.-based Confluence Energy has acquired certain assets of Rocky Mountain Pellet in Walden, Colo., a transaction that will nearly double the company’s current capacity of 100,000 tons. Both facilities, which are about 60 miles apart, began production in 2008. Since then, both have sourced pine beetle-killed wood as feedstock, and Confluence Energy has a 10-year feedstock materials contract with the U.S. Forest Service, which was awarded last December. The acquisition, according to Confluence Energy, includes one building on approximately 90 acres on of land, plus all fixed and mobile assets. With the completion of the deal, Confluence Energy gains facilities housing four pellet presses with the capacity to produce 120,000 tons of wood pellets annually. The company obtained an undisclosed amount of funding through an Industrial Revenue Bond for the acquisition, and loan specifics were also undisclosed. Confluence Energy CEO Mark Mathis said the acquired plant should be fully operational later this quarter, after some minor modifications are completed. CANADIAN WOOD PELLETS WANTED March 19, 2013 By: Lauren Levay Recently surpassed by the U.S. as the largest exporter of wood pellets to Europe, Canada now has the opportunity to catch up as a 300 per cent increase in European wood pellet demand is predicted by 2020, according to Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC) figures. With the high cost of oil, gas and electricity in Europe, coupled with the European commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, wood pellet consumption will continue to rise, says Gordon Murray, Executive Director of Wood Pellet Association of Canada. Europe’s current wood pellet consumption is 12 million tonnes annually. Murray explains that Europe supplies an impressive 75% of their consumption. Their production capabilities are currently near capacity, which puts their production at 8 million tonnes annually. Gordon Murray “To put it into comparison,” Murray says, “Canada’s production is somewhere in the order of about 1.8 mill tonnes annually. Germany themselves are producing about 2 million tonnes annually.” Italy produces about 550,000 tonnes annually from 301,200 square km of land with approximately 10 million hectares of forest. “Italy produces 550,000 tonnes of pellets from just nine million hectares of forest – a rate of 61 tonnes per 1,000 hectares – whereas Canada produces 1.5 million tonnes from 397 million hectares, a rate of just four tonnes per 1,000 hectares. If Canada could reach the same production rate, it would produce 23 million tonnes of pellets per year.” Murray says, the only place markets are not growing is Canada and the U.S. “It’s odd,” he expresses, “because in Canada, pellets are a little more expensive than natural gas but much less expensive than electricity, oil or propane. And in Canada, barely half of homes are served by gas and the other half is electricity, oil, propane or some other type of fuel.” “It’s just a matter of not doing a good enough job as an industry at promoting wood pellets as being a cheap, clean, and convenient alternative to oil and electric heating,” Murray contends. Many people are simply unaware of the simplicity and convenience of the modern pellet appliance. “There is a huge capacity for more pellet production in Canada,” Murray says. “Pellets in Canada are produced 100 per cent from waste material,” and “when you look at the number of pellet plants in Canada, we’re using just a small fraction of the amount of material being wasted.” With lumber prices rising and a recovery in the solid wood sector, Murray sees boundless opportunities for a booming pellet sector in Canada. “As the solid wood sector comes back online,” Murray suggests, “We will see more sawmills starting up in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes again, there will be more residuals which pellet producers can make use of.” “And sadly,” Murray continues, “the pulp industry has declined quite a bit, so there will be a surplus in material that used to go to them. We’re just pretty much out there trying to make use of the scraps.” Importantly, Murray explains, “We don’t see ourselves as competing with the primary forest sector. We believe to be healthy as an industry, we need to have a healthy pulp industry and healthy sawmill industry. From the perspective of sawmills, we are just providing a little bit of revenue that they didn’t have before. “Sawmills then obviously need the pulp mills as an outlet for chips, and because we want to see sawmills around them, we have an interest in seeing pulp mills around. We can also trade bark with the pulp mills and get sawdust and shavings back. With the power boilers in the pulp mills, it doesn’t matter whether they are burning bark or sawdust, whereas for us it does.” There is plenty of room for cooperation with the other sectors of the forest industry Murray affirms. “We are always concerned that other sectors might see us as a threat, but we are anything but a threat. We are there trying to participate, to make their life easier and trying to flourish as well,” Murray says optimistically. There are currently millions of tonnes of material left behind from forestry operations which pellet producers could make use of, says Murray. “You can go about 1 hour radius around a pellet plant to get the material, and then beyond that it would not be economical.” Referring back to the flourishing opportunities in Europe, Murray explains “Some coal power plants in Europe have switched from coal to wood pellets, either entirely or even partially.” In the UK, where Murray says the majority of Canadian pellets are destined due to easily accessible ports, plants are converting 100% from coal to wood pellets. Hopeful and optimistic, Murray expects much more progress for the use of wood pellets in Canada with a little more awareness and understanding of the low impact, high efficiency material.◊ NEW PLAN CALLS FOR WOOD CHIPS TO FUEL PUBLIC BUILDINGS Author: Richard Barnes An Eastern Canada-based company is looking to boost its current operations while both clearing trees from forests and helping those forests to thrive. Wood Industry Pushing for Reform An Eastern Canada-based company is looking to boost its current operations while both clearing trees from forests and helping those forests to thrive. PEI Bioheat, operating under the umbrella of Atlantic BioHeat, is proposing to use wood chips harvested through the thinning of Prince Edward Island forests to provide a natural fuel source for a total of 32 publicly-owned sites, including government buildings. Some of PEI’s forests are currently overly dense, making it difficult for trees to thrive. By thinning the trees, PEI Bioheat would actually boost the long-term health of the forests while creating a renewable and environmentally-friendly fuel source to heat the buildings. The wood chips would be harvested from areas of the forest on a rotational basis. According to research conducted by the company, only three per cent of the trees would have to be culled to provide enough wood chips to provide fuel for 32 furnaces for the next 10 to 15 years. That would mean a reduction in oil consumption of roughly four million litres a year, offering immediate environmental benefits. Furthermore, the energy produced by burning the wood chips would have a minimal environmental impact of their own. The carbon emissions created by burning the wood chips are considered clean as the chips would normally have released a similar amount of carbon due to natural decomposition or by being burned in forest fires. The impact of such emissions are typically short-lived, so provided the company sticks to its goals and does not overharvest PEI forests, it will provide multiple benefits to the environment. The company is currently vying for a government tender spanning 20 years. The request for proposal, put out last fall, calls for bidders to provide biomass heating for 22 schools, four manors, three hospitals and the provincial correctional facility. Atlantic BioHeat is already a player in the biomass energy game, providing heating for two schools. NEWPAGE DULUTH CUTS JOBS February 26, 2013 (Local News)—Thirteen employees at NewPage paper mill in West Duluth have been laid off, the result of the companywide reduction of 300 employees. NewPage Corp., owner of the Duluth mill and seven other mills in the United States, is eliminating 300 of its 6,000 positions at its eight U.S. paper mills because of rising costs and declining demand for its paper products. The layoffs follow the company’s emergence in December from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. For Duluth, which had 282 employees before the layoffs, it resulted in the elimination of 13 hourly and salaried positions, he said. WAUSAU PAPER TO CLOSE BRAINERD, MINN. SPECIALTY MILL MOSINEE, WI, Feb. 21, 2013 (Business Wire)—Wausau Paper today announced the closure of the Company's technical specialty paper mill in Brainerd, Minnesota, to occur early in the second quarter of 2013. The closure will affect approximately 130 employees. The Company recently announced its intent to strategically reposition the company to focus on its Tissue business. A range of alternatives for the divestiture of the technical specialty business have been explored. It has become clear that Brainerd will not contribute to those alternatives and the closure will significantly improve the continuing Paper segment operating results. CHOPSTICK PLANT TO OPEN IN WHITE PINE, MICHIGAN January 18, 2013 (Local News)—Global Wood Sticks LLC has entered into a deal to purchase the former Custom Metals building in the White Pine, Michigan Industrial Park. The plan is to produce wood products to be marketed overseas, including chopsticks. The company will operate a sawmill, 58 cutting machines, and employ from 70 to 80 local people in the first year. Species of interest include: aspen, basswood, and paper birch. It will be the first plant of its kind in Michigan to manufacture specialty wood products from local Michigan forests and send them overseas, according to the release. THERMOGEN TO BUILD $80 MILLION TORREFIED WOOD PELLET PLANT NEAR EASTPORT, MAINE February 23, 2013 (Bangor Daily News)—Thermogen Industries, a subsidiary of Cate Street Capital, released a statement Friday confirming reports that it has plans to construct an $80 million wood pellet plant near the Port of Eastport marine cargo terminal. The plan calls for construction of a plant that can produce between 200,000 and 300,000 tons of torrefied wood pellets each year. The facility could create, approximately 100 jobs in Eastport. Last year, Cate Street Capital announced plans to build a $48 million torrefied wood facility at the site of the Millinocket paper mill creating 25 jobs. Torrefied wood is a type of microwaved wood pellet that burns as hot as coal without coal’s pollutants. The product burns about 30 percent hotter than typical wood pellets. CANADIAN WOOD PELLETS WANTED March 19, 2013 By: Lauren Levay Recently surpassed by the U.S. as the largest exporter of wood pellets to Europe, Canada now has the opportunity to catch up as a 300 per cent increase in European wood pellet demand is predicted by 2020, according to Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC) figures. With the high cost of oil, gas and electricity in Europe, coupled with the European commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, wood pellet consumption will continue to rise, says Gordon Murray, Executive Director of Wood Pellet Association of Canada. Europe’s current wood pellet consumption is 12 million tonnes annually. Murray explains that Europe supplies an impressive 75% of their consumption. Their production capabilities are currently near capacity, which puts their production at 8 million tonnes annually. Gordon Murray “To put it into comparison,” Murray says, “Canada’s production is somewhere in the order of about 1.8 mill tonnes annually. Germany themselves are producing about 2 million tonnes annually.” Italy produces about 550,000 tonnes annually from 301,200 square km of land with approximately 10 million hectares of forest. “Italy produces 550,000 tonnes of pellets from just nine million hectares of forest – a rate of 61 tonnes per 1,000 hectares – whereas Canada produces 1.5 million tonnes from 397 million hectares, a rate of just four tonnes per 1,000 hectares. If Canada could reach the same production rate, it would produce 23 million tonnes of pellets per year.” Murray says, the only place markets are not growing is Canada and the U.S. “It’s odd,” he expresses, “because in Canada, pellets are a little more expensive than natural gas but much less expensive than electricity, oil or propane. And in Canada, barely half of homes are served by gas and the other half is electricity, oil, propane or some other type of fuel.” “It’s just a matter of not doing a good enough job as an industry at promoting wood pellets as being a cheap, clean, and convenient alternative to oil and electric heating,” Murray contends. Many people are simply unaware of the simplicity and convenience of the modern pellet appliance. “There is a huge capacity for more pellet production in Canada,” Murray says. “Pellets in Canada are produced 100 per cent from waste material,” and “when you look at the number of pellet plants in Canada, we’re using just a small fraction of the amount of material being wasted.” With lumber prices rising and a recovery in the solid wood sector, Murray sees boundless opportunities for a booming pellet sector in Canada. “As the solid wood sector comes back online,” Murray suggests, “We will see more sawmills starting up in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes again, there will be more residuals which pellet producers can make use of.” “And sadly,” Murray continues, “the pulp industry has declined quite a bit, so there will be a surplus in material that used to go to them. We’re just pretty much out there trying to make use of the scraps.” Importantly, Murray explains, “We don’t see ourselves as competing with the primary forest sector. We believe to be healthy as an industry, we need to have a healthy pulp industry and healthy sawmill industry. From the perspective of sawmills, we are just providing a little bit of revenue that they didn’t have before. “Sawmills then obviously need the pulp mills as an outlet for chips, and because we want to see sawmills around them, we have an interest in seeing pulp mills around. We can also trade bark with the pulp mills and get sawdust and shavings back. With the power boilers in the pulp mills, it doesn’t matter whether they are burning bark or sawdust, whereas for us it does.” There is plenty of room for cooperation with the other sectors of the forest industry Murray affirms. “We are always concerned that other sectors might see us as a threat, but we are anything but a threat. We are there trying to participate, to make their life easier and trying to flourish as well,” Murray says optimistically. There are currently millions of tonnes of material left behind from forestry operations which pellet producers could make use of, says Murray. “You can go about 1 hour radius around a pellet plant to get the material, and then beyond that it would not be economical.” Referring back to the flourishing opportunities in Europe, Murray explains “Some coal power plants in Europe have switched from coal to wood pellets, either entirely or even partially.” In the UK, where Murray says the majority of Canadian pellets are destined due to easily accessible ports, plants are converting 100% from coal to wood pellets. Hopeful and optimistic, Murray expects much more progress for the use of wood pellets in Canada with a little more awareness and understanding of the low impact, high efficiency material.◊ ARS RESEARCHER STUDIES HOME HEATING WITH SWITCHGRASS PELLETS By USDA Agricultural Research Service, Ann Perry | March 27, 2013 • Biomass pellets burning inside the boiler furnace chamber supply radiant heat for 8 acres of greenhouses at Plainview Growers. USDA ARS, Matt Myers Studies by a USDA scientist have provided a complete cost-benefit breakdown of using switchgrass pellets, which are potentially a cheaper source of energy, instead of fuel oil to heat homes and businesses in the Northeast. Agricultural Research Service researcher Paul Adler led efforts on a lifecycle analysis that compared costs of energy generation from coal, natural gas, fuel oil, and switchgrass in the form of energy-dense cubes, briquettes, and pellets. Adler works at the ARS Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit in University Park, Pa. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency, and this work supports the USDA priority of finding new sources of bioenergy. The researchers calculated the economic outlays associated with switchgrass production throughout the supply chain, as well as greenhouse gas emissions generated by switchgrass production, densification, and conversion to heat and power. This included the first lifecycle inventory of switchgrass seed production and greenhouse gas emissions associated with seed production. The analysis indicated that 192 pounds of "carbon dioxide equivalent," or CO2e, was emitted for every ton of switchgrass dry matter that was sown, harvested, and delivered to densification plants for processing into pellets. CO2e is a measurement used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases based upon their global warming potential. The researchers calculated that using switchgrass pellets instead of petroleum fuel oil to generate one gigajoule of heat in residences would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 146 pounds of CO2e. Totaling all costs associated with installing an appropriate residential heating system and fuel consumption, the team concluded that each gigajoule of heat produced using switchgrass pellets would cost $21.36. Using fuel oil to produce the same amount of heat would cost $28.22. Adler is now working with Plainview Growers to determine how the carbon footprint differs between heating greenhouses with biomass and heating them with fuel oil. Plainview Growers, which has its headquarters in Pompton Plains, N.J., sells more than 160 million nursery plants produced from seeds every year. Results from this research were published in Environmental Science & Technology. BIOMASS BASED HEATING SYSTEMS CHEAPER AND CLEANER THAN OIL BASED ONES By Joao Peixe | Mon, 25 March 2013 23:14 | 0 Benefit From the Latest Energy Trends and Investment Opportunities before the mainstream media and investing public are aware they even exist. The Free Oilprice.com Energy Intelligence Report gives you this and much more. Click here to find out more. It seems that our ancestors may have been on to something when they burned wood as fuel. A new study by the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has found that burning biomass is far cheaper, more efficient, and cleaner than burning heating oil. The study shows that millions of US homes and businesses would benefit from burning switchgrass biofuel pellets in basement furnaces. Economically, the idea of converting heating systems to burn switchgrass biofuel instead of oil makes good sense as switchgrass is cheaper than heating oil, especially in the North East where heating oil prices are generally higher. Looking at the total cost of installing and fuelling a new biofuel pellet heating system in a house, the ARS report estimated that it would cost $21.36 per gigajoule of energy (the standard unit of energy measurement), whereas oil would cost $28.22 per gigajoule. According to the study burning switchgrass pellets is also better for the environment. Looking at the entire supply chain, from the production of the switchgrass seeds, to their growth, harvesting , and then burning, the study determined that a ton of dry switchgrass would produce 192 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per gigajoule of heat produced; 146 pounds of CO2e less than oil. Switchgrass biofuel has always been considered as a an alternative to gasoline, but the study states that this focus has been all wrong and that the biggest market for switchgrass would be as a replacement to heating oil. By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com TOWN HOPES FOR JOBS TAPPING CALIFORNIA'S HUGE OIL FORMATION The Monterey Shale oil deposits span 1,750 square miles, but the petroleum is deep underground, trapped in dense rock. Methods such as fracking would bring environmental concerns and no guarantees. By Shan Li, Los Angeles Times March 30, 2013, 9:35 p.m. TAFT, Calif. — This two-stoplight town was built on petroleum, and residents here never miss a chance to pay tribute. A 38-foot monument to wildcatters stands downtown; locals brag it's the tallest bronze sculpture west of the Mississippi. Every five years, the city throws an "Oildorado" festival. There's even a beauty pageant in which young women dubbed "the maids of petroleum" vie to be crowned queen. It's all an homage to the bustling days when Taft boasted two giant oil fields and Standard Oil Co. of California was headquartered there. The oil giant left in 1968, jobs dried up, and today the Kern County town is saddled with high unemployment and memories of past glory days. That could be about to change. Residents are betting on a second boom from oil trapped miles underground in dense rock formations. It's part of what's called the Monterey Shale, where oil deposits span 1,750 square miles through Southern and Central California. "Everyone and their dog would be working if they find that oil," said Joe Gonzalez, 53, who began toiling in the oil fields around Taft three decades ago as a roustabout. "It's a huge deal for Taft." But a key question is: Could these modern-day wildcatters actually squeeze oil out of the rock? Some believe technology that can reach previously inaccessible oil means it's just a matter of time; others are convinced it's an over-hyped promise. Oil companies have begun exploring the Monterey Shale underneath towns like Taft that have survived on oil for a century. More than 15 billion barrels of oil, or two-thirds of the continental United States' total deep-rock deposits, is estimated to be locked in the Monterey, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Extracting it could mean enormous wealth if oil prices stay around $97 a barrel, and could pump billions of dollars into the local economy. The much smaller Bakken shale formation in North Dakota has fueled a boom that has driven unemployment in the state down to 3.3%, the nation's lowest. Taft's unemployment rate is 13.3%. But the process is slow going. "It's not like the old days where you put a straw into the ground, you get a gusher and you dance around," said Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Assn., an industry lobbying group. "It's a very complicated process." Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum and Venoco Inc. of Denver, two of the largest stakeholders in the Monterey, have already drilled exploratory wells. Federal land leases on the shale are going for $500 per acre at auction, up from $2 to $5 per acre just a few years ago, said Gabriel Garcia of the Bureau of Land Management's Bakersfield office. Economists say tapping the shale would be a big boost for the Central Valley, which depends heavily on agriculture and petroleum. By 2015, California could see half a million new jobs and $4.5 billion in oil-related tax revenue, according to a USC study. "It's not the muckety-mucks, the higher-ups, who live here," said Kathy Orrin, executive director of the Taft Chamber of Commerce. "It's the people in cowboy boots and cowboy hats and Wranglers — and they can make a good living in the oil industry." Around noon in Taft, oil workers in dusty coveralls park trucks outside the few lunch spots in town: the OT Cookhouse & Saloon, where black-and-white photos of California's first gushers line the walls; Jo's Restaurant, where diners sit below painted oil derricks and fields; and a Tex-Mex place. Rick McCostlin, 45, thinks jobs could come back and revive Taft. Another oil boom might even attract some of the locals who fled to better-paying gigs in North Dakota's oil fields.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Gerald W brown * 7202 County Road U * Danbury, WI 54830 Phone 715-866-8535 Gerald Brown is solely responsible for the content in this newsletter CARBON EMISSIONS AND HEATING WITH WOOD PELLETS MINN. STUDY TEAM VISITS SWEDISH BIOENERGY FACILITIES CONTRACT CONCEPTS PLAN TO BUILD AUSTRIAN PELLET BOILERS IN US COULD HELP FOREST ECONOMY CANADIAN BIOFUEL HITS EUROPEAN MARKET POULTRY GROUPS SEEK HOUSE AG BACKING FOR REAP IS THIS THE END OF COAL-FIRED POWER PLANTS? BIOMASS THERMAL ENERGY COUNCIL APPLAUDS SENATOR BINGAMAN FOR ACTION ON RENEWABLE HEATING BIOMASS THERMAL ADVANCES IN NEW HAMPSHIRE AND THE US SENATE MINNESOTA BIOMASS HEATING FEASIBILITY GUIDE POULTRY GROWERS: HOUSE SHOULD SUPPORT FARM BILL RURAL ENERGY FOR AMERICA PROGRAM BIOMASS THERMAL VICTORIES MAKE FOR A SWEET (ENERGY) INDEPENDENCE DAY CONSERVATIONISTS SAY THINNING ON FEDERAL LANDS COULD PROVIDE STEADY TIMBER SUPPLY WOLF RIDGE EMBRACES PELLETS WITH NEW BIOMASS BOILER SLOW RHI UPTAKE REFLECTS SUPPORT CONCERNS RURAL LOCATIONS WANT TO HEAT THEIR HOUSES WITH WOOD PELLETS NW TERRITORIES MEETING EUROPEAN DEMAND FOR BIOMASS WOOD PELLETS NORTH COUNTRY'S WOOD PELLET HEAT INDUSTRY STRUGGLES, DESPITE ABUNDANCE MASSENA PELLET MILL AT THE FOREFRONT OF RENEWABLE ENERGY INDUSTRY BIOMASS REG THREATEN RENEWABLE ENERGY EXPORT BOOM CLEAN ENERGY CAN CREATE NORTH COUNTRY JOBS SKI RESORTS GO RENEWABLE BIOMASS THERMAL VICTORIES MAKE FOR A SWEET (ENERGY) INDEPENDENCE DAY REPORTS ADDRESS US PELLET PRODUCTION, EU SUSTAINABILITY CRITERIA ST. MARY'S BAND GETS BIOMASS FUNDING $200M CONVERSION COMING FOR ATIKOKAN COAL PLANT KOREA SOUTHERN POWER TO BUY WOOD PELLETS FOR RENEWABLES QUOTA REPORTS ADDRESS US PELLET PRODUCTION, EU SUSTAINABILITY CRITERIA SWEDISH, U.S. FIRMS FINISH FIRST OF WOOD PELLET BOILER SERIES Renewable Biomass as a Poultry Facility Heating Option? DEMAND FOR WOODY BIOMASS DROPS ONTARIO TO CONVERT NORTHERN COAL PLANT TO BIOMASS NEW EMISSIONS REGULATIONS COULD COST TRILLIONS AS NATURAL GAS PRICES RISE FREETRICITY GERMANY ON TOP OF EUROPEAN PELLET PRODUCTION Monday, July 2, 2012 CARBON EMISSIONS AND HEATING WITH WOOD PELLETS I wanted to share the findings of an interesting report posted in the Kilwa Biomass: Wood Energy News dated 6/29/12. The article provides a telling summary in regards to carbon emissions and pellet fuel. It study states, "As a result, switching from fossil fuel heating to a wood pellet stove or furnace could lead to a 60 to 90% reduction of carbon emissions." The findings are based on a joint research project between The Alliance for Green Heat and VU University Amsterdam. As many of us already suspected, wood pellets can be a very low carbon source of heat as long as certain conditions are met, in particular, strict adherance to sustainable harvesting practices. A Carbon Life Cycle Analysis of Wood: The Republican Journal, April 2012. Click here to go directly to the complete study published by the Alliance for Green Heat. MINN. STUDY TEAM VISITS SWEDISH BIOENERGY FACILITIES By Anna Simet | June 13, 2012 • (L-R) Gregg Mast, The BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota, Bart Johnson, Itasca Community College, Magnus Ånstrand, Svebio, Magnus Hermansson, HOTAB, Ellen Anderson, Sr. advisor to the Governor of Minnesota on Energy and Environment, Dr. Dennis Becker A group of Minnesota delegates recently visited several bioenergy facilities throughout Sweden to study what might be possible in regard to implementing similar projects within the state. The study group, made up of bioenergy industry members, academia, state government, a tribal organization, and non-profits, conducted several site visits of bioenergy operations during their time in Sweden, including some large-scale combined-heat-and-power facilities. Each utilized a specific feedstock material, including wood pellets, wood chips and waste wood. The study team also toured several small- and mid-sized district heating facilities that are providing hot water to industrial users and surrounding communities. One particular installation was in Klevshult, Sweden, where Jernforsen Energi manufactured and delivered a 6 MW heating plant that uses locally-produced wood waste such as bark, sawdust, and wood chips. Another facility the group visited was a mid-sized heating plant utilizing wood chips, located in the municipality of Gränna. At this plant, two 2 MW boilers along with a flue gas condensation unit operate at the heart of the plant. Gregg Mast, vice president of the BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota, said it is extremely important for key decision makers from Minnesota to have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with owners, managers, and technology suppliers of bioenergy facilities such as the ones visited in Sweden, in order to understand the economic, environmental, and social benefits that these types of installations have on their local and regional communities. “Decision-makers returned with project-specific information that will aid in advancing development of similar community-scale biomass district heating projects in Minnesota,” he said. Magnus Anstrand, project manager for the Swedish Bioenergy Association, said the community-scale district heating model is an ideal fit for many locations in Minnesota, especially those cities without access to the natural gas grid. The group attended the tours as part of the World Bioenergy 2012 conference held May 29-31 in Jönköping, Sweden. CONTRACT CONCEPTS From spot purchases to multi-year deals, producers, buyers and brokers must know their way around supply agreements. By Luke Geiver | July 03, 2012 • • • • • • AFTER TILBURY: An explosion at the Tilbury Power Station earlier this year forced biomass suppliers to alter their trading and procurement plans. PHOTO: RWE Wood pellet producers and biomass providers searching for a North America-to-Europe export supply contract will eventually find Henry Pease. As the senior biofuel portfolio manager for RWE’s Supply & Trading division, Pease leads a biomass trading and procurement group for the giant German utility provider. “We source between 2 to 3 million tons of wood pellets (annually) from all over the world,” he says, and because of his place in the global biomass market and his continual search for biomass, Pease says his team is familiar with all of the established producers and most of the companies close to startup, whether they operate in Finland or Florida. When Pease and his European counterparts talk about biomass trading and procurement, and generally comprehending the wood pellet export/import market, two things become clear: experience is favored, yet change is inevitable. They explained the basics of wood pellet supply contracts, the truths of long-term agreements, and why, even though firms like Pease’s prefer to work with established biomass suppliers, the wood pellet supply contracts of the future will be formed with companies that don’t yet exist in the marketplace today. Pellet Contract Basics To start, all biomass and pellet suppliers based in North America need to know that as the biomass fuel heads towards Europe, as Pease explains, “the boat doesn’t always finish where it said it was going to finish.” The final destination of a cargo ship loaded with biomass however, should be of little concern to those who produced the biomass. From Pease’s perspective, a pellet producer or biomass supplier should be concerned with two things only: producing, and continuing to drop the price of production. “Our role as a trader is to optimize the supply chain,” Pease says, “to have a portfolio of supplies. Producers do what they do, whether they are a large producer or a small producer, their job is to make pellets as economically as they can.” For contract agreements, the ability of a producer to do his job is also a main staple of how contracts are formed. “A company that already exists and knows what he is doing isn’t looking for the same offtake contract as someone that is coming to the market new,” he points out. “If you need equity or you need debt then you need different things in the offtake.” The main point Pease makes about forming a contract however, is that his firm tries to match up what it can offer with what its investors (power plants and end users) need. Different buyers can do different things, he explains. Some can offer longer tenure, some can buy more on a tons/year basis, others can manage the freight from the production facility to the port to the end location, and, he adds, where an end user buys the biomass can greatly vary from the physical power station to a specific port or in some cases, even a specific boat. After a firm such as Pease’s hashes out the needs of a buyer (a two-year contract for 200,000 tons delivered to a Belgium port through monthly shipments, for example), the next step in the process is to match up the ability of the producer with the need of the buyer to form the contract, all based on that dynamic. A typical supply agreement links a biomass trader or procurement specialist like Pease, with the biomass producer. In most, if not all cases, a producer will not be working directly with the end user. The typical cargo ship can carry 25,000 to 45,000 tons per load and a pellet provider or woodchip supplier will get paid every time a shipment arrives at port. Although most North American biomass suppliers would prefer a contract supply length of 10 or more years, Pease says the norm is anywhere from two to five years. The average installed capacity of a pellet mill participating in a supply contract can vary widely, (most are above 70,000 tons/year), and although the nature of biomass makes quick shipments or the presence of a large spot market a major portion of the overall supply market, there are enough companies or people currently operating in the market to show why single shipment and short-term contracts (months not years) do exist. Simon Christensen, storage, logistics and sales specialist for Copenhagen Merchants, a biomass trading and procurement firm, knows all about short term contract basics. Christensen says his company began operating in the pellet supply markets after a number of smaller mills in the Baltic markets voiced their need to aggregate their volumes in order to meet the needs of buyers with demands too large to be met by a single producer. “There is always a market for long-term contracts,” he points out, “but there is also always a place for spot contracts.” Christensen’s firm trades more than 500,000 tons per year of biomass, half of which are spot- or short-term contracts that are for one- to three-month supply shipment periods. Another large portion of his business is what he considers a long-term contract, a term of roughly one to one and a half years in length. No matter what the length of the contract term is however, Christensen points out that a contract agreement can be initiated from both sides of the value chain and most importantly, “the process is never a one off.” Biomass Trader Truths Although Christensen’s assertion about the repeatability of the supply contract formation process makes it sound as if every pellet producer entering into an agreement will be operating under a set of unique and potentially problematic circumstances each time product is ready for shipment, don’t worry. Christensen, like Pease, can cite numerous examples of how or why contracts are formed. Consider this, Christensen says, sometimes it is the producers who approach first, explaining their desire to sell around a specific price. In other cases, the opposite is true, and a buyer will approach a biomass trader seeking a specific tonnage at a specific price, by of course, a specific date. Luckily for pellet producers or biomass suppliers, people like Christensen and Pease have an extensive portfolio of producers to meet the changing demands of larger buyers, which in turn, Christensen points out, makes the appeal of biomass to large European utilities greater due to the constant and readily available supply of biomass that is tracked, secured and ready because of trading and procurement firms. The best part is that with more biomass usage, more will only follow because of the stability of the supply market. “As a trader we like having products with different specifications with different load ports with vessels that have different sizes,” Pease says, “because that means different power stations in different countries can have different demands and needs and we can try and match it all together.” “We always have stores in different places,” Pease says, “We can sort of balance out the needs of small producers,” and, according to Christensen, large buyers. Throughout most of the year, a small producer he says, needs to have a low stock on hand and have access to fast cash loads. “When you are building a pellet plant,” Pease explains, “you are trying to sell 80 to 90 percent of what you think you are going to produce upfront, so there is not a lot of wiggle room there.” Unfortunately, problems arise for either side. Both Pease and Christensen had to deal with the backlash of a massive fire at a massive biomass power plant, Tilbury Power Station, this year that Pease says, “severely disrupted the whole supply chain.” The job of Pease and Christensen is to manage that, sell product to other end users, store product or in some cases, pay people not to produce. “Our job is to sit in the middle of the ripples and try to smooth them out a little bit,” Pease says. Smoothing out the process only helps the procurement firms shore up the future, according to Christensen, who says that any notion that a procurement firm will not pay out on a contract or fail at some point in the process is a nonsensical assertion, because as the middleman, two sides need to stay happy, not just one. “If I don’t deliver (for the producer or the buyer) I’m out of it. I would argue that the main risk is on my side.” To reduce that risk, both Christensen and Pease have a few thoughts on how to de-risk, or as Pease implies, to de-ripple the supply contract process. First and foremost comes stability by the producer, in both production and quality of the biomass supplied, something they look for in every contract. Then, Pease explains, producers need to think hard about how they operate. “A lot of new companies operate with very few people,” he points out, a situation that is usually difficult because there are so many aspects to the industry that a handful of people can’t typically perform. As for payment plans, Pease says they prefer to pay North American producers in U.S. dollars instead of Euros because a pellet production team typically is not going to convert the money because of the amount of money required to do so, or the time. As for biomass supply aggregation models that bring multiple pellet producers or biomass suppliers together to fill a tonnage request of a large buyer, both Pease and Christensen say the model can and will work. “It is perfectly feasible,” Pease says, “there are some issues they need to get past like sustainability and standardizing quality, but they can certainly do it.” And that is exactly what Christensen hopes will happen. His firm is working with a group in Florida to form an aggregation model, because as he says, “We see a big rise in demand, and a big rise in supply,” regarding their outlook on the industry. Nicole Forsberg, a researcher at Lund University in Sweden studying the opportunities and barriers to growth in the European biomass market, reminds us why pellet producers or biomass suppliers should be bothering to link up with traders and procurers. “In the EU,” Forsberg says, “demand far outweighs the EU’s domestic forest supply capabilities, so,” and this should be a clear enough reason, “import is the only answer, even long-term.” One should also keep in mind, she says, that if the imported pellets turn out to be cheaper than the EU’s domestic supply, the import demand will be even higher. Currently, she says, imports from North America are mainly headed to the Netherlands, the U.K. or Belgium, due to the big harbors where large amounts can be imported. But, even though Forsberg’s entire research platform is based on understanding the atmosphere of the export/import of biomass to/from Europe, the best reminder of why contract supply agreements matter comes from the person with the greatest risk, the middleman in this case, people like Christensen who have to appease two parties to make money. “I believe if we are good,” he says, “if we follow this market, there will be plenty of opportunities for skilled traders.” Author: Luke Geiver Features Editor, Biomass Magazine (701) 738-4944 email@example.com PLAN TO BUILD AUSTRIAN PELLET BOILERS IN US COULD HELP FOREST ECONOMY Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR By Chris Jensen In a move that would be good for the region’s wood-based economy Maine Energy Systems of Bethel, Maine plans to start building automated, wood-pellet boilers in the United States instead of importing them from Europe, says Les Otten, founder and chief executive officer. “We will do the majority of the manufacture and assembly in the United States,” he told NHPR. “There is no reason we can’t be competitive globally.” Maine Energy sells boiler systems made by the Austrian company, Okofen. While the boilers are assembled in Bethel many of the components are being imported. Otten said a major exception is the heavy, steel portion of the boiler for a commercial unit. It is made in Pennsylvania. Those commercial systems currently make up about 50 percent of Maine Energy’s sales, said Otten. The company also sells smaller residential units. Otten said Maine Energy Systems recently worked out a deal allowing it to produce as much of the Okofen system in the United States as he wants. “What we have done is set our company up to be able to expand from four or five hundred boilers a year up to 20,000 or 30,000 boilers a year,” he said. Otten said growth of the wood-pellet boiler industry will depend on factors including: * The price of heating oil. * Whether there are renewable-energy government incentives. * Whether “people on their own will come to the conclusion that this is a less-expensive way to heat their homes long term.” Maine Energy System now has 15 employees and Otten said the number of new manufacturing jobs would depend on sales volume. But he said additional jobs would be created due to associated work. That includes providing components, installing the Okofens and providing the wood pellets. The wood pellets for the units come from Maine and New Hampshire. Otten hopes to find suppliers for the needed components in New England. If people current using heating oil switch to Okofens the deal could mean thousands of jobs in the region, he said. The Okofen high-tech boiler automatically draws wood pellets from a storage bin, cleans itself and automatically collects the ash in a separate container. “It is a great, user-friendly system. It is probably the gold standard,” said Eric Kingsley, an analyst with Innovative Natural Resource Solutions, which has offices in Maine and New Hampshire. But Okofens are expensive, Kingsley noted. Otten said a residential boiler – installed – can cost between $15,000 and $20,000. But because the wood pellets are significantly cheaper than heating oil the units will pay for themselves, he said. Maine Energy says it costs $1.96 for enough premium wood pellets provide the same amount of energy as a gallon of heating oil. CANADIAN BIOFUEL HITS EUROPEAN MARKET Written by Canadian Biofuel July 3, Chatham, ON - A five-year contract with Green Energy Group LLC representing an Italian company for biomass fuel pellets is launching Canadian Biofuel Inc. into the European market. Ian Moncrieff, Canadian Biofuel Inc. president and CEO, said the contract, which starts July 15, 2012, will generate about $36 million in gross revenue for the Chatham, Ont. based company. It will also expand the company's workforce. “Fifteen people will be hired and the plant will add another 3 shifts when the production increases to a 24 hour-six-day-a-week schedule to meet the demand for the Italian contract,” said Moncrieff. Canadian Biofuel's Ian Moncrieff at the company's raw fibre storage building. ________________________________________ The Italian contract is already paying dividends for the company. “We are in serious contract discussions with a second company from Italy,” said Moncrieff. “The increasingly high export demand for biomass fuel to Europe has us planning for the future and the possibility of a second and third plant somewhere in southern Ontario.” Canadian Biofuel's production facility, located on an eight-acre site in Springford, Ont., near Tillsonburg, south of Woodstock, produces biomass fuel pellets made from wood and the purpose grown energy crop miscanthus. The company is presently working with government agencies and farm organizations to begin production of miscanthus crop in the next two-to-three years. POULTRY GROUPS SEEK HOUSE AG BACKING FOR REAP By Agri-Pulse staff © Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc. Washington (July 3, 2012) A letter from 14 state poultry associations to the House Agriculture Committee today asks for the renewal of the Rural Energy for America Program and mandatory funding to pay for it. The USDA program provides grants and loan guarantees for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency audits for agricultural operations and rural small businesses. “We urge you to renew [REAP] with sufficient mandatory funding,” the poultry groups said in the letter to House Ag Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Ranking Member Colin Peterson, D-Minn. “REAP is a unique program within the federal government that helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses improve their profit margins by cutting energy bills with energy efficiency and renewable energy,” the groups write. They also said the program “creates needed jobs in our rural communities. REAP is one of the few Farm Bill programs that offer direct benefits to the nation’s poultry and egg producers.” The letter says the program has provided lasting benefits to poultry growers across the country by helping to cut energy costs. The groups cite efficiency measures such as improved insulation, lighting and ventilation, claiming they help poultry growers reduce energy use by 30-40% and protect growers’ bottom lines from volatile energy costs. The groups also say REAP helps poultry growers in colder regions build biomass heating systems “to supplant the use of expensive heating fuels which can push producers to the brink when prices rise. The broad range of renewable energy options under REAP also provide opportunities for growers to further cut costs or even earn new income with solar, wind and geothermal.” The groups say REAP is a unique farm energy program “because it offers all agricultural sectors and in every state new opportunities to use a wide range of modern energy technologies.” The write that REAP has grown increasingly popular over the years “as it creates a catalyst effect, providing working real world examples for agriculture on the potential for energy savings and renewable energy production. We continue to learn of new ways to save and produce energy with the benefit of REAP.” The groups note that demand for REAP consistently exceeds available resources, “creating intense competition for funds and leaving many opportunities for energy savings among poultry growers untapped.” The poultry interests say “American agricultural producers of all sorts exhibit strong and growing interest in conserving energy and producing renewable energy. With the growing demands on REAP, we are concerned that poultry growers may be squeezed out of these opportunities. Rather than shrink from this interest, the federal government should respond with an increased commitment to this unique federal public-private partnership.” For more news go to: www.Agri-Pulse.com ©2009-2012 Agri-Pulse Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved. IS THIS THE END OF COAL-FIRED POWER PLANTS? Posted by Sarah Battaglia on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 in ECS It is public knowledge that roughly 50 percent of the United States’ electricity is produced by burning coal. Although it is an abundant and inexpensive resource, it can be quite dangerous. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), coal contains trace quantities of the natural radionuclides uranium and thorium, which, when burned, often release carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxides, nitrogen oxides and mercury compounds into our environment. Recently, the EPA proposed new emission standards for all new plants, including coal-fired facilities. These standards would require new plants to emit a maximum of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour. The problem? Most new coal plants emit between 1,600 and 1,900 pounds per MWh. The affected power plants can either shut down their operations or spend excessive amounts of money on high tech solutions to abide by the rule changes. As a result of these new standards, many coal plants across the county have been suspending their operations until further notice. As indicated by a research study done by Black & Veatch, an estimated 450 coal-fired power plants will be shutting down completely by 2020. Several have already begun this process, including FirstEnergy, American Electric Power (AEP), South Carolina Gas and Electric (SCG&E), Duke Energy, Santee Cooper, Progress Energy, Kentucky Utilities, and Louisville Gas and Electric. Some, including Xcel Energy, have made the decision to transfer to the use of natural gas. The outlook for coal-fired power plants is not looking very promising. As our nation moves toward the use of renewable energy, our environment and personal health will continue to improve. Sarah Battaglia Energy Curtailment Specialists, Inc. BIOMASS THERMAL ENERGY COUNCIL APPLAUDS SENATOR BINGAMAN FOR ACTION ON RENEWABLE HEATING Visit http://www.biomassthermal.org for further information Senator Bingaman introduces bipartisan legislation to provide incentives for high-efficiency biomass heating systems in commercial and industrial installations Submitted on 06/29/12, 01:31 PM WASHINGTON - June 28, 2012 - The Biomass Thermal Energy Council (BTEC) today joined a chorus of industry and non-profit voices in strong support of Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Diane Feinstein (D-CA) for their introduction of a bill to help businesses across the country meet their heating needs with renewable biomass. The "Expanding Industrial Energy and Water Efficiency Incentives Act of 2012" would establish a tiered corporate tax credit for 15% or 30% of the installed cost of biomass-fueled heating (or cooling) systems for commercial or industrial applications. The credit would have no maximum and would be available for biomass thermal systems placed in service on or before January 1, 2016. "This bipartisan bill will provide highly efficient biomass thermal equipment the same incentive that exists for every other renewable energy technology, including solar thermal and electric, wind, and geothermal," said Joseph Seymour, Executive Director of the Washington D.C.-based Biomass Thermal Energy Council. "The bill's aggressive two-tiered structure will promote the most advanced and cleanest biomass thermal technologies, and will help the commercial and industrial sectors—two of the nation's biggest consumers of thermal energy—switch to renewable biomass fuels that we produce here in America." The U.S. Energy Information Agency has estimated that approximately one-third of U.S. energy consumption is for thermal energy used in heating, cooling, and processing. By offsetting fossil fuel use in the heating sector with renewable biomass, the bill would reduce American consumption of foreign oil and other non-renewable fossil energy by millions of gallons and lower the associated greenhouse gas emissions. To qualify for the first tier (a 15% credit), biomass boiler and furnace property would be required to operate at efficiency levels between 65% and 80%, as measured by the Higher Heating Value (HHV). The second tier (30% credit) would be available for those operating at 80% efficiency and above. Large scale biomass thermal systems have already been widely deployed in Europe, where government incentives have played a vital role in helping reduce fossil energy and creating new clean energy jobs. Numerous leading environmental, non-profit, and industry stakeholders joined BTEC in issuing support for the legislation. "The Biomass Energy Resource Center's mission is to support communities and corporations' efforts to adopt sustainably managed biomass resources throughout the country. During our ten years of operations, we have assessed the technical and economic feasibility of several biomass thermal lead systems and can attest to the high percentage of those that have positive returns. The bill will help more projects reach reality. Often when working with communities and potential installers, the high initial cost associated with the installation of a biomass system is the only thing that stands in the way of helping provide clean and renewable heat for people. The incentives provided in this piece of legislation will help those wishing to promote clean, renewable energy as well as sustainable jobs in rural locations overcome this hurdle." - Brenda Quiroz Maday, Executive Director, Biomass Energy Resource Center (BERC), Montpelier, VT "Sustainable Northwest applauds this legislation as an important step towards recognizing the value of thermal energy in our nation's renewable energy portfolio. The two-tiered investment tax-credit structure encourages smart investments to offset fossil fuels with cleaner and cheaper sources of energy and promotes the best and most efficient use of these technologies. Thermal energy generated from biomass resources is a critical part of reaching our nation's renewable goals. We're happy to see legislation that extends the opportunity to biomass applications for the benefit of rural communities, businesses, and the environment." - Martin Goebel, President, Sustainable Northwest, Portland, OR "Sealaska is the Alaskan Native Corporation for Southeast Alaska, and our wholly owned subsidiary Haa Aani is responsible for creating new economic opportunities for the region's rural communities. This proposed biomass thermal incentive will help companies in Alaska and throughout the country achieve goals of resource sustainability and rural energy needs. Sealaska has taken a leadership role by investing almost $1 million dollars in its headquarters building in Juneau, Alaska to install a biomass heating system, the first commercial building in Alaska to be heated with biomass from wood pellets. Sealaska's conversion coupled with Haa Aani's delivery systems of biomass to its customers is proving that in Alaska, biomass thermal heating systems provide vast potential for decreasing dependence on fossil fuels. Incentives like this will help convince consumers that there is public policy support for conversion to biomass space heating and encourage businesses to make the capital investment to update their heating units and switch to locally fueled biomass systems." - Richard P. Harris, Executive Vice President, Sealaska Corporation, Juneau, AK "Heating the Midwest with Renewable Biomass strongly supports the expansion of investment tax credits for biomass projects. These credits will encourage the implementation of proven, energy efficient, reliable and economic heating boilers and furnaces, using renewable, regional biomass resources. Nationally, over 20 billion gallons of liquid propane and fuel oil valued at over $50 billion are used to heat industrial and commercial facilities annually with significant percentages of Midwest industrial and commercial buildings' heat relying on these expensive fuels, especially in rural areas. Increased use of regional wood and agricultural materials for thermal heating and combined heat and power projects offer significant economic benefits." - Brian Brashaw, Co-Chair, Heating the Midwest with Renewable Biomass "As a manufacturer of advanced biomass heating systems, ACT Bioenergy supports the bill which will incentivize businesses to select biomass boiler systems with the highest performance efficiency. Our typical biomass boiler customers are in rural communities that are being punished by high fossil fuel costs and the bill will help those companies more easily make the decision to invest in biomass boiler systems with superior performance. Because increased boiler efficiency results in both reduced fuel consumption and reduced air emissions; incentivizing the highest efficiency boilers makes economic and environmental sense." - David Dungate, President ACT Bioenergy LLC, Schenectady, NY "Cambridge Environmental Technologies is pleased to voice our strong support for the Expanding Industrial Energy and Water Efficiency Incentives Act of 2012. Biomass thermal technologies provide end users with substantial fuel savings and environmental benefits. The tax credits proposed in the Act incentivize a clean energy technology that creates jobs and supports energy independence. Expansion of the Act will ease the burden of project capital costs and make it easier for end users to implement biomass technologies. We urge Congress to pass this bill." - Robert Maine, General Manager, Cambridge Environmental Technologies, Cambridge, MD For more information on the biomass thermal industry and related policy, please visit www.biomassthermal.org ### About the Biomass Thermal Energy Council The Biomass Thermal Energy Council (BTEC) is an association of biomass fuel producers, appliance manufacturers and distributors, supply chain companies and non-profit organizations that view biomass thermal energy as a renewable, responsible, clean and energy-efficient pathway to meeting America's energy needs. BTEC engages in research, education, and public advocacy for the fast growing biomass thermal energy industry. For more information, visit www.biomassthermal.org BIOMASS THERMAL ADVANCES IN NEW HAMPSHIRE AND IN THE U.S. SENATE New Hampshire has become the first state in the country to integrate the full range of renewable thermal energy technologies into its renewable portfolio standard, making biomass thermal, solar thermal and geothermal projects eligible for credits on par with other renewable electricity projects. And, in Washington, DC, a bipartisan group of senators has introduced a bill that would provide tax credits for the installation of commercial and industrial biomass heating or cooling systems. From New Hampshire, on June 26, Jennifer Runyan at Renewable Energy World reported: Yesterday Governor John Lynch of New Hampshire signed a new bill into law that adds thermal renewable energy to the state's renewable portfolio standard (RPS) currently set at 23.8 percent by 2025. . . The new bill requires that utilities source a portion of that 23.8 percent of renewable energy from thermal sources including wood pellet boilers, solar water heating panels and geothermal heating and cooling systems. It sets specific annual targets for thermal renewable energy and ramps up slowly. New Hampshire is the first state to fully incorporate renewable thermal energy into its RPS program, and grant incentives to biomass, solar and geothermal project developers that are equivalent in value to those for developers of renewable electricity projects. . . Examples of projects that will qualify are wood or wood pellet boilers that heat commercial or institutional buildings, solar hot water arrays on hospital rooftops, or geothermal heating and cooling systems for nursing homes or correctional facilities. The NH provision will be available to residential, commercial and industrial applicants. . . In the U.S. Senate on June 28, Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Diane Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the Expanding Industrial Energy and Water Efficiency Incentives Act of 2012, which would, among other things, help businesses across the country meet their heating and cooling needs with renewable biomass. The bill would establish a two-tiered tax credit of 15 percent for commercial and industrial biomass systems that achieve 65 percent efficiency or better and 30 percent for systems that achieve 80 percent efficiency or better. The bill would also expand incentives for combined heat and power systems. Read a bill summary here. According to the Biomass Thermal Energy Council: The credit would have no maximum and would be available for biomass thermal systems placed in service on or before January 1, 2016. "This bipartisan bill will provide highly efficient biomass thermal equipment the same incentive that exists for every other renewable energy technology, including solar thermal and electric, wind, and geothermal," said Joseph Seymour, Executive Director . . . " The bill's aggressive two-tiered structure will promote the most advanced and cleanest biomass thermal technologies, and will help the commercial and industrial sectors—two of the nation's biggest consumers of thermal energy—switch to renewable biomass fuels that we produce here in America." Heating with biomass AURI research helps Minnesota businesses evaluate biomass as a heating alternative Originally from: Ag Innovation News, Jul–Sep 2012, Vol. 21, No. 3 Photo by Lara Durben –By Amanda Wanke Yes, this winter was a mild one. But there are plenty of years when heating costs can be painful, especially to operators of large business operations such as greenhouses and turkey producers. As consumers look for alternative, renewable energy, one source AURI has been examining closely is biomass. Biomass refers to any product from agriculture or forestry that can be fed into a combustor and burned to generate heat. It can come in bulk form such as straw bales, wood chips, and sawdust, or in a densified form such as pellets and cubes. To further examine the use of this value-added, renewable energy, AURI recently facilitated two projects with different scopes. The Minnesota Biomass Heating Feasibility Guide aims to help turkey producers and greenhouse operators evaluate the feasibility of using biomass for heating. The Midwest Biomass Inventory Assessment is a compilation of the biomass resources within the Midwest. MINNESOTA BIOMASS HEATING FEASIBILITY GUIDE The Minnesota Biomass Heating Feasibility Guide, conducted by DLF Consulting, aims to help turkey producers and greenhouse operators in rural areas to understand the feasibility of using biomass for heating. Why the focus on turkey producers and greenhouse operators? “The objective of this project was to help the turkey and greenhouse industries reduce their heating costs, thereby improving their competitiveness and profitability and hopefully leading to further growth and economic activity for these industries in Minnesota,” explains AURI Project Development Director Randy Hilliard, who was the team leader for the feasibility guide project. “Part of AURI’s role is to help these industries stay competitive and grow in Minnesota, and we hope this research gives them some options to do just that,” says AURI Scientist Al Doering. Minnesota has a tremendous wealth of biomass inventory—around 25 million tons each year—as well as suppliers, so the state is poised to grow this industry as demand grows. The feasibility guide serves as a resource on the following topics: • Biomass resources – agricultural and forestry • Biomass fuel suppliers in Minnesota • Biomass fuel handling examples • Biomass heating system suppliers and products • Biomass heating system components • Biomass heating system costs and financial implications • Financial sensitivity analysis “This guide shows the positive economics and return on investment of using a biomass boiler for thermal heat, specifically when competing against propane,” says Doering. “The guide shows that the system will pay for itself in six years in fuel savings alone.” Photo by Rolf Hagberg Midwest Biomass Inventory Assessment The Midwest Biomass Inventory Assessment, which came out of AURI’s involvement with the Heating the Midwest with Renewable Biomass Initiative, provides a snapshot of potential biomass resources within the Midwest. As part of the assessment work, a regional biomass inventory database of previously completed state-level assessments and datasets was also developed. The report presents inventories of crop residue, energy crops and hay, and forest and mill residue in seven Midwestern states: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. “Agriculture residue, such as straw, corn stover, and turkey litter, offer the largest quantity of biomass potential,” says Doering. “The amount of wood residue isn’t growing, so it’s really the crop residue that offers the largest supply. However, we caution people to realize the difference between supply ‘inventory’ and ‘availability.’” Biomass inventory includes all of the biomass that exists. Biomass availability is what can be collected feasibly and economically without detrimental effects on the land. “This inventory can serve as a platform to begin the development of biomass-related projects,” says Becky Philipp, AURI team leader for the project. The inventory was conducted by David Ripplinger and Ridhima Katyal with North Dakota State University’s Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics. “Biomass can play a role in offering affordable, renewable energy options that consumers are looking for,” says Philipp. Find both reports at www.auri.org A special thanks to our funding partners on these projects: Greater Bemidji, Minnesota Power, Southwest Clean Energy Resource Team, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, and Southwest Minnesota Initiative Foundation. What is the Heating the Midwest Initiative? The Heating the Midwest Initiative aims to: “Advance biomass thermal heating in the Midwest for a more sustainable future, while improving the economic, environmental and social well-being of the region.” The initiative is comprised of a group of volunteers representing industry, government, nonprofit, university and tribal organizations with a serious interest in growing awareness and usage of agricultural and woody biomass and dedicated energy crops for thermal fuel for heat in the Midwest United States. Since Heating the Midwest’s inception, AURI Project Development Director Becky Philipp has been actively involved as the team leader for the initiative’s Biomass Resources Action Team. AURI’s goal was to partner in raising awareness around biomass-fueled thermal energy, and to collaborate on related activities that contribute to the overarching goal of future economic prosperity, job creation and energy security in the Midwest through the use of agricultural biomass and woody biomass feedstocks. Tags: Renewable Energy, Alan Doering, Amanda Wanke, Becky Philipp, Randy Hilliard, Biomass POULTRY GROWERS: HOUSE SHOULD SUPPORT FARM BILL RURAL ENERGY FOR AMERICA PROGRAM Jul. 5, 2012 1:10pm The Mississippi Poultry Association • Twelve poultry associations representing poultry and egg producers in 14 states have delivered a letter to the House Agriculture Committee asking for renewal of the Farm Bill’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) with mandatory funding. • REAP has benefited America’s poultry farmers since first being implemented in 2003 when poultry growers won grants to cut their energy use -- and bills -- with energy efficiency measures such as high efficiency fans, lights and motors. Twelve poultry associations representing poultry and egg producers in 14 states have delivered a letter to the House Agriculture Committee asking for renewal of the farm bill’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) with mandatory funding. The letter opened: “As representatives for the poultry industry, we urge you to renew the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) with sufficient mandatory funding. REAP is a unique program within the federal government that helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses improve their profit margins by cutting energy bills with energy efficiency and renewable energy and creates needed jobs in our rural communities.” REAP has benefited America’s poultry farmers since first being implemented in 2003 when poultry growers won grants to cut their energy use -- and bills -- with energy efficiency measures such as high efficiency fans, lights and motors. These measures continue to boost grower profits and income, while increasing the quality of the poultry produced. REAP was created in the 2002 farm bill. It provides grants and loan guarantees to farmers and rural small businesses to incentivize adoption of energy efficiency and a broad range of renewable energy technologies. Since 2003, over 8,000 agricultural producers in every state have received awards under REAP. The signers stated: “Demand for REAP consistently exceeds available resources, creating intense competition for funds and leaving many opportunities for energy savings among poultry growers untapped. American agricultural producers of all sorts exhibit strong and growing interest in conserving energy and producing renewable energy.” Signing organizations include Alabama Poultry & Egg Association, The Poultry Federation (Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri), California Poultry Federation, Georgia Poultry Federation, Kansas Poultry Association, Louisiana Poultry Federation, Mississippi Poultry Association Inc., North Carolina Poultry Federation, South Carolina Poultry Federation, Tennessee Poultry Association, Texas Poultry Federation, and the West Virginia Poultry Association. “Poultry growers were among the first to recognize the value of REAP, which helps all agricultural sectors and has benefitted every state. This program’s success has built this broad support for its continuation,” said Mark Leggett, President of the Mississippi Poultry Association. BIOMASS THERMAL VICTORIES MAKE FOR A SWEET (ENERGY) INDEPENDENCE DAY As our Independence Day nears, I can’t help but associate the word independence with energy, and that’s because it’s a phrase I come across in our industry on a daily—at minimum—basis. By Anna Simet | July 02, 2012 As our Independence Day nears, I can’t help but associate the word independence with energy, and that’s because it’s a phrase I come across in our industry on a daily—at minimum—basis. “We need to achieve energy independence…this will bring us one step closer to energy independence…” It’s actually used so often and so loosely that it likely provokes an eye roll here and there, and that’s mainly because that there’s a huge difference between simply speaking the words and actually being out there, feet on the ground, making things happen and working tirelessly until they do. During the last couple of weeks it has become very evident that the pellet/biomass thermal industry has been doing just that, and it’s taken great strides in the right direction. First, New Hampshire became the first state to grant full renewable portfolio standard credit to thermal applications, which is a big deal. And let me tell you, that didn’t happen overnight, and it wasn’t the result of a spontaneous light bulb turning on in a bill drafter’s head. It was the work of the biomass thermal industry—years of data collection, research compilation and real proof of concept—and of course, endless phone calls, letters, hounding, and the near stalking of congress people I’m sure (just kidding). While it was just in New Hampshire, those who made it happen, particularly the Biomass Thermal Energy Council, knows other states will look to it as example. And once it proves to be a successful move, others will likely follow suite. On top of that news, a new bill was proposed that would grant tax credits for industrial and commercial biomass heating and cooling systems—up to 30 percent, if the efficiency of the system is over 80 percent. So the biomass thermal industry is on a roll. It seems somebody is actually hearing their responsive shouts of “WE CAN HELP” to the energy independence question. On a completely different note, I recently got an email from a gentleman named Justin who owns and operates a custom cattle feedlot operation in Iowa. He told me that his business is looking into pelletizing corn cobs, and they’re in need of some technology providers. He was hoping I could steer him in the right direction. Of course the right direction is to you, our readers and most often the experts, so I’m wondering if anyone thinks they may be able to help Justin with his request. If so, leave a note here or email me, and I will connect you with him. With that said I will close, and to those of you planning to celebrate the U.S.’s Independence Day, I wish you a wonderful, safe holiday. I hope you all take a moment away from the fireworks, hamburgers and beer to remember those who have made—and continue to make—the ultimate sacrifice so that we can be free and safe in our great country. CONSERVATIONISTS SAY THINNING ON FEDERAL LANDS COULD PROVIDE STEADY TIMBER SUPPLY EarthFix | July 2, 2012 1:33 a.m. The U.S. Forest Service has made forest thinning one of its top priorities, particularly in fire-prone and unhealthy dry forests. But environmental groups say dense Douglas fir plantations on the wet side of the Cascades need to be thinned too. And that could help increase the lumber supply. On a steep slope in the Siuslaw National Forest, Douglas fir trees are packed in like matchsticks. Dan Segotta, the U.S. Forest Service’s timber operations manager in the Siuslaw, says these woods were clear-cut in 1965, and then densely replanted. 20 years ago, forest managers in the Siuslaw began a thinning experiment on the site. They left this stand alone to serve as an experimental control. Although a winter wren’s song can be heard, Segotta says this stand is poor habitat for most bird species. Too much competition has weakened the firs, leaving them spindly and unable to grow real branches. “The green crowns are very small up in the trees. They’re only green up there where they can get the sunlight,” he says. This is what looks like when 220 trees are all trying to grow on one acre of land. Segotta drives a few miles down the road, to another part of the experiment: a stand that was thinned 20 years ago. About 80 percent of the young firs were cut down and sold. That may sound drastic. But the trees that were left behind have enough room and light to grow limbs. “You’re seeing large green canopies in the trees that extend from just a few feet off the ground up into the tops.” This kind of forest thinning and restoration isn’t a new idea. But environmental groups are pointing to the Siuslaw as an example of just how many Doug fir logs restoration thinning could produce. Randi Spivak is a policy analyst with the Geos Institute. “This is exactly the kind of work we want to see much more widespread because it will yield a significant increase in timber volume,” she says. The Geos Institute and three other environmental non-profits have published a report that it inventories how much lumber could be produced by thinning younger stands in about two dozen federal forests in the Northwest. Spivak says thinning could generate 774 million board feet a year for twenty years. That’s roughly 150 million two-by-fours each year. “That is stability, predictability, um, a good wood supply for jobs in the woods, all while protecting water salmon and wildlife,” she says. There’s a caveat to Spivak’s numbers though; the groups found the greatest potential for new thinning projects in Washington and California, and less in Oregon. Gordon Culbertson is an industry analyst with the company Forest2Market. He agrees thinning is a good tool. “It can produce valuable small logs that can be used in the production of Douglas fir lumber and veneer,” Culbertson says. But Culbertson does not think thinning on federal land will support a healthy timber industry for the long haul. It’s just less profitable. He says traditional clear-cut harvesting might give you eight loads of logs a day. “Thinning is more difficult to do and complicated. And you only get two loads of logs a day. It costs the same amount of money but you produce less,” Culbertson says. Eventually, Culbertson says, the Forest Service will run out of younger stands that need thinning. He thinks that will happen sooner than the conservation groups predict. And, he worries, once those thinned forests have matured, their value as wildlife habitat will arm environmental groups in the battle to restrict logging on public lands. A healthy, mature stand in the Siuslaw national forest. “The problem with the way that thinning is being promoted today is that it’s not growing that will be harvested at a later date, it’s simply to thin to grow trees to produce habitat in older forests,” he says. “When that’s completed, there won’t be any commercial opportunities for timber harvest on federal lands.” Back in the Siuslaw National Forest, Forester Dan Segotta isn’t worried about running out of plantations to thin. “In 28 years, we will have been through and looked at initially thinning of all the plantations on the forest,” he says. And in 28 years, Segotta says, it will be up to the next generation to decide how much to cut. Published July 06, 2012, 01:27 PM WOLF RIDGE EMBRACES PELLETS WITH NEW BIOMASS BOILER European technology has come stateside with a new biomass boiler system at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland. The new boiler was unveiled during a ceremony last Friday. By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle 1. European technology has come stateside with a new biomass boiler system at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland. The new boiler was unveiled during a ceremony last Friday. The center, whose mission is to provide an environmental education to visitors, replaced its previous cord wood boiler. The new boiler uses wood pellets made in the region from wood that would otherwise become garbage, like sawmill scraps and blow-down area trees. The boiler is based on a design by D’Alessandro Termomeccanica based in Rome and the electronics that monitor the system were developed by ABioNova, a Swedish firm. The ABioNova control board cuts the staff resources Wolf Ridge has to dedicate to their heating system. The cord wood system required a manually-fed fuel every three or four hours. The new system automatically dispenses wood pellets. The new system will heat 85 percent of the Wolf Ridge campus. Pellet heating systems are generally considered a cleaner alternative to traditional fuels like oil or natural gas. While they do emit carbon dioxide, it is ideally absorbed by new-growth trees planted for more fuel. The computer-controlled feeding system keeps the boiler at a stable temperature and makes sure that the pellets are burned in the most efficient way to reduce emissions. Wood pellet systems do have critics. The Canadian branch of Greenpeace issued a scathing report on wood pellets in November 2011. The organization said logging companies use clear-cutting, practically a curse word to environmentalists, to provide for wood pellets. It also claims its efficiency and low-emission claims are false. Most of their criticism is directed at older, larger models. Wolf Ridge’s boiler is one of the cleanest and most efficient on the market. The most significant emission is harmless ash. The pellets that feed the boiler are from Great Lakes Renewable Energy in Hayward, Wis., the closest pellet manufacturing company. The loggers are all certified master loggers, which guarantees that they use sustainable logging practices like harvesting underbrush, which can choke new growth and increase forest fire risks, rather than clear cutting. Gerald Brown, sales manager at Great Lakes Renewable Energy, said the company often purchases scrap materials to create their wood pellets, often at an additional cost to them. When they do log, it benefits the forest. “We don’t clear cut. We do healthy and clean logging,” Brown said. Though sustainability is a main focus, the event also highlighted the economic benefits the boiler will bring. ABioNova partnered with a number of local companies to complete the project and will rely on local hands to maintain it. Will Steger, arctic explorer and environmental activist, highlighted the marriage of economic and environmental benefits of the project in his address at the ceremony. Through Wolf Ridge’s example, he hopes the wood pellet boiler system will become more popular in the region, bringing industry expansion and job opportunities. “This is something we have to demonstrate can work,” Steger said. The domino effect has already begun. In March, Itasca Community College and the Forestry Research Institution of Sweden, Skogforsk announced a partnership centered around biomass energy and wood pellet technology. With the help of the Skogforsk Institution, ICC will add biomass education to its curriculum and create programs for students interested in the bioenergy sector. “ICC is well positioned to leverage its partnership with Skogforsk in a way that can help keep Minnesota on the cutting edge of the emerging wood-based energy industry,” said Jeff Borling, Interim President and CEO of Itasca Economic Development Corporation. The new boiler serves as an educational tool for Wolf Ridge. Their center attracts more than 15,000 students every year, and the boiler will become a renewable energy visual together with the center’s windmill and solar panels. “Modeling these technologies is part of our mission ... to be used as an educational tool while also being used for heating is really unique,” Wolf Ridge Executive Director Peter Smerud said. The partnership between ABioNova and Woodmaster, who markets and distributes their products in the U.S., is unique in its success. The company won Adventurer of the Year from Business Region Gothenburg for its venture into the U.S. “ABioNova had the courage to bet on one of the most difficult markets, the United States,” the jury from Business Region said about its decision to honor the company. The ambassador from Sweden, Jonas Hafström, made the trip to Finland for the ceremony and expressed enthusiasm that Swedish technology can work with American manufacturing. Partnerships of this type have been attempted before but never came to fruition. “Success stories such as this are exciting for the Swedish ambassador,” Hafström said. The wood pellet boiler that will heat 85 percent of Wolf Ridge’s campus. Kurt Mead, naturalist at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, listens to Peter Smerud, executive director of Wolf Ridge, and Swedish Ambassador to the U.S. Jonas Hafström in front of the hopper dispenses the wood pellets to feed a new boiler on the campus. Tags: north shore, news, finland, energy, environment SLOW RHI UPTAKE REFLECTS SUPPORT CONCERNS Olivia Cooper Friday 06 July 2012 07:00 The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) was introduced in November 2011 to encourage investment in technology like biomass boilers, ground source heat pumps and solar thermal panels. RHI pays up to 8.9p/kWh, index-linked, for 20 years, but confidence in the fledgling scheme has suffered from the knock-on effect of cuts to previously agreed solar support rates earlier this year. By the end of June, just 93 RHI installations had been accredited, 85 of which were for biomass boilers. "Farmers are nervous of investing in renewable technology when the government's contract is subject to change," says Harry Cottrell, president of the Country Land and Business Association. "People have seen what the government has done to the FiTs and are nervous of investing in renewable heat as a result." However, Ian Goodchild, business development manager at renewables designer and installer Fair Energy, says the results of the recent spending review should engender a little more confidence. This stipulated that the RHI scheme would provide up to £70m a year, with any applications above that threshold suspended until the following year. "It's a much better and fairer way of trying to manage the process than the way they handled the FiTs," he says. "Interest is now starting to pick up in the commercial sector, but demand in the first year is still unlikely to exceed £40m." One of the stumbling blocks is the lack of information about domestic installations, he adds. Although the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme offers grants of up to £1,250 towards the cost of domestic projects, the annual payment currently only applies to commercial proposals. The domestic RHI was originally scheduled to come online last year, but has since been delayed to this year, and then to summer 2013. "There is no real government commitment to support it; at the moment domestic clients don't know what they have to do to be eligible, or what they will be entitled to." Commercial installations must supply heat to a business premises or to two separately-rated domestic dwellings; so while a farmhouse would not be eligible, heating a dairy and the farmhouse may qualify. "Depending on your existing infrastructure, payback with the RHI could be as little as three to four years," says Mr Goodchild. "Without the RHI, it could be 10-15 years." In the case of biomass technology - worth up to 8.3p/kWh in government payments, farmers must also consider the cost of a building to house the boiler and feedstock, plus pipework and metering. Feedstock can vary from solid timber to woodchips, pellets, straw and miscanthus. David Knox, marketing manager at Treco, which supplies, installs and maintains biomass boiler heating systems, says the level of promotion for the RHI has been considerably lower than for the FiT. "There just isn't the level of awareness out there - the majority of people we speak to haven't heard of the RHI. There is great demand for domestic biomass boilers, but we're telling people to hold off to make sure they get the right equipment to be eligible for the scheme; we just need more clarity on what the government is planning to do." Many claims for commercial installations have also been rejected due to insufficient or confusing information on the application form. "The quality of your application has a direct impact on the time it takes to get accredited, so take expert advice and get it right first time." Case study: John Seed, Duns, Scottish Borders John Seed installed a biomass boiler at Woodend Farm, Duns, in the Scottish Borders, last year to power the farm’s grain dryer. “I wanted to stop the haemorrhaging of cash on heat and power, with a system that would suit an arable enterprise,” says Mr Seed. He powers the 450kW boiler with 170t of oilseed rape straw a year – although it can also burn woodchip and other biomass fuels. Solar panels also provide electricity for the farm. “It’s been fairly simple to replace the boiler, but it’s been quite a job getting the RHI because we are all learning as we go along.” He has replaced the old continuous flow dryer with an on-floor system with ducts and grain stirrers, but says a new building isn’t essential. “These drying systems can be easily retrofitted to many grain stores.” The ash from the boiler is applied as a soil conditioner, helping to reduce fertiliser bills. By passing the exhaust gases from the boiler through the accumulator tank, Mr Seed has increased the overall boiler efficiency to 88%. As well as the grain dryer, the boiler heats the farmhouse, offices, cottages and, soon, a new poultry business. Installing the correct metering to meet RHI requirements has been particularly time consuming, but it will certainly be worth it. “In 2011 we saved £38,500 in gas and heating oil, and we expect to receive RHI payments of £25,000 a year. The Overdahl system, district heating and central heating systems cost around £250,000, while the on-floor grain dryer cost a further £95,000, so we are looking at a payback of around seven years.” RURAL LOCATIONS WANT TO HEAT THEIR HOUSES WITH WOOD PELLETS North West Territories Not long ago Artic Energy Alliance initiated two explorations connected with wood pellets. The biggest attention was paid to the point of how to make this fuel more available for local citizens. The 1st project deals with transporting pellets by barge through the river Mackenzie. The second one considers the opportunities to create small pellet producing factories on the territories with unfavorable road interchange. According to Jim Sparlings’ words, who has collaboration with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in their town people cut firewood by themselves. Still it can’t last forever, moreover lots of communities need more serious projects right now to heat their houses. In some places, for instance in Fort McPherson, people are already talking about chipping willows which grow around. The funds demanded for projects are included in $ 100 000 budget received by the alliance from local authorities. As Sparling affirms, in Inuvik town citizens are running out of natural gas. That’s why the government expects their people will switch on wood stoves very soon. Wood pellets are more available these days compared to gas or firewood. Consequently, the demand for them is expected to increase significantly by the next heating season. Sparling said, that in Southern areas heating with wood pellets is much more widespread than in Northern locations. The main reason – wood pellets shipping and storage in Northern regions are more expensive than in Southern ones. MEETING EUROPEAN DEMAND FOR BIOMASS WOOD PELLETS Posted by timprobert ⋅ July 4, 2012 ⋅ Leave a Comment Filed Under APX-ENDEX, Biomass, DECC, E.ON, EnBW, RWE, Wood pellets Driven by European Union renewables targets, demand for biomass wood pellets is to set to soar over the next decade as utilities displace coal in thermal power plants. Tim Probert explores how the industry will manage to procure sufficient sustainable biomass. This article was first published in the July 2012 issue of The Energy Industry Times. Global trade in biomass pellets could hit 60 million tonnes by 2020. Source Deutsches Pelletinstitut While utilities can and do burn hundreds of different types of biomass, literally almost any old rubbish such as chicken litter, peanut husks and olive stones, the most cost-effective biomass to displace coal in co-firing and conversion plants in large volumes are usually wood pellets. At present, the global trade of wood pellets is a manageable 10-12 million tonnes per year. However, the use of pellets is rising rapidly, driven by European Union (EU) targets. Around half of the EU’s target for providing 20 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020 will be made up by biomass, according to member states’ national action plans. According to the European Pellet Council, pellet imports to the EU increased 50 per cent in a single year 2009-2010 to 2.5 million tonnes, while trade within the EU rose 60 per cent to 3.45 million tonnes. Overall, global trade could hit 60 million tonnes by 2020, it says. Meeting this demand will require large investment in both feedstock for wood pellets and processing, while at the same time it needs to endure supplies are sustainable. Sourcing wood pellets Utilities are used to purchasing commodities towards the end of the supply chain, i.e. at the port of loading or discharge, on a long-term basis. At present this is simply not possible on a viable scale with wood pellets. Some utilities have recognised the upstream risks by building and operating their own pelletization plants to increase security of supply. However, this still leaves them fully exposed to fibre risks and therefore the price and volume of biomass is difficult to secure in the long term, as Diekumo Anthony, biomass fuel developer at E.On Climate & Renewables, explains. “The primary feedstock of pelletization plants is sawmill residue and forestry residues like bark,” he says. “They are by-products of another market altogether. The entire biomass fuel supply chain on the power side is reliant on subsidies, while upstream the feedstock is led by the demand for timber from the US construction industry. “So the entire supply chain is floating in the middle of two uncertainties. Therefore, the price and volume of the feedstock for wood pellets is completely dependent on other markets. That presents huge risks in developing a secure biomass supply chain.” The bulk of feedstock for wood pellets in North America, which accounts for two-thirds of EU imports, comes from small landowners, with the rest coming from a handful of large forestry product companies traditionally supplying pulp, paper or other wood-based products. Anthony suggests the only way to manage fibre risks is to take control of the supply chain as far upstream as possible, and partnering with forestry product suppliers owning vast tracts of forest. Big role for forestry product companies One such company is Weyerhaeuser. The Washington state-based company is the world’s largest private sector owner of softwood timberland, managing more than 20 million acres of forest in the US and Canada, and one of the largest pulp and paper companies in the world. James Leitheiser, Director of Global Business Services for Weyerhaeuser Solutions, believes the power industry is needlessly reinventing the wheel by manufacturing a product it does not truly understand. “The paper supply chain does not exist in a vacuum; it is integrated with traditional forestry products. The economics of the supply chain mean that biomass has to be integrated into these products as well. The paper industry has learned these lessons 50 years ago.” In other words, says Leitheiser, utilities should leave wood pellet manufacture to forestry product companies who can harness their natural economies of scale in terms of feedstock and expertise to offer long-term security of supply. Weyerhaeuser is pushing what it calls its ‘Resource Forward’ model, which it says would reduce project risk and commercial risk for investors. In this model, a large timberland owner with strategically located resources would bring the supply chain forward via an institutional investor to provide stable, relatively low-cost capital to build a pelletization plant in conjunction with an offtake partner. The offtake partner could be a utility, or it may be a biomass supply intermediary, such as a commodity trader or an agribusiness, delivering wood pellets to European ports. Leitheiser says the also model incorporates an element of floating prices so that trading companies can partake in price risk. “It’s almost always cost-effective to source some supplies on a short-term, spot basis from third parties, but having a long-term anchor supplier offers a great deal of security to end- use customers and investors,” he says. This ‘Biomass, Inc.’ model is proving very attractive to investors. Dr. Chris Rowland, senior research analyst at Ecofin, an investment management company specialising in energy, says biomass on the cusp of a huge change. “Many companies are eying investment in the biomass feedstock supply chain. We see potential in investing in assets along the entire chain, owning forestry, pelletization plants, as well as storage facilities at UK ports.” Trading biomass As utilities tend to produce pellets themselves, pricing biomass can be a challenge. In November 2011, Amsterdam-based energy exchange APX-ENDEX launched the world’s first biomass exchange. In phase one, the exchange started with non-cleared wood pellets, meaning the physical settlement is arranged bilaterally between the counterparties after trade has been concluded. Phase two, scheduled to take place later this year, will include the implementation of clearing services for wood pellet contracts with contribution of Port of Rotterdam’s ‘BioPort’ with regards to shipping, storage and distribution. By utilizing these contracts, says APX-ENDEX’s futures manager Paul Groes, end-users and institutional investors can hedge themselves against price movements, while producers will be able to sell biomass on a longer-term basis in order to access working capital. Dry bulk terminals at BioPort Rotterdam are used for handling, storage and export of a growing biomass flow, already serving big players like E.On and Essent. An important challenge which the industry has to overcome is the lack of international standardization of wood pellets. Peter Rechberger, general manager of the European Pellet Council, says wood pellets need to become a clearly defined commodity in order to compete against fossil fuels. “There is no EN (European Standard) for industrial pellets yet, although the power sector has virtually defined its own industrial pellet qualities: I1, I2, I3,” he says. “We are working with IWPB (Initiative for Wood Pellet Buyers) to include industrial grade certification as part of PellCert, which aims to develop an ENplus-compatible certification scheme for industrial wood pellets that also incorporates sustainability.” Sustainability, sustainability, sustainability Sustainability is absolutely critical is to the biomass industry and utilities are acutely aware of this. Hitherto, many European utilities have effectively self-certified their biomass as sustainable. The ‘Sustainability Policy’ of British generator Drax, for example, dictates that it will not burn any biomass that does not reduce carbon dioxide versus the coal alternative. As demand grows, however, an increasing volume of fresh wood will be needed from forests, the use of which for sourcing biomass is coming under stricter control from the EU. RWE npower, which operates the ill-fated Tilbury coal-to-biomass conversion plant which caught fire on February 27, says demand in the UK alone could reach 11-12 million tonnes of pellets by 2015, equivalent to 22-23 million tonnes of fresh wood. RWE Npower’s 750 MW converted coal-to-biomass plant caught fire on 27 February 2012. Sawmill residues can only be expect to provide 50 per cent of the fibre for this volume of wood pellet production, according to Karine Culerier, Senior Market Analyst, RWE Supply & Trading. “More and more volume from sustainability-certified forests will be needed,” she says. The increasing volume of fresh wood required has boosted sustainability schemes such as the RWE npower-supported Green Gold Label, which requires forest sustainability certification. But there are dozens of such schemes – 67, in fact, according to a University of Utrecht study – and it is slowing down the development of the supply chain. Jorrit Hachmer, vice president of biofuel trading at RWE, is pressing for a single, European-wide sustainability scheme. “The lack of one is harming the industry,” he says. “We need to convince the public that biomass is sustainable. Without public support, there will be no industry.” Not all European utilities support the use of biomass in large combustion plants. Dr. Bernhard Graeber, Director of Renewable Energies & International Climate Projects at another German utility, EnBW, would prefer biomass to be burned at its country of origin. “It’s wrong for Europe to subsidize power generation which makes it feasible to transport wood from the USA and Canada. It would actually make more environmental sense for these countries to use this biomass to displace their own coal generation and export more coal to Europe.” It has yet to be proven whether utilities will be able to source enough biomass on a sustainable basis. Europe is essentially conducting a very large experiment to see if it can. NORTH COUNTRY'S WOOD PELLET HEAT INDUSTRY STRUGGLES, DESPITE ABUNDANCE North Country has plenty of wood pellet energy, not enough consumers. Photo: Jasmine Wallace (07/10/12) This week, we're taking a fresh look at the idea of renewable and locally produced energy in the North Country. For many homeowners, one of the most accessible and affordable ways to shift away from fossil fuels is to buy a pellet stove. Those are wood stoves or furnaces that burn those little rabbit-pellet sized chunks of wood or grass. A few years ago, there was sort of a boom in the pellet stove industry. But now the market has sagged. As Brian Mann reports, local companies say the technology needs to get even easier and more user-friendly for more consumers to give it a try. Lonnie Ford takes me down to his basement with the same kind of eagerness you’d see in some guys who are showing off an old car they’ve rebuilt in their garage. "So there you go," he says. "It's my big shiny. We're looking at a pellet furnace with a forced air system. This is essentially the heart of the system and as the guy who put it in said, 'Now you're house has a heart.' And it really has made a big difference." Ford lives in Saranac Lake, which in winter is regularly one of the coldest communities in North America. He owns one of those old Sears catalogue homes, not very big, with a sort of quaint cottage feel. Heating it with electric and kerosene was expensive, and Ford says the house still felt cold and drafty. So last fall he took the plunge, buying a Harman PF 100 Forced Air pellet furnace. It was a big investment. "We took out a loan to make this happen, but we're already seeing return. Our electric bill has nose-dived," said Ford. He is part of what renewable energy advocates hope will be the next big wave: people making the switch away from oil. Ford now buys his heating pellets right here in the region, sort of the more and more people are trying to buy their food locally. "Curran is what I burn, they're out of Massena," Ford said. "They're an ecologically conscious business...and the product that they make is very, very good." While most of us are shipping a lot of our energy dollars overseas to the Middle East or South America, Lonnie Ford is buying his energy from a neighbor in the North Country. Pat Curran, at Curran Renewable Energy in Massena, said, "We have been in operation now, this is our third year." But here’s the wrinkle: while Lonnie Ford has made the switch, a lot of people aren’t converting to this kind of local energy. The boom in pellet stoves has sagged. "There is a glut of pellets," Curran says. He thinks there are a couple of reasons more consumers aren’t buying in. The really good pellet furnaces are expensive. And because there are no locked in standards for equipment or pellets, homeowners are sort of confused. "There are a lot of pellet stoves sold that are inferior and they create a lot of work for the people using them. If there could be a standard, we could create something that really takes the end work away from the consumer, and then we could really grow the industry," said Curran. It turns out that a lot of American companies that make these furnaces and a lot of companies that make the actual wood pellets have resisted any kind of regulation. "Unfortunately, it's still a bit of the wild west out there, with pellet fuel," says Charlie Niebling, the general manager of a company called New England Wood Pellet based in Jaffrey New Hampshire. He was part of a renewable energy conference held last month in Lake Placid by the Adirondack North Country Association. "You can say premium on your bag and you can shovel any old crap into the bag and there's really nothing to stop you," Niebling acknowledged. At the conference, experts described what they see as growing pains for a new industry that has already been stung once. Remember a few years ago when people bought all those outside wood boilers that turned out to be really polluting? A lot of communities wound up banning them. Consumers were furious. No one in the biomass industry wants to repeat that disaster in an industry that markets itself as a green alternative. But Phillip Hopke, director of the Institute for a Susainable Environment at Clarkson, says a study conducted by his researchers fond that some manufacturers are actually using contaminated wood to produce their pellets. Hopke said, "We're going to have to make sure that we keep out the pressure treated wood, old painted materials, so that we're not creating a health hazard by putting toxic heavy metals up your chimney." This kind of thing makes advocates of wood pellet heat cringe. They point to the fact that in Europe, stringent standards have helped the industry grow more quickly. In the meantime, consumers like Lonnie Ford sort of have to go it alone, spending a lot of time online researching the best furnace companies, and the best sources of pellets. That’s a heavy lift for people who just want reliable heat without much thinking. But Ford says the investment of money and care and time was worth it and said, "Just from the standpoint of conscience, I wanted to get off oil. It gives me a little more feeling of control and independence over my life and my family's life. Those are kind of ethereal thoughts, but that was part of the thought process." The idea of energy independence and the desire to cut greenhouse gas pollution will win over some consumers. But industry experts say that for this kind of local energy to really take off will take a combination of factors, from higher oil prices, to better industry standards, to more government incentives. MASSENA PELLET MILL AT THE FOREFRONT OF RENEWABLE ENERGY INDUSTRY Pat Curran is on the cutting edge of a new and challenging energy revolution. Photo: Jasmine Wallace The pellet mill at Curran Renewable Energy in Massena. Photo: The Wild Center via Flickr, some rights reserved (07/11/12) This week, North Country Public Radio has been taking another look at how renewable and local energy might reshape the region's economy. State and local leaders are making big investments in everything from hydro to biomass. And more and more families and businesses are slowly converting away from fossil fuels, adding solar panels or small wind turbines. But big hurdles remain. Start-up costs for green energy technology are steep. Government incentives can be confusing. Many consumers are sticking with natural gas and oil, at least for the time being. One of the men on the front line of this turbulent energy revolution is Pat Curran. He opened Curran Renewable Energy in Massena three years ago with $11 million in support from the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency. He makes burnable wood pellets, supplying some big institutions, including Clarkson University in Potsdam and the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Wood pellets are cheaper than fuel oil and much better for the environment. But Curran has struggled to find enough customers to keep his plant operating. Jasmine Wallace has our profile. Pat Curran takes me on a tour of his plant, where huge piles of wood chips from North Country forests are converted into what looks like little rabbit pellets. “These are the pellet mills right here. Of course, they’re not running right now because we’re loading this load of sawdust. We have three mills. When we built this plant, we set it up for a fourth mill and we just haven’t had the financial wherewithal to put in the fourth mill. Hopefully one day we will," said Curran. He is a soft-spoken man, and he wears jeans and a plaid shirt. As we walk, he occasionally stops to check in with his staff or direct a shipping truck. He’s a believer; he thinks renewable energy can revitalize the North Country’s timber industry and create new jobs. But right from the start, his company has faced a glut in the pellet market. Curran says that too many people started making this kind of energy without there being enough customers willing to convert their homes or businesses to pellet heat. “It’s been a struggle. It’s been a big struggle. And the biggest problem is being new on the block, anticipating that there was going to be a huge market for the pellets and shortly after getting going, realizing that the first wave of this pellet business, when we arrived in it, was more of a hepped up wave,' said Curran. According to him, growing the market for pellets has been difficult. People who have access to low cost municipal electric or natural gas aren’t likely to switch over to pellets as a source of fuel. Firewood, fuel oil, and propane are his biggest competitors. Because of low demand, he’s had to scale back production. “We were optimistic that this plant would run at 75% the first year. You know, we really ran at about 11% the first year. Part of it was start-up, and the real one was just we didn’t have the market to sell into,” said Curran. "We were running at seven days a week until about mid-March. Inventory started to rise to a point that I realized that if we kept going at the pace of production, we would have been shutting down the plant completely by the end of April. So we went to five days a week, and we’re presently running five days a week. Our inventory is at capacity. Last year we produced 59% of the plant’s capacity at 59,000 tons.” On the day I visit, mountains of wood chips sit outside the factory in the sun. The strong scent of pine hangs in the air, and bulldozers transport bucketfuls of the chips across the expanse of pavement behind the factory building. Everything inside the factory is mechanized, the workers dwarfed by machines. We watch as the huge, yellow arm of a robot pluck up the bags of pellets in its two rows of metal teeth and stack them carefully onto a wooden pallet. Curran said, “If you turn around you can watch this robot fill the pallet there. You’ll notice also on the bag that we have a window on the sides and on the front. When we first started making pellets three years ago, the bag manufacturer convinced us not to do anything like that. They wanted a completely sealed bag so you didn’t see the product. But after a while, realizing that we know what our product is, we might just as well lay it out so the public can see it before they buy it.” This is important because one way that Curran hopes to compete in the future is by making really high quality pellets. That means that he doesn’t use dirty or contaminated wood to make his energy pellets. Unlike some companies, he also produces pellets that hold consistent amounts of energy, so they burn at a dependable rate. “We do our very best to make sure that the pellet is always the same and do whatever we can to make sure that this product is going to be equal to the same as a person picked from us a year ago, and we’re hoping that this will continue to help us sell our product," said Curran. In the last month, Curran has found a couple of new markets, selling to the Lowe’s Home Improvement Chain and to a Canadian company called Belfry. He’s also started selling the pellets to livestock owners, who use them on the floors of their stables. However, he acknowledges that his company has yet to find a stable and sustainable level of production. Last winter, the factory had so many orders, Curran almost ran out of pellets. But this summer, Curran kept production high and now he has more bags of pellets than he can sell. “We’ve built our inventory and we ran out of cash. Or I shouldn’t say ran out of cash, ran down on the cash to the point where unless product’s selling, you can’t continue producing. So it’s a real tough one, and I’m sure no matter what energy you’re into, you run into similar problems like this," Curran said. Pellet producers in the U.S. face a lot of big questions that are out of their control. High oil prices might drive more customers to think about wood-burning stoves. But that’s not a sure thing. And in the U.S., most states don’t have good regulations or guidelines for pellet stove technology. That means that people are often confused about the best furnaces to buy. The best furnaces are also expensive. Curran said, “It’s just, it’s very, very slow to happen. The amount of jobs that could be created would be tremendous. And really, they’re homegrown jobs. You’re not importing these jobs, and these jobs could be annual jobs for decades to come, until maybe something better came along.” One bit of good news is that Curran’s business has plenty of raw materials. He says that there is a lot of forest in our region to be harvested, He also hopes that renewable energy will replace the paper industry in filling one timber industry niche: buying up low-quality wood that’s not suitable for lumber. He said, “We happen to be fortunate enough to be in a part of the country where there’s a lot of good people, and a lot of good people that are willing to work, and we’re flush with raw materials. And as much as sometimes we don’t care for the fact of all the water we have around here, the water is our future, and the water will grow the trees. From here on out, we have to be stewards, and the best thing we can do is be the best steward and hope like heck we can grow a good, domestic market for the product that we produce.” So Curran is sort of a pioneer in a tough industry. A lot of people think biomass and wood pellets will be part of our energy future. But this is a time when everything in New York’s energy world is changing, from the debate over natural gas fracking to the possibility that far more Canadian electricity could be imported from the north. Curran’s efforts to keep his company alive reflect the hope that renewable and locally-made fuel will be a part of the mix over the long term. BIOMASS REG THREATEN RENEWABLE ENERGY EXPORT BOOM Written by AOL Energy July 9, 2012, Boston, MA - A single Northeastern U.S. state is preparing to miss out on growing export markets for woody biomass fuel production due to pending new regulation designed to lower carbon emissions. According to an AOL Energy online article, the decision would be a departure from the design of most regulations and markets designed to prevent global warming in Europe and the US. Massachusetts is poised to adopt a regulation which, according to biomass experts, would keep forest products on the renewable energy sidelines. State definitions of biomass vary, but they all list forest-thinning and harvesting residues, such as tree tops, limbs, and salvageable deadwood, as qualified boiler fuels. Massachusetts, however, is the only state to conclude that biomass leads to a net increase in atmospheric carbon. The Department of Energy Resources says its proposed, RPS Biomass Regulation would support the state's Clean Energy and Climate Plan, which directs the state to slash 1990 levels of carbon emissions 80% by 2050. The regulation reflects "careful consideration of how woody biomass should qualify for the state [renewable portfolio standard] in a manner that is consistent with the Commonwealth's commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the broad range of human and ecological services of the forests," says DOER. To that end, the regulation would require biomass plants to operate at 60% efficiency to qualify for a full, renewable energy certificate. (Plants operating at 50% efficiency would qualify for "half" REC's). But the standard means "only combined heat and power systems could qualify" for REC's, Bob Cleaves, president of the Portland, ME-based Biomass Power Association, told AOL Energy. He added that a McHale & Associates study determined that "no biomass-to-electricity plant in the world could meet that standard" without co-generating thermal energy. While plant developers "would love to do that from a business standpoint," said Cleaves, "when you're in rural areas [where chip production is co-located with forestry operations] you don't have nearby cities or industrial facilities as steam hosts." CLEAN ENERGY CAN CREATE NORTH COUNTRY JOBS By DAN MASON SPECIAL COMMENTARY FRIDAY, JULY 13, 2012 ARTICLE OPTIONS A A On June 22nd, over 250 people from the north country met in Lake Placid for a clean energy conference co-sponsored by the Adirondack North Country Association, which represents 14 counties that comprise over 11,000 square miles. Businesses and other energy consumers joined companies that provide energy technologies, and university researchers in these technologies, at the Lake Placid Convention Center. Sessions focused on solar, wind, hydro, biomass, conservation and efficiency. This gathering was one way to educate commercial and public energy customers on clean energy, share best practices and demonstrate how to obtain funding through the North Country Regional Economic Development Council initiatives. This conference facilitates Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Cleaner, Greener Communities program, which awarded the north country $1 million with the intent of accelerating efforts to a sustainable and energy-efficient future. This program enables energy customers to use public funds for clean-energy plans, and supports the north country to become more energy-independent. Clean-energy use helps businesses and organizations save money And increasing local, homegrown energy keeps more money in the region’s economy, and creates local jobs. In an assessment conducted by the North Country Regional Economic Development Council — Clean Energy Team, they determined that the effect of the clean-energy economy on the job market could create up to 2,000 jobs in the seven-county region of the north country. Even if it were only half that, it’s still like bringing in a big factory to the local economy, and we know that such an event happens infrequently. So what we are talking about is the creation of small businesses and jobs for local workers. In our region, we are fortunate to have solar, wind, water and biomass available. This is in addition to the many conservation and efficiency steps that people and businesses are currently taking or plan to take. Some actions require legislative and regulatory changes to increase penetration. With the right changes, multiple homeowners or businesses can share a wind turbine or solar panels, distributing the costs and the benefits. For hydro, the current pricing structure is putting pressure on many rural hydro facilities. Changes in policy and regulations could improve their fiscal viability without adding new subsidies. And lastly for biomass, with public funding, the Edwards-Knox Central School in Russell reduced their heating costs by 75 percent by replacing fuel oil with biomass heating. By using biomass heat, they freed up money to spend on classrooms and teachers without raising school taxes. Every school, building and hospital should follow the example of Edwards-Knox, and some already have. Through the public-private partnership developed by Gov. Cuomo, the north country will be able to reduce dependence on outside energy sources and become energy-independent (excluding transportation). With the north country’s skills, people and available technology, we can create and maintain a real sustainable clean-energy economy. This will make the north country the greenest energy economy for New York state and demonstrate a real economic path forward for rural communities across the United States. Dan Mason is on the board of the Adirondack North Country Association and is a North Country Regional Economic Development Council Clean Energy leader. He retired as an engineering manager after 34 years from a Fortune 100 petrochemical corporation. SKI RESORTS GO RENEWABLE U.S. ski resorts tap renewable energy sources to combat climate change Updated: July 13, 2012, 6:47 PM ET By Jesse Huffman | ESPN Action Sports Courtesy photoSummer and winter alternate views of Park City's wind and solar installation, which is located at the top of their Silverlode chairlift. As the volatility of the 2011-12 season made clear, the stake ski resort's have in resolving climate change is a big one. Over the past three years, resorts like Bolton, Burke, Jiminy Peak and Grouse Mountain have installed wind turbines, while others have pursued efficiency updates, in an effort to take responsibly produce, and reduce, the power and heat involved in swinging chairs and heating lodges all winter long. Now, four more areas, from local ski hills in the Northeast to major resorts in the Rockies, have installed or invested in renewable power sources ranging from solar to biomass to coalmine methane. Smuggler's Notch closed early this winter after a spring meltdown saw the highest March temperatures in Vermont's history. The same solar energy that drove skiers and riders batty as it took away their snow is now being put to use by an array of 35 solar trackers, which collectively produce 205,000 kWh per year -- around five percent of Smuggler's total electrical use. The array provides enough juice for most of the resort's Village Lodge. Dan Maxon, Smuggler's Notch Solar Installation Project Manager, toured me through the installation on a recent morning, when the GPS-enabled trackers, manufactured by a Vermont company called ALLEarth Renewables, were tilted east to catch the a.m. sun. "We believe it is important not only for ski resorts, but for all energy users to take some responsibility for their energy consumption," Maxon told me. "There was a good confluence of energy and desire that made this project come together -- we'd been looking at various renewable projects for six-seven years, but couldn't pull them off. This one we could." [+] Enlarge Courtesy photoSmuggler's solar tracker array with Madonna Mountain in the background. The array would normally have cost a million dollars to install, but Smuggler's engaged in an innovative leasing program from AllEarth, and in five years it will have the option to buy the equipment outright at a reduced price. Smuggler's is adding this solar project to existing efforts to outfit new condominium units with solar hot water heaters. As for further renewable projects, Maxon says that Smuggler's will be focusing on efficiency at the resort and in the snow making system next. I asked Maxon if he thought that ski resort's high-elevation locations made them especially suitable to industrial-sized wind generation, like the type at Bolton Valley or Jiminy Peak. He pointed out that while ski resort ridgelines could be prime locations for wind power, many ski resorts, including Smuggler's, lease land from the State, making such projects difficult. Over at Mt. Abram in Maine, renewable heat has literally risen from the ashes. A lighting strike set fire to the ski resort's main lodge in the summer of 2011, burning the building to the ground. Taking the occasion to revisit the resort's dependence on fossil fuels, Mt. Abram built their new lodge with a wood pellet boiler. Stoked by dry, highly-pressurized wood pellets from sustainably-harvested sources right in the state, the "Energy Box" system provides plenty of warmth for the lodge. Building off that momentum, Mt. Abrams updated the heating in their rental shop and top patrol shack with pellet heaters as well. "Switching from No. 2 heating oil to a carbon-neutral, locally-sourced system was an easy decision based on our current goals as a ski area" says Erin Bragg, Mt. Abram's Director of Sustainability. "The move was also pushed to the forefront of our 'greening' time line due to the destruction of our oil boiler in the fire." The base lodge project, which offsets the use of more than 12,00 gallons of No. 2 heating oil per year, helped win the resort a National Ski Area Association Golden Eagle Award for Environmental Excellence this year. Hancock believes that "all ski areas have a strong self preservation interest in promoting projects that support colder, snowier winters." Courtesy photo Mt. Abram's GM standing with the resort's Golden Eagle award in front of their wood-pellet boiler. In the case of solar, says Hancock, many ski areas have available land but it's likely to be facing north, and thus not in the direct path of the sun. Mt. Abram, like Smugglers, has enough south-facing acreage to make solar a real option. "Mt. Abram has engineered and is fully permitted for a two-acre solar array specified to generate more electricity annually than we consume," says Hancock. He adds that the resort is the final phases of financing and hopes to have the installation in place before the 2012 ski season. Hancock sees pressure from customers, not just warming winters, as a driver that will push resorts to do more to lower their impact. "You don't venture out with kids and grandparents in zero degree windy weather if you don't love the outdoors and care greatly about the planet," says Hancock. "As more ski areas take a more serious approach to their environmental footprint, I believe a greater environmental stewardship will be an ante to stay in business." Across the divide in the Rockies, Park City Mountain Resort has recently installed a Falcon 12kW vertical axis wind turbine at the top of their Silverlode chairlift. Paired with a solar panel, the installation generates 30,000 kW hours of electricity annually, around three times the amount of an average home. Park City also included an informational kiosk that will let the public see the power being generated in real time. "Our goal is for our guests to see a turbine and solar array installation up close and hopefully encourage them to install wind or solar at their home or business," says Brent Giles, Chief Sustainability Officer of Powdr Corp, Park City's parent company. "We live, work and recreate in a mountain setting and we want to continue this lifestyle for years to come," says Giles. "Therefore we have adopted a policy to reduce emissions generated by our operations." Large-scale renewable installations aren't really an option at Park City, says Giles. Instead, the resort purchases wind power renewable energy credits that offset 100 percent of their electricity usage, which averages 14 million kWh's annually. Auden SchendlerElk Creek mine in Colorado, where Aspen's coal mine methane-to-electricity project will be developed. In Colorado, Aspen Ski Company is taking a leading role in developing an innovative form of clean energy from coalmine methane. The practice of venting methane from coalmines to prevent underground explosions has turned into a climate change bottleneck with 20 times more warming potential than CO2, coalmine methane contributed ten percent of the all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2010, according to the EPA. Aspen is the capital investor in a new project at Elk Creek Mine that uses waste methane to power a dynamo and generate electricity, downgrading the methane to CO2 and at the same time. The project is a first of its scale in the United States, and helped net the resort a National Ski Area Association Golden Eagle Award for Environmental Excellence this year. "We've been looking for a large scale clean energy project for over a decade and we finally found one," says Auden Schendler, Aspen Vice President of Sustainability. Schendler expects the 3 megawatt project to go online around September, and says that in a matter of month it will make approximately the same amount of electricity that Aspen uses annually, around 25 million kilowatt hours. "Because we're destroying methane in the process," adds Schendler, "this is equivalent to triple offsetting our carbon footprint each year." Schendler believes that industrial scale, on-site power generation wasn't feasible for Aspen, and isn't necessarily the solution for other resorts. "We're trying to develop a huge amount of clean power, we're not trying to do something gimmicky," says Schendler. "We don't need to shoehorn clean power into inappropriate places like most ski resorts, there are plenty of good projects to develop, they don't happen to be at ski resorts. The atmosphere doesn't care if the power gets used on site -- scale is everything when it comes to solving climate change." Which isn't to say that Schendler and Aspen don't support renewable energy development by ski resorts. The opposite in fact: "It's important, so that when these resorts go to Washington to ask for an aggressive climate policy they have a leg to stand on and some credibility," says Schendler. "We need to walk before we can talk." BIOMASS THERMAL VICTORIES MAKE FOR A SWEET (ENERGY) INDEPENDENCE DAY 0 On 07.13.2012, In News, by admin As our Independence Day nears, I can’t help but associate the word independence with energy, and that’s because it’s a phrase I come across in our industry on a daily—at minimum—basis. By Anna Simet | July 02, 2012 As our Independence Day nears, I can’t help but associate the word independence with energy, and that’s because it’s a phrase I come across in our industry on a daily—at minimum—basis. “We need to achieve energy independence…this will bring us one step closer to energy independence…” It’s actually used so often and so loosely that it likely provokes an eye roll here and there, and that’s mainly because that there’s a huge difference between simply speaking the words and actually being out there, feet on the ground, making things happen and working tirelessly until they do. During the last couple of weeks it has become very evident that the pellet/biomass thermal industry has been doing just that, and it’s taken great strides in the right direction. First, New Hampshire became the first state to grant full renewable portfolio standard credit to thermal applications, which is a big deal. And let me tell you, that didn’t happen overnight, and it wasn’t the result of a spontaneous light bulb turning on in a bill drafter’s head. It was the work of the biomass thermal industry—years of data collection, research compilation and real proof of concept—and of course, endless phone calls, letters, hounding, and the near stalking of congress people I’m sure (just kidding). While it was just in New Hampshire, those who made it happen, particularly the Biomass Thermal Energy Council, knows other states will look to it as example. And once it proves to be a successful move, others will likely follow suite. On top of that news, a new bill was proposed that would grant tax credits for industrial and commercial biomass heating and cooling systems—up to 30 percent, if the efficiency of the system is over 80 percent. So the biomass thermal industry is on a roll. It seems somebody is actually hearing their responsive shouts of “WE CAN HELP” to the energy independence question. On a completely different note, I recently got an email from a gentleman named Justin who owns and operates a custom cattle feedlot operation in Iowa. He told me that his business is looking into pelletizing corn cobs, and they’re in need of some technology providers. He was hoping I could steer him in the right direction. Of course the right direction is to you, our readers and most often the experts, so I’m wondering if anyone thinks they may be able to help Justin with his request. If so, leave a note here or email me, and I will connect you with him. With that said I will close, and to those of you planning to celebrate the U.S.’s Independence Day, I wish you a wonderful, safe holiday. I hope you all take a moment away from the fireworks, hamburgers and beer to remember those who have made—and continue to make—the ultimate sacrifice so that we can be free and safe in our great country. REPORTS ADDRESS US PELLET PRODUCTION, EU SUSTAINABILITY CRITERIA By Erin Voegele | July 17, 2012 • U.S. producers of wood pellets will likely need to meet or exceed sustainability standards set by the European Union for solid biofuels in order access the European export market. Two reports have recently been published that examine the economic, environmental and policy implications of the expanding wood pellet market. A report produced by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation, titled “Pathways to Sustainability,” evaluates the programs and practices that are available to U.S. pellet producers to meet European buyer’s sustainability expectations and policy requirements, while the Environmental Defense Fund’s report, titled “European Power from U.S. Forests,” addresses how EU policies are shaping the transatlantic trade in wood biomass. The EDF report notes that wood pellet demand in Europe has been driven primarily by the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive. While the European Commission included minimum sustainability requirements for biofuels and bioliquids in the 2009 RED, sustainability requirements for solid biomass were not addressed until the following year, when a follow-up report was published to outline recommend sustainability criteria for solid biomass production and use. According to the EDF report, the European Commission is expected to release an additional report later this year that clarifies uncertainties related to sustainability in the EU pellet market. That report is expected to identify which sustainability programs meet EU approval, rule whether certification or other sustainability schemes constitute a barrier to trade, and address whether EU-wide binding sustainability criteria are necessary for solid biomass. According to the EDF, experts predict that the sustainability requirements outline in the RED and the follow-up report will remain the as baseline criteria for the new standards for solid biomass. The EDF also points out that in the absence of EU-wide sustainability standards for pellets, member states have developed their own requirements, incentives and policies with little coordination. In addition, industry-led certification programs have also been developed, as are programs designed by the European Committee on Standardization and the International Standardization Organization. The important point for U.S. industry is that no matter what standards the EU settles on, pellet producers will need to meet or exceed those guidelines. “It is probably that certification of pellets will become the norm within the EU, and U.S. producers need to consider how they might begin to meet those requirements,” concludes the EDF in its report. “Whether or not forest management practices within North America are generally considered to be ‘sustainable,’ it is necessary to ensure that specific sustainability requirements for wood pellets in the EU are met or exceeded by U.S. forestry practices.” The Pinchot Institute’s report specifies that although international trade in wood biomass for bioenergy is expanding due to European demand, relatively few U.S. pellet producers currently ship to the EU. However, this is expected to change, with the southeastern pellet and wood chip manufactures seeming to be the most likely to expand exports to Europe. In its report, the institute describes four pathways that could represent means to mitigate environmental and other risks in the supply chain, including certified forest management, controlled and mixed sourcing, inspected compliance with stewardship plans and best practices, and uninspected compliance with stewardship plans and best practices. The report also provides a comparison of major European energy sector sustainability schemes, and how they relate to the four pathways in the U.S. forest sector. According to the Pinchot Institute, its goal is to clarify how the pathways can help U.S. pellet producers meet the expectations of different European customers, the environmental community, and European sustainability criteria. Full copies of the reports are available for download on the EDF website. ST. MARY'S BAND GETS BIOMASS FUNDING By Contributed - Kootenay News Advertiser Published: July 18, 2012 9:00 AM Updated: July 18, 2012 9:07 AM The St. Mary’s Indian Band will benefit from the fourth round of funding from the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund with equity funding of $200,000. “Biomass thermal heating systems are particularly advantageous to people in our region. Here we are able to make use of poor quality wood that is unfit for lumber and keep people warm at the same time. I wish the St. Mary’s Indian Band every success with this project,” said Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett. Project details: • These funds will support the construction and operation of a biomass thermal heating system. • The system will initially hook up two buildings with future plans to hook up the entire village. • The project will remove the use of natural gas and decrease thermal energy payments to users. • The St. Mary’s Indian Band has over 5,000 hectares of dense conifer forest and proposes to supply the heating system with waste-wood chips. It will also provide the band with an opportunity to receive revenue through wood-chip delivery. “When Bill first gave me the call I wasn’t sure what to expect, but when I learned we were granted the full amount we requested I was thrilled. Today is a really great day for the St. Mary’s Band. Now we can move forward with some of the more detailed work and get the system in place. We’re really grateful the Province is supporting this initiative, helping us leave a smaller footprint on our land,” said St Mary’s Indian Band Chief Cheryl Casimer. $200M CONVERSION COMING FOR ATIKOKAN COAL PLANT Biomass plant expected to be up-and-running by 2014 CBC News Posted: Jul 19, 2012 3:59 PM ET Last Updated: Jul 20, 2012 5:38 AM ET (L-R) OPG Plant Manager for Thunder Bay and Atikokan Chris Fralick, Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro and Atikokan Mayor Dennis Brown are all smiles after announcing plans to go ahead with the conversion of the Atikokan coal plant to burn biomass. (Jeff Walters/CBC) Atikokan's power plant will finally be converted to burn wood pellets, or biomass, instead of coal. An announcement Thursday morning confirmed the provincial government will keep the plant open and go forward with the plan — one that has been in the works since 2006 — to adapt the plant. It’s one of the best pieces of news Atikokan's Mayor Dennis Brown said he's heard in a long time. The $200 million conversion will create 200 construction jobs and sustain existing jobs at the plant. Part of Brown’s excitement stems from the fact the plant — operated by Ontario Power Generation — is an important piece of the economy in Atikokan. More than a third of the town's taxes are paid by OPG. Mauro and Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro said the 200-megawatt plant will provide stability for the regional power grid and provide additional an additional power source for mines that are expected to open within the next couple of years. The government said the wood pellets will come from Ontario, creating additional jobs throughout the province. However, officials have not yet identified the suppliers. The project is scheduled for completion by 2014. KOREA SOUTHERN POWER TO BUY WOOD PELLETS FOR RENEWABLES QUOTA By Sangim Han - Jul 19, 2012 9:17 PM CT Korea Southern Power Co., a unit of Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEP), plans to be the first of the nation’s utilities to buy wood pellets to meet a renewable- energy quota imposed by the government, a company official said. Korea Southern is seeking to buy 15,000 metric tons of pellets for delivery in October, the official said by phone today, asking not to be identified because the information hasn’t been made public. The purchase is part of plans to buy 50,000 tons in the fourth quarter, an e-mail from the official showed. Bidding will be at 10 a.m. on the tenth day after a tender notice is posted on the company’s website between July 23 and 25, the official said. South Korea’s 13 power utilities must boost the use of renewable sources after the government imposed an alternative- energy quota this year to reduce emissions. The mandatory quota for the proportion of electricity generated by renewable sources will be increased to 10 percent in 2022 from 2 percent in 2012, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy. More utilities may purchase wood pellets to meet the quota because of the time taken to develop solar and wind sources for power generation, the official said. The details of the planned purchase are as follows: ---------------------------------------------------------------- Product: Wood pellets Quantity: 15,000 tons Condition: Supply for Hadong Power Plant Offers Close: 10 a.m. Korea time ten days after a tender notice to be posted July 23-25 ---------------------------------------------------------------- To contact the reporter on this story: Sangim Han in Seoul at firstname.lastname@example.org To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alexander Kwiatkowski at email@example.com REPORTS ADDRESS US PELLET PRODUCTION, EU SUSTAINABILITY CRITERIA By Erin Voegele | July 17, 2012 • U.S. producers of wood pellets will likely need to meet or exceed sustainability standards set by the European Union for solid biofuels in order access the European export market. Two reports have recently been published that examine the economic, environmental and policy implications of the expanding wood pellet market. A report produced by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation, titled “Pathways to Sustainability,” evaluates the programs and practices that are available to U.S. pellet producers to meet European buyer’s sustainability expectations and policy requirements, while the Environmental Defense Fund’s report, titled “European Power from U.S. Forests,” addresses how EU policies are shaping the transatlantic trade in wood biomass. The EDF report notes that wood pellet demand in Europe has been driven primarily by the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive. While the European Commission included minimum sustainability requirements for biofuels and bioliquids in the 2009 RED, sustainability requirements for solid biomass were not addressed until the following year, when a follow-up report was published to outline recommend sustainability criteria for solid biomass production and use. According to the EDF report, the European Commission is expected to release an additional report later this year that clarifies uncertainties related to sustainability in the EU pellet market. That report is expected to identify which sustainability programs meet EU approval, rule whether certification or other sustainability schemes constitute a barrier to trade, and address whether EU-wide binding sustainability criteria are necessary for solid biomass. According to the EDF, experts predict that the sustainability requirements outline in the RED and the follow-up report will remain the as baseline criteria for the new standards for solid biomass. The EDF also points out that in the absence of EU-wide sustainability standards for pellets, member states have developed their own requirements, incentives and policies with little coordination. In addition, industry-led certification programs have also been developed, as are programs designed by the European Committee on Standardization and the International Standardization Organization. The important point for U.S. industry is that no matter what standards the EU settles on, pellet producers will need to meet or exceed those guidelines. “It is probably that certification of pellets will become the norm within the EU, and U.S. producers need to consider how they might begin to meet those requirements,” concludes the EDF in its report. “Whether or not forest management practices within North America are generally considered to be ‘sustainable,’ it is necessary to ensure that specific sustainability requirements for wood pellets in the EU are met or exceeded by U.S. forestry practices.” The Pinchot Institute’s report specifies that although international trade in wood biomass for bioenergy is expanding due to European demand, relatively few U.S. pellet producers currently ship to the EU. However, this is expected to change, with the southeastern pellet and wood chip manufactures seeming to be the most likely to expand exports to Europe. In its report, the institute describes four pathways that could represent means to mitigate environmental and other risks in the supply chain, including certified forest management, controlled and mixed sourcing, inspected compliance with stewardship plans and best practices, and uninspected compliance with stewardship plans and best practices. The report also provides a comparison of major European energy sector sustainability schemes, and how they relate to the four pathways in the U.S. forest sector. According to the Pinchot Institute, its goal is to clarify how the pathways can help U.S. pellet producers meet the expectations of different European customers, the environmental community, and European sustainability criteria. Full copies of the reports are available for download on the EDF website. SWEDISH, U.S. FIRMS FINISH FIRST OF WOOD PELLET BOILER SERIES By BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota | July 20, 2012 • [L-R]: Gregg Mast, BBAM, Pete Smerud, Wolf Ridge ELC, Will Steger, Arctic Explorer, Jonas Hafström, Swedish Ambassador to U.S., Per Carlsson, ABioNova, Chuck Gagner, WoodMaster, Dale Wahlstrom, BBAM An International partnership in the area of environmental technology was on display at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, Minn., on June 29. Sweden-based ABioNova and Minnesota-based WoodMaster celebrated their first in a series of “Made in America” commercial wood pellet boiler system installations at a ribbon-cutting ceremony highlighted by special guest, Swedish Ambassador to the U.S., Jonas Hafström. The biomass boiler system installed at Wolf Ridge was developed by ABioNova in partnership with Italy-based D’Alessandro Thermomeccanica Company. Additionally, ABioNova also designs and manufactures its own control panel with NovaReg software. ABioNova partnered with WoodMaster to manufacture locally and distribute the European-based technology known as the WoodMaster Commercial Series Boiler throughout North America. Assisting the partnership in identifying and accessing public and private resources throughout the region has been The BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota and the Area Partnership for Economic Expansion. “Our partnership with WoodMaster is about showcasing how effective technology transfer can be between two countries,” said Per Carlsson, ABioNova owner and CEO. “We are building a model on how our dependency on foreign fossil fuels can be lessened and how to take care of your own natural resources within local and regional boundaries can work, and build economic growth from it.” The Wolf Ridge installation replaces a cordwood system that was over 25 years old. Two new wood pellet boilers provide heat and hot water to the district heating network totaling 81,000 sq. ft. while also allowing for greater handling of the peak and off-peak heating loads. The smaller boiler has a capacity of 1.2 MMBtu/hr and the larger boiler has a capacity of 2.2 MMBtu/hr. The wood pellets are being sourced from a regional wood pellet manufacturer and stored on-site in a 20-ton pellet silo. During the coldest parts of the year, 20 tons of wood pellets will provide about 10 days of heating for Wolf Ridge. It is estimated that heating with wood pellets will provide a 50 percent cost savings over propane on a per MMBtu basis. Wolf Ridge also plans to share with each of its visitors, some 14,000 people a year, about how the center utilizes its biomass system. “This new wood pellet system is bringing both economic and educational benefits,” said Chuck Gagner, president of Northwest Manufacturing, “not only to Wolf Ridge, but to the community at large as it demonstrates how local partners can work together to advance technology and capture as much energy spending in their local communities as possible.” While the ABioNova and WoodMaster team have installed several boilers in the northeastern U.S., the installation at Wolf Ridge represents their first in a series of projects in Minnesota with locally produced boilers. During his remarks, Swedish Ambassador Jonas Hafström emphasized the importance of economic activity and trade between Sweden and the U.S. “Success stories such as this are exciting for the Swedish Ambassador,” Hafström said. Renewable Biomass as a Poultry Facility Heating Option? July 17, 2012 by collinmotschke Written by The Minnesota Project’s Clean Energy Program Manager, Jake Fischer Recently, I was invited to attend a grand opening event at Becker Fireplace Center, in Becker, MN. The company was debuting and promoting its new line of biomass furnaces and boilers. Jim Eiynick, one of the company’s co-owners, had reached out to me after hearing about the work we’ve been doing regarding energy efficiency in poultry facilities with LED lamps. Jim was excited about Becker Fireplace’s new offerings and noted that the new Wood Master-developed Forced Air Pellet Furnace they had brought to market would be the first of its kind selling in the United States. Calling their new biomass fueled furnace initiative “Advanced Bio Heat,” the company will be offering commercial grade wood pellet furnaces in the 430,000 to 850,000 Btu range. Integrated hot forced air technology onto these furnaces is what makes them particularly unique, said Eiynick. Traditionally, furnaces of this size have utilized hot water piping heat exchanges converted to forced air, which results in some fuel to heat efficiency loss. Advanced Bio Heat’s new offerings will take the hot air from the furnace and be able to deliver that heat supply directly to the ductwork, resulting in a more efficient heating process. Of particular interest to The Minnesota Project is this new technology’s potential application to heating poultry barns. Poultry producers have a considerable heating requirement, especially in Minnesota, and the opportunity to address this need through a renewable feedstock in wood pellets presents an interesting idea. Of course, The Minnesota Project is always excited to see new developments promoting renewable fuels over traditional fossil fuels, but, depending on the spot price of delivered fuels such as propane, wood pellets will often present a more cost effective fuel, making pellet heating a potentially sound investment. This tool, from Penn State University, provides a handy little calculator outlining various heating fuel sources, and which may be more economical than the other, taking into account current fuel costs. As an added bonus to potential cost savings, the utilization of a wood pellet heat source appears to have some opportunity to improve flock health and working conditions in poultry barns. These potential benefits are realized through the very dry heat produced via the wood pellet burning process. Dryer air in poultry barns can mean reduced barn ammonia levels, and a prolonged, higher quality litter. I had the opportunity to view one of these new furnaces in action, and it was pretty impressive. I’m admittedly only beginning to learn about bioheat applications in farming, so I’ll continue to attempt to learn more about the positives and/or negatives of this technology moving forward. For the time being, this sounds like a good Minnesota company working on issues that may present a win-win situation for both the energy efficiency/ renewable energy sector and agricultural sector. I’ll be excited to watch how this initiative develops. Thanks again to the folks at Becker Fireplace and Advanced Bio Heat for having me out and showing me around, it was a great experience. What are your thoughts? Any experience with bioheat systems? How about poultry? Would this be something that appeals to you? What might you identify as benefits and challenges? DEMAND FOR WOODY BIOMASS DROPS Written by Wood Resources International July 23, 2012, Seattle, WA - Prices for woody biomass in the US, whether sawmill by-products, forest residues or urban wood waste, have been sliding for most of the past three years, but were still higher late in 2011 in most regions than they were five years ago, according to the North American Wood Fiber Review. In the 2Q/12, woody biomass prices were down between 2-10 percent in the key biomass-consuming regions, the US South, Northeast and in the West as compared to the 1Q/12. In the US Northwest and California there continues to be a substantial price discrepancy between mill biomass and forest biomass, but this price difference is minimal in the US South. During 2011, natural gas prices fell about 45 percent in the US and the lower prices have reduced the urgency for investing in woody biomass projects in the country. However, despite the plunging natural gas prices, plans for more facilities utilizing woody biomass continued during 2011 and 2012 in both Canada and the US, with some projects nearing completion and others in start-up mode. Wood fiber demand for all planned biomass projects in the US dropped in the first half of 2012 as compared to early 2011. Most of the decrease in wood usage the past year has been that wood used in the generation of electricity for the domestic market in the US, while the pellet industry has continuously expanded capacity to serve the growing demand in Europe. The US had about 450 announced and operating woody bioenergy projects in the spring of 2012, including wood pellets, liquid fuel, electricity-generation and combined heat and power (CHP). The projected wood fiber use for all planned biomass projects is estimated to reach just over 30 million dry tons of fiber annually by 2020, according to Forisk. Commercial and residential energy consumers’ interest in switching to more expensive green energy is likely to continue to be lukewarm as long as demand for energy is low and natural gas prices are their lowest levels in over ten years. For more information visit: www.woodprices.com ONTARIO TO CONVERT NORTHERN COAL PLANT TO BIOMASS Written by Ministry of Energy July 19, 2012, Toronto, ON – The Ontario government is moving forward with the conversion of the Atikokan Generating Station from coal to biomass, creating 200 construction jobs and helping to protect existing jobs at the plant. The conversion is the first of its kind in the province. The project will create new economic opportunities for Ontario's forestry sector, which will provide the biomass fuel to the plant, located near Thunder Bay. Demand for biomass pellets from the plant is expected to create or support about 200 jobs. The converted plant will be able to deliver more than 200 megawatts of clean, renewable power and is expected to be complete in 2014. "Our plan to transform our electricity system and ensure a sustainable clean energy program is working. Together we are building a clean energy system in Ontario that is spurring new investment, creating jobs and providing Ontarians with cleaner air, healthier communities and a brighter future, said Minister of Energy Chris Bentley. The Atikokan Generating Station will become the first Ontario Power Generation-owned facility to be converted from coal to biomass. It will be one of the largest biomass-fired electricity generating facilities in the world. Under the terms of the agreement to convert the station, the biomass must be sourced from Ontario's forests and processed in Ontario. The procurement will provide a new market for waste fibre and act as a catalyst for a larger biomass industry in Ontario. Wood pellets will be made primarily from unused and underutilized species, non-marketable wood, forest residue and sawmill residue. "The conversion of Atikokan from dirty coal to biomass means we are reducing harmful emissions and building a modern, clean, reliable energy system. We'll keep energy jobs in the Town of Atikokan and create forestry jobs in northern Ontario while ensuring a cleaner, healthier Ontario for families and future generations,” said MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikoka Bill Mauro. NEW EMISSIONS REGULATIONS COULD COST TRILLIONS AS NATURAL GAS PRICES RISE July 25, 2012 The cost of new environmental regulations for the power generation industry could rise into the trillions in coming years, one energy industry analyst told AOL Energy. At a seminar hosted earlier this month at the Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions, Deloitte MarketPoint founder Dale Nesbitt explained to participants that the ultimate cost of new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations restricting emissions will depend largely on the price of natural gas. The final number, however, will likely range between $1.5 trillion and $2 trillion regardless. The U.S. has been using around 7 trillion cubic feet per year to fuel natural gas power plants, but that number could double as utilities begin to take advantage of plummeting natural gas prices to help comply with the new rules. However, Forbes reports that gas could see a dramatic reversal in fortunes. Having dropped when production rose as demand stayed stagnant, the fossil fuel's prices could spike as production is scaled back and demand finally begins to increase. Freetricity - the green venture with biomass 9:20am Friday 27th July 2012 in Latest News Freetricity - a green business venture led by businessman Paul Williams and entrepreneur and environmentalist Ben Way, who have both appeared on Channel 4’s “Secret Millionaire” - is offering businesses, schools and charities across Wiltshire the opportunity to apply for free, green heating systems which could cut their energy bills by up to 50 per cent. The firm is offering free biomass (wood fuelled) boilers to business owners, schools and charities under a Government backed scheme which will provide commercial biomass boilers for free on a 20 year serviced and maintained basis. The school or business pays only for the wood that fuels it and can save between 30-50 per cent on future fuel bills. FREETRICITY Paul Williams, CEO of Freetricity said: “Over the last year, we have grown to become one of the leading players in the solar energy sector. “However, as a business we are always looking to grow and so we have decided to diversify into the biomass energy sector. "We believe that this is an exciting new area of business for us which offers similar benefits to business owners as our solar energy offer has. Over time, we hope to expand Freetricity further into other renewable sectors. “Biomass offers significant savings for buildings which have high heating bills like schools, hotels, pubs and leisure centres. “This type of heating system offers a greener, more cost effective way of heating buildings. By installing one of our free biomass boilers, there are no upfront costs but businesses benefit from cheaper heating bills and no capital outlay for a new boiler which can cost up to £200,000. ” Paul Williams and Ben Way met on Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire programme and discovered a shared interest in the environment. They decided to launch a green business together and Freetricity is the result. The business offers renewable energy solutions to domestic homeowners and commercial business owners including solar panels, biomass boilers and shortly renewable heat pumps. Ben Way, Chief Technical officer said: “Biomass boilers are essentially wood fuelled boilers. They are a fantastically efficient method of heat production compared to more traditional fuels such as oil, LPG and natural gas. "The biomass system, when designed correctly, will provide 100 per cent of the annual heat load of the building, replacing the requirement for a conventional boiler. Businesses who are interested should apply at www.freeheating.net . “The fact that we can offer the equipment absolutely free makes this a fantastic deal for business owners who want to cut costs and do their bit for the environment.” GERMANY ON TOP OF EUROPEAN PELLET PRODUCTION • July 28, 2012 In the first half of 2012 pellet production in Germany reached the highest level ever. The German Fuel Wood and Pellet Association (DEPV) reported to date, that 1,050,000 tons of wood pellets were produced from January to June. This is about 15 percent more than in the first half of 2011. In particular, this record level is based on a production increase to more than 550,000 tons during the second quarter. For the full year 2012, DEPV for the first time expects an increase in production to over two million tons. Above all, a grow in the market for medium and large heat generators on wood pellet base caused that effect, the industry association said. By the end of 2012, DEPV predicts an increase of domestic consumption of wood pellets to 1.6 million tons, an upswing of more than 12 percent over the previous year. An annual production of over two million tonnes - up from 1.9 million tonnes in 2011 - is very likely. Germany now leads Europe in pellet production. Worldwide, Germany is on third place behind the U.S. and Canada.