Thursday, January 28, 2010

News Letter for Feb 2010

February 2010
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






















• •



By The Mainebiz News Staff
Maine's wood pellet industry is expanding its reach with the launch of two new manufacturing and installation ventures.
Austrian wood pellet manufacturer OkoFEN Pellet Heating has established a Maine-based company called Maine Eco Pellet Heating LLC that will manufacture wood pellet boilers for both commercial and residential buildings, according to a press release. The company is located in the same Bethel facility as Maine Energy Systems, a company launched in 2008 by entrepreneur and gubernatorial candidate Les Otten. Production of the pellet systems is expected to begin next month.
The pellet boilers will be sold by Maine Energy Systems and a new company called ReVision Heat LLC, formed by ReVision Energy, which has offices in Portland and Liberty, and Corinth Wood Pellets, according to the release. ReVision Heat will sell and install the boilers and deliver pellets from the Corinth facility, initially targeting customers in the Portland and Bangor areas, ReVision Heat's Gary Higginbottom told Mainebiz. The company is planning to establish an office in Brewer.

They will be used as a bio-energy source. by Steve Coffee
A new plant to produce wood pellets as a bio-energy source should be up an running by this spring in Redmond. The Pacific Pellet Company is the brainchild of Jeff Raines and Mark Stapleton who already have success with their Oregon Telecom Company. When at full production pacific pellet will have about 20 people on the job, and Redmond Mayor George Endicott says the City has been working hard to make it attractive to new business. “We have inexpensive industrial property available and of course we're an enterprise zone which was a big attracter. That means the company can get some tax breaks for the first three years of their operation to help them get started.” The new Pacific Pellet Company is going onto the old Crown Pacific Plywood plant in northeast Redmond.


An Austrian company is planning to begin assembling high-technology wood pellet boilers in Bethel.

Maine Eco Pellet Heating is an effort by Herbert Orten to launch his company koFEN Pellet Heating in the United States.

The operation will be Maine's first pellet-boiler assembly plant.

The Portland Press Herald says the koFEN boilers also will be sold by ReVision Heat of Portland, which will install and service the boilers and provide bulk pellet delivery around Bangor and Portland.

Officials with the companies say the developments could further the vision of an integrated, local industry that uses Maine's vast forest-product resources to produce both heating equipment and a renewable-energy fuel.

___Information from: Portland Press Herald,

An Austrian company is set to begin assembling high-technology wood pellet boilers in Bethel next month, an enterprise that could help expand Maine's young pellet-fuels industry.
Herbert Ortner, a pioneer in European wood pellets and the founder of koFEN Pellet Heating, has formed Maine Eco Pellet Heating LLC to launch his company into the U.S. market .
The operation will be based in a warehouse at Maine Energy Systems, which recently began selling the koFEN unit and promotes pellet-fired central heating. It will be Maine's first pellet- boiler assembly plant.
Before tax credits, each highly automated boiler cost s about $16,000, including installation and pellet storage.
The koFEN boilers also will be sold by ReVision Heat LLC of Portland. A joint venture of ReVision Energy and Corinth Wood Pellets, the company will install and service the boilers and provide bulk pellet delivery around Bangor and Portland.
Taken together, the developments could further the vision of an integrated, local industry that uses Maine's vast forest-product resources to produce both heating equipment and a renewable-energy fuel. The participants see an opportunity to switch thousands of New England homes and businesses from oil heat to wood pellets.
koFEN has sold 30,000 units in 10 European countries. Ortner will be in Maine this month to discuss the evolution of pellet heat technology in Europe and its potential for New England. He will make public presentations at Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor on Jan. 19 and the University of Southern Maine on Jan. 21.
Hosting an assembly plant could be the first step to setting up a true manufacturing operation in Maine, participants say. But that depends on a few critical economic assumptions.
Low oil prices, the dismal economy and the absence of robust government incentives to cut the purchase cost for customers are holding back the industry's growth, said Dutch Dresser, a partner in Maine Energy Systems.
Dresser expects that no more than 200 boilers will be assembled this year in Bethel, creating only a few new jobs.
Dresser's perspective comes from two years of experience with Maine Energy Systems, a startup led by Les Otten, a Bethel entrepreneur who is running for governor. The company remains unprofitable, despite a strong debut with an earlier European boiler. If heating oil prices jump again to $4 a gallon, as they did in 2008, the picture could change, Dresser said.
"A couple of years ago, we couldn't answer the phone fast enough," he said.
The boiler is fueled by an automated pellet-feed system. It is self-cleaning during operation, with ash compressed into a storage bin for periodic removal.
The company installed one recently at Gould Academy in Bethel. Another is going into the public works garage in Gardiner.
Schools and municipal buildings are target markets for the boilers, thanks to government incentives.
A single boiler and pellet storage costs $12,000 to $20,000, he said. A typical home may burn eight tons a year. ReVision plans to sell pellets in bulk for $220 a ton. That price compares to oil at about $2 a gallon, the company says.
ReVision will focus on the heavily populated Portland and Bangor areas to save on pellet delivery costs. It will make its primary push in Bangor, to take advantage of its partnership with nearby Corinth Wood Pellets.
Corinth runs one of two Maine pellet plants. Another is under construction. Two others were destroyed by fires last year, but at least one is being rebuilt.
The investments by Maine Eco Pellet and ReVision represent a key stage in the development of the state's pellet industry, said Bill Bell, executive director of the Maine Pellet Fuels Association.
In addition to oil prices, government incentives to help offset the cost of converting to wood heat are critical, said Bell and Dresser. "The industry will develop a lot faster with a little bit of a push," Bell said.
Staff Writer Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or at:
For more information:


FERNDALE, WASHINGTON -- 01/07/10 -- Sea 2 Sky Corporation, (OTCBB: SSKY) a development-stage Renewable Bio-Energy Company is pleased to announce that it is working towards an association with the University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC - http:// to produce a torrefaction plant which Sea 2 Sky plans to commercialize in its biomass operations.
Sea 2 Sky is in the process of identifying and evaluating several market opportunities and torrefaction technologies in Europe, Canada and the United States cumulating recently with a peer review of various torrefaction and market opportunities with various representatives at the Bio-Power Technical Strategy Workshop sponsored by the Department of Energy Conference in Denver, Colorado.
After extensive analysis and discussions with industry leaders and government officials, Sea 2 Sky concluded that a market-standard must be set for the commercialization of torrefaction technology into operational plants. That standard must show that any adoptable technology must exhibit economic feasibility, proven construction methodology, proven technology tested by reputable independent sources and demonstrable market and customer acceptance. Sea 2 Sky undertakes this process to fulfill its mandate to continually connect with technology providers, academia and other customers to ensure that Sea 2 Sky attains a leading edge in torrefaction applications by bringing out a series of adaptive technologies under the Sea 2 Sky banner to suit varying fiber baskets and other torrefyable biomass streams. To this end, Sea 2 Sky has entered into a non legally binding understanding with EERC to obtain EERC's assistance in Sea 2 Sky's mandate and also to enable EERC to submit for and gain funding from the DOE to research out and develop standards to:
1. Pretreat woody biomass, agricultural residues such as wheat straw, DDGS, corn stover, switchgrass and waste materials, including refuse-derived fuels, to produce clean biocoal/syncoal using the torrefaction plus leaching pretreatment process.
2. Perform pilot-scale combustion and gasification tests to demonstrate the efficient utilization of the produced bio-coal/syncoal without emission and ash-related problems.
3. Develop an initial design of a demonstration pretreatment plant to utilize the torrefaction plus leaching process to produce commercial quantities of clean bio-coal/syncoal.
Sea 2 Sky anticipates that any agreement to ultimately be concluded with EERC will include Sea 2 Sky being able to commercialize any technology that EERC may create as part of their funding. David Siebenga, Sea 2 Sky CEO confirmed in discussions with EERC that "Sea 2 Sky Corporation is committed to supporting renewable energy and advanced bio-fuels project development and early stage companies that are developing innovative technology. Sea 2 Sky Corporation and The University of North Dakota, Energy & Environmental Research Center desire to collaborate on the Development of Advanced Pretreatment Technologies for the Production of Clean Bio-Coal/Syncoal from Woody Biomass, Agricultural Residues and Municipal Solid Waste." Mr Siebenga went onto say that "Sea 2 Sky intends to become the focal point for technology for green and renewable energy providers in any biomass industry segment and as such Sea 2 Sky will continue to look at and conclude other agreements with other technology providers meeting this market standard. We are of the view that our association with EERC will help us with commercializing varying technologies into the North American renewable energy marketplaces we have as well as new industries such as municipal waste and remediation of existing polluted lands or pulp plants."
About University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC)
The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) is recognized as one of the world's leading developers of cleaner, more efficient energy and environmental technologies to protect and clean our air, water, and soil. The EERC is a high-tech, nonprofit branch of the University of North Dakota (UND). The EERC operates like a business; conducts research, development, demonstration, and commercialization activities; and is dedicated to moving promising technologies out of the laboratory and into the commercial marketplace. More inforamtion on EERC can be found at
About Sea 2 Sky Corporation
Sea 2 Sky Corporation is headquartered in a HUB zone in Ferndale, WA. Sea 2 Sky Corporation is a development-stage Renewable Bio-Energy Company focused on delivering alternative energy solutions to Fortune 1000 companies, governmental agencies and countries around the globe. The Company intends to secure the largest concentration of biomass material globally to combine with innovative technologies and is backed by a "Special Category Minority Business" which will enable it to compete effectively in a substantially growing market. Sea 2 Sky is positioning itself strategically with alternative energy suppliers of renewable biomass energy products and technology to secure and develop long-term supply contracts. It is planning to create a consistent specification that the target markets require to fulfill their energy needs in environmentally sound manufacturing facilities. More information about the Company may be found at
Sea 2 Sky Corporation

Sea 2 Sky Corporation
Investor Relations


The December announcement from a small Atlanta company vowing to turn wood scrap into fuel in nearby Thomaston rang all too familiar, yet another bold promise to create rural jobs, help wean the country from foreign oil and stem global warming.
Since 2006, more than three dozen alternative energy projects -- ethanol, biodiesel, wood pellets, wood-to-electricity -- have been announced in Georgia with great fanfare and tens of millions of dollars in local, state and federal tax breaks.
Most, though, have postponed production, reduced capacity, declared bankruptcy or remained commercially unfeasible. They struggle for financing, especially with the disappearance of credit and the recession.
The federal government, with its on-again, off-again biofuel mandates, also inhibits industry growth. Once-promising markets in Europe have dwindled due to import restrictions. Cheap oil keeps Americans from switching to ethanol and biodiesel, too.
“To some degree there’s a shaking out that naturally occurs in any new industry when more people get into it than there’s room for,” said Greg Hopkins, president of U.S. Biofuels in Rome, which halved its production last year. “More than that, though, I don’t think this country has truly decided that alternative fuel is where we’re going.”
American Process Inc., whose Thomaston venture is bankrolled by energy giant Valero Energy, expects to be different. The Midtown-based company, with 40 employees in Atlanta, Greece and Romania, has extensive experience in the pulp and paper industry -- a proving ground for its wood-to-fuel technology.
API plans to transform a vacant factory in Upson County, about an hour south of Atlanta, into a biorefinery that could produce 80,000 gallons of ethanol by year’s end.
“Over the last few years there’s been a lot of talk about all these technologies and breakthroughs, but progress has been slow,” API President Theodora Retsina told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution during a recent interview about the bioenergy industry. “We’re setting out to prove that [our technology] is realistic, practical and financially viable, something investors can put their money into.”
Georgia made bioenergy an economic-development priority in 2006, and some of the state’s distressed rural regions have benefited. First United Ethanol in Camilla, for example, produces 100 million gallons of ethanol annually from corn. United Biomass celebrated the opening of a wood-to-biofuel factory Thursday in Nahunta.
In Thomaston, API hopes to turn trees, limbs, grasses and other organic matter into commercially feasible ethanol to be blended with gasoline. Retsina says her process for producing cellulosic ethanol has been proven scientifically in small batches in Atlanta laboratories. Thomaston will serve as a demonstration project to prove her technology is also commercially feasible.
About 30 jobs will be created, including 10 engineers, developers and designers in Atlanta. Retsina said ethanol biorefineries could offer financially hard-hit pulp mills, in particular, another source of revenue.
The Upson County factory should be running by the end of February, and full-bore production, most likely outside Georgia, could begin within three years.
“We have a great opportunity to create a whole new technology boom that will support jobs and exports," Retsina said. "Cellulosic ethanol is a reality -- it isn’t some kind of dream.”
Not a drop, though, fuels the nation’s Fords, Chevys or Hondas. One of the country’s most ballyhooed cellulosic ethanol projects, Range Fuels in Soperton, announced big production plans three years ago, but it has yet to produce a gallon for sale.
Range, which has received nearly $100 million in grants, tax breaks and other incentives from the U.S. Department of Energy, the state of Georgia and local sources, expected to begin production last year. But technical issues, and the recession, pushed the factory’s completion date to next month.
“When it became clear that equity markets would not support financing and building, as originally planned, we had to trim the scope of our project,” said Bill Schafer, the Colorado company's senior vice president for development.
Schafer added that by midyear Range will begin selling ethanol to refiners who will blend it with gasoline. More financing will be needed, though, to expand the Soperton factory for large-scale production.
Forisk Consulting, an Athens-based forestry research firm, compiled a list last fall of 29 wood-based alternative-energy projects announced in Georgia the past few years. Only 12 will likely “make it,” said Forisk’s Amanda Lang. Most are “proposed,” i.e. awaiting permits, financing, contracts or the technology to make them feasible.
Oglethorpe Power Corp., the huge Tucker-based energy cooperative, had planned to build wood-to-electricity plants in Appling, Echols and Warren counties. But it didn’t buy the Echols property and put “on hold” the Appling project, spokesman Greg Jones said.
But Oglethorpe will invest an estimated half-billion dollars in the Warren project, expected to generate 100 megawatts of electricity, enough to supply 50,000 homes annually, by 2014. Georgia Power, too, is converting a coal-burning plant near Albany into a biomass factory.
“Have we got everything started that was announced? No, but we’re doing pretty doggone good,” said Jill Stuckey, director of the state’s Center of Innovation for Energy. “The prospects look very good for the future.”
Tell that to the biodiesel guys. U.S. factories have the capacity to fill 2.7 billion gallons of biodiesel, but only 15 percent of that amount was produced last year, according to the National Biodiesel Board.
Alterra Bioenergy, with operations in Plains and Gordon, ceased biodiesel production last year. And U.S. Biofuel in Rome, which used to ship all its chicken fat-based biofuel to Europe, cut production by 50 percent.
U.S. Biofuel’s Hopkins and others blame governments on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean for the industry’s torpor. The European Union slapped a huge tariff on imported biodiesel in March that crushed U.S. exports. And domestic blending mandates, requiring a certain percentage of biofuel mixed with diesel, weren’t renewed by the federal government last month.
“Our industry relies so much on federal legislation, but that isn’t the magic bullet to make us less dependent on imports of foreign oil,” Hopkins said. “But Washington could help build us a bridge until we find that magic bullet.”


By Ed Merriman - Baker City Herald, Ore

While politicians and activists debate global warming policies, a Baker County man is doing something to curb greenhouse gases: building a "biochar" processing plant.

Eric Twombly plans to build the region's first such plant at the site of the former Ellingson Lumber Co. sawmill near Halfway.

The plant will turn biomass -- logging slash and agricultural waste such as grass and wheat stubble -- into a fertilizer that improves the soil and helps it store carbon, Twombly said.

The plant also will produce a liquid fuel that can replace stove oil and kerosene.

Bob Parker, Oregon State University Extension Service forestry agent for Baker County, said Twombly's project opens the door to converting biomass into valuable products rather than burning the wastes, which releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The Baker County Private Woodlands Association is hosting a tour of the Halfway biochar processing plant, led by Twombly, on Jan. 14 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. A carpool will leave at 11:30 a.m. from the OSU Extension office, 2600 East St., in Baker City, or tour participants can meet at the former Ellingson mill site.

"Dress for the weather and bring a sack lunch," Parker said.

Twombly, a former Forest Service employee who founded Biochar Products, pegged initial employment at the Halfway plant at five, but he said that could double to 10 when the operation is running full bore this spring and summer.

He said various organizations around the world are working to expand biomass processing into biochar products as part of the global effort to reduce greenhouse gases, produce clean energy and help wean agriculture from petroleum-based fertilizers and other products by amending soils with biochar.

"It's an ancient farming method that converts organic wastes into renewable resources and soil amendments that improve crop yields," Twombly said.

Parker said revenues from biochar and other products made from forest or agricultural biomass wastes are needed to offset the costs of harvesting the wastes, including thinning overcrowded forests.

Gene Stackle, a business recruitment and retention manager with the Baker City/County economic development team, said a $4.1 million request submitted for federal stimulus funds for development of a biomass industry in Baker County included $2 million sought for Twombly's biochar project.

"We still have not heard a thing about the stimulus money" for biomass development, Stackle said.

He said Twombly's application was submitted through the U.S. Forest Service.

Even though his project apparently was bypassed for stimulus funding, Stackle said Twombly decided to forge ahead with a privately funded biochar demonstration project at the Halfway site.

According to Twombly's Web site -- -- his plant will take wood wastes from timber thinning and harvesting, as well as agricultural residues such as corn stalks and wheat stubble, and turns them into biochar products, including a nutrient-rich soil amendment that locks carbon dioxide in the soil when it is applied to crops, pastures or forest lands.

The demonstration plant is a portable version manufactured in Canada.

Although the project will start in Halfway, Stackle said Twombly hopes to move the biochar plant into the forest and operate it close to forest thinning operations so the woody biomass can be processed on site rather than being hauled to town for processing.

"If this is successful, I see it as a cookie-cutter project that could be placed in different locales," Stackle said.

Twombly said the biochar process is carbon neutral when operated properly.

Soils contain 3.3 times more carbon than the atmosphere and 4.5 times more than plants and animals on earth, according to Twombly's Web site.

Twombly said the portable plant uses a process called pyrolysis to transform waste residues into biochar or bio-oil.

Parker said bio-oil can be used as a replacement for many petroleum-based products, such as stove oil or kerosene.

When biochar is returned to agricultural land it can increase the soil's carbon content permanently, thus establishing a carbon sink to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide.

In environments with low carbon sequestration capacity and previously depleted soils, such as the tropics, studies show infertile soils can be transformed with biochar into fertile soils.

Biochar soil management systems can provide tradable carbon dioxide emissions reduction, since the amount of carbon sequestered is easily accountable and verifiable, according to Twombly's Web site.

Ultimately, Twombly said, the potential use of carbon-rich crop and forest residues has the potential to reshape agriculture by reducing the industry's dependence on petroleum-based fertilizers and other products, and to provide a viable alternative market for wood from forest thinning activities desperately needed to restore forest health and reduce the threat of unnatural stand-replacing fires.

Source: TransWorldNews

Green Energy Resources (Pink Sheets: GRGR) will purchase a fully operational New England wood pellet mill. Terms of the purchase were not disclosed and are subject to financing. The mill has the capacity to produce over 10,000 tons per month and could generate about $24 million dollars in gross revenues annually. Green Energy Resources supplies the mill with wood biomass.

Green Energy Resources is a publicly traded, environmentally friendly "GREEN STOCK", (symbol GRGR) working with industry for "green certificates", a 21st century currency. Green Energy Resources is dedicated to working with power generating utilities, government, and corporations for carbon emission strategies, and is the only American company selected to supply the Euro Energy Group.


The Western Star
An inventoried wood lot to support a new wood pellet facility received federal funding Thursday.

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency announced $1.18 million has been set aside to help develop the lot for the Northern Peninsula Forest Resource Association to help with the wood pellet facility in Roddickton-Bide Arm.

The funding for the project comes from the Community Adjustment Fund, an economic stimulus initiative under the federal Economic Action Plan.

Senator Fabian Manning made the announcement on behalf of Peter MacKay, minister responsible for Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Through our Economic Action Plan, we have implemented timely measures to help communities from coast to coast address the impact of the current global economic downturn,” said Manning. “This initiative represents a strategic investment in a project that will assist the development of a new wood pelletizing plant which is expected to start production in the fall of 2010 and which brings important value-added capacity to the regional forest industries sector.”

The project is important to about 20 local business operations that employ approximately 150 people in the forest industry.

Business and community leaders in the Roddickton-Bide Arm area identified the project as an opportunity to support the creation of additional employment in the region.

The inventory of wood fibre will serve as feed stock for the local wood pelletizing facility which will produce product for both the domestic and international markets.

1/16/10 | 13 comments

By Dawn Gagnon
BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Given the fact that 80 percent of Maine homes are still heated with oil — and that Mainers pay the highest electricity rates in the nation, once income is factored in — it’s clear the state must find more efficient ways to live and do business if it is to thrive in the future.
Compounding the crisis are the state’s aging housing stock and cold winters, participants noted Friday during a gathering focused on energy efficiency held on the University of Maine campus.
Corinth Wood Pellets president George Soffron likened the current energy crisis to a battle for the state’s economic future.
“We’re at war,” he said. “We’re on the front lines and we’re vulnerable, and if we don’t act aggressively, we’ll be casualties.”
The first of three such sessions being held this month by the board of Efficiency Maine Trust, Friday’s “stakeholder input” meeting drew nearly 50 people, including utility and energy leaders, policymakers, academics and analysts.
Efficiency Maine Trust was formed last year by the Legislature to bring the state’s numerous energy-related programs under one roof and to develop energy efficiency, weatherization and clean energy programs for all energy users.
The point is to come up with a plan to help Maine residents and businesses tap Maine’s cost-effective energy efficiency potential, save millions of dollars, reduce global warming pollution, and create jobs for Maine people, according to a press release from Efficiency Maine.
A background document provided to participants stated that the four primary goals set by state lawmakers call for:
— Weatherizing 100 percent of the state’s homes and 50 percent of its businesses by 2030.
— Reducing peak-load electricity use by 100 megawatts by 2020.
— Reducing the use of liquid fossil fuels by at least 30 percent by 2030.
— Achieving electrical and natural gas savings of at least 30 percent, and heating fuel savings of at least 20 percent, by 2020.
“These are very ambitious goals. The question is how do we get there,” said moderator Steve Ward, former state public advocate.
The trust, Ward said, has been given the assignment of developing a three-year energy efficiency strategy to be submitted to the Legislature this spring.
Based on discussions at Friday’s meeting in Orono, the task won’t be easy, with participants from a variety of interests and industries advocating for a mix of remedies, ranging from wood pellets and natural gas to solar power and geothermal heat pumps, to name a few.
“There is no one magic bullet,” conceded David Bouffard, a mechanical engineer with the firm Woodard & Curran. “There really is no easy answer.”
Bouffard noted, however, that even the best strategies won’t work unless they start with weatherization.
“It’s got to be a priority,” he said. “Otherwise, you’re still wasting energy, you’re just wasting it more efficiently.”
The gathering also brought out some ideas new to Maine.
One idea that Maine has yet to consider is a mechanism for financing low-interest loans for energy efficiency-related home improvements through property taxes, which William Strauss, president of the Bethel-based data analysis firm FutureMetrics, said has been made available in more than a dozen other states, including Vermont.
An advantage of the concept is that it has a “very, very low default rate” because the loans are attached to the specific property, so if ownership changes, the state, county or municipality providing it still gets its money, he said.
“Maine needs to encourage households to stop heating with oil or Maine’s economy will suffer as the drain of dollars out of households and out of state increases,” Strauss said. He also cited data from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Bureau of Economic Analysis to show that average residential electricity rates, when adjusted for median income levels, are higher in Maine than anywhere else in the continental U.S.
The trust’s two other meetings are set for Jan. 22 at the University of Southern Maine in Portland and Jan. 29 at the Cross Office Building in the State House Complex in Augusta.
For more information about the state’s energy initiative, go to Efficiency Maine’s Web site at Those unable to attend a meeting before Jan. 29 can send written comments to or to Efficiency Maine Trust, State House Station 19, Augusta, ME 04333-0019.

Demand for wood pellets in 2009 was well below both manufacturing capacity and production levels. As a result, prices for sawdust and residual chips (the raw materials used by pellet manufacturers) in the Pacific Northwest moved off their 2008 highs, reports Forest2Market, the premier provider of market data and information about the wood supply chain.
Despite a recent report from another source that prices for sawdust and wood chips in the Pacific Northwest increased from 2003 to 2009 because of growing manufacturing capacity, that’s not the case

Charlotte, N.C. (Vocus/PRWEB ) January 19, 2010 -- Demand for wood pellets in 2009 was well below both manufacturing capacity and production levels. As a result, prices for sawdust and residual chips (the raw materials used by pellet manufacturers) in the Pacific Northwest moved off their 2008 highs, reports Forest2Market, the premier provider of market data and information about the wood supply chain.
Higher heating costs and a robust European market led to strong gains for the pellet industry throughout most of the last decade. According to a June 2009 report by the USDA, wood pellet capacity in North America increased from 1.2 million tons in 2003 to 4.6 million tons in 2008.
A recent report from another source connected this increase in capacity to higher prices for sawdust and wood chips through 2009. “To suggest that price increases are driven by capacity increases is misguided,” said Daniel Stuber, Director of Data Collection and Quality at Forest2Market. “There is no correlation between manufacturing capacity and price. Price is a function of supply and demand.”

For example, while North American wood pellet capacity was at 4.6 million tons in 2008, production was just over 3.5 million tons, according to the USDA’s report. This gap is the result of supply issues: the high number of new plants, which need time to work out start-up issues, and sawmill residue shortages caused by the weak housing market. Because of these shortages and an increase in demand driven by higher heating costs, prices for sawdust and residue chips increased through much of 2008.
Like many other industries trying to gain traction during this global recession, the wood pellet industry suffered in 2009. The USDA estimated that 2009 North American capacity would be at 6.8 million tons. Since the report was released, however, one of the largest facilities, Dixie Pellets in Alabama, unexpectedly closed its doors, reducing the estimate by half a million tons. Production in 2009 will fall short of capacity levels as well.
“Despite a recent report from another source that prices for sawdust and wood chips in the Pacific Northwest increased from 2003 to 2009 because of growing manufacturing capacity, that’s not the case,” said Gordon Culbertson, Forest2Market’s Pacific Northwest Regional Manager.
“Forest2Market’s Delivered Price data shows that prices trended upward through most of 2008 in most areas of the Pacific Northwest. Some companies pinned their hopes on growth in demand and opened small plants or increased their capacity. But the story changed in 2009. Instead of increasing, demand for pellets leveled off. Production outstripped demand, causing many of the large pellet plants in the region to curtail production. This produced a surplus of sawdust and chips and caused a drop in prices. And prices are still trending downward. Because virtually all large pellet plants in the region are curtailed, this will likely be the case until sources of demand return to the market.”
Forest2Market’s Delivered Price Benchmark is the only pricing service that collects actual transacted volumes and prices in a system-to-system transfer from the accounting systems of participating companies to Forest2Market’s database. Participants are required to submit 100 percent of their data. This precludes the possibility that data can be cherry-picked to skew results. In addition, all data is subject to periodic audit to ensure results are reliable and accurate. Prices reported are actual market prices as a result. They are reported to participating companies only.
Note: All volumes have been converted from metric tonnes (the unit of measurement used by the USDA) to U.S. short tons.
About Forest2Market
Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Forest2Market provides supply chain expertise, from the forest to the market. Serving forestry, wood products, pulp and paper, lumber and bioenergy companies, Forest2Market offers timber, log, wood fiber, wood fuel and lumber pricing, as well as benchmarks, forecasts and resource availability and price studies. Forest2Market provides customers with sound data and information to meet critical business needs. For more information, visit
For more information, contact:
Suz-Anne Kinney
(704) 357-0110 ext. 21

The Tribune-Democrat
EHRENFELD — Smoldering wood pellets started a fire that caused little damage to a home in Ehrenfeld Borough on Monday, a fire official said.

A cardboard box resting next to a bucket of hot ash from a wood-pellet stove caught fire in the basement of the home at 154 Second St., said South Fork fire Chief John Moss Jr.

A passer-by reported the fire at 3:18 p.m. No one was home.

Firefighters quickly put out the fire and removed two dogs from the home, Moss said.

Fire crews from South Fork, Summerhill and Beaverdale responded along with Forest Hills EMS.

The fire was accidental, Moss said.

Ligonier house fire ruled accidental


By: Ian Ross

A former Domtar sawmill could be re-started and repowered with new wood pellet technology if the wood allotment comes through. (Photo supplied).

Momentum is building toward re-starting a dormant White River sawmill and expanding it with wood pellet technology and value-added products.

White River Forest Products, the new owners of the former Domtar mill are hopeful of securing the Crown fibre supply necessary to press ahead with a $90-million project that would also see an existing co-generation plant powered up from 7.5 megawatts to 20.

“We're working closely with (Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry) to have the license transferred to White River Forest Products,” said company president Jeff Butler.

With Ontario's wood supply competition underway and 11-million cubic metres of unused Crown wood now in play, many mill managers preparing applications are tight-lipped in talking to the media as per government rules.

“Once the fibre supply is transferred that will trigger a lot of other positive things,” said Butler.

The wood supply attached to the mill, drawn mainly from the White River management unit, is 568,000-cubic metres, according to the Ministry Recognized Operating Level when Domtar was operating it.

“Long-term we would need more for what we want to do,” said Butler.

Project financing would come from a combination of private and public funding. Some former Domtar employees have come forward offering a repayable loan to help get the operation re-started. It all hinges on the wood supply being secured.

“The (wood) feedstock and markets are key here,” said Butler.

The plan is to fire up the sawmill, expand the co-gen to produce heat and power, add wood pellet technology and launch some value-added forest products.
Butler was reluctant to disclose what those would be.

“We're discussing products with different marketing agencies.”

Butler said there is possible “synergies” with Haavaldsrud Timber Company, a sawmill in nearby Hornepayne.

“From a forest management perspective on the license (application), we're working with them.”

The power would be sold to the Ontario grid and the heat would be used for a proposed district heating plan in the community of 840. “We're doing pre-engineering right now,” said Butler. “We have an existing study and we're talking with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities about their green municipal fund. There's a lot of positive things going on.”

The company is working with the Ontario Power Authority on a power of sale agreement which involved the government's wood supply competition to access fibre for the co-gen plant.

Some mill modifications would have to be done to accommodate the wood pelletizing equipment. Butler said he has some preliminary quotes for the machinery.

The White River mill has been in cold storage since 2007 when Domtar closed the laid off 236 employees. Butler wants to fire up the operation this year.
“We don't want the mill to be shut down another winter.”

This new venture would employ 200 workers, both in mill and woodland operations.

Butler said some former mill employees have stayed in the area, while others have scattered, still he is fielding phone calls from worker wanting to come back.

Management has been working with the local labour adjustment committee and the Ontario government to put together a training program and allow some potential workers to attain their Grade 12 equivalency.

“We're trying to address some of the social issues,” said Butler. “The community needs revenue and families are separated.”

The new owners are a three-way partnership between the Town of White River's economic development department, the Pic Mobert First Nation and Butler, a northwestern Ontario industry veteran who runs a forestry consulting business in southern Ontario.
Mike Furniss
Domtar Inc.
Hwy. 17 - P.O. Box 2000
White River, ON. P0M 3G0
(807) 822-2100 ext 2106
(807) 822-2746


By Kristi Albertson -- Daily Inter Lake

If the biomass boiler at Glacier High School keeps running as smoothly as it has in recent months, Kalispell Public School's energy bill could be about $58,200 lower than it was last year.

If the boiler continues to run without a glitch, Glacier High's heating costs will be about $53,000 this year. Last year, the district spent about $111,200 to heat Glacier using the biomass boiler and natural gas, according to figures from the district's central office.

The district budgeted $124,110 for energy expenses at Glacier this year.

So far this year, Glacier High has used less natural gas than it did during the same period last year. Through mid-December 2009, Glacier High's natural gas bill totaled about $9,800.

By mid-December 2008, Glacier's natural gas bill was about $49,800. By mid-December 2007, the first six months of the boiler's operation, the gas bill was $26,100.

The difference is a biomass boiler that is operating with fewer malfunctions this year, which has meant the school has relied less on natural gas for heat.

Facilities and transportation director Chuck Cassidy attributes the boiler's success to a retrofit completed in fall 2008 and a change in the boiler's fuel.

"That combination has really given us a good run since we've turned it on," he said.

For its first two years of operation, the boiler ran on hog fuel -- shredded and ground wood and bark fibers. The boiler's conveyance system was ill-equipped to handle the fuel, and frequent problems forced Glacier to rely on natural gas heat.

Last year's $167,000 retrofit helped the boiler better handle hog fuel.

"The retrofit made it a more robust system, less prone to being bogged down," Cassidy said.

When the 2009-10 school year began, the district also switched to wood chips, a fuel that previously was too expensive for Kalispell's budget. Kalispell vendor John Jump Trucking is supplying the chips "at a pretty good market rate," Cassidy said.

Facilities employees have continued to make adjustments on the boiler, Cassidy added, which has helped the system run more smoothly this year than ever before.

Virginia biomass projects receive $10 million in federal stimulus

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine announced that 15 biomass and waste-to-energy projects in Virginia will receive $10 million grants under federal stimulus money.

"These grants will support projects that offer a much needed boost to communities throughout Southside and Southwest Virginia today while paving the way to a greener, cleaner tomorrow," Kaine said in a statement.

The usage of waste materials from activities such as logging, manufacturing, agricultural and municipal operations can reduce the use of traditional fuels and reduce waste disposal costs.

Recipients of the grant include:

• Cephas Industries Inc., of Richmond, will receive $500,000 (of a $2.3 million project) to develop a way to convert construction and demolition wastes to fuel.
• Christiansburg Water Treatment Facility will receive $336,550, (of a $486,550 project) to create methane gas from water treatment operations to generate heat and power, saving $32,000 per year.
• Community Energy Independence will receive $827,102 (of a $50 million project) to complete engineering and project development of a landfill gasification project near Warrenton.
• Dairy Energy Inc. of Chatham, will receive $1 million to install the state's commercially-sized dairy anaerobic digester project.
• Environmental Solutions Inc. of Chesterfield, will receive $500,000 (of a $2.4 million project), to expand a biomass fuel production and fiber utilization operation.
• Wood Fuel Developers, will receive $1 million (of a $15.9 million project) to create the Greensville Wood Pellets production facility in Greensville County.
• Martinsville Sanitary Landfill, will receive $1 million (of a $3.4 million project) to utilize landfill gas to generate electricity to meet 3.5 percent of the city's annual need.
• Piedmont Geriatric Hospital of Nottoway County, will receive $700,000, (of a $1.7 million project) to support a biomass boiler project at the hospital.
• Red Birch Energy Inc. of Bassett, Virginia, will receive $750,000 (of a $1.2 million project), to utilize glycerin, a waste-product of their biodiesel production process, to power a microturbine to generate electricity.
• Western Virginia Water Authority will receive $500,000 to install a heat and power generation system at the Roanoke Regional Water Pollution Control Plant, using excess biogas produced in the anaerobic sludge digestion process. This project will use the heat from the process to heat and cool the buildings at the facility and generate 8 million kilowatt hours per year, offsetting 40 percent of the facility's power needs.
• Rockingham Regional Hospital in Harrisonburg, will receive $583,848 (of a $876,168 project) to install or retrofit three boilers to heat and provide hot water at the main hospital and Women's Health Center to be fueled by methane gas generated by the nearby landfill.

• Toigos King George Greenhouse will receive $1 million (of $19.1 million project), to install a heat recovery steam generator at the King George Landfill and pipe the steam to heat the greenhouse, saving the use of 430,000 gallons of heating oil and creating more than 100 full-time jobs.
• Wise Correctional Unit 18 in Coeburn, Virginia, will receive $60,000 (of an $83,000 project) for the installation of an 800,000 btu biomass boiler which will provide heat for two greenhouses, and VDOT offices and garage. The wood chips to fuel the boiler will come from VDOT right-of-way clearings and from prunings of an on-site orchard at the correctional unit.
• Women's Correctional Center in Goochland County, will receive $942,500 (of a $1.1 million project), to convert two boilers to be co-fueled with biomass and coal and one boiler to burn biodiesel. Use of biomass in these boilers will stimulate the wood fuels market in Virginia, and is projected to save $495,000 annually.
• Ag-Renewable Resources LLC of Cumberland County, will receive $300,000 (of a $7.8 million project), to construct an anaerobic digester to use poultry waste to generate methane and generate 1.1 megawatt of electricity. The project will also produce 14 metric tons per day of treated solids that can be used for agricultural fertilizer.


By Livia Gershon -- Worcester Business Journal Staff Writer

It was a classic story of industrial renewal. An old grain mill in Fitchburg reopened with a new, 21st century mission: making wood pellets for environmentally friendly heating systems. The New Hampshire-based startup company running the operation, Creative Biomass, was prepared to convert much of the old equipment for its new purpose. And, despite the ongoing recession, it promised to hire 20 to 30 workers.

That was last spring. By December, things looked different. Some customers who had preordered wood chips for their home stoves hadn't gotten them, and dozens had filed complaints with the attorney general and the Better Business Bureau. Some had asked for their money back and been refused.

"It's been a nightmare," said Shawn Pieterse, president of Creative Biomass. "But fortunately, all horrible things must come to an end."

Hard Times
Pieterse said a series of unforeseeable setbacks, along with a few misjudgments, sent things spinning out of control for his company. But now, he said, things are on track to improve and no one has any plans to give up the endeavor.

As its name suggests, Creative Biomasss operations in Fitchburg started as an unusual effort, some might say a foolhardy one. Charlie Niebling, general manager of another wood pellet manufacturer, New England Pellet in Jaffery, N.H., said he and others in the business were "a bit taken aback" to see the company buy a grain mill to use for pellet manufacturing since the processes are very different.

"Our perception is that they didn't have a clear sense of what they were getting themselves into," he said.

But David Streb, director of community development for Fitchburg, said it made sense for the company to buy the building because of the deal it got.

"They got the space fairly inexpensively," he said. "It was a building that only had a few appropriate uses, and this happened to be one of them."

State land records show Creative Biomass paid $400,000 for the hulking industrial building.

Looking back, Pieterse said he and his partner, Kevin Bell, don't think they did anything "super stupid" in terms of their equipment or manufacturing process. But he said the mistakes they did make combined with problems outside of their control.

Ice And Rain
Pieterse said the trouble started even before he and Bell bought the plant, during the December 2008 ice storm. The plant, which the entrepreneurs had previously toured and liked the looks of, went without power for more than a week, and the outage left the sprinkler system running for days. The outcome, he said, was not just that they ended up buying a flooded building complete with bloated rat corpses, but also that some of the equipment they planned to use was damaged before they even touched it.

Later, practically constant rain for a long stretch of the summer prevented the local utility from installing a power upgrade for the company. And that, in turn, meant a piece of equipment that handled the first step in the production process didn't get started up for an extra month and a half.

"Until we were able to grind stuff we had no idea what expect from everything else," Pieterse said. "We weren't able to tell what kind of issues we were going to run into."

Niebling, who, in addition to running the Jaffrey plant, is chair of an industry group for biomass heating, said getting a pellet manufacturing facility off the ground can be difficult even without the complications of using equipment that wasn't originally designed for the job. He said turning a variable raw material like wood into a uniform, clean-burning fuel is more complicated than many people would imagine, and the only way to perfect the process is trial and error.

"There are subtleties and nuances in the manufacturing process that you can't learn about in a recipe book somewhere," he said.

Ultimately, Pieterse said his biggest mistake had nothing to do with the production process. Rather, it was the decision to pre-sell pellets that the company didn't have on hand, something he said he'll never do again.

"Had we not done that we would just be here quietly dealing with our issues," he said.

Now, Creative Biomass is dealing with a lot of anger. Online forums about pellet stoves are filled with complaints from customers who didn't receive the pellets they ordered, and two local papers have run stories airing the same grievances. Particularly vexing to many is the fact that Creative Biomass has not provided refunds to those who requested them. But Pieterse said the company simply doesn't have the money to pay everyone back and still keep functioning.

Nancy B. Cahalen, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central New England, said her organization has received numerous complaints about Creative Biomass since November.

"What's going to be the telling thing here is what they do with all these complaints," Cahalen said. "It's not like there are a number of issues here. It's all pretty much the same issue."

Cahalen said it may be possible for Creative Biomass to redeem itself in the eyes of customers as long as it fixes its problems and doesn't let them crop up again.

That's what Pieterse is counting on. So far, he said, of 2,000 tons of pellets that the company presold, it owes about 600 tons. Once a final piece of equipment is shipped in from Colorado, he said, it should take only a week or two to make those final pellets.

After that, Pieterse said, Creative Biomass will be in the business of winning back trust.

"I guess were just going to have to see how that goes," he said. "The ones that have gotten pellets from us and like them, I'm sure they'll come back. I'm sure there's some people we'll never sell to, or it might take a couple years."

BioCycle January 2010, Vol. 51, No. 1, p. 38
Downturn in construction has caused a shortage of woody waste streams, while demand for biomass to produce energy has risen. The net effect has been challenging to wood recyclers in some regions.
Nora Goldstein
FOR several years, mulch producers and composting facilities have seen more competition for feedstocks from biomass power plants and wood pellet manufacturers. In some regions, locally generated wood waste was being processed for export markets as well. And then the construction market plummeted. Demand for lumber tanked, and with it went the availability of by-products such as sawdust and bark. Land clearing stopped in many regions, taking away that source of waste wood for recycling and composting as well. An added pressure in some states is the landfill industry’s continued attempts to repeal bans on disposal of yard trimmings, including wood.
“In addition, there continue to be plans announced for massive biomass power plants,” says John Foote, Vice-President of Sales at Morbark, Inc. “In Georgia and northern Florida alone, they are talking about 650 MW of new biomass power. That is about 8 million green tons of wood fiber per year. Huge pellet mills are being constructed as well. European demand for pellets is much greater than their supply, so we expect to see the export market getting stronger. Our prediction is that when the housing market comes back, even though the supply of wood waste generated by construction-related industries will be greater, the current market value will remain stable, i.e., demand will continue to grow from energy markets. These biomass plants, are great for local economies, including employment and clean energy solutions. However, compost and mulch producers will need to have a game plan in order to secure materials they need to meet processing and product demands.”
On a national level, there isn’t a shortage of woody material. The challenge is how to access it economically. For example, forests in the West, from New Mexico and Colorado to British Columbia, are filled with diseased trees. “Transportation and markets are what become the key factors,” notes Tim Adams, Marketing Manager at Morbark. “When you are transporting wood for energy, you need to maximize the Btus. Chipping whole trees at the source, making the loads as dense as possible, is a good solution. Morbark saw this coming and increased its capacity to manufacture more whole tree chippers.”
Biomass power plants’ need for wood hasn’t been a total negative to composters and mulch producers. “The increase in demand for biomass has helped some composters sell their screened woody overs to the energy market,” says Todd Dunderdale of Komptech USA, Inc.
The shifts in markets for waste wood also have led to shifts in wood processing equipment sales. “The energy market is starting to prefer a chipped product versus a ground product,” says Foote. “Wood chips flow through the system better than shredded mulch. We started seeing a shift in our market away from grinders and toward our chippers.”
Jerry Morey, President of Bandit Industries, also sees a tremendous demand for chipped wood for biomass energy plants. “The majority of these facilities will come on line in 2011 and 2012,” he says. “They will use a conventional size chip versus a finer ground material like sawdust that is used by pellet manufacturers. And I believe the lion’s share of those conventional chips will be made by whole tree chippers processing forest products and urban wood waste.”
To service the pellet manufacturing industry, Bandit introduced a new technology for its Beast Recycler to produce one-quarter-inch minus sawdust-type material (“biosawdust”) from debarked round wood in a single pass. “We have been selling equipment to process materials such as rice straw and sugar cane for use in ethanol production as well as for combustion,” explains Morey. “To use the rice straw, the fibers have to be really short. So we put a special tool into the Beast to process material to a fine consistency and be able to push it through the screen. We then saw application for the tool to produce a fine sawdust for pellet manufacturing.”
He adds that when Bandit was founded in 1983, its market focus was on tree care and land clearing applications. Only recently has the company begun focusing on forest products and energy applications. “This has become a main market for us in the last five years,” says Morey. “Things have changed dramatically with these energy plants coming on line and demand for chippers to process feedstocks for these facilities.”
To service its grinder customers who want to produce chips to sell to energy markets, Morbark introduced the Quick Switch conversion kit. It can be installed on several of the company’s horizontal grinders. For example, the Quick Switch for the 3800 and 4600XL Wood Hogs consists of knives in a staggered pattern. “The unit costs between $25,000 and $45,000, depending on the grinder,” says Foote. “Depending on the settings, wood recyclers can produce over 60 tons/hour of one-quarter-inch material. They are now able to supply local energy and mulch markets within the same day if needed with the same machine.”

Komptech introduced its Crambo Forest model specifically to enable its customers to tap available wood in forests. “This version of our Crambo wood shredder allows the supplier to bring one machine into the forest and produce cogeneration fuel in one pass,” explains Dunderdale. “All the unwanted dirt, rock and needles are left on the forest floor. At the moment, we have seen that funding for many projects to clear diseased wood out of forests has been delayed. And this time of year, harsh winter conditions make processing nearly impossible.”
The diminished supply of land clearing and cleaner construction-related wood streams also has led more wood recyclers to tap mixed construction and demolition (C&D) debris streams. Bandit is introducing a metal extraction device in mid-2010 to remove contaminants prior to processing in the Beast models. The unit will also have application in the shingle recycling industry. Morbark has been testing a slow speed shredder design at a mixed C&D debris processing facility, which has the capability to handle more contaminated feedstocks.
RECENTLY completed research at Washington State University (WSU) in Puyallup showed promising results for wood recycled from construction debris in a container potting media. The study report, “Creating High Value Potting Media from Composts Made with Biosolids and Carbon-Rich Organic Wastes,” by Rita Hummel, Craig Cogger, Andy Bary and Bob Riley of WSU, describes the research findings, which evaluated several carbon-rich feedstocks available in Washington State. According to the report, “the market value of potting media in the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia) was recently estimated at $130 million. The main ingredients are nonrenewable resources including sphagnum peat, perlite, and/or vermiculite. Use of locally available renewable resources could provide more sustainably produced potting media while boosting the local economy.”
Biosolids composts have the potential to be a major ingredient in locally produced potting mixes, add the authors. “A large number of carbon-rich materials are available in Washington State, and these could be composted with Class B biosolids to make a Class A product suitable for use in potting mixes. Woody construction debris, land clearing debris and horse manure are abundant in urban areas of western Washington, such as King County … Container growing media must be porous and well drained but at the same time have sufficient water and nutrient retention to sustain and nourish plants.”
Composts were made from King County biosolids (1 part by volume) blended with construction wood (ground and screened construction debris from Recovery 1 in Tacoma, Washington), land clearing debris or horse manure (3 parts by volume). Finished composts were screened (7/16 in.) and blended 1:1 (v:v) with aged Douglas-fir bark to produce potting mixes. They were compared with an industry standard peat-perlite mix. Overall, notes the report, “Experimental biosolids composts with horse manure, construction debris and land clearing debris mixed with Douglas-fir bark performed equal to the peat-perlite control for growing marigold and sweet pepper.”
The construction debris-biosolids compost had the largest coarse fraction and fewer fines compared to the peat-perlite standard, even after mixing with bark. The coarseness of the experimental potting mixes was reflected in their high aeration porosity and low water holding capacity. “Water holding capacity of the experimental media was still within the acceptable range of 20 to 60 percent, but less than the ideal range of 35 to 50 percent,” note the authors. “Aeration porosity was slightly higher than the ideal range of 10 to 20 percent.
“… The drip irrigation regime may have compensated for the reduced water holding capacity of the experimental mixes. Although plants performed well under the conditions of this study, they may not perform as well under different irrigation systems or management. This suggests that additional work could be done to improve the quality and consistency of the products, perhaps by custom grinding or screening of the woody feedstocks.”


Aberdeen-based energy services company Senergy Alternative Energy has agreed terms for the potential acquisition of US engineering firm SGC Engineering in a bid to strengthen its global position in the renewable energy sector.
The acquisition aims to bring together both companies' expertise in the alternative energy sector. Senergy's primary activities are in power transmission and distribution, carbon capture and storage, coalbed methane, geothermal, and wind power. Senergy claims it has been involved in more than 50% of wind energy projects commissioned to date in the UK. The deal is expected to complete by September this year.
Nial McCollam, managing director of Senergy Alternative Energy, said: "The prospect of bringing Senergy and SGC Engineering together is an excellent opportunity for both our companies. SGC Engineering will gain a larger platform from which to offer its services, both in terms of geographic and market reach, while Senergy will achieve an important first step in its strategy of establishing a leading, integrated service capability in North America, supporting traditional and emerging areas of the energy sector."
International Standard for bioenergy to be developed
The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) has announced that it will develop an International Standard to address sustainability issues linked to bioenergy.
A new ISO project committee - ISO/PC 248, Sustainability criteria for bioenergy - has been set up to bring together international expertise and best practice to discuss the social, economic and environmental aspects of the production, supply chain, and use of bioenergy. It will also identify criteria that could prevent bioenergy from being environmentally destructive or socially aggressive.
The future International Standard is expected to be a key tool in helping governments meet their alternative fuel targets. According to ISO, 29 countries are already involved as participants or observers, including large markets such as China and the USA. Brazil and Germany will provide the secretariat and leadership of the committee under a twinned arrangement.
United Utilites to generate electricity from wastewater
One of the UK's largest wastewater treatment works is set to start producing renewable energy. A £75 million upgrade at the Unite Utilities works in Davyhulme, Manchester, including a scheme to generate 10 MW of electricity from biogas produced, is to be undertaken by engineering firm Black & Veatch.
Work on the thermal hydrolosis plant is set to double sludge treatment capacity enabling the plant to handle around 91,000 tonnes of dry solids per year to produce the biogas that will be used in a combined heat and power plant to generate power. It is also set to allow United Utilities to import and treat sludge from other treatment plants in north-west England.
Black and Veatch said that the plant would also process biosolids to such a high standard that they could be reused as fertiliser. Pete Robinson, United Utilities programme manager, said, "Sludge treatment is a 24-hour process, so there is a continuous supply of biogas. It is a very valuable resource and it is completely renewable. By harnessing this energy we can reduce our fuel bills and reduce our carbon footprint."
International trading service for biomass pellets launched
A new international trading service for users and producers of biomass pellets, called "Pellet Zone Ltd" (PZL), has been launched and will operate from the UK.
The service is aimed primarily at medium to large scale users of biomass pellets, as well as producers of pellets able to supply sufficient quantities. PZL is set up to buy and sell pellets internationally and hopes to help smooth the supply and price fluctuations that sometimes frustrate end users and also provide a ready market for pellet producers to assist them with their sales. All forms of biomass pellets will be traded by PZL including wood pellets and those made from energy crops.
Steve Garner, who heads up PZL, said: "Pellet-Zone is the culmination of our extensive market research in which reliability of supply and consistency in pricing we're high up on user's wish lists. With our global footprint and sector expertise we can meet these requirements. For pellet producers we fulfil a vital sales function - enabling PZL to place their pellets into a much wider market whilst reducing unsold stock and associated costs."
New managers appointed to drive forward EfW facilities
The UK arm of incineration company Wheelabrator Technologies (WTI UK) has recruited three more experienced specialists to its management team, as it increases the drive towards securing a number of contracts for Energy from Waste (EfW) facilities.
Andrew Leonard, a qualified mechanical engineer who previously worked for Scottish and Southern Energy, has been appointed project manager; Jo Kwabla, who previously worked for Infinis, has joined WTI UK as a bid manager; and Phil Short, who was previously at both ERM and SITA, has been appointed bid manager at WTI supporting on submissions for UK contracts.
Commenting on the appointments, head of the WTI UK team, Gary Aguinaga, said: "We will continue to expand our UK team with talented and experienced staff, as needed, to support current and future projects in the UK's waste sector. We are committed to making a success of our business by earning the right to contribute our 35 years of operating experience to the EfW sector in the UK."
Georgia Public Broadcasting Wed, 20 Jan 2010 14:24 PM PST
75 jobs are coming to Waycross with a move there by German and Swedish utility companies. RWE Innogy and BMC plan to create the worldâs largest renewable energy capacity of wood pellets at the plant. The join venture will operate as Georgia BioMass, LLC. It will help meet Europeâs growing demand for renewable energy. Itâs a $150 million dollar investment in Ware County.
RWE to Build World’s Largest Pellet Plant to Cut Carbon Output
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By Nicholas Comfort
Jan. 20 (Bloomberg) -- RWE AG, Germany’s second-largest utility, will build the world’s biggest plant for wood pellets in the U.S. state of Georgia, allowing it to lower carbon- dioxide emissions at a Dutch power plant.
The company will spend about 120 million euros ($170 million) on the facility, which will have an annual capacity of 750,000 metric tons and start in 2011, Essen, Germany-based RWE said today. The pellets will be shipped to the Netherlands to supplement hard coal at the 1,245-megawatt Amercentrale station.
RWE, Europe’s largest corporate emitter of the gas blamed for global warming, is seeking to lower emission and boost power generation as the cost of polluting rises. Using biomass in power plants is only profitable if the utility has control over its fuel supply, Leonhard Birnbaum, RWE’s chief strategy officer, said today at a press briefing.
“If you don’t control the value chain, you can’t make money in biomass, at least not in the mid- and long-term,” Birnbaum said in Berlin, where he’s attending the Handelsblatt Euroforum energy conference. “You’ll see more of this.”
Construction Start
The wood will come from local landowners, according to Hans Buenting, a board member at RWE’s renewable energy unit. Construction will begin in March or April and the company expects the facility to reach full capacity within a year of beginning output, he said.
The wooden pellets can generate an average 5 megawatt-hours per ton and about 8 megawatt-hours when fired with hard coal, Birnbaum said. That’s less than the 9 to 10 megawatt-hours for the average German hard-coal generator, he added.
The supply will allow the company to raise the amount of biomass used at the Dutch plant to 50 percent in the “mid- term” from 30 percent now, Birnbaum said. Hard-coal is cheaper than biomass, he said.
The plant will be built with developer BMC Management AB, RWE said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Nicholas Comfort in Berlin via the Frankfurt newsroom at


Written by Earl Brechlin
Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 3:46 pm
BAR HARBOR — Jackson Laboratory plans to construct a $4.4 million biomass boiler that will be fueled by more than 10,000 tons of wood pellets, officials confirmed this week.
Earlier this month the lab received a $1-million Maine Industrial Grant to help subsidize the project.
According to John Fitzpatrick, senior director of facilities at the lab, the wood-fired “appliance” is estimated to save some 1.2 million gallons of number-two fuel oil each year. That translates to a savings of between $400,000 and $500,000 annually.
“We expect to reduce significantly the amount of oil that we burn,” he said Tuesday.


By K.C. Mehaffey
World staff writer
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
OMAK — Atlas Pellets in Omak is one of four companies picked last week by the state Department of Natural Resources as part of an experiment to sell the slash and undergrowth in state forests for biomass.
The DNR says it hopes to encourage these four companies to purchase the slash for renewable energy resource, and at the same time clear out undergrowth in state forests.
“These projects have a huge potential to help encourage rural economic development and improve the health of fire-prone forests. This will hopefully be the beginning of a new green industry on state lands,” Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark said in a news release.
The pilot projects — which includes Parametrix in Klickitat County, Borgford BioEnergy LLC in Stevens County, and Nippon Paper Industries USA in Clallam County — could also bring revenue to the state common school trust, which helps fund school construction, said DNR spokesman Aaron Toso.
The four companies were selected from 29 companies who submitted letters of interest, and were chosen to represent a mix of biomass energy technology and to represent different areas of the state, Toso said.
The DNR is also asking the state Legislature to allow it to enter into long-term supply agreements with emerging biomass companies so it can ensure them of a reliable supply and predictable price.
Atlas Pellets is a small Idaho-based company that produces pellets in Omak and Shelton. Company president Eric Hanson said only three people are currently working at its Omak plant, partly because a local mill, Colville Indian Precision Pine, which was its major supplier closed down. But that will turn into 12 jobs at the plant, if it has a reliable supply of wood fiber, he said. The proposal involves upgrading the plant so it can turn the larger wood slash into pellets, that are burned in stoves for heat.
“That plant in Omak can only use shaving and sawdust,” he said. “Now, with this new opportunity, what we want to do is upgrade the plant so we can use stem wood and small-diameter wood,” he said.
For his small company, the partnership with the DNR is “huge,” Hanson said.
“First off, it’s going to get us access to fiber supply that we would not normally have,” he said. “And second, it’s going to get us access to investment capital needed to produce this new biomass.”
The pilot agreement does not guarantee the company will get the grants or loans needed to retool the plant. “But having their seal and stamp of approval that we made it this far in their program is really a big deal,” he said, and should help the company win grants for the changes needed.
Hanson said he doesn’t expect that slash on state forests will provide everything it needs, but the company hopes to be able to buy slash from other sources, once it can process the larger woody debris.
He said the company will not be competing with sawmills, which need larger-diameter trees to make into lumber or plywood.
“The smaller stuff is the stuff that’s wreaking havoc in our forests,” he said. “We can be a vital link in forest restoration.”
Hanson added that although the pellet plant will employ only 12 people, the project will also create a number of support jobs, like for loggers and truckers. “We’re a very small piece in a really big pie that benefits,” he said.
K.C. Mehaffey: 997-2512

25 Jan, 2010 04:14 pm

As we continue to develop biomass as a renewable source of energy, it is important to keep the cost of energy in mind, because this has a very strong influence on the choices governments and individuals will make. I sometimes hear people ask "Why are we still using dirty coal?" You will see why in this post.

Last year I saw a presentation that projected very strong growth in wood pellet shipments from Canada and the U.S. into Europe. My first thought was "That doesn't sound very efficient. Why don't we just use those here in North America?"

It didn't take very long for me to find out the answer to that. It is because wood pellets are much more expensive than natural gas in North America. On top of that it takes more effort to use wood for energy than it does natural gas. That combination means that wood has a tough time competing with natural gas in North America.

When I was looking into that issue, I compiled a list of the price for various energy types on an energy equivalent basis. The price is as current as possible unless noted. I have converted everything into $/million BTU (MMBTU), and the sources are listed below.

My preference is to use EIA data over NYMEX data because the former is an archived, fixed number. I have included energy for heating and for various transportation options. For comparison I also included the cost of electricity and the cost of the ethanol subsidy/MMBTU of ethanol produced.

Current Energy Prices per Million BTU

Powder River Basin Coal - $0.56
Northern Appalachia Coal - $2.08
Natural gas - $5.67
Ethanol subsidy - $5.92
Petroleum - $13.56
Propane - $13.92
#2 Heating Oil - $15.33
Jet fuel - $16.01
Diesel - $16.21
Gasoline - $18.16
Wood pellets - $18.57
Ethanol - $24.74
Electricity - $34.03


It isn't difficult then to see why wood pellets have a difficult market in the U.S. For people with access to natural gas, they are going to prefer the lower price and convenience of natural gas over wood. For Europe, their natural gas supplies aren't nearly as secure, so they have more incentive to favor wood as an option.

The cost of the ethanol subsidy is interesting. We pay more for the ethanol subsidy than natural gas costs. However, if you consider that we are paying a subsidy on a per gallon basis - and a large fraction of that gallon of ethanol is fossil fuel-derived, the subsidy for the renewable component is really high.

For instance, if we consider a generous energy return on ethanol of 1.5 BTUs out per BTU in, that means the renewable component per gallon is only 1/3rd of a gallon. (An energy return of 1.5 indicates that it took 1 BTU of fossil fuel to produce 1.5 BTU of ethanol; hence the renewable component in that case is 1/3rd). That means that the subsidy on simply the renewable component is actually three times as high - $17.76/MMBTU. Bear in mind that this is only the subsidy; the consumer then has to pay $24.74/MMBTU for the ethanol itself.

Sources for Data

Petroleum - $13.56 (EIA World Average Price for 1/08/2010)
Northern Appalachia Coal - $2.08 (EIA Average Weekly Spot for 1/08/10)
Powder River Basin Coal - $0.56 (EIA Average Weekly Spot for 1/08/10)
Propane - $13.92 (EIA Mont Belvieu, TX Spot Price for 1/12/2010)
Natural gas - $5.67 (NYMEX contract for February 2010)
#2 Heating Oil - $15.33 (EIA New York Harbor Price for 1/12/2010)
Gasoline - $18.16 (EIA New York Harbor Price for 1/12/2010)
Diesel - $16.21 (EIA #2 Low Sulfur New York Harbor for 1/08/2010)
Jet fuel - (EIA New York Harbor for 1/12/2010)
Ethanol - $24.74 (NYMEX Spot for February 2010)
Wood pellets - $18.57 (Typical Wood Pellet Price for 1/12/2010)
Electricity - $34.03 (EIA Average Retail Price to Consumers for 2009)

Conversion factors

Petroleum - 138,000 BTU/gal
Gasoline - 115,000 BTU/gal
Diesel - 131,000 BTU/gal
Ethanol - 76,000 BTU/gal
Heating oil 138,000 BTU/gal
Jet fuel - 135,000 BTU/gal
Propane - 91,500 BTU/gal
Northern Appalachia Coal - 13,000 BTU/lb
Powder River Basin Coal - 8,800 BTU/lb
Wood pellets - 7,000 BTU/lb
Electricity - 3,412 BTU/kWh


Articles - February 2010

Wood pellets are looking like the next big thing in Oregon’s campaign to create green jobs. Or are they?

First Prineville-based Ochoco Lumber received a $4.9 million stimulus grant through Business Oregon to construct a wood pellet factory in John Day. Then a Redmond start-up named Pacific Pellet announced plans to convert 40,000 tons of scrap wood per year into pellets to heat homes and businesses and eventually fuel everything from schools and hospitals to factories and power plants. Ochoco’s grant will enable it to retain 80 workers and create 11 new jobs, while Pacific Pellet is expected to employ 20 people. Both plants will produce an alternative fuel from a renewable resource that burns with very low emissions.
Of course, that was the claim with ethanol, too. Industry insiders say the last thing the wood pellet industry needs is more production. Three wood pellet plants in Oregon have been shut down recently because of severe oversupply in the market.
Chris Sharron, president of West Oregon Wood Products in Columbia City, has suspended production at both of his mills and laid off 30 workers until the pellets start moving again. “Demand has dried up,” he says.
As with ethanol, skyrocketing fuel prices powered massive speculation in wood pellets, followed by subsidized construction and overcapacity. European Union nations required by law to find new sources of “carbon neutral” energy have been burning more pellets and less coal in their power plants, importing millions of dollars worth of pellets from the U.S. each week. The European market has justified the construction of huge new pellet plants in the Southeast, where production has grown by a factor of 10 over the past five years. But it’s a long road from Central Oregon to Europe.
The market in Oregon has been fickle. Sharron says 2008 was his best year ever, but 2009 was his worst. The state has tried to intervene by offering tax credits for pellet stoves and paying to convert schools to pellet fuel. “We’re trying to take a responsible and efficient approach to growing this demand,” says Matt Krumenauer, a senior policy advisor for the Oregon Department of Energy.
Whether they can grow enough demand to sell 80,000 new tons per year of wood pellets remains to be seen. Mark Stapleton, president of Pacific Pellet, says he is confident the market for pellet stoves will rebound and grow. “We’re not trying to displace anybody,” he says. “We’re just trying to give the consumer more options.”

Chesapeake Hardwood Products Inc., which halted operations at its Dexter Street plywood plant almost two years ago, sought Chapter 11 protection from its creditors last week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Norfolk.
The Chesapeake-based company said it hopes to use money from leasing its factory space to repay creditors. Its filing lists liabilities of $13.6 million and assets of $6.1 million, including its 445,000-square-foot plant in the city’s Portlock section.
Its creditors include more than 120 former employees owed a combined $1.15 million in severance payments. In addition, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. has made a $405,619 claim for an underfunded pension plan at Chesapeake Hardwood.
The company said its assets consist of the Chesapeake plant, valued at $6 million, and nearly 90 acres of land in Vermont, valued at $76,900.
Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code allows a business to restructure its debts under court supervision while maintaining control of its operations.
Before it closed in August 2008, Chesapeake Hardwood produced plywood for cabinets, wall paneling and commercial applications. The company said two years ago that it was shutting down because of the deteriorating economy and a downturn in homebuilding.
Karen Crowley, a bankruptcy attorney for Chesapeake Hardwood, said Tuesday that one of the company’s options is to sell the Chesapeake facility, which sits on 21 acres. However, demand has been weak, and the company had no desire to liquidate the property at a fire-sale price, she said.
Another option, Crowley said, is to enhance the property’s value by leasing the factory-and-office space and attempting to refinance its debt. A third option is to lease the property and gradually pay creditors from the cash flow that the leases generate, she said.
Chesapeake Hardwood already has liquidated its accounts receivable, inventory and machinery to pay down what it owes Wells Fargo Bank, which still holds $2.37 million of secured debt and $500,000 of secured fees.
While some modest assets could be liquidated, its factory “is the only meaningful source of recovery for repayment to the creditors,” Chesapeake Hardwood said in a court filing on Friday. The company is seeking court approval to continue using money from leasing space while it works out a repayment plan for creditors.
Chesapeake Hardwood’s obligations to Wells Fargo are secured by a deed of trust on the plant, an assignment of rents and a blanket lien on all of the company’s personal property, according to the court filing on Friday.
An affiliate of Chesapeake Hardwood, Pearl Avenue USA Ltd., already leases 100,000 square feet to manufacture and distribute wood products. Another company, Eden Fuels, agreed in December to lease 60,000 square feet to produce wood pellets for fuel and horse bedding.

The Duluth Seaway Port Authority approved a purchase agreement Wednesday to convert part of the old Duluth Works steel mill property in Morgan Park into a cleaned-up industrial or manufacturing district.
By: Andy Greder, Duluth News Tribune

The Duluth Seaway Port Authority approved a purchase agreement Wednesday to convert part of the old Duluth Works steel mill property in Morgan Park into a cleaned-up industrial or manufacturing district.
The agreement follows four years of negotiations. In the next two years, the port authority and U.S. Steel will work with environmental agencies to clean up one-fifth of the 540-acre “superfund” hazardous waste site and redevelop it into parcels for new or relocating businesses. Once the land is cleaned up, the port authority will purchase at least 10 acres at $10,000 per acre and possibly more in the next 30 years based on demand.
The acquisition expands the amount of much-needed available land in the Duluth-Superior port, said Adolph Ojard, the port authority’s executive director.
Ojard said the port authority will work as an intermediary for prospective businesses such as a wood pellet processor that was interested in a large portion of land for domestic and international shipping, but nothing was available.
“That is just one example,” Ojard said. “There have been others that have looked for large tracts. We think this land is suited for a large manufacturer or a major distribution center associated with truck, rail and water transportation.”
St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg, who lives in Morgan Park, commended the port authority for entering into a fiscally responsible deal that includes no interest and bases future purchases on demand.
“That means that they are not going to put together a business package just for the hope or the long shot of jobs,” he said. “They are only going to do this if it makes sense for the financials.”
Susan Johnson, project leader for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, said her organization is pleased with the sale, but cautioned about the pace of the proposed cleanup.
“I’ll say it’s aggressive; 123 acres is a pretty big area,” Johnson said. “If they don’t find much contamination, then it might not be much of an issue.”

January 28th, 2010 by EBR_EBdaily
While many countries came away from Copenhagen disappointed and with no clear greenhouse gas strategy, Germany has stated that they will stand by their goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020, despite the woolly promises of their Western allies.
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said that despite the fact that it was unclear whether the entire EU would even pursue its 30 percent target, which is due to be submitted to the UN Climate Change Secretariat by the end of the month, Germany was going to raise their goals.
In what would appear to be an act of ‘throwing down the gauntlet’ at other Western countries, Germany have raised their 2020 target from 30 to 40 percent. It is hoped that along with this, and an EU offer to raise its goal from 20 to 30 percent, it will inspire countries around the world to make the cuts that should have been agreed at Copenhagen.
Universally derided as a failure, the Copenhagen conference only managed to set a goal of limiting global warming to a maximum 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times, but a way of achieving this was not specified or discussed.

Energy Market Landscape: Germany
Speaking to reports, Schellnhuber said, “Germany has a firm target that the government has even spelled out in its coalition agreement to cut its emissions by 40 percent.”
“That’s unconditional. Germany will continue to be a driving force. Copenhagen was a setback. There was no deal. But maybe we can use the shock from that to overcome the hurdles in front of us,”
“The game isn’t over yet,”he added. “The dice haven’t fallen yet. We still have the chance in the multilateral system to reach a worthwhile agreement.”
Germany is the world’s sixth largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and despite industry groups concerned that further cuts could result in job cuts, the country has created hundreds of thousands of green tech jobs in the last decade.