Friday, December 30, 2011

G Brown Newsletter Dec 2011


December 2011

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

























Plant Will Produce Biomass Fuel for Energy Generation, Create 64 Jobs in Southampton County

Washington, D.C.; Nov. 30, 2011 – Enviva LP (“Enviva”), a leading manufacturer of processed biomass fuel in the United States and Europe, today announced that it is planning to build a 454,000 metric ton wood pellet manufacturing facility in Courtland, Va., which could begin operations as early as the first half of 2013. The project is contingent on the property where the plant will be located being rezoned by Southampton County and on other permitting requirements.

The announcement comes as the company continues its expansion in the Mid-Atlantic region, where it owns and operates a new 350,000 metric ton pellet plant in Ahoskie, N.C. and is developing a second facility in nearby Northampton County, N.C. that will also produce 400,000 metric tons. Much of the sustainable wood pellet fuel produced at the Virginia and North Carolina-based facilities will be exported to Enviva’s European utility customers through the company’s Port of Chesapeake, a deep-water port terminal outside of Norfolk.

“As power producers increasingly turn to sustainable, renewable processed biomass fuel to reduce their carbon footprint, Enviva will continue to look to great communities like Courtland to build the future in renewable energy manufacturing,” said Enviva Chairman and CEO John Keppler. “Southampton County has all the elements essential to our success: a rich wood basket, a strong and seasoned timber industry, a skilled and experienced labor force and an advantaged location relative to our export terminal.”

When completed, the Courtland facility would bring Enviva’s total annual production capacity to more than 1.5 million metric tons of wood pellets, making it the largest pellet producer in the U.S. Additionally, the plant would add 64 full-time jobs and approximately 80 additional jobs throughout its logging and forestry supply chain.

“Enviva’s growing footprint here is not by accident―Virginia is known for its skilled workforce and growing focus on green energy,” said Governor Bob McDonnell. “The Enviva facility will expand Virginia’s renewable energy industry, create jobs and help make Virginia the energy capital of the East Coast.”

The Commonwealth of Virginia and Southampton County are providing economic development incentives to Enviva for its Courtland plant including a Governor’s Opportunity Fund grant, workforce training grants, machinery and tools tax rebates, real property tax incentives and various other infrastructure grants.

As a renewable energy company, Enviva maintains Sustainable Forestry Initiative certifications at its owned and operated facilities for its fiber sourcing activities, ensuring responsible forestry management. Once operational, the Courtland facility would also undergo the intense auditing and certification process which this internationally recognized sustainability accreditation requires.

About Enviva
Enviva’s mission is to become the preferred partner and supplier of sustainably sourced wood pellets and other processed biomass to serve power generation and industrial customers seeking to decrease their dependence on fossil fuels and reduce their carbon footprint. Enviva has been supplying wood chips and wood pellets to customers in the U.S. and Europe since 2007. The company operates wood pellet manufacturing facilities in Belgium and throughout the Southeastern United States. For more information about Enviva, including job opportunities, go to


Nov. 28, 2011, Abbotsford, BC (PRNewswire via COMTEX) - Biomass Secure Power Inc. gave shareholders an outline of its three year growth plan, including five plants. The company is in various stages of development of five plant sites that will be designed to produce three and a half million tonnes of pellets per year with gross revenues expected to exceed $650 million per year.

The first plant is expected to commence production in 2012, with plants two and three to be commissioned in 2013. Plants four and five will come online in 2014. The company is actively seeking additional plant sites to meet targeted production of five million tonnes of biomass pellets per year by end of 2015.

Biomass Secure Power says its growth trajectory is in response to the rapidly increasing world demand for biomass pellets as a viable alternative, green, sustainable fuel. The biomass pellet market is expected to increase by 110 million tonnes per year by 2020. This strong future demand for biomass pellets leads us to believe that offtake agreements to purchase the majority of our production capacity will be in place prior to the completion of the plants.

Biomass Secure Power Inc. has designed its biomass pellets plants to produce 250,000 tonnes of pellets per line. This allows the company to leverage the engineering over several plants, as key equipment will be identical in each plant, the release states. The first plant will have a torrefaction system designed by the company. The torrefaction line will be capable of producing 50 to 80 tonnes per hour of torrified pellets. Once the torrefaction system production rate is proven, the company will move to 100% production of torrefied pellets with the ability to switch between products.

Torrefied pellets are 30% more dense than regular wood pellets and contain 16% more energy per kilo. Torrefied pellets are hydrophobic and therefore not subject to deterioration and out-gassing during shipment or storage. Torrefied pellets are more easily ground, which reduces the processing cost at the utility. The new plant design will maximize product yield by efficiently matching the volume of produced synthetic gas from the process of torrefaction to the energy requirements of the plant.


By Bill Bell | October 31, 2011

The recent annual meeting of our Maine Pellet Fuels Association brought forth unanimity on an important point: the economic success of the four pellet manufacturing firms in our state is to considerable extent dependent upon the success of the firms installing pellet heating equipment. Our manufacturing firms are therefore fully behind association efforts to open more doors for installers
One effort has already met with significant success, and is of national significance. As of late September, Maine law now prohibits the state Commissioner of Public Safety from having any rule which would disallow “the connection of a solid-fuel burning appliance to a chimney flue to which another appliance burning oil or solid fuel is connected.” In other words, it is now, in Maine, OK to have a pellet stove or central heating system hooked into the same chimney flue as an oil burner.
The earlier law prohibiting dual connections exists in many states, and is based upon a model law set forth in the mid-1990s by the National Fire Protection Association. Since that time, the technology surrounding heating systems has changed markedly, particularly with regard to high-efficiency pellet heating systems. Maine’s fire marshal, while opposing the change in Maine law, was unable to come up with any instance in which an accident could be attributed to dual connections involving pellet heat.

The new law, of course, contains safeguards, such as assurance of sufficient draft, a carbon monoxide detector in or near any bedroom, and—most important to our industry—approval of pellet heating appliances by Underwriter Laboratories Inc. or a similar organization, and installation according to manufacturers standards. This means that manufacturers will need to modify their current prohibitions, set forth in their manuals in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association model, against installation into an existing oil burner flue system. Some manufacturers are now doing so, in view of Maine’s new law, and others will no doubt follow suit if requested by the heating firms installing their equipment.

In many instances, this change in Maine law considerably reduces the cost of installing a pellet heating system. Another barrier to conversions is, of course, the huge question of financing. Many states have enacted a Property Assessed Clean Energy or PACE legislation approach, whereby the financing takes place through the municipality and is rolled into the homeowner’s property tax bill. However, this mechanism has come up against many roadblocks, with lenders and regulators having all-too-vivid memories of the 2008 meltdown in homeowner financing instruments. Our Maine Pellet Fuels Association is working to find ways around the roadblocks.

A third roadblock to residential and small commercial conversions from oil to pellet heat is the pellet distribution system. The distribution dilemma is classic to the introduction of many new technologies. Bulk delivery is clearly the cost-efficient system of the future, but how to get to that point? It’s our understanding that in Upper Austria—our best model—pellet heat was first installed in large facilities taking bulk deliveries, so that a distribution network was readily established to serve homeowners as well. Not so in Maine, although we are being helped by having a number of public buildings converted thanks to $13 million in federal Recovery Act financing provided through the Maine Forest Service. We’re looking to new delivery and pellet storage technologies to help solve distribution questions.

And who has a superb system, with the confidence of homeowners, and trucks going into every neighborhood? Our friends selling home heating oil, of course, and we are welcoming increased collaboration with those oil dealers now thinking of their firms as fuel suppliers, delivering pellets as well.

Author: Bill Bell
Executive Director
Maine Pellet Fuels Association


By Kris Bevill | October 18, 2011

Woody Resources: The Southeast Partnership for Integrated Biomass Supply Systems will be looking at woody biomass resources as well as switchgrass and other feedstocks in the Southeast.

The USDA believes the Southeast region of the U.S. offers huge potential for a variety of dedicated energy crops and in September, the agency agreed to provide $15 million to form the Southeast Partnership for Integrated Biomass Supply Systems (IBSS) to develop that potential. The grant was one of five issued by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture as a means to accelerate renewable energy feedstocks throughout the country. IBSS will be led by Tim Rials, director of the Center for Renewable Carbon at the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture, and is comprised of a wide range of partners, including multiple universities and technology providers.

The multifaceted project includes a number of goals, but the immediate focus will be on sustainability research, workforce training and, of course, feedstocks. “One of the strengths and weaknesses of the region is that we have a very diverse landscape and sources of biomass,” Rials says. “What we’re looking to do is take this to the next level, where we are optimally providing feedstock that is designed and tailored to different conversion technologies. It’s really about feedstock delivery and developing a sustainable biomass supply system for the region.”

Switchgrass, already proven to hold great potential for the Southeast through work carried out by the University of Tennessee and Dupont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC, will continue to be developed at IBSS. Woody crops are another area of focus, particularly short-rotation hardwoods such as eucalyptus and hybrid poplar. “If you look at this particular region, we’ve got 20 million acres of pine production out there in plantations, but the hardwood plantations have not seen the same type of success,” Rials says. “As we talk about feedstocks for biochemical and thermochemical conversion technologies, it’s important for us to make progress in that hardwood system.”

Information is already being compiled for IBSS extension and outreach programs, including an internship program with several universities to introduce students to various biomass considerations and conversion methods. Planting of new biomass crops will begin in earnest in the spring, Rials says. Forestry product developer ArborGen is a core member of IBSS and will focus on optimizing wood characteristics for biofuels feedstocks and developing sustainable methods for harvesting, transporting and storing those types of trees. “Our entire team of scientists, silvicultural and forestry experts work every day to develop new solutions for short-rotation woody feedstocks and biofuels- and bioenergy-related technologies,” says Maud Hinchee, chief science officer at ArborGen. “We will lend our collective expertise toward this effort, which we believe will help meet the Southeast region’s need for biomass and our nation’s growing demand for wood, fiber and energy.”

—Kris Bevill


Published: Dec. 2, 2011 at 7:14 AM

ABERDEEN, Scotland, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- A Scottish energy company teamed with U.S. investors to develop a way to use wood pellets as a low-carbon alternative to coal.

Rotawave Biocoal, an Aberdeen company, signed a $20 million deal with U.S. investment company Cate Street Capital to develop so-called biocoal for U.S. and Canadian markets.

Richard Cyr, an executive at Cate Street Capital, was quoted by the Financial Times as saying the process could put biocoal on par with coal, oil and natural gas.

"Essentially it creates a new energy commodity in mass quantities that is efficient, environmentally sensitive and renewable," he was quoted as saying.

Rotawave uses microwave technology to process wood pellets to form a low-carbon, low-cost option that could be used in conventional power stations, the company said.

A subsidiary of Cate Street Capital said it could process more than 100,000 tons of biocoal per year by next year. A target capacity is set at 1 million tons.

Read more:


By Bill Esler | 12/02/2011 3:13:00 PM

Torrefied pellets such as these are converted into stable wood biofuel from unprocessed wood pellets under a controlled heating process.

WASHINGTON, DC -- Oil giant ConocoPhillips and Enviva, a processor or wood and other biomass fuels, formed a joint venture to operate a new company, ECo Biomass Technologies, which will bring torrefied wood fuels to market.

The torrefaction process involves superheating wood in a controlled process, to create a uniform, water-repellant, dense fuel akin to coal. But sourced from wood it is considered to have a superior environmental profile compared with fossil fuels.

Torrefied fuel is said to burn cleanly, and be mixed and stoired with coal for power generation, diluting negative envinronmental imacts of the coal.

This allows utilities seeking to extend the life of existing coal burning facilities and infrastructure without significant capital investment, says Enviva.

ECo Biomass, jointly owned by Enviva and ConocoPhillips, will use a combination of proprietary and licensed technologies to manufacture and sell renewable, torrefied wood pellets. The company's initial facility, scheduled to be operational in 2013, will produce wood pellets that will be sold under agreements with major utilities.


Bryan Meadows

Saturday, December 3, 2011 - 08:00


Ontario Power Generation’s application to the Ministry of the Environment to convert the Atikokan Thermal Generating Station from coal to forest biomass is entering the final stages of the environmental approval process.
The deadline for public comments on the fuel-switch environmental assessment is next Saturday. The project is posted on the Environmental Registry (No. 011-5064).
The proposal calls for the conversion of fuel sources only, the generating capacity of the facility is not to be increased from its current capacity of 227 megawatts. The Atikokan Generating facility is required to end the use of coal as a fuel by the end of 2014.
To perform the fuel conversion, the EBR notification says that modifications are required to the facility to be able to accept, store, handle and utilize wood pellets. As a result, the main boiler and associated equipment will be modified. The collection and treatment of wastewater will be reviewed, the notice says.
The application is being reviewed by the ministry to ensure that: sources of air emissions at the facility are capable of meeting the ministry’s requirements; and introduction of wood pellet fuel and modified combustion processes and their corresponding effects, if any, on the performance of the plant’s furnace ash water treatment plant, condenser cooling water, and sewage lagoons continue to meet effluent requirements.
Consultations on the project have included several open houses and ongoing dialogue with four area First Nation communities and a local M├ętis Council.
While the granting of an Environmental Compliance Approval will be an important milestone in the project to convert the plant, OPG says, it isn’t the final stage.
OPG still requires a Power Purchase Agreement between OPG and the Ontario Power Authority, suitable contracts for station modifications and the supply of biomass fuel and OPG board of directors approval of the project.
A Pembina Institute study has pointed out that repowering the Atikokan Generating Station with biomass fuel will create 130 jobs and translate into $18 million in annual economic activity. The study examined the emissions associated with harvesting, transportation, processing and combustion of two million tonnes of Ontario-sourced, wood-based biomass fuel per year at four OPG coal plants.
As part of the OPG commissioned study, Pembina conducted an analysis of the Atikokan station with a hypothetical annual supply of 100,000 tonnes per year of forest-based biomass.
The analysis found greenhouse gas emissions would be, on average, 90 per cent lower with wood pellet-produced electricity compared with natural gas generation.
OPG has chosen wood pellet biomass as the preferred fuel for the Atikokan station because the energy content is similar to the lignite coal that the plant is designed to burn. Conversion to a plant capable of producing up to 150 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually will meet regional needs, the utility said.
OPG has concluded a call for proposals for the design and construction of the biomass fuel storage and handling system, and negotiations are under way with a shortlist of bidding firms. OPG also issued a call for proposals for furnace modifications and is reviewing proposals.
By the end of 2014, Ontario will be the first jurisdiction in the world to replace coal-fired generation with more sustainable alternatives such as wind, solar and bioenergy -- the equivalent of taking seven million cars off the road.


By Melvin Backman

As the University reviews the results from its first large-scale biomass test in its quest to become coal free, new materials to test have appeared on the horizon.

An Energy Services draft report, due to be finalized in the spring, says dried wood pellets burned well when co-fired with coal during March tests.

“There were no showstoppers identified in the testing,” said Ray DuBose, director of the Energy Services department.

One problem encountered in the tests was that the boilers at the Cogeneration Plant could only be loaded to 75 percent capacity because of the nature of the fuel.

Woody biomass fuels are lighter than coal and can blow away from the conveyor belt that loads them into the boilers, DuBose said.

If the University uses a wood biomass product to fulfill obligation of using 20 percent alternative fuel in the Cogeneration Plant by 2015, it will have to invest in new equipment to solve those loading problems.

DuBose said he did not know how much it might cost to build such infrastructure.

“The more testing we do, the more certainty we have about what we can do,” he said.

With dried wood pellet tests behind it, UNC is looking to additional forms of wood biomass for its future.

Phil Barner, cogeneration systems manager for Energy Services, said the department has been testing samples of dried wood chips in preparation for possible large-scale tests in the spring.

Dried wood chips differ from dried wood pellets in that they haven’t been compressed into pellet form. Barner said wood chips cost about 20 percent less than pellets, but produce roughly 6 percent less energy.

Both fuels differ from torrefied wood pellets because they haven’t undergone the torrefaction process that removes moisture from wood.

In addition to dried wood chips, the University is testing samples from New Biomass Energy, a torrefied wood supplier in Mississippi. The news comes after two attempts to secure the fuel failed during the summer.

The market for woody biomass is a small one, and Energy Services has had trouble finding reliable suppliers.

DuBose said he did not know why New Biomass Energy missed both summer deadlines. The company did not immediately respond to an email request for comment Friday.

Still, Barner said he has confidence that a bid for both fuels could be issued by February.

“They’ve both got a high probability of happening,” he said.

Stewart Boss, co-chairman of the group that lobbied UNC to reduce its coal use, the Sierra Student Coalition, was encouraged by the announcement of new biomass tests.

“We’re excited to see them moving in the right direction,” Boss said.

Contact the University Editor at

Published December 4, 2011 in Campus

December 5, 2011


By CHELSI MOY - The Missoulian

The University of Montana announced Friday that it will suspend indefinitely plans to build a woody biomass heating plant on campus and publicly apologized for a top university administrator’s derogatory comment about critics of the project.

UM President Royce Engstrom cited financial viability, fuel supply, increased pollution and the deteriorating discourse surrounding the $16 million heating project as reasons for scrapping plans to build an industrial-sized biomass gasification system in the foreseeable future.

Friday’s news conference marked the end to the university’s yearlong effort to reduce its carbon footprint by switching from natural gas, a fossil fuel, to heat its buildings to woody biomass, a renewable resource. UM proposed trucking in 16,000 tons of hogfuel from local forests to burn in a state-of-the-art biomass gasification boiler slated for construction next to the existing heating plant.


By Anna Austin | December 01, 2011

Ontario Power Generation’s biomass repowering project in Atikokan, Ontario, Canada, has entered the last part of the regulatory approval process—a 30-day public comment period on the Ontario Ministry of Environment’s review of OPG’s Certificate of Approval application.

When the comment period ends Dec. 10, OPG expects the MOE will make a ruling within a month, according to Atikokan Station Manager Brent Boyko. He said while that is the last step in the regulatory process, the project has a couple of other hurdles to overcome. One is securing a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Ontario Power Authority, which reports to the MOE. “That will dictate the amount of money we have available to complete our conversion process and to purchase fuel for the long-term operation of the facility,” Boyko said. “It’s a competitive process.”

OPG is phasing out its coal use by 2014 and is repowering its stations with biomass and natural gas. Atikokan Generation Station is a single-unit, 211-megawatt coal-fired electricity plant that has been operating since 1985 in the town of Atikokan, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) west of Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Boyko said OPG plans to use wood pellets at the facility and has looked into suppliers already. “We put out an initial request for pricing and have all of those packages in place, so we’re ready to go forward with signing some contracts,” he said. “It’s all tied together with the PPA though, that dictates our long-term operations. As soon as we have that, things will come together.”

The plant will use about 90,000 metric tons of wood pellets annually.

Also, in preparation for the Atikokan conversion and others, OPG had a sustainability and climate change analysis performed by the Pembina Institute, which studied potential implications of electricity generation at four OPG coal plants, using 2 million metric tons per year of forest-based biomass, sourced and processed in Ontario. Among its findings was that that there would be no systematic decline in forest carbon stocks over time, and that the wood pellet electricity pathway for the Atikokan Generation Station offers significant greenhouse gas benefits over combined-cycle natural gas generation, on average about 90 per cent lower.

In addition, the study found that the economic benefit will be concentrated in the local area, with the creation of 130 jobs and $18 million per year added to the area economy.

December 6, 2011


By Hakan Ekstrom - Troy Media

SEATTLE, WA, Dec. 3, 2011/ Troy Media / – With the lack of sufficient quality and quantity of domestic wood fibre supply, new pulp mills in China are looking to expand importation of wood chips from plantation-rich countries in Southeast Asia to meet their growing fiber needs.

In the 3Q/11, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia were the major suppliers to China; together the accounted for about 88 per cent of all imports of hardwood chips.

Malaysia, Cambodia, Chile and Brazil are a few of the recent and still small suppliers of hardwood chips to China. These countries, which all supply wood chips from fast-growing Eucalyptus and Acacia plantations, are likely to expand their shipments in the coming years as Chinese pulp mills continue to diversify their supply sources.

The wood chip imports in the first 10 months of 2011 already equal more than the total volume of imports in all of 2010. This year’s imports will reach around seven million tons, or 37 per cent higher than in 2010. This upward trend is expected to continue in 2012 and 2013 because the Chinese pulp industry is in an expansion mode.

Pulpmills in China consume practically only hardwood fibre, so imports of softwood chips were negligible up until last year when a few shipments started to enter Chinese ports from Australia, Russia, the U.S. and New Zealand. This year, total softwood imports may reach just above 300,000 tons, or 4 per cent of total chip imports.

The average value for imported wood chips has steadily increased, reaching $180/ton in the 3Q/11, or about 22 per cent higher than the same quarter last year. Vietnam is the lowest-cost supplier, while the cost for Eucalyptus chips from Australia were at the high-end in the 3Q.

The costs of chips imported from the major supplying country, Vietnam, have gone up almost 40 per cent over the past two years. Vietnam is also shipping large chip volumes to Japanese pulp mills and it is interesting to note how the price discrepancy between chips exported to Japan and China has declined from almost $60/ton premium for Japanese-bound chips in 2009 to only $14/ton in the 3Q/11.

Global timber market reporting is included in the 52-page quarterly publication Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ). The report, established in 1988 and with subscribers in over 25 countries, tracks sawlog, pulpwood, lumber and pellet prices and market developments in most key regions around the world. To subscribe to the WRQ, please go to


MONTPELIER – The final draft of a report to the Legislature on the use of woody biomass in the state of Vermont won praise, vehement condemnation and everything in between Tuesday night.

A 15-member panel established by the 2009 Legislature met 27 times over three years to develop 45 recommendations and a lengthy and in-depth report on the benefits and risks of using woody biomass — pellets and wood chips harvested from low-grade wood, blowdowns and logging residues such as tree tops. It also tackled the issue of what standards, guidelines and actions the state should take.

The key recommendations include:

• Use of biomass resources for the most energy efficient applications, such as heat generation
• Long- and short-term monitoring of harvesting and forest health;
• The creation of markets for low-grade wood equally around the state; and
• Promotion of energy efficient home heating with wood.

The wide-ranging draft was aired publicly on Tuesday at the Statehouse before about 30 people and it drew a broad variety of opinions.

No one was more outspoken in his critique of the report than Jonathan Wood, a former member of the panel who served as Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources under the administration of Republican Gov. James Douglas.

Speaking in unusually harsh terms, Wood called the draft everything from “disingenuous” to “disgraceful” and even seemed to imply he would take legal action if his name was not taken off the report, so strongly was he opposed to it.

“I am concerned about my name being on this report. I want a disclaimer,” he said, then added, “I will take whatever action I have to.

“I think this is the worst thing that has happened to forest management in a long time,” Wood said.

The outburst drew a tart response after the meeting from longtime Sen. Virginia Lyons, D- Williston, co-chairwoman of the panel and chairwoman of the Natural Resources and Energy Committee in the Senate. Lyons accused Wood of being “disingenuous” in his criticism and essentially said politics was in play, since Wood lost his post as head of ANR with the election of Democrat Peter Shumlin.

Some of Wood’s criticisms were echoed by others. Critics said the “voluntary” guidelines in the report amounted to de facto mandatory rules that could harm an already stressed wood harvesting industry and put the state at a disadvantage with other New England states that don’t have such rules.

Others like forest consultant Steve Hardy of Brattleboro called some of the proposed biomass harvesting guidelines “well intentioned” but arcane and unworkable in the reality of the forests. He pointed out ambiguities in the draft plan about how much low-grade wood should be removed from any given tract.

“How are we going to do this on the ground? It’s an interesting concept but how do you implement it?” he said.

He also cautioned Vermont would be put “at a disadvantage” by stricter guidelines than other states, noting wood chips are shipped across state borders and suppliers can get them anywhere.

“What are you going to do, put guards at the border?” he asked.

Wood made the same point, saying Vermont “is not an island.” The report, in his view, would result in “a great deal of additional regulation,” land fragmentation and discouragement of the biomass industry. He also criticized the three-week comment period as disgracefully short.

Lyons, however, said the draft report is the starting process, not the end, and everyone will have a chance to weigh in the Legislature. “Once the report is complete, it is just a report. It has no teeth,” she said.

While some specifics of the draft drew fire, many of those who testified said use of wood biomass was essential to Vermont forest health and jobs in the wood industry.

“Biomass harvesting is really the best thing since white bread,” said consulting forester Robbo Holleran of Chester.

Holleran said the report’s middle-range estimate of 900,000 tons of green surplus low-grade wood for biomass is grossly underestimated and should be as high as 5 million green tons. Higher biomass use would improve the poor market for low-grade wood and foster higher-quality wood growth on the state’s 4.5 million acres of forest, he said.

Existing biomass supplies could support many biomass uses for a long time, according to Holleran. He cautioned against installing too many rules and regulations on biomass harvesting.

“It has to be profitable for people to be able to do it. It’s very capital intensive,” he said.

Some environmental groups such as the Center for Biological Diversity, the Partnership for Policy Integrity and the Vermont Sierra Club raised concerns about the impacts of biomass generating plants on air quality and carbon emissions and urged more study. They also said that until more is known about biomass demand and the amount of the resource, there should be a moratorium on any large utility scale biomass generating plants in the state.

Mollie Matteson of the Center for Biological Diversity said Vermont already has the “highest asthma rates in the country” and new biomass generation plants would hurt air quality and push the limits of sustainable harvesting of Vermont’s forests.

The 800-pound biomass gorilla in the elegant Statehouse Chamber was a controversial proposal by Beaverwood Energy for a 29 megawatt electrical biomass generation plant in Fair Haven that would be coupled with a wood pellet manufacturing facility. The proposal, which would create 50 jobs, drew both praise for providing a badly needed market in southern Vermont for low-grade wood and criticism since electrical generation is the least efficient use of biomass chips.

The draft report doesn’t address the Beaverwood proposal.

Sen. Lyons pointed out in an interview afterwards that the plant is already in the permitting process before the Vermont Public Service Board and wasn’t proposed when the panel was given its charge by the Legislature.

Several speakers, however, addressed one of the key issues in the biomass draft relating to Beaverwood, which is whether the state should endorse inefficient use of biomass for purposes such as electrical generation.

Barry Bernstein of East Calais, who has a long involvement in selling and promoting biomass heating systems for schools in the state, cited figures that biomass in heating is 80 percent efficient, while electrical generation is only 15 percent to 25 percent efficient. He cautioned that the state place a premium on thermal uses over power generation.

Beaverwood is projected to use 500,000 tons a year of biomass and has said it will achieve 50 percent efficiency, partly by using heat to dry the wood pellets produced at the plant. Two other biomass facilities currently are on line in the state, in Ryegate and Burlington.

Tim Maker, also of East Calais and a biomass energy expert, agreed with Bernstein. With oil supplies declining, Vermont’s forests will face “unprecedented pressure” in the future and biomass should be reserved for the highest efficiency purpose. He urged raising the draft proposal’s minimum 50 percent efficiency level for biomass plants

Maker disagreed with Wood. In his view, more regulation is needed.

“Let the chips fall where they may, no pun intended,” he said.

“We can’t let the wood resource go to the highest bidder,” he said.

Phil Stannard, a forest management consultant from southern Vermont, said he was a strong supporter of biomass use, whether for generation or wood pellets. “There’s a vast surplus of bad wood, vastly undermanaged and poorly managed forests,” he said.

While Stannard and others argued there was a big surplus and the state needed more markets for low-grade wood, Ann Ingerson of the Wilderness Society said Vermont should cautiously allocate its biomass supplies. She also urged the panel to boost monitoring, look at air quality issues more fully and agreed for the need to stand firm on efficiency standards.

Josh Schlossberg, a biomass energy opponent, raised an issue not mentioned in the report, that invasive species such as the emerald ash borer can be transported live with woodchips.

In comments made in a letter, the Vermont Woodlands Association said invasive subdivisions and parcelization of Vermont forests are far worse threats. Sam Miller, a VWA member, said “judicious” use of biomass is not a great threat and could be a good management tool. The association said the report didn’t focus enough on improving the residential firewood market and small stove and furnace efficiency.

One thing that was clear from the extensive comments is that there is plenty of divergence of opinion on biomass from all the stakeholders in the state, as well as general agreement on its potential — if not its eventual best uses.

Greg Chase, a consulting forester from Hartland, urged the panel to have a little patience and let the process of coming up with guidelines on the whole new arena of biomass run its course.

“There’s been lots of changes in the 200 years that we’ve been here. This (biomass) is just a 20-year phenomenon,” he said.


POSTED: 11:05 am EST December 11, 2011
UPDATED: 11:22 am EST December 11, 2011

GREENWOOD, Maine -- Mount Abram in Greenwood is going all green to heat its ski lodge.

The western Maine ski resort is using locally produced wood pellets, and no fossil fuels, to warm up its lodge.

Mount Abram has taken delivery of a wood-pellet boiler that will heat the 5,500-square-foot base lodge using wood pellets delivered from a local distribution center. It means Mount Abram will no longer require 12,000 gallons of No. 2 heating oil per year to heat its lodge.

Mount Abram said the new boiler is the first installed at a ski area by Maine Energy Systems, the renewable heating company founded by Les Otten in 2008. Otten is a former Maine gubernatorial candidate who's also been involved in Maine's ski industry.

Mount Abram plans to open for the season Dec. 17.

Read more:


2:24 AM, Dec. 8, 2011 |

A Wausau Paper employee leaves work Wednesday at the Brokaw mill. / Xai Kha/Wausau Daily Herald

BROKAW -- Wausau Paper early next year will close the historic Brokaw mill, where the company began more than 100 years ago, a move that will put hundreds of employees out of work.

The Mosinee-based papermaking company announced Wednesday that it will sell its premium print and color paper division -- located in Brokaw -- to Neenah Paper, which is buying paper brands but not the mill.

The decision, foreshadowed when Wausau Paper announced plans this fall to leave the printing- and writing-paper market, will eliminate jobs for 450 people by March 31, when the mill closes permanently, the company said.

Although the closure didn't come as a complete surprise to some residents, workers and industry officials, it likely will rattle the local economy, affecting not just the families who have relied upon the mill for years but also those communities where the workers shop and live.

"I don't know what to say," said Randy Frank, 48, a Brokaw resident and former mill employee. "This is going to be devastating for the village."

Perry Grueber, a spokesman for Wausau Paper, said the company did not receive any acceptable offers for the division from other papermakers. Wausau Paper will continue to try to sell the mill property, which could be used by any number of industries, but the closure is guaranteed, he said.

Bill McCarthy, vice president of financial analysis and investor relations with Alpharetta, Ga.-based Neenah Paper, said the company wasn't interested in buying the Brokaw mill because it can produce the paper at its other Wisconsin mills. He said the company will not disclose how much it's paying for the Wausau Paper brands until the deal is finalized.

The layoffs could be staggered up to the end of March, but Grueber did not have a more specific timeline. Employees at the mill were notified of the closure at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Grueber said. All of the mill's employees also were mailed letters about the closure, and company leaders began meeting with employees Wednesday afternoon, Grueber said.


North Adams, MA – Locally owned and operated Biomass Commodities Corporation is installing a wood pellet heating boiler system at MASS MoCA slated to come online January 2012. According to Averill Cook, Biomass Commodities Corporation founder and president, “The project allows MASS MoCA to diversify a nice portion of its heating to a renewable fuel that is produced locally. Much of the raw material comes from our region as an otherwise waste byproduct of high quality timber production.”

This installation is the first of its kind in Berkshire County. This is a particularly innovative installation which allows the museum to utilize an existing ash silo from the old coal plant for its wood pellet storage. This boiler, sized for MASS MoCA’s own internal needs, is a state of the art, super high efficiency unit.

“Energy use is a fascinating lens through which to examine the history of this campus’s tenants,” said MASS MoCA Director Joseph Thompson. “From Arnold Printworks reliance on coal in the late 19th century to Sprague’s conversion to oil in the 20th century to our utilization of natural gas in more recent years, the ups and downs of the tenants’ of this great factory campus have always been closely tied to energy. Adding this boiler to our increasingly diversified mix of alternative energy technologies helps our bottom line while also substantially reducing our carbon footprint. Next, we hope to vastly increase the size of our photovoltaic installation, which was installed as a prototype in 2009 as part of whole series of energy conservation and alternative energy measures. We’re making progress.”

Biomass Commodities will supervise the installation of the boiler and combustion equipment which are made in the USA, fully computer controlled, and use the best available control technology for operations and exhaust scavenging. The SolaGen HDF-WC is a premier combustion package using a Burnham Boiler, a leader in the North American heating industry with direct ties to the local area. Adams Plumbing & Heating will execute on the mechanical installation for this equipment designed by Cannon Design out of Boston. Wood pellets will be sourced from a regional producer New England Wood Pellet, and delivered by Biomass Commodities Corporation.


LTC seeking new partners for venture

December 14, 2011


It’s not the pre-Christmas news anyone in Lillooet wanted to hear.

The Lillooet Tribal Council (LTC) has notified its Korean partners in the proposed Lillooet pellet plant that the Tribal Council is pulling out of the agreement signed by the two parties in April.

The Tribal Council confirmed notification of the cancellation was sent Nov. 29

“We haven’t given up on the deal, but we will be looking around for different dancing partners,” Lillooet Tribal Council Chair Chief Garry John told the News Dec. 9.

He said the Korean Wood Pellet Corporation was not able to meet a number of deadlines prior to Nov. 29, despite receiving “extension after extension.”

Chief John said the original agreement with Korean Wood Pellet was “a rare situation that could have been a win-win-win-win for everyone involved. We had the aboriginal communities, the industry and foreign investors in the territory all in agreement and given the recent history here, that is a rare situation.”

Noting the recent controversy surrounding proposed mines and pipelines in BC, Chief John said the proposed pellet plant, which would have used “wood dying in the bush,” is an environmentally friendly project.

“Let’s hope it’s just a setback and we will have good news in the New Year,” he added.

He also said the federal and provincial governments could have and should have provided more support for the project, including funding through the Western Diversification program.

The $16 million Lillooet-Korea Biomass Limited Partnership project was announced with much fanfare on Apr. 18 of this year. Logging was supposed to commence this fall to provide the necessary wood to bring the plant into production in early 2012. The project was expected to provide employment for up to 70 people, including employees working on the floor on a 24/7 basis and loggers in the bush.

Six St’at’imc communities – Ts’kw’aylaxw (Pavilion), Xaxli’p (Fountain), Sekw’el’was (Cayoose Creek), T’it’q’et (Lillooet), Xwisten (Bridge River) and Tsal’alh (Shalalth) signed an agreement with the Korean corporation to establish a joint venture company to build a pellet mill and sell pellets to Korea and/or other countries.

Matt Manuel, natural resources co-ordinator for the LTC, said the St’at’imc working group is now examining options “previously in play” to see what is feasible for the pellet plant’s future.

“It’s unanimous amongst the leadership group that they will continue to look at other options to provide economic benefits to St’at’imc communities and the entire area,” said Manuel.

The Korean investors began discussions with the LTC in 2009 on the proposed plant and the negotiations leading up to this spring’s deal went smoothly, the News reported in April.

The Korean company wanted to meet its obligations under the Kyoto Accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and could do so with the partnership. St’at’imc leaders saw the deal as an opportunity to implement the St’at’imc Land Use Plan and as a revenue sharing opportunity for the communities in the northern part of St’at’imc territory.

Another project that was supposed to boost the local economy has also run into some snags, according to District of Lillooet economic development officer Jerry Sucharyna.

He told the News the proposed mobile poultry docking unit, which was to be located beside the parking lot at the Lillooet Airport, has “run into a few glitches.”

He said the glitches are occurring at the Central Cariboo Interior Poultry Producers Association’s (CCIPPA) end of the proposal and Lillooet is not on the hook “for any of the money or any of the supplies up at the airport.

“It’s all their money,” Sucharyna continued. “There are no costs incurred by Lillooet taxpayers.”

He said he believes the glitches can be overcome and the mobile docking unit is “still scheduled to come to Lillooet” at some point.

Sucharyna added that the poultry unit itself would not create permanent, full-time jobs for Lillooet residents, but it would provide opportunities for local poultry producers to expand their operations and would allow others in the agricultural sector to diversify their businesses.

Plans for the mobile poultry docking station were announced in January of this year, after the CCIPPA received federal funding under the Communities Adjustment Fund to operate docking stations throughout the Cariboo region.


Written by Wood Resources International LLC

Dec. 12, 2011 - Weaker lumber markets are causing global sawlog prices to fall for first time since early 2009, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly.

Slowing lumber markets throughout the world have resulted in declining sawlog prices in many of the major lumber-producing regions in Europe and North America, according to the Wood Resource Quarterly. The biggest price reductions occurred in Japan, Sweden, Poland and Russia.

With weaker demand for lumber around the world, sawlog prices fell in a majority of the 21 markets tracked by the Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ). The Global Conifer Sawlog Price Index (GSPI) declined in the 3Q for the first time since the 1Q/09. With a few exceptions, prices fell in both local currencies and in US dollar terms.

The only region that saw any substantial price increase in the 3Q was British Columbia, where prices were up 5-7 percent from the 2Q. This region has benefited from higher lumber exports and production has gone up during 2011.The price for Coastal Hemlock rose over three percent in the 3Q, while the price for spruce-pine-fir (SPF) logs in Interior BC rose nearly seven percent. Prices in both regions were the highest they have been since the global financial crisis in late 2008.

The biggest price declines the past quarter occurred in Japan, Sweden, Poland and Russia; prices were down between 6-12 percent from the 2Q/11. The three latter countries are major exporters of lumber, and shipments to European markets and Northern Africa have fallen this summer and fall.

Wood costs have gone down for many sawmills throughout the European continent in the 3Q, mostly due to slowing lumber sales and an expectation of lower lumber production levels during the winter months. In the Nordic countries, there were a number of announcements of curtailments for the 4Q/11 and the first quarter of 2012. Although sawlog prices fell in a majority of the ten countries in Europe covered by the WRQ, they were still higher than the third quarter last year. For most markets, log prices have come up between $15-25/m3 during the past 12 months, with only Western Russia and Norway seeing minor price increases.

Many of the continent’s sawmills are currently paying close to the highest sawlog prices seen in at least 17 years, and this is occurring at a time when lumber prices are far from any record highs, and are even declining in some markets. Because of the weakening lumber demand, it can be expected that log prices will soften in the coming months.

For more information on the Wood Resource Quarterly, please visit their website: .


Bulk handlers look into wood pellet opportunities at Port of Jacksonville [From the web]

JACKSONVILLE, FL, Dec. 16, 2011 (Local News) - Growing interest in the wood pellet market in Jacksonville has led a couple of companies to test the waters.

Bulk marine terminal operator Peeples Industries Inc. recently considered building a terminal here to handle wood pellet exports. The Jacksonville Port Authority also recently reported it's in talks with a wood pellet shipper.

Industry experts said the availability of Southern pine and low manufacturing costs make Florida, and especially Jacksonville, an attractive place for this emerging market.


BOYNE CITY, MI -- A Northern Michigan business that recently opened is creating a stir in a Charlevoix County city.

Boyne City residents tell us the manufacturing of wood pellets is loud and they're hoping the company finds a solution to cut down on some of the sound.

"That humming, and that squeaking, and mechanical noises," points out homeowner Al Aown.

Al Aown lives in Boyne Hills, directly across from the Boyne City Air Industrial Park where the new Kirtland Products wood pellet plant just fired up in the last month.

“We understand it's a town, and everybody has needs, and we have needs to, and I don't think anybody can expect that to be normal, or right, but who knows," says Aown.

The business manufactures home heating wood pellets, and with it, has created 15 jobs. But ask some neighbors, they say it has been more of a headache.

"We’re new, we're just getting started, and didn't expect we were going to have complaints on the noise, and now that we have, we're trying to address them and see if we can't come to some type of solution that would be acceptable," said Tom Monley, Kirtland Products co-owner.

The company has apologized publicly about the process, sending out this letter to local newspapers.

“Our message to our neighbors and visitors is simple. We are sorry." It goes on to say, "I assure you the resolution of this issue is a high priority at Kirtland. We will not stop until it is reduced to acceptable levels."

Residents say the job creation at the plant is a fantastic thing, just that hum that they hear when it's up and running needs to go because, they tell me, it's affecting their lifestyle.

Monday, homeowners took their concerns about the sound, and industrial look, to city leaders.

Horrendous noise, very unpeaceful. Before, it was quiet," said one concerned citizen.

“I don't think it represents Boyne City as this quant, beautiful town," said another resident.

“At this point, I think they're sincere in their efforts to try to resolve these issues, I guess time will tell to identify exactly what their problems are," explained Boyne City City Manager Mike Cain to the Economic Development Board.

Kirtland has worked with city leaders and residents to try to pinpoint exactly what is causing the hum.

“We've identified a couple pieces of equipment that we're working on solutions to try to get that noise level down so we can live harmoniously with the rest of the community," says Monley. “I think once people realize what it is we have here, people will be proud of it, yeah, in the community."

The letter to the editor the company released says what's coming from the stack is safe, and says the majority of it is water vapor from the drying process.



A University of Iowa renewable energy project is using woody biomass to stimulate the local economy.

The Oakdale Renewable Energy Plant, led by Ferman Milster, principal engineer, has replaced one of four coal boilers used to provide steam for a satellite campus with a wood chip-fired unit manufactured by Hurst Boiler and Welding Co.

The boiler will produce 20,000 pounds per hour of saturated steam. Milster and his team have repurposed an old underground coal bunker to serve as wood chip storage, and, according to Milster, the team is excited about the opportunity to procure even more of the biomass fuel locally. “All the natural gas and coal to support our energy needs comes from out-of-state,” he said. “That means the money for this fuel leaves Iowa. Buying wood chips locally, at prices competitive with historical average natural gas prices, puts money back into the local economy.”

Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011



SENDAI — At least 16,000 tons of radiation-contaminated tree bark and wood chips are piled up in unattended storage spots in lumber mills in Fukushima Prefecture, a local industry group said Wednesday.

The roughly 200 members of the prefectural wood-industry association, Fukushimaken Mokuren, are requesting compensation for storage and disposal costs by year's end. Unlike quake rubble, the costs of handling such debris are not covered by state subsidies, the group said.

The companies have stopped shipment of bark and wood chips — commonly used for compost or to line the floors of livestock barns — after radiation above the state-set limit from the crisis-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant was detected by the group during voluntary monitoring that began in August, it said.

Compared with limit of 400 becquerels per kilogram for leaf mold, the levels on bark and wood chips averaged 400 to 500 becquerels and even passed 1,000 becquerels in some areas, while no detectable radioactivity was measured on debarked timber, it said.

The association asked Tepco to burn the tainted debris at its coal-fired thermal power plants, but the utility has rejected that request on grounds that such a move could cause its facilities to malfunction, it said.

Industrial waste disposal businesses have also refused to process the materials over public fears that radioactive ash or other material will concentrate at the incinerators, it added.

Some timber companies are trying to get rid of the tainted by-product by rinsing it off to reduce the radioactivity, but no one will even consider buying it, the group said.

As lumbering produces about 4,000 tons of bark per month in the prefecture, some companies have begun to switch to imported timber instead of local produce for business, so as not to further increase the odds of tainted products emerging, the group added.


New exchange launches in Netherlands amid growing row about wisdom of burning more wood to generate electricity

Power stations such as Drax in Yorkshire are switching to burning wood instead of coal as a way of reducing emissions. Photograph: John Giles/PA Archive/Press Association Ima

Oil, gold and even pork bellies have been traded on commodity markets for many years, but traders are now able to buy and sell industrial wood pellets via an electronic market place for the first time.

The APX-ENDEX exchange in the Netherlands has launched green energy contracts at a critical moment, when demand for biomass is soaring, but critics argue that burning wood to generate electricity causes as many problems as it solves.

Traditional power stations such as Drax in North Yorkshire are increasingly switching to burning wood instead of coal to reduce carbon emissions and an international trade in wood pellets is developing.

APX has developed the contracts in co-operation with Port of Rotterdam, which has seen a big increase in the amount of wood being brought into the docks to feed biomass plants across Europe. The port – the biggest in Europe – says it expects to be handling 2-3m tonnes annually by 2025 as imports from places such as Canada and Russia soar.

The APX commodity exchange has been publishing data on industrial wood pellet prices since 2008 and argues a traded contract will help biomass users find supplies in a more cost-efficient and transparent way. "Bilateral trading has been going on but not on any exchange. That will now change," said a spokeswoman for APX.

There is a growing controversy over subsidies being given to further the development of biomass plants in Britain. Renewable obligation certificates (ROCs) are issued to green generators and can be traded with other suppliers as a way of their meeting their obligations on renewable energy. A review by the Department of Energy and Climate Change has proposed keeping the 0.5 ROC (per MWh) support level for co-firing of coal or other fossil fuels and biomass.

This has not only upset other wood users worried about the impact on product prices, but also Fergus Ewing, the Scottish energy minister, who fears Britain becoming dependent on foreign imports.

"Both oil and gas prices have shown us the importance of a secure local supply, and if we rely too heavily on imported timber there is a risk of energy security problems in future," he argues.

Companies such as RWE are involved in switching the Tilbury coal-fired power station to biomass and is open about its plans to bring in all the fuel from America.


December 14, 2011

Sustained, long-term tax policy is vital to emerging alternative energy technologies seeking to cross the valley of death to commercial scale, and should be targeted at those technologies with the greatest potential to create new jobs, economic growth, energy security and environmental benefits. The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today submitted written testimony to the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources and Infrastructure for a hearing titled “Alternative Energy Tax Incentives.”

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, stated, “We are at a key inflection point and advanced biofuels, renewable chemicals and biobased products have great potential to significantly increase this nation’s energy and national security, while creating thousands of well-paying U.S. jobs. In fact, advanced biofuels production could add 807,000 jobs and reduce U.S. petroleum imports by nearly $70 billion by 2022.

“The renewable chemicals and sustainable biobased products industries are also helping reduce U.S. dependence on foreign sources of energy while creating significant numbers of jobs. The global sustainable chemical industry is expected to grow to $1 trillion by 2022, which provides an important opportunity for U.S. job and export growth. If U.S. companies capture their share of this growth, the industry will create 237,000 direct U.S. jobs as well as a trade surplus within the chemical sector.

“As the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review notes, the Navy, other branches of the military, and the nation as a whole face a significant national security threat from U.S. dependence on foreign sources of energy. This threat can be significantly reduced with an ample supply of U.S. advanced biofuels.

“Innovative advanced biofuels companies have made great strides in developing new technologies and are poised to build commercial facilities if project financing can be secured in a timely fashion. Supportive, stable federal policy is essential to ensuring that advanced biofuels developers can move forward on these first-of-a-kind commercial projects, which are a critical component of plans to meet the nation’s energy independence and security needs.

“Many federal incentives vital to U.S. advanced biofuels development and commercialization are set to expire in the near-term. To accelerate large scale commercialization of advanced biofuels, renewable chemicals and biobased products, extension and expansion of these incentives is necessary to drive continued investment in the broadest possible set of emerging technologies.”

About BIO
BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world. BIO produces BIOtechNOW, an online portal and monthly newsletter chronicling “innovations transforming our world.