Friday, June 1, 2012
Newsletter May 2012
Gerald W brown * 7202 County Road U * Danbury, WI 54830 Phone 715-866-8535 Gerald Brown is solely responsible for the content in this newsletter • MILITARY PURSUES GREEN ENERGY • BIOMASS ENERGY: PROS AND CONS • SCHOOL’S WOOD PELLET BOILER PAYING OFF • PELLETCO OFFERS GROUNDBREAKING HEATING COST REDUCTION PROGRAM TO NORTHEAST SCHOOLS • ENERGY DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES GUIDE FOR 50% MORE ENERGY EFFICIENT HOSPITALS • RISING WOOD PELLET SPOT MARKET ATTRACTS PRODUCERS • COMPANY DEVELOPS LOCAL HEATING TECHNOLOGY WITH BIOCHAR BYPRODUCT • WITH HIGH-TECH WOOD PELLETS AND EFFICIENT BURNERS, brothers push forest biomass as energy good for Oregon • RISING WOOD PELLET SPOT MARKET ATTRACTS PRODUCERS • PROTECTING MINNESOTA'S FORESTS WHILE UTILIZING BIOMASS RESOURCES • NEW REPORT DISSECTS THE INTERNATIONAL GREEN CONSTRUCTION CODE • PELLET PLANT OWNER: NEED TO GROW THE INDUSTRY • DRAX ADDRESSES BIOMASS SUPPLY SUSTAINABILITY RISKS • GREENWORLD TO ACQUIRE A WOOD PELLET MANUFACTURING FACILITY IN NORTH CAROLINA • MASSACHUSETTS ADDRESSES "BIOMASS LOOPHOLE" AND LIMITS SUBSIDIES MILITARY PURSUES GREEN ENERGY May 3 - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - Michael Futch The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. May 3 - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - Michael Futch The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. Small businesses will be able to compete for a slice of a $7 billion contract to expand renewable energy within the military, one of the national advisers on the new Army Energy Initiatives Task Force said Wednesday. Diana Potts, an industry adviser with the task force, said the 30-year opportunity through the Army and Department of Defense is for companies that provide renewable energy generation through solar, wind, geothermal and biomass production. She spoke to about 35 companies during a forum at Fayetteville Technical Community College. "What they're looking at is companies that step up and say, 'I'm a small business in North Carolina. I'm going to team with a small business in California or a small business in Texas,' " Potts said. "They're looking for small businesses who can do it. Which is why I said, 'You've got to be able to team (up)' " During the program, company representatives were presented with a brief overview of what's to come regarding the Army Energy Initiatives Task Force. Its mission is to address the Army's renewable energy needs while working with private industry on projects for military installations across the country. Fort Bragg has been designated as an area in North Carolina for a future project site. "The military is not doing this because they think it's the cool thing to do," said Scott Dorney, executive director of the N.C. Military Business Center. "It's about security. It's about energy security. This is a big-picture kind of thing." According to the Army Energy Initiatives Task Force website, the Army manages more than 15 million acres within the U.S. and spends nearly $4 billion a year on energy. The branch needs an additional 2.5 million megawatt hours of renewable energy through collaboration with the private sector to meet its goal of 25 percent renewable energy by 2025. The Army has released a draft request for proposals for renewable energy generation on federal installations nationwide. Although the period has closed on a request for industry feedback, the official request for proposals has not been released. Wednesday's forum was intended to gather companies that could potentially bid on the renewable energy contract. "We want to make sure they understand the requirements of the contract opportunity and how it fits into the Army's plan for renewable energy," Dorney said. "Most importantly, it gives those companies an opportunity to team together or have the knowledge of this requirement to find others to bid on this contract." The N.C. Military Business Center is looking to leverage military and other federal business opportunities for economic development in this state. Dorney said, "It's going to be all about team." Staff writer Michael Futch can be reached at email@example.com or 486-3529. Knight-Ridder BIOMASS ENERGY: PROS AND CONS By RP Siegel | May 4th, 2012 1 Comment inShare7 There is no perfect energy source. Each and every one has its own advantages and compromises. This series will explore the pros and cons of various energy sources. Learn about other forms of energy generation here. Biomass energy has been around since long before anyone spoke of renewables or alternative energy sources. There was a time when wood was the primary fuel for heating and cooking around the world. It is still used that way today, though in many fewer locations in countries like ours. When we speak of biomass today, we are basically talking about several different applications: 1. Direct burning for domestic heat: This is the traditional method of burning wood, peat, dung, etc., for cooking and heat. It is still widely used, especially in developing countries where it is responsible for many respiratory illnesses and deaths. 2. Electric generation: Biomass is used to feed a boiler which then provides steam to a turbine which is connected to a generator. Feedstocks are mainly forest wood residues, and urban/industrial waste wood. EIA predicts that by 2020, biomass will produce 0.3 percent of the projected 5,476 billion kilowatt hours of total generation. Roughly 19,786,000 Mw hrs of electricity were created from biomass last year. 3. Co-generation: Essentially the same as item #2 above, with the addition that useful heat is withdrawn from the process, improving its efficiency in a combined heat and power (CHP) arrangement. 4. Gasification: The biomass is heated in an environment where it breaks down into a flammable gas. After the gas is cleaned and filtered, it can then be used as natural gas, usually in a combined cycle turbine. Feedstocks used primarily include forest and agricultural residues. 5. Anaerobic Digestion: The biomaterials go through a fermentation process that converts the organic materials into biogas, which is mostly methane (60%) and carbon dioxide (40%) biogas. Converting methane into CO2 and water by burning it is a net positive from a greenhouse gas (GHG) perspective, since methane is a much more potent GHG than CO2. Enzymatic digestion and other catalysts are used to enhance conversion. Suitable fuels are organic materials with high moisture content such as animal manure or food processing waste. Landfill gas which is siphoned off of active landfills can also be considered part of this category, though, in this case, there are concerns about toxins released, though some technologies claim to eliminate many of them. 6. Biofuels: This category includes any kind of biomass that is converted into liquid fuel, primarily for transportation. Most common are ethanol and biodiesel. Ethanol can be produced from food crops such as corn in this country, sugar cane in Brazil and sugar beets in Europe. “Cellulosic” ethanol can also be made from wood or paper waste as well as specially grown grasses such as switchgrass or from agriculture residues. Biodiesel is generally made from animal fats or vegetable oils. Much “homegrown” biodiesel is made from recycled restaurant grease. Commercially, soybean oil is used in the US, rapeseed and sunflower oil in Europe, and palm oil in Malaysia. Algae-based biofuel is a special case, which we covered in a separate posting. While convenient for transportation, biofuels require considerably more energy to produce than biomass. Biomass is often advertised as carbon neutral or nearly carbon neutral, but this can be misleading. It is true that the carbon released upon burning it was only recently (in relative terms) pulled out of the atmosphere, so it can be viewed as returning what was already there before the plant came up. But any additional carbon emitted in cultivating, harvesting and transporting the fuel, which can be considerable, is incremental to that. The less carbon emitted in these stages of production, the closer the resulting fuel is to carbon neutrality. There is also the question of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, if used, and the energy and resources used and carbon emitted in producing them. Biomass Energy Pros and Cons: Pros • Truly a renewable fuel • Widely available and naturally distributed • Generally low cost inputs • Abundant supply • Can be domestically produced for energy independence • Low carbon, cleaner than fossil fuels • Can convert waste into energy, helping to deal with waste Cons • Energy intensive to produce. In some cases, with little or no net gain. • Land utilization can be considerable. Can lead to deforestation. • Requires water to grow • Not totally clean when burned (NOx, soot, ash, CO, CO2) • May compete directly with food production (e.g. corn, soy) • Some fuels are seasonal • Heavy feedstocks require energy to transport. • Overall process can be expensive • Some methane and CO2 are emitted during production • Not easily scalable While biomass seems compelling at first blush, given that it is renewable and can be domestically produced, there are a number of drawbacks that make it far from a perfect solution. Primarily, as our population continues to grow, the competition for arable land and water needed for food production is going to make a number of these options unsuitable. That doesn’t mean that biomass cannot and should not play a role in our overall energy picture for some time to come. The most attractive and efficient options are those that utilize existing waste materials as inputs, which is, after all, the way nature operates. There are a number of these options that utilize forestry, agricultural, and even industrial waste (e.g. paper) as well, as trash found in landfills and recycled nutrients from waste water treatment facilities. Not only are these more efficient input sources, but in many cases using them will also help to address waste disposal issue. It could be argued, though, that in the future, many of these same materials might be needed for compost, particularly as the production of phosphorus, a key ingredient in fertilizer, begins to decline. SCHOOL’S WOOD PELLET BOILER PAYING OFF May 5, 2012 By CHRIS KNIGHT - Senior Staff Writer (firstname.lastname@example.org) , Adirondack Daily Enterprise Save | SARANAC LAKE - A new, high-efficiency wood pellet boiler at Petrova Elementary and the Saranac Lake Middle School has cut the building's heating costs in half, at least for the month of April. Gerald Goldman, superintendent of the Saranac Lake Central School District, told the school board Wednesday that he recently received a report on the use of the new boiler, which went on line in January, from Lee Daunais, the district's facilities director. "I'm happy to report that it appears that we have saved in April - and Lee claims the temperatures were similar from 2011 to 2012 - we've saved 50 percent of our fuel costs at this building with that wood pellet boiler," Goldman said. "We compared our fuel oil consumption with the wood pellets to our fuel oil consumption last year when there were no wood pellets, and we used about half the amount of fuel (this year). I think that's fantastic." The wood pellet boiler system cost the district about half a million dollars, with all but roughly $100,000 coming from a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority grant. The district gets 50 percent state aid for its local share, meaning the system ultimately cost about $50,000 in local funds. "We think we'll pay that back in one year, that $50,000," Goldman said. "I think we'll save about $46,000 at current fuel costs in one year; plus we'll extend the life of both the (oil burning) boilers. They won't have to work overtime to heat this building." The wood pellet boiler is set up in an enclosed area outside of the building, near the gym. It's attached to a silo that stores the pellets. --- Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or email@example.com. PELLETCO OFFERS GROUNDBREAKING HEATING COST REDUCTION PROGRAM TO NORTHEAST SCHOOLS Wood Pellet Boilers on Metered Heat Yield Significant Savings Over Fossil Fuel Budgets: "Cut Fuel Costs ... Not Teacher Jobs" ORONO, Maine, May 7, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Not too long ago, the need to trim school budgets would place sport teams or art programs at risk. Unfortunately today, headlines more often report that teacher jobs are now the victim of drastic cost-cutting measures, often citing rising fossil fuel costs which can destroy even the most responsibly managed school budget. In a groundbreaking, first-of-its kind program, Maine-grown Pelletco, a leader in patented biomass fuel technology, is offering a limited number of school districts across the Northeast the opportunity to reduce heating expenditures for this coming school year - a savings that could very well mean saving teacher jobs, with NO INCREMENTAL EXPENDITURE. Heating costs are one of the most significant line items in municipal budgets, compounded by the fact that annual increases in fossil fuel prices are hard to predict. As a result, many schools districts are examining alternative heating sources and searching for economic value. Wood pellets provide a viable option. "With lower levels of sulfur and nitrogen oxide, modern wood-burning systems such as pellets or chips are widely regarded as a more environmentally friendly option than heating oil," said Pelletco CEO Jim Knight. "Moreover wood pellets offer significant price savings over fossil fuel (50 percent) and propane (75 percent), savings which most school districts really need." Pelletco was formed in 2010 to produce, market and distribute patented bio mass fuel technology in North America. The rapidly rising costs of fossil fuels, combined with the need for a more sustainable, renewable and local energy source in the Northeast, drove the company to pursue the development of a new patented high-performance pellet fuel. For the month of May, Pelletco is offering school districts across the Northeast - who meet certain criteria - the opportunity to change over to wood pellet systems at NO CAPITAL COST. Pelletco will provide environmentally friendly wood pellet boilers to heat a school and charge the school districts only for the heat consumed on a BTU-metered basis. According to Knight, several school districts in Maine are already seeing the cost savings from transitioning to wood pellet systems. However, most school districts are tied to fossil fuel and the significant cost to fill their tanks. "Through our supplier relationships, Pelletco has a limited window of opportunity to remove the largest barrier of capital cost from the equation for qualifying school districts," said Knight. "If the commitment is made by the end of May, the new system can be in place and the savings realized by the start of the 2012 school year. "Based on current fossil fuel costs, it would be more expensive for school systems to take no action," added Knight. In order to be eligible, a school building needs to burn an average of 15,000 gallons of fossil fuel a year on a hot water thermal heating system. Interested school district managers or Superintendents should contact Pelletco at program@thePelletco.com to learn if their school qualifies. For additional information about Pelletco, visit http://www.pelletco.com Logo: http://www.ereleases.com/pic/2012-PelletCo.tif Contact: Laura Peetlbptalk@aol.com (917) 860-6285 ENERGY DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES GUIDE FOR 50% MORE ENERGY EFFICIENT HOSPITALS May 08, 2012 The Energy Department today announced the release of the final installment in a series of four 50% Advanced Energy Design Guides (AEDGs). This latest guide will help architects, engineers, and contractors design and build highly efficient hospital buildings, helping to save energy and cut facility operational costs. The 50% AEDG series provides a practical approach for designers and builders of large hospitals, and other major commercial building types, to achieve 50% energy savings compared to the building energy code used in many parts of the nation. These commercial building guides support President Obama's goal to reduce energy use in commercial buildings 20% by 2020. The Advanced Energy Design Guide for 50% energy savings in large hospitals is now available for download. Beyond helping builders achieve efficiency exceeding the current energy code, the AEDGs also provide climate-specific recommendations to incorporate today's off-the-shelf energy efficient building products. These recommendations help designers and builders choose advanced building envelope assemblies, highly efficient heating and cooling systems, and incorporate other energy-saving measures such as daylighting and associated control systems. Additionally, efficiency measures found in the guides can be used in the development of future commercial building energy codes. The 50% Advanced Energy Design Guide series is developed through a partnership with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), American Institute of Architects (AIA), U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA). The Large Hospital guide is the final installment in the current 50% series, and follows the guides for Small and Medium Office Buildings and K-12 Schools which were released in 2011, and the guide for Medium Retail Buildings released in January of this year. DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce dependence on foreign oil. Learn more about EERE's support of building technologies. Additional information on DOE's efforts to support the development and implementation of building energy codes can be found on the Energy Codes website. RISING WOOD PELLET SPOT MARKET ATTRACTS PRODUCERS London, 8 May (Argus) — Spot activity in the biomass sector is growing, with more producers retaining a larger percentage of their supply to sell on the prompt market. In the past, the vast majority of wood pellets were traded in contractual deals ranging from one to 10 years, but higher liquidity and a shift in risk management and operations are seeing more producers trading spot. “We're seeing a lot more interest in spot and a willingness from producers to keep anything from 10-15pc of their volumes for trading on the spot,” a European broker said. “In the past, producers were keen to contract all their volumes or find offtake agreements for as much supply as possible. But during the past 12 months, some have been inundated with requests for spot volumes at higher prices than previously contracted and led some producers to re-evaluate the split between contracted volumes and spot.” The Argus cif northwest Europe wood pellet index captures spot activity on a weekly basis and has witnessed a significant increase in spot activity, particularly in Europe. During the past year, the index has captured spot volumes of 683,000t. This is made up of 25,000t shipments from North America and smaller Handysize and barge vessels around Europe. “We could have sold our annual capacity twice over during the past six months,” a European producer said. “We received a lot of requests from old and new customers for additional supply, but all our volumes were contracted at pre-agreed prices, much lower than where the spot price was at the turn of the year. It is a difficult decision for a producer because you do not want to be left with unwanted volumes, but the rise in liquidity, plus chances to export into other areas such as the domestic market, makes it attractive for us to trade more on the prompt market.” The rise in spot volumes has also benefited producers in need of additional supply to fulfil contracts. During the past six months, many producers have experienced logistical or plant problems that have left them short of supply and led to growing and sporadic buying interest from the supply side. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org bg/jc 3.0 COMPANY DEVELOPS LOCAL HEATING TECHNOLOGY WITH BIOCHAR BYPRODUCT By Lisa Gibson | May 09, 2012 • Whitfield Biochar is developing a biomass thermal technology designed to supply local heating demand wherever it is deployed. PHOTO: WHITEFIELD BIOCHAR LLC Washington-based Whitfield Biochar LLC is developing a biomass thermal technology that can use multiple feedstocks to produce syngas, as well as a biochar product for soil fertility improvement. It also is designed to be scalable and meet local thermal demand. The process can use almost all types of waste streams, but the company prefers to use rice hulls, chicken litter, grass pellets or dried sewage sludge, according to Jock Gill, marketing and communications representative for Whitfield Biochar. Wood pellets can also be used. “We are able to deliver predictable, repeatable, and consistent results as we are able to control the reactor temperature to within 1 percent of the set point, typically 500 degrees C, as well as the residence time of the material in the reactor,” Gill said. The system is a continuous flow pyrolysis unit, dubbed the Whitfield Continuous Feed Biochar Reactor. The company is in the late development stages, he added, and plans to install its first beta units in the fourth quarter of this year. Bill said the company expects to install the unit at locations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California. “Test sites will be using the thermal energy co-product to displace fossil fuels and the biochar co-product for soil regeneration, as well as nutrient and storm water management and remediation,” Gill said. "We also expect a test of highway storm water management of heavy metal run-offs.” In at least one case, the system will deliver heat to its users at or below the cost of natural gas, he added. WITH HIGH-TECH WOOD PELLETS AND EFFICIENT BURNERS, brothers push forest biomass as energy good for Oregon Published: Thursday, May 10, 2012, 8:07 PM Updated: Friday, May 11, 2012, 6:14 AM By Eric Mortenson, The Oregonian Follow Share Email Print View full sizeRoss William Hamilton/The OregonianFrancis Sharron (left) fabricates high-tech burners and boilers. Brother Chris Sharron owns two plants that produce wood pellet fuel. ST. HELENS -- It could be the ultimate expression of a heated sibling rivalry. The younger brother makes something and the older one burns it up. But in this case, Chris and Francis Sharron are partners in a problematic revival of the oldest human heating method: setting fire to wood. Chris Sharron's West Oregon Wood Products compresses mill sawdust and shavings into wood pellets. His plants have a combined production capacity of 80,000 tons annually, and he employs 50 to 60 people. Five minutes away, his older brother's SolaGen Inc. employs 15 to 20 engineers, fabricators and support staff who build large, high-tech burners and boilers. The systems burn pellets to heat schools, hospitals and other facilities, saving thousands on heating bills. All of which sounds great, and Oregon's 2005 Renewable Energy Action Plan calls for hot pursuit of wind, solar, geothermal, biogas and biomass -- wood and other plant material. But the Sharrons -- you wouldn't be the first to call them the Biomass Brothers -- say it isn't simple being retro industrial manufacturers working on the edge of alternative energy. "All renewables have tremendous difficulty competing against fossil fuels," says Francis Sharron. "We're an ant that can be squashed at any time." RETHINKING WOOD Enlarge Ross William Hamilton, The Oregonian Portland, Oregon--May 04, 2012-- The wood pellet-fueled fire within the SolaGen pellet fire burner and boiler system installed at Estacada High School. Ross William Hamilton/The Oregonian Brothers push forest biomass as energy good for Oregon gallery (9 photos) • • • • • Their medium is part of the problem. Homey pellet stoves have been around for three decades, but 21st century burners, cleaner and commercial-sized, require a re-think. Wood heat doesn't have the same renewable allure of solar or wind, says Marcus Kauffman, a biomass specialist with the Oregon Department of Forestry. Many people associate it with smoke, particulates, inefficient fireplaces and destructive logging. "One of the problems with the biomass story is that people who oppose active forest management, and who put the blame on industry for the state of our forests, are reluctant to get behind something that comes from industry," Kauffman says. Environmental groups complained when Seneca Sawmill near Eugene installed a biomass burner system to dry lumber and produce electricity. The company replaced a natural gas burner with one that burns sawdust and mill shavings, most of it produced on-site. It sells electricity to the local utility. Critics say such biomass plants produce more carbon dioxide than coal, and emit toxins. Industry supporters describe them as carbon neutral because they use a renewable source -- trees. They also say carbon stored in wood waste would eventually be released through forest fire or decay anyway. The unsettled argument makes for an uncertain business landscape. But the Sharron brothers and Kauffman of the Forestry Department say distinctions are important. They believe thermal applications of biomass -- replacing a school furnace -- make sense. Kauffman said producing electricity from biomass, however, isn't feasible given the low cost of natural gas. Chris Sharron, 50, says his wood pellets are dried and compressed to contain only 6 percent moisture. They resemble giant pills, and he describes them as "renewable, natural, domestically produced fuel." Ross William Hamilton/The OregonianSolaGen's high-tech burners are advanced versions of pellet stoves. Francis Sharron, 52, builds burners and boilers for sawmills, but watched that market falter as the recession hammered the wood products industry. Schools, a courthouse and other projects came calling in the past two years, prompted by federal stimulus money, state energy incentives and low interest bonds. The funding helped strapped rural school districts replace inefficient fossil fuel burners and save money. Communities installing pellet burner and boiler systems over the past 18 months include former and current timber towns such as Enterprise, Estacada, Sisters, Oakridge and Vernonia. In those areas, the wood heat option appealed to the communities' sense of self. "What goes around, comes around," says Laurie Newton, superintendent of the Days Creek School District. The charter school district in Douglas County, the heart of timber country, replaced the diesel boiler at its middle school-high school with a pellet-fired system by SolaGen. The superintendent had doubts about wood heat. "I literally pictured smoke coming out of a chimney. I pictured my people shoveling in pellets and shoveling out ash all day long." What they got was a smokeless, computer-controlled, remotely monitored system estimated to cut carbon emissions by 54 tons annually compared with the oil burner. The $610,000 system includes a "cyclone" device to catch particulates. McKinstry, an energy consulting firm, projects savings up to $25,000 a year for heating. The fuel doesn't come from Chris Sharron's plant in this case -- a Brownsville pellet plant called Bear Mountain is much closer and can truck fuel to Days Creek at lower cost -- but the Sharron brothers don't begrudge others' good fortune. "No, absolutely not," Francis Sharron says. "We certainly compete, but in a certain regard we need to have the other ones succeed." Estacada High School installed one of Francis Sharron's burners because oil heat was "wreaking havoc on their budgets," says Cam Hamilton, business development manager for McKinstry, the energy consulting company. The $1.8 million project, which included lighting and control upgrades, is expected to save $12,700 a year. Vernonia, where a 2007 flood destroyed schools, is rebuilding with a Francis Sharron-made burner and boiler system to provide radiant floor heating. Brother Chris will supply the fuel. Superintendent Ken Cox expects to increase energy efficiency 45 percent and reduce its budget for electricity by $30,000. BIG DREAMS AND HARD WORK The brothers, both well over 6 feet tall and fit, grew up in Massachusetts. They are the oldest of four siblings, and spent their youth mowing lawns, flipping burgers and selling berries. "I had the nice bicycle because I worked to get it," Chris Sharron says. Chris -- who insists he's the handsome one of the pair and Francis is the brains -- wasn't interested in college, he just wanted to work. Francis went to the Coast Guard Academy and studied engineering. Their father transferred to a job in Oregon, and eventually the brothers followed. Both were working for an equipment manufacturer in Portland when they met a St. Helens couple who dried alder sawdust and sold it to people who smoked meats. In 1985, the couple offered to sell, and the Sharron brothers jumped. They sold much of what they had to raise the down payment, borrowed seed money from their father, and set to work. They were rooming together at the time; Francis continued at the manufacturing company and labored at West Oregon Wood Products evenings and weekends. Chris tended bar at night and spent days driving a battered truck to pick up sawdust at mills. They retrieved and repaired a pellet mill buried under blackberry canes and switched from chips to pellets. Within a few years they increased sales from $50,000 to $300,000 annually. "We had big eyes and were going to make millions," Francis says. The pair started a burner system manufacturing company as well, and Francis branched off to run it, renaming it SolaGen. Their dreams of making millions faded, and the brothers are content to work in an industry they believe is sustainable, provides good jobs and supports other American manufacturers. "I know he feels the same way," Francis Sharron says. "One can have fun, be responsible, succeed and pull others with us as best we can." -- Eric Mortenson Related topics: biomass, inc., renewable energy action plan, solagen, west oregon wood products, wood RISING WOOD PELLET SPOT MARKET ATTRACTS PRODUCERS 8 May 2012, 4.07 pm GMT London, 8 May (Argus) — Spot activity in the biomass sector is growing, with more producers retaining a larger percentage of their supply to sell on the prompt market. In the past, the vast majority of wood pellets were traded in contractual deals ranging from one to 10 years, but higher liquidity and a shift in risk management and operations are seeing more producers trading spot. “We're seeing a lot more interest in spot and a willingness from producers to keep anything from 10-15pc of their volumes for trading on the spot,” a European broker said. “In the past, producers were keen to contract all their volumes or find offtake agreements for as much supply as possible. But during the past 12 months, some have been inundated with requests for spot volumes at higher prices than previously contracted and led some producers to re-evaluate the split between contracted volumes and spot.” The Argus cif northwest Europe wood pellet index captures spot activity on a weekly basis and has witnessed a significant increase in spot activity, particularly in Europe. During the past year, the index has captured spot volumes of 683,000t. This is made up of 25,000t shipments from North America and smaller Handysize and barge vessels around Europe. “We could have sold our annual capacity twice over during the past six months,” a European producer said. “We received a lot of requests from old and new customers for additional supply, but all our volumes were contracted at pre-agreed prices, much lower than where the spot price was at the turn of the year. It is a difficult decision for a producer because you do not want to be left with unwanted volumes, but the rise in liquidity, plus chances to export into other areas such as the domestic market, makes it attractive for us to trade more on the prompt market.” The rise in spot volumes has also benefited producers in need of additional supply to fulfil contracts. During the past six months, many producers have experienced logistical or plant problems that have left them short of supply and led to growing and sporadic buying interest from the supply side. Send comments to email@example.com bg/jc 3.0 PROTECTING MINNESOTA'S FORESTS WHILE UTILIZING BIOMASS RESOURCES 05/14/2012 New factsheet provides overview of guidelines for responsible forest biomass harvesting (Mpls, MN) – Dovetail Partners and the Minnesota Forest Resources Council announce the release of a new factsheet addressing forest biomass harvesting in the state. The factsheet provides a brief overview of the biomass harvesting guidelines, including how they were developed and the management practices they address. “Minnesota has been on the forefront of responsible biomass use and was the first state to establish harvesting guidelines,” says Kathryn Fernholz, Executive Director of Dovetail Partners. The Biomass Harvesting Guidelines were developed in 2007 by the Minnesota Forest Resources Council (MFRC) and serve as a supplement to the MFRC’s Forest Management Guidelines. “For nearly 15 years, Minnesota has had a system of guidelines that address wildlife, biodiversity, water quality, riparian areas, soil protections and other concerns,” says Dave Zumeta, Executive Director of the MFRC. “The addition of biomass guidelines in 2007 was an important action to keep Minnesota ahead of the curve on the emerging interest in the use of woody biomass for energy.” The biomass harvesting guidelines are comprehensive. The guidelines address diverse forest conditions and concerns. A key recommendation in the guidelines is the retention of coarse woody debris, snags, stumps and brushy materials. “By keeping standing dead trees as well as downed logs and brush, the guidelines protect wildlife habitat, water quality, soil fertility and other important ecosystem benefits and services,” says Fernholz. The factsheet was developed with funding provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. The factsheet was developed in support of projects that are exploring the feasibility of biomass energy projects in Northern Minnesota. The factsheet can be downloaded at the Dovetail Partners website: http://www.dovetailinc.org/files/BiomassHarvestingFactSheet0412.pdf #### About the MFRC The Minnesota Forest Resources Council was established by the Sustainable Forest Resources Act of 1995 to promote long-term sustainable management of Minnesota’s forests. About Dovetail Partners Dovetail Partners provides authoritative information about the impacts and trade-offs of environmental decisions, including consumption choices, land use, and policy alternatives. Dovetail is a highly skilled team that fosters sustainability and responsible behaviors by collaborating to develop unique concepts, systems, models and programs. Dovetail Partners is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. NEW REPORT DISSECTS THE INTERNATIONAL GREEN CONSTRUCTION CODE 05/10/2012 Highlighting impacts for materials used in commercial construction (Mpls, MN) – A new report released from Dovetail Partners digests the recently announced International Green Construction Code (IgCC). The report focuses on the impacts the code will have on the selection of building materials for commercial construction projects. “Made public in March, the code is already impacting construction projects across the country – from Maryland to Arizona and from Washington to Florida,” says Kathryn Fernholz, Executive Director of Dovetail Partners. “It is essential that the building materials sector get up-to-speed on the new code and be prepared to meet customers needs for compliance.” The new Dovetail report provides a concise 14-page summary of the major elements of the code, including the mandatory requirements for Material Resource Conservation and Efficiency. “The IgCC includes a mandate that boils down to the “55 percent rule”, which requires at least 55 percent of the total building materials be reused, recycled, bio-based, or sourced from with 500 miles of the site,” says Dr. Jim Bowyer, lead author of the report and Director of the Responsible Materials Program for Dovetail Partners. “This mandate has the potential to dramatically impact material selection and activities related to material sourcing.” For project developers that want to avoid the “55 percent rule”, there is the option of completing a whole building Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The LCA must demonstrate at least a 20 percent measurable environmental improvement over alternative designs for selected impact measures. “The incentive to use whole building LCA is an important step forward in green building design and will help expand project developer’s understanding of the impacts of their design and material selection decisions,” says Wayne Trusty, a co-author on the report and experienced LCA scientist. The report is available to download from the Dovetail Partners website: http://dovetailinc.org/reports PELLET PLANT OWNER: NEED TO GROW THE INDUSTRY May 18, 2012 By JESSICA COLLIER - Staff Writer (firstname.lastname@example.org) , Adirondack Daily Enterprise LAKE PLACID - The wood pellet and wood chip industry is going to have to grow if regional companies that make and distribute the product are going to stay alive. Pat Curran, owner of Curran Renewable Energy in Massena, was part of a panel discussing the forest products industry Wednesday at the Adirondack Research Consortium. Curran explained how he was in the paper business, but when the market for that started to decline, he started to look into the biomass (pellets, chips and other such wood products) market. He got $11 million in funding through the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency to build a 100,000-ton pellet plant. Curran said he had one month of a strong market for his products, and then it dropped off. In 2010, there was demand for 11,000 tons of pellets, and in 2011, he had demand to produce 59,000 tons, both numbers well below the facility's capacity. "Now we're sitting with this huge investment with no place to sell our product," Curran said. He said his company has tried everything it can think of to build a domestic market, but the demand today is not large enough to keep the biomass production facilities in the region in business. He's looked into shipping his product to Europe, where there is a larger demand for biomass, but with shipping costs it would not be worth it. He's met others who are selling their biomass products in Europe at less than cost to move their inventory. "The North American market has to grow," Curran said. Part of the problem is familiarity. Curran is putting a biomass system into his own home that will heat his house, his garage and his hot tub, and he said he's going to open it up to anyone who wants to see what the system is like. Another speaker mentioned he put a pellet stove in his house in part because his neighbor had one that he had used for years that worked well. One of the problems is the way subsidies are distributed, Curran said. In 2010, his company didn't get a specific subsidy that other companies did get, so others could sell their product to box stores at a lower cost than Curran could afford without subsidies. That doesn't help competition, he said. He suggested that the best way to handle subsidies in a way that will grow the biomass industry is to give them to the end users as much as possible, like homeowners who want to install a pellet stove. Programs like that in Europe have been the most successful in growing the industry there, he said. Curran said he sees the biomass industry as having the most potential for creating green jobs locally in the new wave of green energy and green jobs. If the market grows, there is plenty of supply that can be converted into biomass that hasn't been touched yet. "We're barely tapping what needs to be harvested," Curran said. There is currently some market for biomass, though. After Curran spoke, The Wild Center's executive director, Stephanie Ratcliffe, gave a presentation on the biomass heating system Tupper Lake's natural history museum installed. Curran Renewable Energy supplies The Wild Center's wood chips, and it also supplies other large institutions like Clarkson University and some public grade schools. Ratcliffe encouraged people to go out and buy pellet stoves. She said switching from propane to the museum's current system, which also uses other renewable energy sources like solar, saved $31,652 in the first heating season it was in play. "For a nonprofit like us, this makes a huge difference," Ratcliffe said. Ratcliffe said biomass is a good option for people who want to go green in the Adirondacks because it keeps jobs local when wood pellets and chips are created from trees locally. "That's why it's a no-brainer for the Adirondacks," Ratcliffe said. Michael Kelleher from SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry also spoke, talking about the facility his college is building in Syracuse that will include a wood pellet-powered heating system, and Nate Russell of New York State Energy Research and Development Agency talked about his agency's sponsoring of biomass projects. © Copyright 2012 Adirondack Daily Enterprise. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. DRAX ADDRESSES BIOMASS SUPPLY SUSTAINABILITY RISKS An official from Drax Power recently made the statement that the company’s biggest unquantified risk is ensuring the sustainability of its biomass fuel. By Lisa Gibson | May 11, 2012 An official from Drax Power recently made the statement that the company’s biggest unquantified risk is ensuring the sustainability of its biomass fuel. Drax, one of the largest power producers in the U.K., co-fires in its largest power station and has been back and forth on whether it will actually develop its proposed dedicated biomass facilities. Government support is the biggest issue the company has pointed to, but it sounds like sustainably sourced feedstock supply ranks right up there with it. And it is a risk. Forest certification programs do exist, but, similar to standard systems for wood pellets, they are all over the map. So many programs in play and most, if not all, are confusing for landowners, as well as buyers. The supply is there, but making sure it’s meeting evolving sustainability criteria is a whole different ball game. Drax has stopped contracts because of a lack of provision data, which clearly violates the company’s strict sustainability rules across all stages “from field to furnace.” The U.K. does have sustainability rules in place and the European Union is considering regulations. And about 19 percent of U.S. forests are certified to three major U.S. standards. But different programs come with different rules and categories, complicating the process for companies like Drax that source their biomass from both the U.K. and North America. I see the problem and recognize the potential nightmare for Drax and others. It seems RWE worked around it by building its own pellet mill in the U.S. and sourcing all its biomass from that mill and the same forests that consistently follow the same standards. It may be an impossible task, but I think the best scenario is one that involves a biomass industry-wide forest certification and sustainability set of standards, regardless of country. No questions. No confusion. I realize different forest types, soil types and locations will have different standards, and it’s a big job, probably bigger than I can fathom. But ensuring the sustainability of a biomass feedstock source is not an issue to take lightly. Suppliers need to take notice because I can promise that Drax is not the only company that has or will stop a contract and refuse to buy feedstock on the grounds that they were provided inadequate sustainability data. And I wouldn’t blame them. GREENWORLD TO ACQUIRE A WOOD PELLET MANUFACTURING FACILITY IN NORTH CAROLINA Posted May 21, 2012 ATLANTA -- GreenWorld Development, Inc., (OTCBB: GREW) the American-Irish "Waste 2 Energy" operator, agreed to acquire Natures Earth LLC, a Wood Pellet Manufacturing Facility in North Carolina (a major source of alternative energy for industrial and domestic use). The acquisition cost is $16.5M USD and the capacity of the facility is 120,000 MT of wood pellets, capable of generating in excess of $20M USD in annual revenues. It is the first cornerstone for the company projects expansion plan of Build - Own - Operate Waste 2 Energy plants in the US and Europe. GreenWorld plans to double the production capacity within one year and is currently in advanced discussions with a bankable long term production offtaker and feed stock provider. The company intends to appoint Jason Kessler of Kesco and Bliss Industries LLC as the project manager, post-acquisition. Mr. Kessler has many years of leading expertise in this industry. The acquisition agreement includes the Equine Pine & Freedom Fuel brands owned by Natures Earth LLC, whose sister company sold their brand Feeline earlier this year to Church & Dwight. GreenWorld is in the process of raising capital for the acquisition and expansion program via a long term financing bond from a US prime financial institution. GreenWorld Development, Inc. is listed on the US OTC Bulletin Board (Symbol: GREW). The company is dedicated to develop innovative, competitive and sustainable products for efficiency goods and services and to support the "Smart Green Economy". MASSACHUSETTS ADDRESSES "BIOMASS LOOPHOLE" AND LIMITS SUBSIDIES + Comment now Sitka spruce, Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Copyright: Erica Gies. The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) issued regulations recently limiting ratepayer-funded subsidies known as renewable energy certificates (RECs) to only those biomass power plants which adhere to scientific standards for climate and forest impacts. The regulations followed a two-year review process involving scientists, industry, and citizen groups. The regulations are a huge win for local activist groups and an important course correction to the “biomass loophole” that wood from forests has enjoyed in many policy frameworks around the world. Woody biomass has been presumed to be carbon neutral because carbon emissions released by burning the wood would be taken back up from the atmosphere as new trees grew. That equivalence “is purely hypothetical,” Mary Booth told me for my 2009 New York Times story on the controversy. Booth is an environmental scientist with the Massachusetts-based Partnership for Policy Integrity. Unlike solar or wind, which make up the carbon footprint from their manufacture and installation in five to ten years, trees take decades to grow large enough to absorb all the carbon released upon burning the old trees. This is problematic because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says time for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is short — perhaps as short as 40 years. “We’re in a climate crisis now,” Margaret E. Sheehan, a lawyer with the Biomass Accountability Project, told me in 2009. “It only takes a minute to burn a 70-year-old tree, and it takes 70 years to grow it back.” Massachusetts became a battlefield in the biomass debate because the state’s Gov. Deval Patrick and his appointed secretary of energy and environmental affairs, Ian A. Bowles, had made expansion of biomass a key policy position. Bowles stepped down in 2011. Oregon, another forested state, has also made biomass a cornerstone of its renewable energy policy. Proponents such as the Biomass Power Association and the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association have argued that biomass plants are small scale and use mostly “waste wood.” Though anyone who has hiked a Northwest forest and seen the role of nurse trees in feeding new life will have some questions about that notion. A healthy ecosystem requires some tree waste to decompose into the soil to provide vital nutrients and forage opportunities for insects, birds, and some mammals. Environmental advocates including Booth and Sheehan question whether the current level of extraction is sustainable. That’s especially true because the market for biomass is global, bringing unintended consequences such cutting American forests to meet European renewable energy targets. Last month journalist Peter Fairley wrote about this booming market for Spectrum: The biomass industry is quickly expanding, especially in the southeastern United States, where giant pelletizing plants are popping up to turn trees into a ready-to-burn export commodity. He reports that Essen, Germany-based power company RWE commissioned a wood pellet plant in Georgia to produce 750,000 metric tons annually for RWE power stations in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. And Bethesda, Md.-based Enviva is supplying 480,000 metric tons of wood pellets to Belgium-based Electrabel, a subsidiary of the Paris-based GDF Suez Group, and will soon supply 240,000 metric tons annually to Germany’s E.On. All of this global business is driven by the presumption that biomass is carbon neutral. But in addition to the obvious lag time to restore carbon neutrality, burning wood also has a less-than-desirable emissions profile. In fact, government and power plant data show that burning woody biomass releases 1.5 times as much carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour generated as coal, according to the Massachusetts Environmental Energy Alliance. Also, burning wood releases three times more carbon into the atmosphere than burning natural gas, per unit energy generated, said Booth. Fairley points out yet another consideration: The biggest is an opportunity cost that comes with every tree that’s cut down: the additional carbon dioxide that the tree would have sequestered had it been left to grow instead. “If you’re cutting down trees and burning them, you’re reducing your carbon [sequestering] stock,” says Eric Johnson, editor of the Environmental Impact Assessment Review. As a result of all these emerging issues, the E.U. may soon follow Massachusetts’ lead and reevaluate biomass’ assumed carbon neutrality. Fairley reports: Late last year, the [European] Commission’s European Environment Agency and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded independently that harvesting trees for power generation and biofuels production could actually raise atmospheric carbon levels in some cases. As a result, both Washington, D.C., and Brussels are reassessing how to count emissions from biomass combustion. But the demand is not solely international. In the United States, over the past five years, thanks in part to tax credits from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and ratepayer-funded subsidies for renewable energy, more than 150 large-scale wood-burning power plants have been proposed around the country, said Booth and Sheehan. Typical utility-scale biomass power plants burn 300,000 to 800,000 tons of wood a year.