WOOD PELLET NEWSLETTER
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
· SILO FIRES REQUIRE SPECIFIC RESPONSE TACTICS
· BIOMASS TOUTED AS 'FUEL OF THE FUTURE"
· ARMY TO MEET RENEWABLE ENERGY GOALS THROUGH PREDICTABILITY
· WOOD BOILER ONLINE AT JAX
· DAYS CREEK SWITCHES TO BIOMASS HEATING
· SUTHERLANDS: BUY YOUR WOOD PELLETS SOONER THAN LATER
· FIREFIGHTERS BATTLE HUGE BIOMASS FIRE AT PORT OF TYNE
· CHINESE BUYING SPREE OVER FOR NOW, FORCING B.C. SAWMILL TO CLOSE
· UM-WESTERN OFFICIALS: BIOMASS SAVINGS ADD UP
· WOOD PELLET BUSINESS PREPARES TO FIRE UP PRODUCTION
· GOVERNMENT PROGRAM TO REMOVE OR CONVERT WOOD BURNING STOVES
· CONOCOPHILLIPS, ENVIVA TO BUILD TORREFIED WOOD PELLET PLANT
· U.K.’S DECC RO BANDING GIVES PELLETS ADVANTAGE OVER COAL
· EUROPEAN PELLET PRODUCERS JOIN FORCES
· BIOMASS HEATING: BIG POTENTIAL NEEDS BOOST
· BIOMASS 2012: INTERNATIONAL GROWTH AND DOMESTIC OBSTACLES
· PATIO HEATER PROVES POPULAR
· QUEBEC GREENHOUSE FIRES UP WOODY BIOMASS HEATING SYSTEM
· LARGEST GREENHOUSE SINGLE-STORY BUILDING IN THE UNITED STATES SWITCHES TO WOODY BIOMASS HEATING
· PORT OF AMSTERDAM PREPARES FOR BIOMASS BOOM
· WEST COAST’S BOOMING ASIAN LOG TRADE SUDDENLY GOES BUST
· PRINCE RUPERT PORT AUTHORITY SENDS LETTER ADDRESSING WOOD PELLET TERMINAL CONCERNS
· BIOMASS SECURE POWER RAMPS UP WOOD PELLET CAPACITY
SILO FIRES REQUIRE SPECIFIC RESPONSE TACTICS
As the use of wood pellets for biomass and thermal energy increases, it’s important to learn more about how fires develop, are detected and extinguished in storage silos.
By Henry Persson | October 31, 2011
The replacement of fossil fuels with renewable fuels impacts fire safety issues in many ways. In particular, the use of solid biofuels presents new risks and challenges for the industry and first responders alike. One common type of refined solid biofuel is wood pellets, which are often stored in large silos after production or shipping. In the case of a silo fire, it is important to understand the nature of the fire and to use appropriate response tactics.
In the past 10 years, the use of solid biofuels, and in particular wood pellets, has increased dramatically. In 2000, the annual production of wood pellets in Europe and North America was about 1.5 million tons, while the expected production for 2010 was about 16 million tons. Sweden is the largest wood pellet consumer with a consumption of about 2.3 million tons in 2010. The production of wood pellets in Sweden was about 1.65 million tons, while the remaining part is imported by ships, typically from North America and in the Baltic states. Pellets consumption is increasing dramatically in several other European countries as well, however, and as a consequence, handling and storage of wood pellets is also increasing.
To improve the knowledge of fire development, detection and extinction techniques in silos, two main test series have been conducted at the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden. Experience from these projects has resulted in recommendations concerning proper extinguishing practices.
Silo Extinguishing Tests
The main purpose of the first project conducted in 2006 was to study fire extinction techniques in silos and to provide a basis for guidelines concerning the tactics to be used. The project also provided valuable information about the initial fire development of a simulated spontaneous ignition in the stored material and the possibility for early detection of such fires.
The silo used for the tests was 1 meter (3.28 feet) in diameter and 6 meters high. Close to the base of the silo, a ventilation duct was installed, which was used both to provide ventilation to the silo during the “pre-burn” phase and for infection of inert gas during the extinguishing phase. The silo was filled with wood pellets up to a height of 5 meters during the tests. Local auto-ignition was simulated using a coiled heating wire placed in the pellets, located centrally in the silo.
The experimental results from one of four tests are summarized in Figure 1. The extension of the pyrolysis zone was mainly downwards, towards the air inlet, where a heat/moisture wave, with a temperature less than 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit), slowly moved upward (see Figure 2). Although the distance from the point of ignition to the pellet surface was only about 2.5 meters, it took about 20 hours before the fire could be detected by gas analysis in the top of the silo, clearly indicating the problems of early fire detection of smoldering fires in silos.
Gas Filling Tests
The purpose of the second project, conducted in 2008, was to investigate how nitrogen should be injected into a real silo during extinction to achieve optimal gas distribution. The experiments were performed in a 300-cubic-meter steel silo with a diameter of 6 meters and a height of 10.5 meters and filled with about 260 cubic meters of wood pellets. In total, five gas filling tests were conducted where the gas was injected from the center of the base of the silo, or alternatively at one point along the silo wall. All tests were conducted in a cold (no fire) silo as the main focus was to study the gas distribution in the bulk material. The tests showed that the gas distribution was significantly influenced by the gas flow rate, the location of the inlet and the properties of the bulk, showing the need for several distributed gas inlets when inerting large diameter silos.
Real Fire Experience
The results from the first silo project have successfully been applied to several real silo fires in Sweden. In one fire incident, auto-ignition occurred in a silo, 47 meters high and 8 meters in diameter, filled to about 40 meters with wood pellets. Elevated temperatures had been noted for some time and the plan was to empty the silo within the next few days. However, before such action could be taken, smoke was seen emerging from the top of the silo and the fire brigade was called. Initially, extinction was attempted using the application of liquid carbon dioxide to the top volume of the silo.
Approximately 35 tons of carbon dioxide were applied intermittently over a period of approximately 18 hours. The application seemed to control the fire but it was not possible to verify how much of the gas penetrated into the bulk. Consequently, it was not possible to determine when a discharge operation could be safely started.
Nitrogen was therefore, injected close to the silo base according to the recommendations from the silo experiments in order to control the effect of the gas injection, temperatures and concentrations of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and oxygen were measured in the top of the silo. In total, nitrogen injection continued for almost 65 hours without interruption until the silo content was discharged.
Approximately 14 tons of nitrogen was used, which gives total gas consumption of approximately 5.6 kilograms per cubic meter, well in line with the recommendations from the research project.
Based on both the results of the research projects and practical experience of real silo fires, the following recommendations are given:
• Make an initial risk assessment of the situation. Concentrations of carbon monoxide in indoor areas in the vicinity of the silo may be dangerously high. Further, consider the risk for dust and gas explosions in the silo and associated systems.
• Close all openings to the silo and turn off ventilation so that air entrainment into the silo is minimized. A release hatch or similar opening in the silo top for gas and pressure relief should be present while still preventing any inflow of air.
• Inject nitrogen close to the bottom of the silo. A large diameter silo will require several gas inlets. The nitrogen should be injected in gaseous phase, and an evaporator must be used. Assume an injection rate of 5 kilograms per cubic meter hour (cross-sectional area) and a total gas consumption of 5-15 kilograms per cubic meter (gross volume) of the silo.
• If possible, measure the concentration of carbon monoxide and oxygen at the top of the silo during the entire extinguishing and discharge operation.
• Do not begin discharging the silo until there are clear signs (low levels of carbon monoxide and oxygen) that the fire is under control.
• Be aware that the discharge capacity might be considerably reduced compared to a normal situation and that the discharge operation might take several days to complete.
• The discharged pellets must be inspected for slowing or burning material and extinguished with water if necessary.
• The gas injection should continue during the entire discharge process.
Some important things to remember are:
• Do not open the silo during the fire fighting operation. This will cause air entrainment, which will increase the fire intensity and might cause dust and gas explosions and an escalation of the fire situation.
• Do not use water inside a silo filled with wood pellets. Water application will cause considerable swelling of the pellets, which could both damage the silo construction and cause significant problems for the discharge operation.
Author: Henry Persson
Project Leader Fire Dynamics Section, SP Swedish Technical Research Institute
+46 10 516 5198
BIOMASS TOUTED AS 'FUEL OF THE FUTURE"
SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS
By Andy Piper Th Staff Writer * email@example.com
Ready or not, an energy revolution is coming, and advocates of an ancient form of fuel have gathered at Grand River Center in Dubuque to promote biomass as a key component in the world's energy future. "We must reform our energy system in this country," said Ken Smith, president and CEO of District Energy St. Paul and Ever-Green Energy.
"It must change. It will become more local. It will become more renewable." Biomass is plant material, vegetation and agricultural waste burned for fuel or an energy source. District Energy St. Paul is the leading example of biomass in the U.S. It provides heat for 185 downtown buildings, 300 single-family homes and cools nearly 100 buildings in summer. It recently completed installation of the largest solar panel project in the U.S. to complement its other energy resources. "Our entire economy is built on oil, but at current consumption rates, we will run out of known reserves in 41 years," Smith said. Consumption, however, is predicted to rise dramatically as the world's population climbs above 7 billion and emerging economies in China and India require more oil. "Clearly, we know biomass is the fuel of the future," said Steve Flick, of Show Me Energy Cooperative in Centerview, Mo., which plans an $80 million expansion. "We as a society have a real choice to make about our energy future, and Iowa is in great position to take advantage of what is coming. The tsunami that is coming is biomass energy." The conference ends today, and it is being sponsored by the Driftless Area Initiative, which is committed to coordinating regional natural resource conservation. The Driftless Area includes parts of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois that were not flattened by glaciers during the last ice age. "People don't realize what a cheap fuel this is," said John Walsh, executive director of the initiative. "We have to become more energy independent, and the beauty of all this is Steve Flick's example. Every region has its own facility, so we're creating jobs locally." Walsh plans to offer Dubuque city officials a look at the potential of biomass locally in the hope Dubuque will investigate a pilot project. "If you look at the Dubuque area, you have a good concentration of buildings in the downtown area, there is some new building going on, and you're looking for that density," Smith said. "Then you look at the energy sources you have around you. In this case, you have quite a bit of biomass, woody biomass, agriculture residue and you could certainly grow crops, whether it's some type of switchgrass or miscanthus. You have the makings here. The conversations that take place at this conference can help change the world."
ARMY TO MEET RENEWABLE ENERGY GOALS THROUGH PREDICTABILITY
Friday - 11/4/2011, 8:04am ET
By Jason Miller
Jason Miller, executive editor, Federal News Radio
For the Army to meet its renewable energy goal by 2025, it has to become more predictable.
It has to have a process that is standardized, repeatable and shortens the lead time to get these solar, wind, geothermal and other emerging technologies up and running. The projects are among the main way the Army will reduce its dependency on foreign energy and become more resilient.
The goal is for the Army to get 25 percent of its energy from renewable resources in the next 13 years.
Katherine Hammack, the Army's assistant secretary for Installations, Energy and the Environment, said the key to this entire predictability effort is the new Army Energy Initiatives Task Force (EITF) launched in September, which held its first meeting with industry Thursday.
Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and the Environment. (Photo: Army.mil)
"Our intent is to have our processes templated so that we are going through the same analysis each time, and people understand what this analysis is," Hammack said during a press briefing with reporters Thursday at the Pentagon. "This gives the Office of the Secretary of Defense the confidence we are going through a due diligence process that they have vetted and confirmed that it is appropriate in its analysis."
The task force is going to take a long and broad look across the department to find opportunities for these programs. EITF includes a wide range of experts in the fields of finance, law, acquisition and installation management as well as other parts of the Army.
Interest from industry
More than 250 vendors and 350 people attended the first industry day Thursday where the task force began to explain its plan to trade land for renewable energy. The service owns millions of acres of land that are not being used and wants vendors to build solar arrays or wind turbines on it in exchange for the energy these produce. The Army plans a second industry day in the spring to further explain its plans.
"We need to increase the resiliency of our installations," Hammack said. "Many of our installations are at the end of the line, in fairly remote locations. That means that if anything happens upstream, our fall back is diesel generators. We'd like to increase our resiliency by having generation on the installations."
The task force also will reduce the pressure on the garrison commanders and installations to figure out how to increase their energy resiliency, she added.
Almost every DoD service and agency is analyzing how best to reduce its dependence on foreign energy and improve its resiliency. DoD plans to hand out $30 million in clean energy grants to help test and develop new technologies.
Richard Kidd, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for energy and sustainability. (Photo: Army.mil)
To build that resiliency, the Army needs a cadre of vendors to provide current and emerging renewable energy technologies. That is why this predictability is so important to the service.
Richard Kidd, the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for energy and sustainability, said that predictability could cut the time for approval to three to six months, instead of years. Kidd, who came to the Army from the Energy Department in October 2010 where he ran the Federal Energy Management Program, said the service is developing a broad acquisition strategy that could be completed by early 2013.
Moving forward with testbeds
But the Army isn't standing pat until the strategy is ready.
The service already is working on more than 20 renewable energy projects, many of which will serve as testbeds for this task force-led effort. Two such examples are the solar arrays at Fort Irwin in California and the wind turbines at Fort Tooele in Utah.
John Lushetsky, the executive director of the Energy Initiatives Task Force for the Army, said vendors also should expect a new multiple-award contract in the coming year to build these renewable projects.
John Lushetsky, the executive director of the Energy Initiatives Task Force for the Army.
"We announced only one tool in what we envision is a multi-tool tool box," he said. "We would see an RFP out on the street for companies to respond to in the first quarter of 2012 and make awards to multiple companies under that in 2013."
Lushetsky said the Army also will do single procurements using eight different approaches, which include energy savings performance contracts, of which the Army has more than 100 in place now to improve the energy efficiency of existing building, enhance use leasing, cooperative agreements and power purchase agreements.
"We are very, very focused about deployment," Lushetsky said. "Certainly there is a lot of good research and development still to be done. But a lot of these technologies through DoE support over the last 10-20 years are very much in the marketplace right now and are quickly coming down the cost curve where we have line of sight to where we can see very, very favorable economics with conventional electricity. When you add that market dynamic with the need of the Army to have energy security, you create a tremendous opportunity for both DoD as well as the private sector."
And that is the end goal for the Army — to make the process as straightforward and quick as possible to create the most favorable environment to bring in private sector investment.
"What is very great about this endeavor is everything's on the table," Hammack said. "In our talking with people at OSD, they are bringing us challenges. We are all getting our heads together to figure out what right looks like. As we move forward as the DoD, we want to make sure we are easier to deal with than in the past. By having a predictable process, a very replicatable process with terms and conditions and an acquisition strategy that is well understood, that means developers and the finance industry will recognize that it is a good investment of private sector dollars and public entities."
WOOD BOILER ONLINE AT JAX
Friday, November 04, 2011 at 10:07 am
BAR HARBOR — A $4.4 million wood pellet heating plant that is believed to be one of the largest of its design in the United States is now providing 75 percent of the heating needs at the Jackson Laboratory.
The installation includes a 1,200-horsepower Babcock and Wilcox boiler fired by a 44.4 million Btu burner manufactured by Swedish company Petrokraft. Officials estimate that the heating plant, which was installed in June, will displace 1.2 million gallons of number 2 fuel oil and eliminate more than 13,000 short tons of carbon dioxide from the environment over the course of a year.
The massive boiler is currently being expanded to generate its own electricity, a project that should be completed by December.
Many industry insiders believe it to be the largest wood-fired heating plant in the country, said Petrokraft’s U.S. representative, Leo Dwyer.
“Certainly, it is the largest consumer of wood pellets in the United States,” Mr. Dwyer said.
The burner makes use of wood pellets ground to a fine dust and aerosolized for a suspension combustion very similar to the way gas and oil are burned, Jax facilities head John Fitzpatrick said. A total of 12,000 tons of pellets will be delivered annually to the lab from two wood pellet plants.
Geneva Wood Fuels, in Strong, is located about 140 miles from Bar Harbor, while Maine Wood Pellets of Athens is about 95 miles away. Both companies have entered into five-year contracts with the lab to supply the pellets.
“In essence, it’s a 100 percent, recycled Maine bio-product,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said. “There was nothing like this in the state before we got started.”
The raw wood materials come from sustainable woodlands that are owned and managed by loggers, sawmills, and other wood product users. The wood pellets are made of sawdust, which is sometimes made from bark-stripped wood. Pellets can be softwood, hardwood, or a blend.
The project was reviewed by the U.S. Department of Energy from November 2010 until June 2011 before receiving final approval.
DAYS CREEK SWITCHES TO BIOMASS HEATING
Days Creek School instructor James Ellis looks up at the metal hopper that contains wooden pellets that serve as fuel for the school's new heating boiler
DAYS CREEK — The change was instantly noticeable in the Days Creek Charter School gymnasium.
The gym, where for years heat barely registered during cold months, warmed up when a biomass-fueled boiler was turned on a couple of weeks ago. The biomass heater provides a constant output the old oil-burning heater can't match.
“When it's on, it really goes to work,” said Days Creek teacher and veteran basketball coach James Ellis. “Under the previous system, it was always cold in the gym. This will take care of that.”
The school hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday for the new boiler, installed in a utility building behind the school. Days Creek spent seven years pursuing the project.
The heating system will save an estimated $11,000 to $20,000 a year and may be an example to other school districts interested in reducing reliance on fossil fuels. Days Creek is one of 10 schools in the state — Milo Academy is another — that has installed biomass heat.
“If an itty-bitty district can do this, any district can,” Days Creek Superintendent Laurie Newton said.
The system cost $521,000. The district received $276,000 in federal stimulus funds. The district also funded the boiler with a tax credit and interest-free loan.
Wood pellets fuel the boiler. The pellets are stored in a hopper that resembles a grain silo.
Pellets fed into the boiler burn at temperatures between 800 degrees and 1,300 degrees, generating heat that's piped into the school. The old oil burner will stay in place as a backup.
The hopper can hold up to 27 tons of pellets. The school will need 75 to 85 tons of pellets annually, said Cameron Hamilton, business development manager for the Portland company McKinstry, a consultant on the project.
Initial savings were estimated at $11,000, based on heating oil costs of about $2 a gallon. Since then, oil prices have increased to about $3.50 per gallon, making the potential savings higher.
Oregon Department of Energy Director Bob Repine said converting from heating oil to wood pellets will reduce carbon emissions by 54 tons a year.
“This building used to belch black smoke. You don't see that anymore,” he said.
St. Helens-based SolaGen supplied the boiler and other equipment. Portland-based Bear Mountain Forest Products will be the pellet supplier.
Douglas Education Service District Superintendent George Murdock praised Newton and other Days Creek officials for pursuing the project. It should inspire other school districts in the county, he said.
“When you have the natural resources base that Douglas County has, it's a natural fit,” Murdock said.
Douglas County has one-third of the state's woody biomass, said county Commissioner Joe Laurance, who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Since he took office five years ago, Laurance has promoted biomass and lobbied Congress to allow more wood waste to be taken from federal forests.
“This is a magic moment for me,” he said.
The school plans to use the biomass boiler to fuel education. Newton told a crowd of about three dozen people who attended the ceremony that the boiler will figure in science, technology, engineering and math lessons.
For example, students will calculate the amount of pellets the system needs. They will be able to analyze emissions and learn how the technology works. Lessons will be tailed for all students, from elementary school to high school. “It's a great opportunity,” Newton said.
SUTHERLANDS: BUY YOUR WOOD PELLETS SOONER THAN LATER
As temperatures continue to dip, many here in the Valley are starting to turn up the heat. But for people who rely on pellet stoves to stay warm, a local store says a shortage of fuel may leave you out in the cold if you don't act soon.
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- As temperatures continue to dip, many here in the Valley are starting to turn up the heat. But for people who rely on pellet stoves to stay warm, a local store says a shortage of fuel may leave you out in the cold if you don't act soon.
"Pellet fuel is a good efficient way to heat your home," said Larry Benson, General Manager of Sutherlands.
But Sutherlands says a pellet shortage this year could make that more difficult if you wait to buy your fuel.
"Right now we're about three weeks behind on what we forecast for our sales as far as having them here," said Benson.
Sutherlands gets its wood pellets from two suppliers -- one in Spearfish, South Dakota and another in Walden, Colorado. In South Dakota, a slowdown in construction has translated into a slowdown in lumber production. And with the winter months quickly approaching, the mill announced it was going to close temporarily.
"So if there's less saw dust, there are less wood pellets," said Benson.
In Colorado, the has closed many of the roads loggers use because of hunting season -- and winter weather has made others undriveable. Both limit the number of trees the company can log, which in turn limits the amount of pellets it can produce.
"We're hoping in a few weeks that Rocky Mountain will be up and running again and they'll be able to start supplying us," said Benson.
Despite the shortage, Sutherlands says you won't see an increase in prices due to the fact that the cost of transporting the pellets remain stable. While the store says people don't need to panic at this point, it does say the earlier you get your pellets, the better.
"Buy what you need, what you can store, and put away now so that you've got them," said Benson.
Lowe's tells 11 News it is currently running a little low on pellets, but that it expects a large shipment by the end of the week.
FIREFIGHTERS BATTLE HUGE BIOMASS FIRE AT PORT OF TYNE
By Joanne Butcher – Journal Live
The 200-tonne stockpile of biomass pellets, at Port of Tyne’s Tyne Dock, South Shields, caught fire early yesterday.
The fuel is understood to have spontaneously combusted following a chemical reaction within a concrete storage unit.
More than 30 firefighters from stations in South Tyneside and Gateshead were called to the scene and battled to put out the fire, deep within the huge stockpile of fuel.
Crews were still at the scene last night and officers said it could take 24 hours to completely put out the flames – although the fire was swiftly brought under control.
Firefighters were called to the Port of Tyne at 5.20am on Sunday after safety monitoring equipment in the storage unit detected the fire.
Group manager Ian Robertson said the fire had started deep within the stockpile, which covers an area of some 100,000 cubic metres.
“The fire was in a huge biomass fuel storage facility of compressed timber pellets,” he said.
“Large piles of combustible material are prone to self-ignite, because heat builds up within the pile and has nowhere to escape. That is what has happened here, the wood spontaneously combusted.
“The Port of Tyne have monitoring systems in place, but unfortunately by the time the system detected the fire it had already taken hold and we had a deep-seated fire within the fuel storage pile.”
Carbon monoxide had built up within the unit and had to be cleared before crews could get to work on tackling the blaze.
Then firefighters began digging into the stockpile to uncover the burning wood and extinguish the flames.
“The mechanics of fighting the fire are relatively simple, and the fire was quickly under control,” Mr Robertson added.
“But because the fire was so deep-seated it was very time-consuming. We used mechanical diggers to dig into the pile, expose the burning material and damp down as we went. It is a long process.”
Around 25 tonnes of wood are thought to have been burned in the fire, inside a 150m by 60m concrete storage unit.
But no one was injured, and no buildings needed to be evacuated.
It is understood the fire service will now work closely with the port management to investigate the fire and try to prevent future outbreaks.
The Port of Tyne began handling biomass at Tyne Dock last year in a new £20m facility.
The largest in Europe, it can handle up to 1.5 million tonnes per year and takes deliveries of up to 75,000 tonnes at a time from cargo ships.
Wood stored at the port is eventually taken by train to Drax power station in Yorkshire, where it is used in biomass burners.
According to the Port of Tyne’s website, a shipment of wooden pellets was due to arrive into the port last night, on the Egyptian cargo ship Wadi Albostan.
A spokesman for the port said: “Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue service attended a fire at a cargo handling building at the Port of Tyne on Sunday.”
“The fire was brought under control quickly and contained in a small area within the facility. There was no damage to property and minimal impact on port operations.”
CHINESE BUYING SPREE OVER FOR NOW, FORCING B.C. SAWMILL TO CLOSE
By Gordon Hamilton – Vancouver Sun
A northwestern B.C. sawmill has shut down within months of Premier Christy Clark celebrating its reopening, the victim of a swift decline in lumber demand.
Kitwanga sawmill near Hazelton reopened July 8 amid optimism that the B.C. forest sector was rebounding from the deepest downturn in memory. But mill owners Pacific Bioenergy said Tuesday that they had to take a temporary shutdown because of market events that were completely unforeseen when they made the decision to start up last summer. Chinese demand has dropped and U.S. demand has remained flat. The mill’s 45 employees and staff have been laid off temporarily.
“We started the mill in the early summer period. All the experts leading up to that period in time were predicting stronger market outlooks,” Pacific Bioenergy president Wayne Young said in an interview.
“It’s unfortunate things have softened since.”
Young said the company is looking into options such as custom cutting lumber to keep the mill running until prices improve for commodity lumber. Pacific Bioenergy also plans to build a pellet plant at Kitwanga. Those plans have not changed, Young said.
Kitwanga is a small mill and Young said it is difficult for a small player to compete in the commodity lumber market when prices fall as low as they have this autumn.
“Markets softened this summer and there is no near-term recovery on the horizon,” Young said.
Lumber prices have fallen from a high in the $300 US range for 1,000 board feet early in the year to $229 US, which is below break-even for all but a handful of B.C. mills.
Further, China, touted as the saviour for B.C. lumber mills as recently as last summer, has cut back its buying, industry analyst Paul Quinn said.
“Lumber prices have definitely drifted off in the last couple of weeks,” Quinn, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said in an interview. “There is an inventory buildup in China. Now you are starting to see inventory buildup in the docks over here. Definitely China is slowing down.”
He said most in the industry consider it to be a temporary slowdown. With other commodities, China is known to buy and build inventory when prices are low, then back out of the market as prices climb, waiting for them to drop again.
Chinese buyers backed off just at the time the lumber supply was going up, driven largely by B.C. mills that were reopening. Quinn said that on the North American side, “You know the story. It hasn’t changed in the last five years. There is really very little demand and that is why you are seeing prices come down.
“At this point, maybe the majors, somebody with first quartile sawmills like Canfor and West Fraser, are making some money, but the average guy is losing money at this price.
“That’s reality. How quickly it corrects is anybody’s guess.”
He said more short-term mill closures are likely.
“This is a short-term issue,” he said of China pulling out of the market.
“But if you are a smaller player without the deep financial pockets to manage that, you tend to get squeezed in times like this.”
UM-WESTERN OFFICIALS: BIOMASS SAVINGS ADD UP
By Perry Backus – The Missoulian
In Montana’s world of publicly operated biomass heating systems, the University of Montana-Western’s boiler is a behemoth.
More than twice as large as the nine other projects funded by the federal Fuels for Schools and Beyond program, the system that heats the Dillon campus has been online since 2007.
Western officials say it has already saved that school hundreds of thousands of dollars in heating costs.
“In that regard, it has worked as advertised,” said Susan Briggs, Western’s vice chancellor of administration and finance.
While there may be lessons that could be learned from the success of Western’s venture into biomass heating, officials there say their situation is quite different than the project being considered at the University of Montana.
“There is quite a difference in scale and in technologies,” Briggs said. “Dillon has a fabulous airshed, too.”
Western was struggling financially when it first considered switching over its heating system to biomass.
“We didn’t know for sure that it would pencil out,” Briggs said. “We knew the infrastructure was here and the Fuels for Schools program was looking for a larger project. It turned out to be a good fit.”
That doesn’t mean there weren’t challenges along the way.
The U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Region biomass coordinator, Angela Farr, has been monitoring Western’s experience since it began.
There have been a lot of lessons learned, she said.
“The system that we installed at Western has less tolerance for fuel qualities than we would have liked,” Farr said. “That’s required a process of learning and adjustment between the school and its fuel suppliers.”
Most of the manufacturers of biomass boilers are found in the Northeast, where the technology has been in use to heat schools for more than two decades.
The wood that fuels those boilers is different in both its chemical makeup and amount of impurities like bark and leaves.
“We’ve tried to take those systems and make them work with Western fuel types,” Farr said. “Some of the companies have made some significant adjustments to their system to make them more tolerant.”
At UM-Western, boiler plant supervisor Jeff Nelson said the quality of fuel makes a huge difference in the amount of maintenance required to keep the boiler system operating efficiently.
“The material that comes from beetle-killed trees is by far the best fuel for these systems,” Nelson said. “It’s like night and day.”
Initially, Sun Mountain Lumber of Deer Lodge provided chips to fuel Western’s boiler. The current contractor is Mark’s Post and Pole of Clancy.
“They have been a good partners,” Nelson said. “Both of our contractors worked very hard to make it work. … Mark’s has done some inventive things with their equipment to improve the quality of material that we’re getting now.”
Maintaining a good source of quality fuel has been one of the chief challenges for the state’s fledgling biomass heating systems, Farr said.
“It’s very typical for solid fuels – and particularly for biomass – to have variations,” Farr said. “As much as we all would love to see some standardization, we’re not there yet.”
At Western, Farr said officials have done an excellent job of building a relationship with its contractors that keep both in business.
Western learned that if it was too stringent in enforcing standards, it can be challenging to find people willing to supply the material they need to fire the boiler.
“We’ve learned that you really need to work with these folks,” Farr said. “It’s a more challenging enterprise than what people might expect.”
On the other, Farr said some schools have been too concerned with challenging their suppliers.
“One guy delivered a load of chips that included a big chunk of sod,” she said. “In a case like that, schools have to enforce their standards. There has to be a happy medium.”
UM-Western estimates its annual cost savings at somewhere between $60,000 and $75,000 a year. Most of that savings is currently used to pay down the loan used to purchase the portion of the $1.4 million system not paid through grants.
The biomass boiler at Western can create 13 million BTUs per hour. The boiler heats enough hot water that officials there encourage students living in the dormitories to take long showers.
The next largest system in a Montana public school puts out 5 million BTUs.
Farr said the Fuels for Schools program was designed to get people thinking about the potential of using wood for heating larger facilities.
“We’ve shown that the larger the heat demand, the quicker the payback,” she said. “Of course, that’s not as great today with respect to natural gas. … Our hope was that we’d reach a critical mass of successful projects that would allow people to consider biomass for heating.”
Nelson said colleges like Western will always be looking for ways to cut back on utility costs. On this particular day, Nelson points to workers replacing old windows in a classroom with a more efficient variety.
“I think in the next 15 years, you’ll see some small colleges close their doors due to high utility costs,” Nelson said. “You have to be as proactive as possible in keeping those costs in check.”
WOOD PELLET BUSINESS PREPARES TO FIRE UP PRODUCTION
November 15, 2011|Ryan Bentley (231) 439-9342 - firstname.lastname@example.org
BOYNE CITY — From sourcing of raw materials to production to sales, three business partners in Kirtland Products expect Northern Michigan to factor significantly into their new wood pellet manufacturing venture.
Kirtland hopes to have pellet production up and running by early December in Boyne City’s Air Industrial Park. It will share a building at 1 Altair Drive with Arete Industries, an existing automotive supplier business in which the Kirtland partners are also involved.
Those partners include Kirtland’s chief executive officer Leon Tupper, president/chief operating officer Tom Monley and vice president Mike Lange.
Wood pellets have seen increased demand internationally in recent years as a fuel for both home heating and electricity generation. Tupper noted that many consumers have added pellet burners as a secondary source of home heat as other fuel prices have trended upward.
“We are seeing a great demand for pellets as an alternative to the oil based heating alternatives,” he said.
GOVERNMENT PROGRAM TO REMOVE OR CONVERT WOOD BURNING STOVES
Posted By: Richard Deschamps· 11/21/2011 12:52:00 PM
The Quebec government will help you dump your wood-burning stove for a more eco-friendly alternative.
It launched a $6 million program Monday morning called Feu Vert, which would give Montreal residents a cash rebate if they replace their wood-burning stove with a gas or electric one.
Owners of wood-burning stoves will receive a $900 subsidy if they replace their stove with one their burns wood pellets or natural gas, between $350 and $400 if they install an electric stove, and $300 if they remove the stove entirely.
The government says there are an estimated 85,000 stoves in use that no longer meet environmental standards.
CONOCOPHILLIPS, ENVIVA TO BUILD TORREFIED WOOD PELLET PLANT
By Anna Austin | November 21, 2011
Global energy giant ConocoPhillips has partnered with U.S. wood pellet manufacturer Enviva LP to build a torrefied wood pellet plant under the company name Eco Biomass Technologies.
The partnership is a 50/50 joint venture, according to Enviva spokeswoman Elizabeth Woodworth. Enviva will be responsible for the operations, maintenance and fiber sourcing at the facility, she said. It will employ a combination of proprietary and acquired existing technologies.
While the plant is slated to begin operations in 2013, its location is currently being finalized, as well as its size, according to Woodworth. Enviva’s current facilities range from 100,000 to 450,000 tons per year.
“ConocoPhillips is an internationally recognized leader in mid-stream energy applications and has an excellent reputation for energy innovations and technologies,” Woodworth said. “Enviva is the leader in renewable woody biomass fuel for energy applications. The partnership brings together complementary expertise and industry knowledge, which will bring a much-anticipated renewable fuel alternative to market and to scale.”
Besides the partnership with ConocoPhillips, Enviva operates a wood pellet manufacturing plant in Belgium, two in Mississippi, and has several others in various stages of development throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. The company reports that its total annual production capacity will reach 750,000 metric tons by the end of 2011, most of which will be shipped overseas for use by European utilities.
Eco Biomass will sell its torrefied wood pellets through agreements with major power utilities, and has plans to expand its production capabilities significantly over the coming years.
U.K.’S DECC RO BANDING GIVES PELLETS ADVANTAGE OVER COAL
By Lisa Gibson | November 21, 2011
The new RO proposal dictates levels of support for renewable energy in the U.K. from 2013 to 2017. The biomass and other industries had been anxiously awaiting the release, concerned investments in projects were slowing due to uncertainty in support levels past 2012.
With the new support levels, wood pellets would generate a £10.3 per gigajoule advantage over coal, representing a 48 percent cost savings, according to an analysis of the new levels conducted by River Basin Energy. The company is working to produce 6 million metric tons of torrefied biomass over the next decade. According to its analysis, torrefied wood will bring even more savings and an £18 per gigajoule advantage over coal, realized immediately because it would not require investments or retrofits at power stations.
Under its October proposal, the DECC would leave dedicated biomass support at the current 1.5 ROCs per megawatt hour (MWh) through March 2016, reducing it to 1.4 ROCs per MWh beginning in April 2016. Support for cofiring of biomass in the proposal remains at the current 0.5 ROCs per MWh, and cofiring of biomass with combined heat and power is also to remain at 1 ROC. Support levels for two new technology additions, enhanced cofiring of biomass and biomass conversion, are both proposed at 1 ROC per MWh. Enhanced cofiring is when complete biomass conversion is planned, but isn’t cost effective to do all at once, according to the proposal. “However, by 2020 we anticipate that the majority of enhanced cofirers will have fully converted their stations,” the proposal stated.
Advanced gasification, advanced pyrolysis and anaerobic digestion would all remain at 2 ROCs until 2015, when support will be reduced to 1.9, and again to 1.8 in 2016. The DECC also proposes changes to the definitions of advanced gasification and advanced pyrolysis, as well as a merging of the two.
EUROPEAN PELLET PRODUCERS JOIN FORCES
Nov 16, 2011, Brussels - Faced with many of the same market access concerns as North American pellet producers, colleagues across the Atlantic have joined forces.
The group will discuss and formulate the position of pellet suppliers regarding specifications and sustainability requirements for industrial pellets. Other issues to be discussed are standard contracts, best practices for safety and security, as well as public relations and lobbying issues facing the sector.
In particular, the EIPS wants to serve as a counterpart to the Industrial Wood Pellet Buyers group (IWPB) in defining the framework for the rapidly evolving industrial pellet market. The EIPS is open to European industrial pellet producers, traders, and trade associations, with a chair elected at the next meeting in January 2012. The Wood Pellet Association of Canada and the US Industrial Pellet Association are both observing members of the EPC.
BIOMASS HEATING: BIG POTENTIAL NEEDS BOOST
while much of the nation will benefit from low natural gas prices this winter heating season, it will be a different story for the millions of households and businesses across the country that are not on the gas grid. The cost of heating with fuel oil is expected to reach record levels this winter. Propane prices are up sharply, too. And, heating with electricity is the least efficient and most expensive alternative of all. During these hard economic times, high heating bills will only make things worse for many – especially across rural America.
At an EESI briefing November 16, Congressional and federal agency staff and other attendees learned how biomass heating can help tackle the problems of high heating costs, economic recession, and high unemployment, all at the same time. Advanced, state-of-the-art biomass furnaces and boilers can reduce heating costs dramatically compared to heating oil, propane, and electricity. The biomass fuel is 100 percent renewable. In most regions of the country, there is an ample supply of local biomass that could be produced and harvested sustainably. Doing so could create thousands of jobs where they are needed most. Instead of exporting energy dollars to large, distant, energy corporations, community energy dollars can be conserved and invested locally. Finally, advanced biomass boilers, furnaces, and stoves are highly efficient, with very low emissions. Changing out old, inefficient, highly polluting fireplaces, wood boilers, and wood stoves can contribute importantly to improving air quality in many communities across the country.
So why isn’t rural America switching to biomass heat? Many are, but unfortunately, some are switching to the old, inefficient, unhealthy, dirty kind. They cannot afford anything else. Although the long-term savings of advanced biomass heating are proven and significant, the upfront change out costs can be prohibitive for those who could benefit the most – rural households, schools, and businesses that have been hard hit by the recession.
Space heating and cooling in buildings has been estimated to consume about one third of total energy in the United States. Important policy attention has been given to improving building and conventionally-powered HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) appliance energy efficiencies. More is needed. However, relatively little policy attention, at the state or federal level, has been given to promoting renewable thermal energy—compared to that given to fossil fuels, nuclear power, renewable power, and biofuels. Biomass heating and cooling is an area where increased federal policy attention could make a difference – a win-win for households, economic development, energy security, and the environment.
BIOMASS 2012: INTERNATIONAL GROWTH AND DOMESTIC OBSTACLES
By Kate Bechen | November 22, 2011
In 2012, expect to see the continued development of the biomass industry in the European Union and other areas of the world. Currently, the U.S. leads the world in biomass power capacity, but that is beginning to change. The North American wood pellet industry has become a major supplier to the EU. The volume of EU-bound wood pellet shipments in 2010 was double that of 2008, with the Netherlands, the U.K. and Belgium leading the demand. From 2008 to 2009 the EU’s gross electricity production from biomass increased more than 10 percent, with Germany, Sweden and the U.K. leading the way. The U.K., in particular, is focusing its efforts on developing its biomass capacity. October saw the U.K. propose subsidies to business customers (to be followed by households after the program was established) who use renewable energy technology for heating. While the program’s rich subsidy was scaled back (from 2.7 pence per kilowatt hour (kWh) to 1 pence per kWh), the efforts show clearly that the political will is in place to continue to support the biomass industry. The U.K.’s proposals included as a key goal the development of “cheaper” renewable generation, focusing specifically on the conversion of coal plants to biomass and cofiring plants.
But the U.K. is not the only place to see recent movement in the biomass space that is expected to continue throughout 2012. India, Japan and Brazil have also added biomass power capacity with additional projects in development phases. In addition, biogas is expected to see significant growth in Italy, France and Spain. China, in particular, has set ambitious goals for its biomass industry. By 2015, China wants to have 13 gigawatts of biomass power capacity, which is a 160 percent increase from its 2010 capacity. This means China anticipates adding 500 to 700 biomass power plants by 2015. With a biomass reserve equivalent to 500 million tons of coal, from sources such as straw, algae, methane, fallen timber and manure, China may very well emerge as the new high-growth country in the biomass space.
The U.S. biomass industry is growing, though it will continue to face significant challenges during 2012. But first, some success stories. Several new biomass plants are under construction (not just in the development stage) including 100 megawatt (MW) plants in Texas and Florida and smaller 50 to 75 MW plants in New Hampshire and Florida. Several more plants are in the development phase, with construction expected to begin in 2012. Most of these plants are located in rural areas where jobs are needed the most. New plant construction and job creation will go a long way to garnering the political support needed to move the industry forward.
What the biomass industry can’t control is the price of natural gas and oil. Further, the inability to establish an acceptable definition of “biomass” has torn the industry’s focus away from developing its supply chain and establishing its presence as a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels. In addition, we are seeing a shift toward investment in smart grid and energy efficiency technologies, which may result in a focus away from biomass projects, at least in the short term. Energy service providers are focusing more on smart grid technologies, as a result of commercial customer demand for real-time energy management capabilities, through the acquisition of battery storage and consumer-driven energy management technologies.
In 2012, the biomass industry needs to focus on the positive economic benefits it brings to communities and the importance of energy independence. Further, while establishing a biomass definition is important, let’s not allow that debate to divert precious time and energy away from the development of a cost-effective supply chain and establishment of biomass as an alternative energy source to fossil fuels.
Author: Kate Bechen
Attorney, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP
PATIO HEATER PROVES POPULAR
Brothers' design allows heating with pellets — no electricity required
11:54 PM, Nov. 26, 2011 |
Tyson Traeger welds a pellet-fired patio heater at the company in Mt. Angel. / Timothy J. Gonzalez / Statesman Journal
Wood pellets can fire barbecue grills and stoves. A local company has found another application for the sawmill by-product: it's created a heater for outdoor use that doesn't need to be plugged into an electrical outlet.
Brothers Tyson and Simon Traeger started their Mt. Angel company, Wood Pellet Products, about four months ago. In the short time the small company has been in business, it's sold more than 130 of its wood pellet-fueled patio heaters. Thirty-five dealers in Oregon, including Wilco Farm Stores, carry the welded-steel product that sells for just under $400.
Unlike conventional pellet-fired devices, the Traegers' patio heater doesn't require electricity to keep the fire burning, and that's a plus for potential buyers. The heater, which weighs about 70 pounds, can be moved around the backyard or taken on outings.
"We've been getting a lot of interest from parks and campers," Tyson Traeger said.
Pellet grill and stove designs typically rely on moving parts to drop wood pellets into a fire pot and a fan to operate. In contrast, the Traegers' patio heater uses a gravity feed system to deliver wood pellets and a natural draft to supply air.
Users open a door on the heater and light the wood pellets to get started. The Traegers maintain that it's cheaper to operate than gas-fired outdoor heaters.
The brothers' grandfather, Joe, designed the Traeger wood-pellet barbecue grill. The family sold the grill company several years ago, and the new owners shifted production of Traeger brand grills overseas.
Wood Pellet Products, a three-person company, makes the patio heaters at its shop on 1385 E. College St. in Mt. Angel. Tyson Traeger grew up in the grill business, but his patio heater has a much different design than a pellet grill.
Once customers see the patio heater in operation, the product practically sells itself, he said.
"It cranks the heat, and that's what customers love about it," Traeger said. No smoke is visible when the heater is operating, a sign of its efficiency, he said.
mrose@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6657 or follow on Twitter at mrose_SJ
For more information
Wood Pellet Products website: woodpelletproducts.com.
Tyson Traeger: email@example.com
QUEBEC GREENHOUSE FIRES UP WOODY BIOMASS HEATING SYSTEM
By - Biomass Magazine
A large greenhouse in Sainte-Clotilde-de-Châteauguay, Quebec, unveiled on Nov. 18 its new biomass heating system, complete with a 2-kilometer (1.24-mile) hot water distribution network for its 6.5 hectares (16 acres).
Les Serres Lefort Inc. is a specialty greenhouse dedicated to the production of seedlings delivered to 250 vegetable growers in Quebec. With the help of consulting firm Jean Gobeil & Associés and boiler manufacturer Compte-Fournier Inc., Les Serres Lefort fired up its forest biomass heating system, including two 6-megawatt boilers, in October.
“All greenhouse farmers know that in greenhouse production, energy is one of the major costs we face,” said Sylvain Lefort, owner of Les Serres Lefort. “Since 2008, the continuous price increase in fossil fuels meant that our propane heating system was generating additional expenses. I therefore started to look for alternatives such as forestry biomass. Today, I am extremely proud to say that Les Serres Lefort Inc. has gone green. Our brand new biomass heating system will decrease our environmental footprint while supporting us in our mission to offer top quality products that meet the expectations of our clients in terms of pricing and profitability.”
LARGEST GREENHOUSE SINGLE-STORY BUILDING IN THE UNITED STATES SWITCHES TO WOODY BIOMASS HEATING
General Motors’ Chevrolet division has embarked on a 5-year effort to invest 40 million dollars in American projects that aim to reduce up to 8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. From post-wildfire reforestation, to wind farms, to pipeline heat recovery, and more, the corporation has some interesting CO2 reduction projects underway.
One that specifically caught our eye is an effort to help the United State’s largest single-story building, the Metrolina Greenhouse in Huntersville, North Carolina, replace its use of fossil fuel energy with that of woody biomass. The immense building—over 120 football fields—houses and turns over 70 million plants a year. An operation of this size requires a lot energy, to say the least. Last year, Metrolina switched from extensive fossil fuel use to generating virtually all of its heat from wood chips. The company feels its smoke-free biomass heating helps them be a much better corporate neighbor to surrounding communities than when they used old fossil fuel boilers in the past.
Jeff Woolsey, the Systems and Boiler Engineer for the greenhouse states:
When our biomass boilers are running and burning this wood, you cannot see any smoke. You can’t even tell they are running.
Checkout the video: http://youtu.be/M5AZFbQNG_c
November 28, 2011
PORT OF AMSTERDAM PREPARES FOR BIOMASS BOOM
Currently, Dutch ports handle 1.5 million tonnes of biomass each year, but as a result of the growing requirement for biomass in North European countries, it is expected this will increase to around 13.5 million tonnes by 2020. Amsterdam, which already handles some biomass from source countries including Canada, the US and Brazil, but it expects its volumes to reach six million tonnes by 2020.
To meet the expected growth in this sector, the port will allow existing fossil fuel terminals to expand but will not allow the building of any new ones as it increases its focus on bio-energy. Also, in co-operation with the port of Duisburg, Amsterdam is redeveloping a transhipment terminal in Duisburg to enable the storage and transhipment of biomass to Duisburg for customers from Amsterdam.
Where possible, Port of Amsterdam has also been supporting businesses hoping to benefit from the growth in biomass through a range of activities, such as conducting in depth market studies, promoting biomass in source countries and establishing contacts with hinterland customers.
According to Koen Overtoom, managing director of commercial department for the Port of Amsterdam, the growth in European biomass demand is largely due to moves by Germany to phase out its nuclear power stations by 2022 and an increased focus by other European countries on energy sources that are less polluting than fossil fuels. However, the port also hopes to benefit from proposals recently unveiled in the Dutch government’s Energy Report 2011, which include a requirement to make the use of some biomass mandatory at the country’s coal-fired energy plants and for the nation’s use of renewable energy to be increased from 4 percent in 2010 to 14 percent by 2020. In anticipation, some coal-fired power stations in the south of the country are already blending in biomass.
Overtoom says it is estimated that by 2020, the Netherlands, Germany, Scandinavia and the UK will require 15 million tonnes of biomass per year.
“As a result, the Port of Amsterdam will acquire a significant market share in the north-west European market for biomass transhipment,” says Overtoom. “The port is strong in energy. Most of the cargo that moves through the port of Amsterdam consists of oil and coal.”
Businesses based in the port area recognize the potential for growth in biomass and are already starting to invest. The growth of Greenmills and Vesta Biofuels’ bio-diesel plants, situated at the port, and the fact oil, coal and dry bulk companies are also investing in bio-energy, is proof of the growing confidence in biomass’s potential. Also, other companies are in the process of drawing up contracts to build new biomass handling facilities, but are waiting for the legislation to become final.
WEST COAST’S BOOMING ASIAN LOG TRADE SUDDENLY GOES BUST
The recent frenzy of log and lumber exports to China, which sent ripples rolling through various parts of timber industry this year, has experienced a sudden slowdown.
On Monday, the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station reported that West Coast log and lumber exports had already surpassed calendar 2010 totals during the first nine months of 2011.
“The increasing shipments to China are the main driver of the hike in log and lumber exports from the West Coast,” said Xiaoping Zhou, a research economist with the station.
PRINCE RUPERT PORT AUTHORITY SENDS LETTER ADDRESSING WOOD PELLET TERMINAL CONCERNS
By Alan S. Hale - The Northern View
Published: November 29, 2011 9:00 AM
Updated: November 29, 2011 9:57 AM
The Prince Rupert Port Authority has a sent out a mass letter to respond to concerns being raised about a proposed wood pellet terminal on the waterfront.
The letter is being sent to residents who live in the Water Street area, very close to Westview Terminal and its adjoining rail yard, and comes after three residents from that area, Frances Kavalec, Camille Mark and Pierre Plant, came to the September 19 council meeting object to putting a terminal so close to their neighborhood. Council had just decided to send a letter of support for the project at their previous meeting after listening to a presentation by the company responsible for the project, Pinnacle Renewable Energy Group.
The residents argued that they were concerned that the noise, light and especially the dust coming from the new wood pellet terminal would lower their property values, disturb them in their homes and have unintended health consequences for themselves and their families. They were also concerned about the safety and noise of having increased train traffic and trucks driving in their neig-hbourhood to get to the terminal.
The biggest complaint though was that the project appeared to be moving ahead, and gaining municipal endorsement without anyone asking what they or their neighbours thought about it.
The letter from the port authority attempts to address many of these concerns. According to the port authority, there has been no public consultation yet because the project is still in its early planning stages.
“Some residents who live close to the site have expressed concerns to the Prince Rupert Port Authority. Indeed, port developments of this nature require public input. However, Pinnacle’s announcement was made months before the anticipated start of the official environmental assessment process – which will include public consultation,” reads the letter.
The port authority is assuring residents that once the environmental assessment begins, they will be able to have their say and that their views will weigh heavily on the decision made by the regulator.
“Simply put, your opinion matters. If Pinnacle’s proposal proceeds to an environmental assessment, your participation in community consultation will be highly valued,” reads the letter.
The port authority also addresses some of the concerns about the wood pellet terminal itself, although it will ultimately be up to Pinnacle to defend its design and location when the assessment begins.
According to the letter, the new terminal is designed to minimize the effects that the residents who came to council are worried about. This wood pellet terminal would be considerably smaller than others owned by the company with four silos for pellets, three connecting railroad tracks, a compact ship berth and loading equipment.
The equipment for loading the ships will use a “low-speed pellet chute” which will have an enclosure around it. This is supposed to “virtually eliminate” the dust that the residents are worried poses a health threat to their families. The design is supposed to significantly cut down on noise from the terminal as well.
The port authority says that the reason why Pinnacle is not looking to put their terminal somewhere in a more industrial area of the Prince Rupert port, like Ridley Island, is because of the terminal’s small size. According to the letter, to set up a facility on Ridley Island costs a lot of money that only large projects can justify spending it. That’s why Pinnacle chose to set up their smaller facility in an area designated for light industry.
One of the residents to lodge the complaints about the terminal, Francis Kavalec says she feels that by telling residents to wait for the environmental assessment, the Prince Rupert Port Authority is brushing their concerns aside.
“I’m a little worried that our concerns just might fall on deaf ears...They’re playing with us. They have to listen to us on paper, but they’re going ahead with what they want to do anyway,” said Kavalec.
Kavalec says that the project shouldn’t be progressing as far as an environmental assessment without public input.
BIOMASS SECURE POWER RAMPS UP WOOD PELLET CAPACITY
29 November 2011
Canada-based wood pellet producer Biomass Secure Power has outlined its three-year growth plan.
The company currently has five wood pellet production plants under development, which will manufacture a total 3.5 million tonnes of wood pellets a year.
The first plant is slated to come online in 2012, with a further two to be ready for commissioning in 2013. The remaining two will be operational in 2014.
However, Biomass Secure aims to manufacture 5 million tonnes of wood pellets by Q4 2015 and is therefore planning more production factories to meet this target.
The company is ramping up its capacity in response to the increasing demand for biomass pellets. It anticipates this market to reach 110 million tonnes annually by 2020.