Saturday, September 22, 2012
G Brown Newsletter July 2012
Gerald W brown * 7202 County Road U * Danbury, WI 54830 Phone 715-866-8535 Gerald Brown is solely responsible for the content in this newsletter CARBON EMISSIONS AND HEATING WITH WOOD PELLETS MINN. STUDY TEAM VISITS SWEDISH BIOENERGY FACILITIES CONTRACT CONCEPTS PLAN TO BUILD AUSTRIAN PELLET BOILERS IN US COULD HELP FOREST ECONOMY CANADIAN BIOFUEL HITS EUROPEAN MARKET POULTRY GROUPS SEEK HOUSE AG BACKING FOR REAP IS THIS THE END OF COAL-FIRED POWER PLANTS? BIOMASS THERMAL ENERGY COUNCIL APPLAUDS SENATOR BINGAMAN FOR ACTION ON RENEWABLE HEATING BIOMASS THERMAL ADVANCES IN NEW HAMPSHIRE AND THE US SENATE MINNESOTA BIOMASS HEATING FEASIBILITY GUIDE POULTRY GROWERS: HOUSE SHOULD SUPPORT FARM BILL RURAL ENERGY FOR AMERICA PROGRAM BIOMASS THERMAL VICTORIES MAKE FOR A SWEET (ENERGY) INDEPENDENCE DAY CONSERVATIONISTS SAY THINNING ON FEDERAL LANDS COULD PROVIDE STEADY TIMBER SUPPLY WOLF RIDGE EMBRACES PELLETS WITH NEW BIOMASS BOILER SLOW RHI UPTAKE REFLECTS SUPPORT CONCERNS RURAL LOCATIONS WANT TO HEAT THEIR HOUSES WITH WOOD PELLETS NW TERRITORIES MEETING EUROPEAN DEMAND FOR BIOMASS WOOD PELLETS NORTH COUNTRY'S WOOD PELLET HEAT INDUSTRY STRUGGLES, DESPITE ABUNDANCE MASSENA PELLET MILL AT THE FOREFRONT OF RENEWABLE ENERGY INDUSTRY BIOMASS REG THREATEN RENEWABLE ENERGY EXPORT BOOM CLEAN ENERGY CAN CREATE NORTH COUNTRY JOBS SKI RESORTS GO RENEWABLE BIOMASS THERMAL VICTORIES MAKE FOR A SWEET (ENERGY) INDEPENDENCE DAY REPORTS ADDRESS US PELLET PRODUCTION, EU SUSTAINABILITY CRITERIA ST. MARY'S BAND GETS BIOMASS FUNDING $200M CONVERSION COMING FOR ATIKOKAN COAL PLANT KOREA SOUTHERN POWER TO BUY WOOD PELLETS FOR RENEWABLES QUOTA REPORTS ADDRESS US PELLET PRODUCTION, EU SUSTAINABILITY CRITERIA SWEDISH, U.S. FIRMS FINISH FIRST OF WOOD PELLET BOILER SERIES Renewable Biomass as a Poultry Facility Heating Option? DEMAND FOR WOODY BIOMASS DROPS ONTARIO TO CONVERT NORTHERN COAL PLANT TO BIOMASS NEW EMISSIONS REGULATIONS COULD COST TRILLIONS AS NATURAL GAS PRICES RISE FREETRICITY GERMANY ON TOP OF EUROPEAN PELLET PRODUCTION Monday, July 2, 2012 CARBON EMISSIONS AND HEATING WITH WOOD PELLETS I wanted to share the findings of an interesting report posted in the Kilwa Biomass: Wood Energy News dated 6/29/12. The article provides a telling summary in regards to carbon emissions and pellet fuel. It study states, "As a result, switching from fossil fuel heating to a wood pellet stove or furnace could lead to a 60 to 90% reduction of carbon emissions." The findings are based on a joint research project between The Alliance for Green Heat and VU University Amsterdam. As many of us already suspected, wood pellets can be a very low carbon source of heat as long as certain conditions are met, in particular, strict adherance to sustainable harvesting practices. A Carbon Life Cycle Analysis of Wood: The Republican Journal, April 2012. Click here to go directly to the complete study published by the Alliance for Green Heat. MINN. STUDY TEAM VISITS SWEDISH BIOENERGY FACILITIES By Anna Simet | June 13, 2012 • (L-R) Gregg Mast, The BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota, Bart Johnson, Itasca Community College, Magnus Ånstrand, Svebio, Magnus Hermansson, HOTAB, Ellen Anderson, Sr. advisor to the Governor of Minnesota on Energy and Environment, Dr. Dennis Becker A group of Minnesota delegates recently visited several bioenergy facilities throughout Sweden to study what might be possible in regard to implementing similar projects within the state. The study group, made up of bioenergy industry members, academia, state government, a tribal organization, and non-profits, conducted several site visits of bioenergy operations during their time in Sweden, including some large-scale combined-heat-and-power facilities. Each utilized a specific feedstock material, including wood pellets, wood chips and waste wood. The study team also toured several small- and mid-sized district heating facilities that are providing hot water to industrial users and surrounding communities. One particular installation was in Klevshult, Sweden, where Jernforsen Energi manufactured and delivered a 6 MW heating plant that uses locally-produced wood waste such as bark, sawdust, and wood chips. Another facility the group visited was a mid-sized heating plant utilizing wood chips, located in the municipality of Gränna. At this plant, two 2 MW boilers along with a flue gas condensation unit operate at the heart of the plant. Gregg Mast, vice president of the BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota, said it is extremely important for key decision makers from Minnesota to have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with owners, managers, and technology suppliers of bioenergy facilities such as the ones visited in Sweden, in order to understand the economic, environmental, and social benefits that these types of installations have on their local and regional communities. “Decision-makers returned with project-specific information that will aid in advancing development of similar community-scale biomass district heating projects in Minnesota,” he said. Magnus Anstrand, project manager for the Swedish Bioenergy Association, said the community-scale district heating model is an ideal fit for many locations in Minnesota, especially those cities without access to the natural gas grid. The group attended the tours as part of the World Bioenergy 2012 conference held May 29-31 in Jönköping, Sweden. CONTRACT CONCEPTS From spot purchases to multi-year deals, producers, buyers and brokers must know their way around supply agreements. By Luke Geiver | July 03, 2012 • • • • • • AFTER TILBURY: An explosion at the Tilbury Power Station earlier this year forced biomass suppliers to alter their trading and procurement plans. PHOTO: RWE Wood pellet producers and biomass providers searching for a North America-to-Europe export supply contract will eventually find Henry Pease. As the senior biofuel portfolio manager for RWE’s Supply & Trading division, Pease leads a biomass trading and procurement group for the giant German utility provider. “We source between 2 to 3 million tons of wood pellets (annually) from all over the world,” he says, and because of his place in the global biomass market and his continual search for biomass, Pease says his team is familiar with all of the established producers and most of the companies close to startup, whether they operate in Finland or Florida. When Pease and his European counterparts talk about biomass trading and procurement, and generally comprehending the wood pellet export/import market, two things become clear: experience is favored, yet change is inevitable. They explained the basics of wood pellet supply contracts, the truths of long-term agreements, and why, even though firms like Pease’s prefer to work with established biomass suppliers, the wood pellet supply contracts of the future will be formed with companies that don’t yet exist in the marketplace today. Pellet Contract Basics To start, all biomass and pellet suppliers based in North America need to know that as the biomass fuel heads towards Europe, as Pease explains, “the boat doesn’t always finish where it said it was going to finish.” The final destination of a cargo ship loaded with biomass however, should be of little concern to those who produced the biomass. From Pease’s perspective, a pellet producer or biomass supplier should be concerned with two things only: producing, and continuing to drop the price of production. “Our role as a trader is to optimize the supply chain,” Pease says, “to have a portfolio of supplies. Producers do what they do, whether they are a large producer or a small producer, their job is to make pellets as economically as they can.” For contract agreements, the ability of a producer to do his job is also a main staple of how contracts are formed. “A company that already exists and knows what he is doing isn’t looking for the same offtake contract as someone that is coming to the market new,” he points out. “If you need equity or you need debt then you need different things in the offtake.” The main point Pease makes about forming a contract however, is that his firm tries to match up what it can offer with what its investors (power plants and end users) need. Different buyers can do different things, he explains. Some can offer longer tenure, some can buy more on a tons/year basis, others can manage the freight from the production facility to the port to the end location, and, he adds, where an end user buys the biomass can greatly vary from the physical power station to a specific port or in some cases, even a specific boat. After a firm such as Pease’s hashes out the needs of a buyer (a two-year contract for 200,000 tons delivered to a Belgium port through monthly shipments, for example), the next step in the process is to match up the ability of the producer with the need of the buyer to form the contract, all based on that dynamic. A typical supply agreement links a biomass trader or procurement specialist like Pease, with the biomass producer. In most, if not all cases, a producer will not be working directly with the end user. The typical cargo ship can carry 25,000 to 45,000 tons per load and a pellet provider or woodchip supplier will get paid every time a shipment arrives at port. Although most North American biomass suppliers would prefer a contract supply length of 10 or more years, Pease says the norm is anywhere from two to five years. The average installed capacity of a pellet mill participating in a supply contract can vary widely, (most are above 70,000 tons/year), and although the nature of biomass makes quick shipments or the presence of a large spot market a major portion of the overall supply market, there are enough companies or people currently operating in the market to show why single shipment and short-term contracts (months not years) do exist. Simon Christensen, storage, logistics and sales specialist for Copenhagen Merchants, a biomass trading and procurement firm, knows all about short term contract basics. Christensen says his company began operating in the pellet supply markets after a number of smaller mills in the Baltic markets voiced their need to aggregate their volumes in order to meet the needs of buyers with demands too large to be met by a single producer. “There is always a market for long-term contracts,” he points out, “but there is also always a place for spot contracts.” Christensen’s firm trades more than 500,000 tons per year of biomass, half of which are spot- or short-term contracts that are for one- to three-month supply shipment periods. Another large portion of his business is what he considers a long-term contract, a term of roughly one to one and a half years in length. No matter what the length of the contract term is however, Christensen points out that a contract agreement can be initiated from both sides of the value chain and most importantly, “the process is never a one off.” Biomass Trader Truths Although Christensen’s assertion about the repeatability of the supply contract formation process makes it sound as if every pellet producer entering into an agreement will be operating under a set of unique and potentially problematic circumstances each time product is ready for shipment, don’t worry. Christensen, like Pease, can cite numerous examples of how or why contracts are formed. Consider this, Christensen says, sometimes it is the producers who approach first, explaining their desire to sell around a specific price. In other cases, the opposite is true, and a buyer will approach a biomass trader seeking a specific tonnage at a specific price, by of course, a specific date. Luckily for pellet producers or biomass suppliers, people like Christensen and Pease have an extensive portfolio of producers to meet the changing demands of larger buyers, which in turn, Christensen points out, makes the appeal of biomass to large European utilities greater due to the constant and readily available supply of biomass that is tracked, secured and ready because of trading and procurement firms. The best part is that with more biomass usage, more will only follow because of the stability of the supply market. “As a trader we like having products with different specifications with different load ports with vessels that have different sizes,” Pease says, “because that means different power stations in different countries can have different demands and needs and we can try and match it all together.” “We always have stores in different places,” Pease says, “We can sort of balance out the needs of small producers,” and, according to Christensen, large buyers. Throughout most of the year, a small producer he says, needs to have a low stock on hand and have access to fast cash loads. “When you are building a pellet plant,” Pease explains, “you are trying to sell 80 to 90 percent of what you think you are going to produce upfront, so there is not a lot of wiggle room there.” Unfortunately, problems arise for either side. Both Pease and Christensen had to deal with the backlash of a massive fire at a massive biomass power plant, Tilbury Power Station, this year that Pease says, “severely disrupted the whole supply chain.” The job of Pease and Christensen is to manage that, sell product to other end users, store product or in some cases, pay people not to produce. “Our job is to sit in the middle of the ripples and try to smooth them out a little bit,” Pease says. Smoothing out the process only helps the procurement firms shore up the future, according to Christensen, who says that any notion that a procurement firm will not pay out on a contract or fail at some point in the process is a nonsensical assertion, because as the middleman, two sides need to stay happy, not just one. “If I don’t deliver (for the producer or the buyer) I’m out of it. I would argue that the main risk is on my side.” To reduce that risk, both Christensen and Pease have a few thoughts on how to de-risk, or as Pease implies, to de-ripple the supply contract process. First and foremost comes stability by the producer, in both production and quality of the biomass supplied, something they look for in every contract. Then, Pease explains, producers need to think hard about how they operate. “A lot of new companies operate with very few people,” he points out, a situation that is usually difficult because there are so many aspects to the industry that a handful of people can’t typically perform. As for payment plans, Pease says they prefer to pay North American producers in U.S. dollars instead of Euros because a pellet production team typically is not going to convert the money because of the amount of money required to do so, or the time. As for biomass supply aggregation models that bring multiple pellet producers or biomass suppliers together to fill a tonnage request of a large buyer, both Pease and Christensen say the model can and will work. “It is perfectly feasible,” Pease says, “there are some issues they need to get past like sustainability and standardizing quality, but they can certainly do it.” And that is exactly what Christensen hopes will happen. His firm is working with a group in Florida to form an aggregation model, because as he says, “We see a big rise in demand, and a big rise in supply,” regarding their outlook on the industry. Nicole Forsberg, a researcher at Lund University in Sweden studying the opportunities and barriers to growth in the European biomass market, reminds us why pellet producers or biomass suppliers should be bothering to link up with traders and procurers. “In the EU,” Forsberg says, “demand far outweighs the EU’s domestic forest supply capabilities, so,” and this should be a clear enough reason, “import is the only answer, even long-term.” One should also keep in mind, she says, that if the imported pellets turn out to be cheaper than the EU’s domestic supply, the import demand will be even higher. Currently, she says, imports from North America are mainly headed to the Netherlands, the U.K. or Belgium, due to the big harbors where large amounts can be imported. But, even though Forsberg’s entire research platform is based on understanding the atmosphere of the export/import of biomass to/from Europe, the best reminder of why contract supply agreements matter comes from the person with the greatest risk, the middleman in this case, people like Christensen who have to appease two parties to make money. “I believe if we are good,” he says, “if we follow this market, there will be plenty of opportunities for skilled traders.” Author: Luke Geiver Features Editor, Biomass Magazine (701) 738-4944 firstname.lastname@example.org PLAN TO BUILD AUSTRIAN PELLET BOILERS IN US COULD HELP FOREST ECONOMY Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR By Chris Jensen In a move that would be good for the region’s wood-based economy Maine Energy Systems of Bethel, Maine plans to start building automated, wood-pellet boilers in the United States instead of importing them from Europe, says Les Otten, founder and chief executive officer. “We will do the majority of the manufacture and assembly in the United States,” he told NHPR. “There is no reason we can’t be competitive globally.” Maine Energy sells boiler systems made by the Austrian company, Okofen. While the boilers are assembled in Bethel many of the components are being imported. Otten said a major exception is the heavy, steel portion of the boiler for a commercial unit. It is made in Pennsylvania. Those commercial systems currently make up about 50 percent of Maine Energy’s sales, said Otten. The company also sells smaller residential units. Otten said Maine Energy Systems recently worked out a deal allowing it to produce as much of the Okofen system in the United States as he wants. “What we have done is set our company up to be able to expand from four or five hundred boilers a year up to 20,000 or 30,000 boilers a year,” he said. Otten said growth of the wood-pellet boiler industry will depend on factors including: * The price of heating oil. * Whether there are renewable-energy government incentives. * Whether “people on their own will come to the conclusion that this is a less-expensive way to heat their homes long term.” Maine Energy System now has 15 employees and Otten said the number of new manufacturing jobs would depend on sales volume. But he said additional jobs would be created due to associated work. That includes providing components, installing the Okofens and providing the wood pellets. The wood pellets for the units come from Maine and New Hampshire. Otten hopes to find suppliers for the needed components in New England. If people current using heating oil switch to Okofens the deal could mean thousands of jobs in the region, he said. The Okofen high-tech boiler automatically draws wood pellets from a storage bin, cleans itself and automatically collects the ash in a separate container. “It is a great, user-friendly system. It is probably the gold standard,” said Eric Kingsley, an analyst with Innovative Natural Resource Solutions, which has offices in Maine and New Hampshire. But Okofens are expensive, Kingsley noted. Otten said a residential boiler – installed – can cost between $15,000 and $20,000. But because the wood pellets are significantly cheaper than heating oil the units will pay for themselves, he said. Maine Energy says it costs $1.96 for enough premium wood pellets provide the same amount of energy as a gallon of heating oil. CANADIAN BIOFUEL HITS EUROPEAN MARKET Written by Canadian Biofuel July 3, Chatham, ON - A five-year contract with Green Energy Group LLC representing an Italian company for biomass fuel pellets is launching Canadian Biofuel Inc. into the European market. Ian Moncrieff, Canadian Biofuel Inc. president and CEO, said the contract, which starts July 15, 2012, will generate about $36 million in gross revenue for the Chatham, Ont. based company. It will also expand the company's workforce. “Fifteen people will be hired and the plant will add another 3 shifts when the production increases to a 24 hour-six-day-a-week schedule to meet the demand for the Italian contract,” said Moncrieff. Canadian Biofuel's Ian Moncrieff at the company's raw fibre storage building. ________________________________________ The Italian contract is already paying dividends for the company. “We are in serious contract discussions with a second company from Italy,” said Moncrieff. “The increasingly high export demand for biomass fuel to Europe has us planning for the future and the possibility of a second and third plant somewhere in southern Ontario.” Canadian Biofuel's production facility, located on an eight-acre site in Springford, Ont., near Tillsonburg, south of Woodstock, produces biomass fuel pellets made from wood and the purpose grown energy crop miscanthus. The company is presently working with government agencies and farm organizations to begin production of miscanthus crop in the next two-to-three years. POULTRY GROUPS SEEK HOUSE AG BACKING FOR REAP By Agri-Pulse staff © Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc. Washington (July 3, 2012) A letter from 14 state poultry associations to the House Agriculture Committee today asks for the renewal of the Rural Energy for America Program and mandatory funding to pay for it. The USDA program provides grants and loan guarantees for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency audits for agricultural operations and rural small businesses. “We urge you to renew [REAP] with sufficient mandatory funding,” the poultry groups said in the letter to House Ag Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Ranking Member Colin Peterson, D-Minn. “REAP is a unique program within the federal government that helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses improve their profit margins by cutting energy bills with energy efficiency and renewable energy,” the groups write. They also said the program “creates needed jobs in our rural communities. REAP is one of the few Farm Bill programs that offer direct benefits to the nation’s poultry and egg producers.” The letter says the program has provided lasting benefits to poultry growers across the country by helping to cut energy costs. The groups cite efficiency measures such as improved insulation, lighting and ventilation, claiming they help poultry growers reduce energy use by 30-40% and protect growers’ bottom lines from volatile energy costs. The groups also say REAP helps poultry growers in colder regions build biomass heating systems “to supplant the use of expensive heating fuels which can push producers to the brink when prices rise. The broad range of renewable energy options under REAP also provide opportunities for growers to further cut costs or even earn new income with solar, wind and geothermal.” The groups say REAP is a unique farm energy program “because it offers all agricultural sectors and in every state new opportunities to use a wide range of modern energy technologies.” The write that REAP has grown increasingly popular over the years “as it creates a catalyst effect, providing working real world examples for agriculture on the potential for energy savings and renewable energy production. We continue to learn of new ways to save and produce energy with the benefit of REAP.” The groups note that demand for REAP consistently exceeds available resources, “creating intense competition for funds and leaving many opportunities for energy savings among poultry growers untapped.” The poultry interests say “American agricultural producers of all sorts exhibit strong and growing interest in conserving energy and producing renewable energy. With the growing demands on REAP, we are concerned that poultry growers may be squeezed out of these opportunities. Rather than shrink from this interest, the federal government should respond with an increased commitment to this unique federal public-private partnership.” For more news go to: www.Agri-Pulse.com ©2009-2012 Agri-Pulse Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved. IS THIS THE END OF COAL-FIRED POWER PLANTS? Posted by Sarah Battaglia on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 in ECS It is public knowledge that roughly 50 percent of the United States’ electricity is produced by burning coal. Although it is an abundant and inexpensive resource, it can be quite dangerous. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), coal contains trace quantities of the natural radionuclides uranium and thorium, which, when burned, often release carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxides, nitrogen oxides and mercury compounds into our environment. Recently, the EPA proposed new emission standards for all new plants, including coal-fired facilities. These standards would require new plants to emit a maximum of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour. The problem? Most new coal plants emit between 1,600 and 1,900 pounds per MWh. The affected power plants can either shut down their operations or spend excessive amounts of money on high tech solutions to abide by the rule changes. As a result of these new standards, many coal plants across the county have been suspending their operations until further notice. As indicated by a research study done by Black & Veatch, an estimated 450 coal-fired power plants will be shutting down completely by 2020. Several have already begun this process, including FirstEnergy, American Electric Power (AEP), South Carolina Gas and Electric (SCG&E), Duke Energy, Santee Cooper, Progress Energy, Kentucky Utilities, and Louisville Gas and Electric. Some, including Xcel Energy, have made the decision to transfer to the use of natural gas. The outlook for coal-fired power plants is not looking very promising. As our nation moves toward the use of renewable energy, our environment and personal health will continue to improve. Sarah Battaglia Energy Curtailment Specialists, Inc. BIOMASS THERMAL ENERGY COUNCIL APPLAUDS SENATOR BINGAMAN FOR ACTION ON RENEWABLE HEATING Visit http://www.biomassthermal.org for further information Senator Bingaman introduces bipartisan legislation to provide incentives for high-efficiency biomass heating systems in commercial and industrial installations Submitted on 06/29/12, 01:31 PM WASHINGTON - June 28, 2012 - The Biomass Thermal Energy Council (BTEC) today joined a chorus of industry and non-profit voices in strong support of Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Diane Feinstein (D-CA) for their introduction of a bill to help businesses across the country meet their heating needs with renewable biomass. The "Expanding Industrial Energy and Water Efficiency Incentives Act of 2012" would establish a tiered corporate tax credit for 15% or 30% of the installed cost of biomass-fueled heating (or cooling) systems for commercial or industrial applications. The credit would have no maximum and would be available for biomass thermal systems placed in service on or before January 1, 2016. "This bipartisan bill will provide highly efficient biomass thermal equipment the same incentive that exists for every other renewable energy technology, including solar thermal and electric, wind, and geothermal," said Joseph Seymour, Executive Director of the Washington D.C.-based Biomass Thermal Energy Council. "The bill's aggressive two-tiered structure will promote the most advanced and cleanest biomass thermal technologies, and will help the commercial and industrial sectors—two of the nation's biggest consumers of thermal energy—switch to renewable biomass fuels that we produce here in America." The U.S. Energy Information Agency has estimated that approximately one-third of U.S. energy consumption is for thermal energy used in heating, cooling, and processing. By offsetting fossil fuel use in the heating sector with renewable biomass, the bill would reduce American consumption of foreign oil and other non-renewable fossil energy by millions of gallons and lower the associated greenhouse gas emissions. To qualify for the first tier (a 15% credit), biomass boiler and furnace property would be required to operate at efficiency levels between 65% and 80%, as measured by the Higher Heating Value (HHV). The second tier (30% credit) would be available for those operating at 80% efficiency and above. Large scale biomass thermal systems have already been widely deployed in Europe, where government incentives have played a vital role in helping reduce fossil energy and creating new clean energy jobs. Numerous leading environmental, non-profit, and industry stakeholders joined BTEC in issuing support for the legislation. "The Biomass Energy Resource Center's mission is to support communities and corporations' efforts to adopt sustainably managed biomass resources throughout the country. During our ten years of operations, we have assessed the technical and economic feasibility of several biomass thermal lead systems and can attest to the high percentage of those that have positive returns. The bill will help more projects reach reality. Often when working with communities and potential installers, the high initial cost associated with the installation of a biomass system is the only thing that stands in the way of helping provide clean and renewable heat for people. The incentives provided in this piece of legislation will help those wishing to promote clean, renewable energy as well as sustainable jobs in rural locations overcome this hurdle." - Brenda Quiroz Maday, Executive Director, Biomass Energy Resource Center (BERC), Montpelier, VT "Sustainable Northwest applauds this legislation as an important step towards recognizing the value of thermal energy in our nation's renewable energy portfolio. The two-tiered investment tax-credit structure encourages smart investments to offset fossil fuels with cleaner and cheaper sources of energy and promotes the best and most efficient use of these technologies. Thermal energy generated from biomass resources is a critical part of reaching our nation's renewable goals. We're happy to see legislation that extends the opportunity to biomass applications for the benefit of rural communities, businesses, and the environment." - Martin Goebel, President, Sustainable Northwest, Portland, OR "Sealaska is the Alaskan Native Corporation for Southeast Alaska, and our wholly owned subsidiary Haa Aani is responsible for creating new economic opportunities for the region's rural communities. This proposed biomass thermal incentive will help companies in Alaska and throughout the country achieve goals of resource sustainability and rural energy needs. Sealaska has taken a leadership role by investing almost $1 million dollars in its headquarters building in Juneau, Alaska to install a biomass heating system, the first commercial building in Alaska to be heated with biomass from wood pellets. Sealaska's conversion coupled with Haa Aani's delivery systems of biomass to its customers is proving that in Alaska, biomass thermal heating systems provide vast potential for decreasing dependence on fossil fuels. Incentives like this will help convince consumers that there is public policy support for conversion to biomass space heating and encourage businesses to make the capital investment to update their heating units and switch to locally fueled biomass systems." - Richard P. Harris, Executive Vice President, Sealaska Corporation, Juneau, AK "Heating the Midwest with Renewable Biomass strongly supports the expansion of investment tax credits for biomass projects. These credits will encourage the implementation of proven, energy efficient, reliable and economic heating boilers and furnaces, using renewable, regional biomass resources. Nationally, over 20 billion gallons of liquid propane and fuel oil valued at over $50 billion are used to heat industrial and commercial facilities annually with significant percentages of Midwest industrial and commercial buildings' heat relying on these expensive fuels, especially in rural areas. Increased use of regional wood and agricultural materials for thermal heating and combined heat and power projects offer significant economic benefits." - Brian Brashaw, Co-Chair, Heating the Midwest with Renewable Biomass "As a manufacturer of advanced biomass heating systems, ACT Bioenergy supports the bill which will incentivize businesses to select biomass boiler systems with the highest performance efficiency. Our typical biomass boiler customers are in rural communities that are being punished by high fossil fuel costs and the bill will help those companies more easily make the decision to invest in biomass boiler systems with superior performance. Because increased boiler efficiency results in both reduced fuel consumption and reduced air emissions; incentivizing the highest efficiency boilers makes economic and environmental sense." - David Dungate, President ACT Bioenergy LLC, Schenectady, NY "Cambridge Environmental Technologies is pleased to voice our strong support for the Expanding Industrial Energy and Water Efficiency Incentives Act of 2012. Biomass thermal technologies provide end users with substantial fuel savings and environmental benefits. The tax credits proposed in the Act incentivize a clean energy technology that creates jobs and supports energy independence. Expansion of the Act will ease the burden of project capital costs and make it easier for end users to implement biomass technologies. We urge Congress to pass this bill." - Robert Maine, General Manager, Cambridge Environmental Technologies, Cambridge, MD For more information on the biomass thermal industry and related policy, please visit www.biomassthermal.org ### About the Biomass Thermal Energy Council The Biomass Thermal Energy Council (BTEC) is an association of biomass fuel producers, appliance manufacturers and distributors, supply chain companies and non-profit organizations that view biomass thermal energy as a renewable, responsible, clean and energy-efficient pathway to meeting America's energy needs. BTEC engages in research, education, and public advocacy for the fast growing biomass thermal energy industry. For more information, visit www.biomassthermal.org BIOMASS THERMAL ADVANCES IN NEW HAMPSHIRE AND IN THE U.S. SENATE New Hampshire has become the first state in the country to integrate the full range of renewable thermal energy technologies into its renewable portfolio standard, making biomass thermal, solar thermal and geothermal projects eligible for credits on par with other renewable electricity projects. And, in Washington, DC, a bipartisan group of senators has introduced a bill that would provide tax credits for the installation of commercial and industrial biomass heating or cooling systems. From New Hampshire, on June 26, Jennifer Runyan at Renewable Energy World reported: Yesterday Governor John Lynch of New Hampshire signed a new bill into law that adds thermal renewable energy to the state's renewable portfolio standard (RPS) currently set at 23.8 percent by 2025. . . The new bill requires that utilities source a portion of that 23.8 percent of renewable energy from thermal sources including wood pellet boilers, solar water heating panels and geothermal heating and cooling systems. It sets specific annual targets for thermal renewable energy and ramps up slowly. New Hampshire is the first state to fully incorporate renewable thermal energy into its RPS program, and grant incentives to biomass, solar and geothermal project developers that are equivalent in value to those for developers of renewable electricity projects. . . Examples of projects that will qualify are wood or wood pellet boilers that heat commercial or institutional buildings, solar hot water arrays on hospital rooftops, or geothermal heating and cooling systems for nursing homes or correctional facilities. The NH provision will be available to residential, commercial and industrial applicants. . . In the U.S. Senate on June 28, Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Diane Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the Expanding Industrial Energy and Water Efficiency Incentives Act of 2012, which would, among other things, help businesses across the country meet their heating and cooling needs with renewable biomass. The bill would establish a two-tiered tax credit of 15 percent for commercial and industrial biomass systems that achieve 65 percent efficiency or better and 30 percent for systems that achieve 80 percent efficiency or better. The bill would also expand incentives for combined heat and power systems. Read a bill summary here. According to the Biomass Thermal Energy Council: The credit would have no maximum and would be available for biomass thermal systems placed in service on or before January 1, 2016. "This bipartisan bill will provide highly efficient biomass thermal equipment the same incentive that exists for every other renewable energy technology, including solar thermal and electric, wind, and geothermal," said Joseph Seymour, Executive Director . . . " The bill's aggressive two-tiered structure will promote the most advanced and cleanest biomass thermal technologies, and will help the commercial and industrial sectors—two of the nation's biggest consumers of thermal energy—switch to renewable biomass fuels that we produce here in America." Heating with biomass AURI research helps Minnesota businesses evaluate biomass as a heating alternative Originally from: Ag Innovation News, Jul–Sep 2012, Vol. 21, No. 3 Photo by Lara Durben –By Amanda Wanke Yes, this winter was a mild one. But there are plenty of years when heating costs can be painful, especially to operators of large business operations such as greenhouses and turkey producers. As consumers look for alternative, renewable energy, one source AURI has been examining closely is biomass. Biomass refers to any product from agriculture or forestry that can be fed into a combustor and burned to generate heat. It can come in bulk form such as straw bales, wood chips, and sawdust, or in a densified form such as pellets and cubes. To further examine the use of this value-added, renewable energy, AURI recently facilitated two projects with different scopes. The Minnesota Biomass Heating Feasibility Guide aims to help turkey producers and greenhouse operators evaluate the feasibility of using biomass for heating. The Midwest Biomass Inventory Assessment is a compilation of the biomass resources within the Midwest. MINNESOTA BIOMASS HEATING FEASIBILITY GUIDE The Minnesota Biomass Heating Feasibility Guide, conducted by DLF Consulting, aims to help turkey producers and greenhouse operators in rural areas to understand the feasibility of using biomass for heating. Why the focus on turkey producers and greenhouse operators? “The objective of this project was to help the turkey and greenhouse industries reduce their heating costs, thereby improving their competitiveness and profitability and hopefully leading to further growth and economic activity for these industries in Minnesota,” explains AURI Project Development Director Randy Hilliard, who was the team leader for the feasibility guide project. “Part of AURI’s role is to help these industries stay competitive and grow in Minnesota, and we hope this research gives them some options to do just that,” says AURI Scientist Al Doering. Minnesota has a tremendous wealth of biomass inventory—around 25 million tons each year—as well as suppliers, so the state is poised to grow this industry as demand grows. The feasibility guide serves as a resource on the following topics: • Biomass resources – agricultural and forestry • Biomass fuel suppliers in Minnesota • Biomass fuel handling examples • Biomass heating system suppliers and products • Biomass heating system components • Biomass heating system costs and financial implications • Financial sensitivity analysis “This guide shows the positive economics and return on investment of using a biomass boiler for thermal heat, specifically when competing against propane,” says Doering. “The guide shows that the system will pay for itself in six years in fuel savings alone.” Photo by Rolf Hagberg Midwest Biomass Inventory Assessment The Midwest Biomass Inventory Assessment, which came out of AURI’s involvement with the Heating the Midwest with Renewable Biomass Initiative, provides a snapshot of potential biomass resources within the Midwest. As part of the assessment work, a regional biomass inventory database of previously completed state-level assessments and datasets was also developed. The report presents inventories of crop residue, energy crops and hay, and forest and mill residue in seven Midwestern states: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. “Agriculture residue, such as straw, corn stover, and turkey litter, offer the largest quantity of biomass potential,” says Doering. “The amount of wood residue isn’t growing, so it’s really the crop residue that offers the largest supply. However, we caution people to realize the difference between supply ‘inventory’ and ‘availability.’” Biomass inventory includes all of the biomass that exists. Biomass availability is what can be collected feasibly and economically without detrimental effects on the land. “This inventory can serve as a platform to begin the development of biomass-related projects,” says Becky Philipp, AURI team leader for the project. The inventory was conducted by David Ripplinger and Ridhima Katyal with North Dakota State University’s Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics. “Biomass can play a role in offering affordable, renewable energy options that consumers are looking for,” says Philipp. Find both reports at www.auri.org A special thanks to our funding partners on these projects: Greater Bemidji, Minnesota Power, Southwest Clean Energy Resource Team, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, and Southwest Minnesota Initiative Foundation. What is the Heating the Midwest Initiative? The Heating the Midwest Initiative aims to: “Advance biomass thermal heating in the Midwest for a more sustainable future, while improving the economic, environmental and social well-being of the region.” The initiative is comprised of a group of volunteers representing industry, government, nonprofit, university and tribal organizations with a serious interest in growing awareness and usage of agricultural and woody biomass and dedicated energy crops for thermal fuel for heat in the Midwest United States. Since Heating the Midwest’s inception, AURI Project Development Director Becky Philipp has been actively involved as the team leader for the initiative’s Biomass Resources Action Team. AURI’s goal was to partner in raising awareness around biomass-fueled thermal energy, and to collaborate on related activities that contribute to the overarching goal of future economic prosperity, job creation and energy security in the Midwest through the use of agricultural biomass and woody biomass feedstocks. Tags: Renewable Energy, Alan Doering, Amanda Wanke, Becky Philipp, Randy Hilliard, Biomass POULTRY GROWERS: HOUSE SHOULD SUPPORT FARM BILL RURAL ENERGY FOR AMERICA PROGRAM Jul. 5, 2012 1:10pm The Mississippi Poultry Association • Twelve poultry associations representing poultry and egg producers in 14 states have delivered a letter to the House Agriculture Committee asking for renewal of the Farm Bill’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) with mandatory funding. • REAP has benefited America’s poultry farmers since first being implemented in 2003 when poultry growers won grants to cut their energy use -- and bills -- with energy efficiency measures such as high efficiency fans, lights and motors. Twelve poultry associations representing poultry and egg producers in 14 states have delivered a letter to the House Agriculture Committee asking for renewal of the farm bill’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) with mandatory funding. The letter opened: “As representatives for the poultry industry, we urge you to renew the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) with sufficient mandatory funding. REAP is a unique program within the federal government that helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses improve their profit margins by cutting energy bills with energy efficiency and renewable energy and creates needed jobs in our rural communities.” REAP has benefited America’s poultry farmers since first being implemented in 2003 when poultry growers won grants to cut their energy use -- and bills -- with energy efficiency measures such as high efficiency fans, lights and motors. These measures continue to boost grower profits and income, while increasing the quality of the poultry produced. REAP was created in the 2002 farm bill. It provides grants and loan guarantees to farmers and rural small businesses to incentivize adoption of energy efficiency and a broad range of renewable energy technologies. Since 2003, over 8,000 agricultural producers in every state have received awards under REAP. The signers stated: “Demand for REAP consistently exceeds available resources, creating intense competition for funds and leaving many opportunities for energy savings among poultry growers untapped. American agricultural producers of all sorts exhibit strong and growing interest in conserving energy and producing renewable energy.” Signing organizations include Alabama Poultry & Egg Association, The Poultry Federation (Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri), California Poultry Federation, Georgia Poultry Federation, Kansas Poultry Association, Louisiana Poultry Federation, Mississippi Poultry Association Inc., North Carolina Poultry Federation, South Carolina Poultry Federation, Tennessee Poultry Association, Texas Poultry Federation, and the West Virginia Poultry Association. “Poultry growers were among the first to recognize the value of REAP, which helps all agricultural sectors and has benefitted every state. This program’s success has built this broad support for its continuation,” said Mark Leggett, President of the Mississippi Poultry Association. BIOMASS THERMAL VICTORIES MAKE FOR A SWEET (ENERGY) INDEPENDENCE DAY As our Independence Day nears, I can’t help but associate the word independence with energy, and that’s because it’s a phrase I come across in our industry on a daily—at minimum—basis. By Anna Simet | July 02, 2012 As our Independence Day nears, I can’t help but associate the word independence with energy, and that’s because it’s a phrase I come across in our industry on a daily—at minimum—basis. “We need to achieve energy independence…this will bring us one step closer to energy independence…” It’s actually used so often and so loosely that it likely provokes an eye roll here and there, and that’s mainly because that there’s a huge difference between simply speaking the words and actually being out there, feet on the ground, making things happen and working tirelessly until they do. During the last couple of weeks it has become very evident that the pellet/biomass thermal industry has been doing just that, and it’s taken great strides in the right direction. First, New Hampshire became the first state to grant full renewable portfolio standard credit to thermal applications, which is a big deal. And let me tell you, that didn’t happen overnight, and it wasn’t the result of a spontaneous light bulb turning on in a bill drafter’s head. It was the work of the biomass thermal industry—years of data collection, research compilation and real proof of concept—and of course, endless phone calls, letters, hounding, and the near stalking of congress people I’m sure (just kidding). While it was just in New Hampshire, those who made it happen, particularly the Biomass Thermal Energy Council, knows other states will look to it as example. And once it proves to be a successful move, others will likely follow suite. On top of that news, a new bill was proposed that would grant tax credits for industrial and commercial biomass heating and cooling systems—up to 30 percent, if the efficiency of the system is over 80 percent. So the biomass thermal industry is on a roll. It seems somebody is actually hearing their responsive shouts of “WE CAN HELP” to the energy independence question. On a completely different note, I recently got an email from a gentleman named Justin who owns and operates a custom cattle feedlot operation in Iowa. He told me that his business is looking into pelletizing corn cobs, and they’re in need of some technology providers. He was hoping I could steer him in the right direction. Of course the right direction is to you, our readers and most often the experts, so I’m wondering if anyone thinks they may be able to help Justin with his request. If so, leave a note here or email me, and I will connect you with him. With that said I will close, and to those of you planning to celebrate the U.S.’s Independence Day, I wish you a wonderful, safe holiday. I hope you all take a moment away from the fireworks, hamburgers and beer to remember those who have made—and continue to make—the ultimate sacrifice so that we can be free and safe in our great country. CONSERVATIONISTS SAY THINNING ON FEDERAL LANDS COULD PROVIDE STEADY TIMBER SUPPLY EarthFix | July 2, 2012 1:33 a.m. The U.S. Forest Service has made forest thinning one of its top priorities, particularly in fire-prone and unhealthy dry forests. But environmental groups say dense Douglas fir plantations on the wet side of the Cascades need to be thinned too. And that could help increase the lumber supply. On a steep slope in the Siuslaw National Forest, Douglas fir trees are packed in like matchsticks. Dan Segotta, the U.S. Forest Service’s timber operations manager in the Siuslaw, says these woods were clear-cut in 1965, and then densely replanted. 20 years ago, forest managers in the Siuslaw began a thinning experiment on the site. They left this stand alone to serve as an experimental control. Although a winter wren’s song can be heard, Segotta says this stand is poor habitat for most bird species. Too much competition has weakened the firs, leaving them spindly and unable to grow real branches. “The green crowns are very small up in the trees. They’re only green up there where they can get the sunlight,” he says. This is what looks like when 220 trees are all trying to grow on one acre of land. Segotta drives a few miles down the road, to another part of the experiment: a stand that was thinned 20 years ago. About 80 percent of the young firs were cut down and sold. That may sound drastic. But the trees that were left behind have enough room and light to grow limbs. “You’re seeing large green canopies in the trees that extend from just a few feet off the ground up into the tops.” This kind of forest thinning and restoration isn’t a new idea. But environmental groups are pointing to the Siuslaw as an example of just how many Doug fir logs restoration thinning could produce. Randi Spivak is a policy analyst with the Geos Institute. “This is exactly the kind of work we want to see much more widespread because it will yield a significant increase in timber volume,” she says. The Geos Institute and three other environmental non-profits have published a report that it inventories how much lumber could be produced by thinning younger stands in about two dozen federal forests in the Northwest. Spivak says thinning could generate 774 million board feet a year for twenty years. That’s roughly 150 million two-by-fours each year. “That is stability, predictability, um, a good wood supply for jobs in the woods, all while protecting water salmon and wildlife,” she says. There’s a caveat to Spivak’s numbers though; the groups found the greatest potential for new thinning projects in Washington and California, and less in Oregon. Gordon Culbertson is an industry analyst with the company Forest2Market. He agrees thinning is a good tool. “It can produce valuable small logs that can be used in the production of Douglas fir lumber and veneer,” Culbertson says. But Culbertson does not think thinning on federal land will support a healthy timber industry for the long haul. It’s just less profitable. He says traditional clear-cut harvesting might give you eight loads of logs a day. “Thinning is more difficult to do and complicated. And you only get two loads of logs a day. It costs the same amount of money but you produce less,” Culbertson says. Eventually, Culbertson says, the Forest Service will run out of younger stands that need thinning. He thinks that will happen sooner than the conservation groups predict. And, he worries, once those thinned forests have matured, their value as wildlife habitat will arm environmental groups in the battle to restrict logging on public lands. A healthy, mature stand in the Siuslaw national forest. “The problem with the way that thinning is being promoted today is that it’s not growing that will be harvested at a later date, it’s simply to thin to grow trees to produce habitat in older forests,” he says. “When that’s completed, there won’t be any commercial opportunities for timber harvest on federal lands.” Back in the Siuslaw National Forest, Forester Dan Segotta isn’t worried about running out of plantations to thin. “In 28 years, we will have been through and looked at initially thinning of all the plantations on the forest,” he says. And in 28 years, Segotta says, it will be up to the next generation to decide how much to cut. Published July 06, 2012, 01:27 PM WOLF RIDGE EMBRACES PELLETS WITH NEW BIOMASS BOILER European technology has come stateside with a new biomass boiler system at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland. The new boiler was unveiled during a ceremony last Friday. By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle 1. European technology has come stateside with a new biomass boiler system at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland. The new boiler was unveiled during a ceremony last Friday. The center, whose mission is to provide an environmental education to visitors, replaced its previous cord wood boiler. The new boiler uses wood pellets made in the region from wood that would otherwise become garbage, like sawmill scraps and blow-down area trees. The boiler is based on a design by D’Alessandro Termomeccanica based in Rome and the electronics that monitor the system were developed by ABioNova, a Swedish firm. The ABioNova control board cuts the staff resources Wolf Ridge has to dedicate to their heating system. The cord wood system required a manually-fed fuel every three or four hours. The new system automatically dispenses wood pellets. The new system will heat 85 percent of the Wolf Ridge campus. Pellet heating systems are generally considered a cleaner alternative to traditional fuels like oil or natural gas. While they do emit carbon dioxide, it is ideally absorbed by new-growth trees planted for more fuel. The computer-controlled feeding system keeps the boiler at a stable temperature and makes sure that the pellets are burned in the most efficient way to reduce emissions. Wood pellet systems do have critics. The Canadian branch of Greenpeace issued a scathing report on wood pellets in November 2011. The organization said logging companies use clear-cutting, practically a curse word to environmentalists, to provide for wood pellets. It also claims its efficiency and low-emission claims are false. Most of their criticism is directed at older, larger models. Wolf Ridge’s boiler is one of the cleanest and most efficient on the market. The most significant emission is harmless ash. The pellets that feed the boiler are from Great Lakes Renewable Energy in Hayward, Wis., the closest pellet manufacturing company. The loggers are all certified master loggers, which guarantees that they use sustainable logging practices like harvesting underbrush, which can choke new growth and increase forest fire risks, rather than clear cutting. Gerald Brown, sales manager at Great Lakes Renewable Energy, said the company often purchases scrap materials to create their wood pellets, often at an additional cost to them. When they do log, it benefits the forest. “We don’t clear cut. We do healthy and clean logging,” Brown said. Though sustainability is a main focus, the event also highlighted the economic benefits the boiler will bring. ABioNova partnered with a number of local companies to complete the project and will rely on local hands to maintain it. Will Steger, arctic explorer and environmental activist, highlighted the marriage of economic and environmental benefits of the project in his address at the ceremony. Through Wolf Ridge’s example, he hopes the wood pellet boiler system will become more popular in the region, bringing industry expansion and job opportunities. “This is something we have to demonstrate can work,” Steger said. The domino effect has already begun. In March, Itasca Community College and the Forestry Research Institution of Sweden, Skogforsk announced a partnership centered around biomass energy and wood pellet technology. With the help of the Skogforsk Institution, ICC will add biomass education to its curriculum and create programs for students interested in the bioenergy sector. “ICC is well positioned to leverage its partnership with Skogforsk in a way that can help keep Minnesota on the cutting edge of the emerging wood-based energy industry,” said Jeff Borling, Interim President and CEO of Itasca Economic Development Corporation. The new boiler serves as an educational tool for Wolf Ridge. Their center attracts more than 15,000 students every year, and the boiler will become a renewable energy visual together with the center’s windmill and solar panels. “Modeling these technologies is part of our mission ... to be used as an educational tool while also being used for heating is really unique,” Wolf Ridge Executive Director Peter Smerud said. The partnership between ABioNova and Woodmaster, who markets and distributes their products in the U.S., is unique in its success. The company won Adventurer of the Year from Business Region Gothenburg for its venture into the U.S. “ABioNova had the courage to bet on one of the most difficult markets, the United States,” the jury from Business Region said about its decision to honor the company. The ambassador from Sweden, Jonas Hafström, made the trip to Finland for the ceremony and expressed enthusiasm that Swedish technology can work with American manufacturing. Partnerships of this type have been attempted before but never came to fruition. “Success stories such as this are exciting for the Swedish ambassador,” Hafström said. The wood pellet boiler that will heat 85 percent of Wolf Ridge’s campus. Kurt Mead, naturalist at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, listens to Peter Smerud, executive director of Wolf Ridge, and Swedish Ambassador to the U.S. Jonas Hafström in front of the hopper dispenses the wood pellets to feed a new boiler on the campus. Tags: north shore, news, finland, energy, environment SLOW RHI UPTAKE REFLECTS SUPPORT CONCERNS Olivia Cooper Friday 06 July 2012 07:00 The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) was introduced in November 2011 to encourage investment in technology like biomass boilers, ground source heat pumps and solar thermal panels. RHI pays up to 8.9p/kWh, index-linked, for 20 years, but confidence in the fledgling scheme has suffered from the knock-on effect of cuts to previously agreed solar support rates earlier this year. By the end of June, just 93 RHI installations had been accredited, 85 of which were for biomass boilers. "Farmers are nervous of investing in renewable technology when the government's contract is subject to change," says Harry Cottrell, president of the Country Land and Business Association. "People have seen what the government has done to the FiTs and are nervous of investing in renewable heat as a result." However, Ian Goodchild, business development manager at renewables designer and installer Fair Energy, says the results of the recent spending review should engender a little more confidence. This stipulated that the RHI scheme would provide up to £70m a year, with any applications above that threshold suspended until the following year. "It's a much better and fairer way of trying to manage the process than the way they handled the FiTs," he says. "Interest is now starting to pick up in the commercial sector, but demand in the first year is still unlikely to exceed £40m." One of the stumbling blocks is the lack of information about domestic installations, he adds. Although the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme offers grants of up to £1,250 towards the cost of domestic projects, the annual payment currently only applies to commercial proposals. The domestic RHI was originally scheduled to come online last year, but has since been delayed to this year, and then to summer 2013. "There is no real government commitment to support it; at the moment domestic clients don't know what they have to do to be eligible, or what they will be entitled to." Commercial installations must supply heat to a business premises or to two separately-rated domestic dwellings; so while a farmhouse would not be eligible, heating a dairy and the farmhouse may qualify. "Depending on your existing infrastructure, payback with the RHI could be as little as three to four years," says Mr Goodchild. "Without the RHI, it could be 10-15 years." In the case of biomass technology - worth up to 8.3p/kWh in government payments, farmers must also consider the cost of a building to house the boiler and feedstock, plus pipework and metering. Feedstock can vary from solid timber to woodchips, pellets, straw and miscanthus. David Knox, marketing manager at Treco, which supplies, installs and maintains biomass boiler heating systems, says the level of promotion for the RHI has been considerably lower than for the FiT. "There just isn't the level of awareness out there - the majority of people we speak to haven't heard of the RHI. There is great demand for domestic biomass boilers, but we're telling people to hold off to make sure they get the right equipment to be eligible for the scheme; we just need more clarity on what the government is planning to do." Many claims for commercial installations have also been rejected due to insufficient or confusing information on the application form. "The quality of your application has a direct impact on the time it takes to get accredited, so take expert advice and get it right first time." Case study: John Seed, Duns, Scottish Borders John Seed installed a biomass boiler at Woodend Farm, Duns, in the Scottish Borders, last year to power the farm’s grain dryer. “I wanted to stop the haemorrhaging of cash on heat and power, with a system that would suit an arable enterprise,” says Mr Seed. He powers the 450kW boiler with 170t of oilseed rape straw a year – although it can also burn woodchip and other biomass fuels. Solar panels also provide electricity for the farm. “It’s been fairly simple to replace the boiler, but it’s been quite a job getting the RHI because we are all learning as we go along.” He has replaced the old continuous flow dryer with an on-floor system with ducts and grain stirrers, but says a new building isn’t essential. “These drying systems can be easily retrofitted to many grain stores.” The ash from the boiler is applied as a soil conditioner, helping to reduce fertiliser bills. By passing the exhaust gases from the boiler through the accumulator tank, Mr Seed has increased the overall boiler efficiency to 88%. As well as the grain dryer, the boiler heats the farmhouse, offices, cottages and, soon, a new poultry business. Installing the correct metering to meet RHI requirements has been particularly time consuming, but it will certainly be worth it. “In 2011 we saved £38,500 in gas and heating oil, and we expect to receive RHI payments of £25,000 a year. The Overdahl system, district heating and central heating systems cost around £250,000, while the on-floor grain dryer cost a further £95,000, so we are looking at a payback of around seven years.” RURAL LOCATIONS WANT TO HEAT THEIR HOUSES WITH WOOD PELLETS North West Territories Not long ago Artic Energy Alliance initiated two explorations connected with wood pellets. The biggest attention was paid to the point of how to make this fuel more available for local citizens. The 1st project deals with transporting pellets by barge through the river Mackenzie. The second one considers the opportunities to create small pellet producing factories on the territories with unfavorable road interchange. According to Jim Sparlings’ words, who has collaboration with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in their town people cut firewood by themselves. Still it can’t last forever, moreover lots of communities need more serious projects right now to heat their houses. In some places, for instance in Fort McPherson, people are already talking about chipping willows which grow around. The funds demanded for projects are included in $ 100 000 budget received by the alliance from local authorities. As Sparling affirms, in Inuvik town citizens are running out of natural gas. That’s why the government expects their people will switch on wood stoves very soon. Wood pellets are more available these days compared to gas or firewood. Consequently, the demand for them is expected to increase significantly by the next heating season. Sparling said, that in Southern areas heating with wood pellets is much more widespread than in Northern locations. The main reason – wood pellets shipping and storage in Northern regions are more expensive than in Southern ones. MEETING EUROPEAN DEMAND FOR BIOMASS WOOD PELLETS Posted by timprobert ⋅ July 4, 2012 ⋅ Leave a Comment Filed Under APX-ENDEX, Biomass, DECC, E.ON, EnBW, RWE, Wood pellets Driven by European Union renewables targets, demand for biomass wood pellets is to set to soar over the next decade as utilities displace coal in thermal power plants. Tim Probert explores how the industry will manage to procure sufficient sustainable biomass. This article was first published in the July 2012 issue of The Energy Industry Times. Global trade in biomass pellets could hit 60 million tonnes by 2020. Source Deutsches Pelletinstitut While utilities can and do burn hundreds of different types of biomass, literally almost any old rubbish such as chicken litter, peanut husks and olive stones, the most cost-effective biomass to displace coal in co-firing and conversion plants in large volumes are usually wood pellets. At present, the global trade of wood pellets is a manageable 10-12 million tonnes per year. However, the use of pellets is rising rapidly, driven by European Union (EU) targets. Around half of the EU’s target for providing 20 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020 will be made up by biomass, according to member states’ national action plans. According to the European Pellet Council, pellet imports to the EU increased 50 per cent in a single year 2009-2010 to 2.5 million tonnes, while trade within the EU rose 60 per cent to 3.45 million tonnes. Overall, global trade could hit 60 million tonnes by 2020, it says. Meeting this demand will require large investment in both feedstock for wood pellets and processing, while at the same time it needs to endure supplies are sustainable. Sourcing wood pellets Utilities are used to purchasing commodities towards the end of the supply chain, i.e. at the port of loading or discharge, on a long-term basis. At present this is simply not possible on a viable scale with wood pellets. Some utilities have recognised the upstream risks by building and operating their own pelletization plants to increase security of supply. However, this still leaves them fully exposed to fibre risks and therefore the price and volume of biomass is difficult to secure in the long term, as Diekumo Anthony, biomass fuel developer at E.On Climate & Renewables, explains. “The primary feedstock of pelletization plants is sawmill residue and forestry residues like bark,” he says. “They are by-products of another market altogether. The entire biomass fuel supply chain on the power side is reliant on subsidies, while upstream the feedstock is led by the demand for timber from the US construction industry. “So the entire supply chain is floating in the middle of two uncertainties. Therefore, the price and volume of the feedstock for wood pellets is completely dependent on other markets. That presents huge risks in developing a secure biomass supply chain.” The bulk of feedstock for wood pellets in North America, which accounts for two-thirds of EU imports, comes from small landowners, with the rest coming from a handful of large forestry product companies traditionally supplying pulp, paper or other wood-based products. Anthony suggests the only way to manage fibre risks is to take control of the supply chain as far upstream as possible, and partnering with forestry product suppliers owning vast tracts of forest. Big role for forestry product companies One such company is Weyerhaeuser. The Washington state-based company is the world’s largest private sector owner of softwood timberland, managing more than 20 million acres of forest in the US and Canada, and one of the largest pulp and paper companies in the world. James Leitheiser, Director of Global Business Services for Weyerhaeuser Solutions, believes the power industry is needlessly reinventing the wheel by manufacturing a product it does not truly understand. “The paper supply chain does not exist in a vacuum; it is integrated with traditional forestry products. The economics of the supply chain mean that biomass has to be integrated into these products as well. The paper industry has learned these lessons 50 years ago.” In other words, says Leitheiser, utilities should leave wood pellet manufacture to forestry product companies who can harness their natural economies of scale in terms of feedstock and expertise to offer long-term security of supply. Weyerhaeuser is pushing what it calls its ‘Resource Forward’ model, which it says would reduce project risk and commercial risk for investors. In this model, a large timberland owner with strategically located resources would bring the supply chain forward via an institutional investor to provide stable, relatively low-cost capital to build a pelletization plant in conjunction with an offtake partner. The offtake partner could be a utility, or it may be a biomass supply intermediary, such as a commodity trader or an agribusiness, delivering wood pellets to European ports. Leitheiser says the also model incorporates an element of floating prices so that trading companies can partake in price risk. “It’s almost always cost-effective to source some supplies on a short-term, spot basis from third parties, but having a long-term anchor supplier offers a great deal of security to end- use customers and investors,” he says. This ‘Biomass, Inc.’ model is proving very attractive to investors. Dr. Chris Rowland, senior research analyst at Ecofin, an investment management company specialising in energy, says biomass on the cusp of a huge change. “Many companies are eying investment in the biomass feedstock supply chain. We see potential in investing in assets along the entire chain, owning forestry, pelletization plants, as well as storage facilities at UK ports.” Trading biomass As utilities tend to produce pellets themselves, pricing biomass can be a challenge. In November 2011, Amsterdam-based energy exchange APX-ENDEX launched the world’s first biomass exchange. In phase one, the exchange started with non-cleared wood pellets, meaning the physical settlement is arranged bilaterally between the counterparties after trade has been concluded. Phase two, scheduled to take place later this year, will include the implementation of clearing services for wood pellet contracts with contribution of Port of Rotterdam’s ‘BioPort’ with regards to shipping, storage and distribution. By utilizing these contracts, says APX-ENDEX’s futures manager Paul Groes, end-users and institutional investors can hedge themselves against price movements, while producers will be able to sell biomass on a longer-term basis in order to access working capital. Dry bulk terminals at BioPort Rotterdam are used for handling, storage and export of a growing biomass flow, already serving big players like E.On and Essent. An important challenge which the industry has to overcome is the lack of international standardization of wood pellets. Peter Rechberger, general manager of the European Pellet Council, says wood pellets need to become a clearly defined commodity in order to compete against fossil fuels. “There is no EN (European Standard) for industrial pellets yet, although the power sector has virtually defined its own industrial pellet qualities: I1, I2, I3,” he says. “We are working with IWPB (Initiative for Wood Pellet Buyers) to include industrial grade certification as part of PellCert, which aims to develop an ENplus-compatible certification scheme for industrial wood pellets that also incorporates sustainability.” Sustainability, sustainability, sustainability Sustainability is absolutely critical is to the biomass industry and utilities are acutely aware of this. Hitherto, many European utilities have effectively self-certified their biomass as sustainable. The ‘Sustainability Policy’ of British generator Drax, for example, dictates that it will not burn any biomass that does not reduce carbon dioxide versus the coal alternative. As demand grows, however, an increasing volume of fresh wood will be needed from forests, the use of which for sourcing biomass is coming under stricter control from the EU. RWE npower, which operates the ill-fated Tilbury coal-to-biomass conversion plant which caught fire on February 27, says demand in the UK alone could reach 11-12 million tonnes of pellets by 2015, equivalent to 22-23 million tonnes of fresh wood. RWE Npower’s 750 MW converted coal-to-biomass plant caught fire on 27 February 2012. Sawmill residues can only be expect to provide 50 per cent of the fibre for this volume of wood pellet production, according to Karine Culerier, Senior Market Analyst, RWE Supply & Trading. “More and more volume from sustainability-certified forests will be needed,” she says. The increasing volume of fresh wood required has boosted sustainability schemes such as the RWE npower-supported Green Gold Label, which requires forest sustainability certification. But there are dozens of such schemes – 67, in fact, according to a University of Utrecht study – and it is slowing down the development of the supply chain. Jorrit Hachmer, vice president of biofuel trading at RWE, is pressing for a single, European-wide sustainability scheme. “The lack of one is harming the industry,” he says. “We need to convince the public that biomass is sustainable. Without public support, there will be no industry.” Not all European utilities support the use of biomass in large combustion plants. Dr. Bernhard Graeber, Director of Renewable Energies & International Climate Projects at another German utility, EnBW, would prefer biomass to be burned at its country of origin. “It’s wrong for Europe to subsidize power generation which makes it feasible to transport wood from the USA and Canada. It would actually make more environmental sense for these countries to use this biomass to displace their own coal generation and export more coal to Europe.” It has yet to be proven whether utilities will be able to source enough biomass on a sustainable basis. Europe is essentially conducting a very large experiment to see if it can. NORTH COUNTRY'S WOOD PELLET HEAT INDUSTRY STRUGGLES, DESPITE ABUNDANCE North Country has plenty of wood pellet energy, not enough consumers. Photo: Jasmine Wallace (07/10/12) This week, we're taking a fresh look at the idea of renewable and locally produced energy in the North Country. For many homeowners, one of the most accessible and affordable ways to shift away from fossil fuels is to buy a pellet stove. Those are wood stoves or furnaces that burn those little rabbit-pellet sized chunks of wood or grass. A few years ago, there was sort of a boom in the pellet stove industry. But now the market has sagged. As Brian Mann reports, local companies say the technology needs to get even easier and more user-friendly for more consumers to give it a try. Lonnie Ford takes me down to his basement with the same kind of eagerness you’d see in some guys who are showing off an old car they’ve rebuilt in their garage. "So there you go," he says. "It's my big shiny. We're looking at a pellet furnace with a forced air system. This is essentially the heart of the system and as the guy who put it in said, 'Now you're house has a heart.' And it really has made a big difference." Ford lives in Saranac Lake, which in winter is regularly one of the coldest communities in North America. He owns one of those old Sears catalogue homes, not very big, with a sort of quaint cottage feel. Heating it with electric and kerosene was expensive, and Ford says the house still felt cold and drafty. So last fall he took the plunge, buying a Harman PF 100 Forced Air pellet furnace. It was a big investment. "We took out a loan to make this happen, but we're already seeing return. Our electric bill has nose-dived," said Ford. He is part of what renewable energy advocates hope will be the next big wave: people making the switch away from oil. Ford now buys his heating pellets right here in the region, sort of the more and more people are trying to buy their food locally. "Curran is what I burn, they're out of Massena," Ford said. "They're an ecologically conscious business...and the product that they make is very, very good." While most of us are shipping a lot of our energy dollars overseas to the Middle East or South America, Lonnie Ford is buying his energy from a neighbor in the North Country. Pat Curran, at Curran Renewable Energy in Massena, said, "We have been in operation now, this is our third year." But here’s the wrinkle: while Lonnie Ford has made the switch, a lot of people aren’t converting to this kind of local energy. The boom in pellet stoves has sagged. "There is a glut of pellets," Curran says. He thinks there are a couple of reasons more consumers aren’t buying in. The really good pellet furnaces are expensive. And because there are no locked in standards for equipment or pellets, homeowners are sort of confused. "There are a lot of pellet stoves sold that are inferior and they create a lot of work for the people using them. If there could be a standard, we could create something that really takes the end work away from the consumer, and then we could really grow the industry," said Curran. It turns out that a lot of American companies that make these furnaces and a lot of companies that make the actual wood pellets have resisted any kind of regulation. "Unfortunately, it's still a bit of the wild west out there, with pellet fuel," says Charlie Niebling, the general manager of a company called New England Wood Pellet based in Jaffrey New Hampshire. He was part of a renewable energy conference held last month in Lake Placid by the Adirondack North Country Association. "You can say premium on your bag and you can shovel any old crap into the bag and there's really nothing to stop you," Niebling acknowledged. At the conference, experts described what they see as growing pains for a new industry that has already been stung once. Remember a few years ago when people bought all those outside wood boilers that turned out to be really polluting? A lot of communities wound up banning them. Consumers were furious. No one in the biomass industry wants to repeat that disaster in an industry that markets itself as a green alternative. But Phillip Hopke, director of the Institute for a Susainable Environment at Clarkson, says a study conducted by his researchers fond that some manufacturers are actually using contaminated wood to produce their pellets. Hopke said, "We're going to have to make sure that we keep out the pressure treated wood, old painted materials, so that we're not creating a health hazard by putting toxic heavy metals up your chimney." This kind of thing makes advocates of wood pellet heat cringe. They point to the fact that in Europe, stringent standards have helped the industry grow more quickly. In the meantime, consumers like Lonnie Ford sort of have to go it alone, spending a lot of time online researching the best furnace companies, and the best sources of pellets. That’s a heavy lift for people who just want reliable heat without much thinking. But Ford says the investment of money and care and time was worth it and said, "Just from the standpoint of conscience, I wanted to get off oil. It gives me a little more feeling of control and independence over my life and my family's life. Those are kind of ethereal thoughts, but that was part of the thought process." The idea of energy independence and the desire to cut greenhouse gas pollution will win over some consumers. But industry experts say that for this kind of local energy to really take off will take a combination of factors, from higher oil prices, to better industry standards, to more government incentives. MASSENA PELLET MILL AT THE FOREFRONT OF RENEWABLE ENERGY INDUSTRY Pat Curran is on the cutting edge of a new and challenging energy revolution. Photo: Jasmine Wallace The pellet mill at Curran Renewable Energy in Massena. Photo: The Wild Center via Flickr, some rights reserved (07/11/12) This week, North Country Public Radio has been taking another look at how renewable and local energy might reshape the region's economy. State and local leaders are making big investments in everything from hydro to biomass. And more and more families and businesses are slowly converting away from fossil fuels, adding solar panels or small wind turbines. But big hurdles remain. Start-up costs for green energy technology are steep. Government incentives can be confusing. Many consumers are sticking with natural gas and oil, at least for the time being. One of the men on the front line of this turbulent energy revolution is Pat Curran. He opened Curran Renewable Energy in Massena three years ago with $11 million in support from the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency. He makes burnable wood pellets, supplying some big institutions, including Clarkson University in Potsdam and the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Wood pellets are cheaper than fuel oil and much better for the environment. But Curran has struggled to find enough customers to keep his plant operating. Jasmine Wallace has our profile. Pat Curran takes me on a tour of his plant, where huge piles of wood chips from North Country forests are converted into what looks like little rabbit pellets. “These are the pellet mills right here. Of course, they’re not running right now because we’re loading this load of sawdust. We have three mills. When we built this plant, we set it up for a fourth mill and we just haven’t had the financial wherewithal to put in the fourth mill. Hopefully one day we will," said Curran. He is a soft-spoken man, and he wears jeans and a plaid shirt. As we walk, he occasionally stops to check in with his staff or direct a shipping truck. He’s a believer; he thinks renewable energy can revitalize the North Country’s timber industry and create new jobs. But right from the start, his company has faced a glut in the pellet market. Curran says that too many people started making this kind of energy without there being enough customers willing to convert their homes or businesses to pellet heat. “It’s been a struggle. It’s been a big struggle. And the biggest problem is being new on the block, anticipating that there was going to be a huge market for the pellets and shortly after getting going, realizing that the first wave of this pellet business, when we arrived in it, was more of a hepped up wave,' said Curran. According to him, growing the market for pellets has been difficult. People who have access to low cost municipal electric or natural gas aren’t likely to switch over to pellets as a source of fuel. Firewood, fuel oil, and propane are his biggest competitors. Because of low demand, he’s had to scale back production. “We were optimistic that this plant would run at 75% the first year. You know, we really ran at about 11% the first year. Part of it was start-up, and the real one was just we didn’t have the market to sell into,” said Curran. "We were running at seven days a week until about mid-March. Inventory started to rise to a point that I realized that if we kept going at the pace of production, we would have been shutting down the plant completely by the end of April. So we went to five days a week, and we’re presently running five days a week. Our inventory is at capacity. Last year we produced 59% of the plant’s capacity at 59,000 tons.” On the day I visit, mountains of wood chips sit outside the factory in the sun. The strong scent of pine hangs in the air, and bulldozers transport bucketfuls of the chips across the expanse of pavement behind the factory building. Everything inside the factory is mechanized, the workers dwarfed by machines. We watch as the huge, yellow arm of a robot pluck up the bags of pellets in its two rows of metal teeth and stack them carefully onto a wooden pallet. Curran said, “If you turn around you can watch this robot fill the pallet there. You’ll notice also on the bag that we have a window on the sides and on the front. When we first started making pellets three years ago, the bag manufacturer convinced us not to do anything like that. They wanted a completely sealed bag so you didn’t see the product. But after a while, realizing that we know what our product is, we might just as well lay it out so the public can see it before they buy it.” This is important because one way that Curran hopes to compete in the future is by making really high quality pellets. That means that he doesn’t use dirty or contaminated wood to make his energy pellets. Unlike some companies, he also produces pellets that hold consistent amounts of energy, so they burn at a dependable rate. “We do our very best to make sure that the pellet is always the same and do whatever we can to make sure that this product is going to be equal to the same as a person picked from us a year ago, and we’re hoping that this will continue to help us sell our product," said Curran. In the last month, Curran has found a couple of new markets, selling to the Lowe’s Home Improvement Chain and to a Canadian company called Belfry. He’s also started selling the pellets to livestock owners, who use them on the floors of their stables. However, he acknowledges that his company has yet to find a stable and sustainable level of production. Last winter, the factory had so many orders, Curran almost ran out of pellets. But this summer, Curran kept production high and now he has more bags of pellets than he can sell. “We’ve built our inventory and we ran out of cash. Or I shouldn’t say ran out of cash, ran down on the cash to the point where unless product’s selling, you can’t continue producing. So it’s a real tough one, and I’m sure no matter what energy you’re into, you run into similar problems like this," Curran said. Pellet producers in the U.S. face a lot of big questions that are out of their control. High oil prices might drive more customers to think about wood-burning stoves. But that’s not a sure thing. And in the U.S., most states don’t have good regulations or guidelines for pellet stove technology. That means that people are often confused about the best furnaces to buy. The best furnaces are also expensive. Curran said, “It’s just, it’s very, very slow to happen. The amount of jobs that could be created would be tremendous. And really, they’re homegrown jobs. You’re not importing these jobs, and these jobs could be annual jobs for decades to come, until maybe something better came along.” One bit of good news is that Curran’s business has plenty of raw materials. He says that there is a lot of forest in our region to be harvested, He also hopes that renewable energy will replace the paper industry in filling one timber industry niche: buying up low-quality wood that’s not suitable for lumber. He said, “We happen to be fortunate enough to be in a part of the country where there’s a lot of good people, and a lot of good people that are willing to work, and we’re flush with raw materials. And as much as sometimes we don’t care for the fact of all the water we have around here, the water is our future, and the water will grow the trees. From here on out, we have to be stewards, and the best thing we can do is be the best steward and hope like heck we can grow a good, domestic market for the product that we produce.” So Curran is sort of a pioneer in a tough industry. A lot of people think biomass and wood pellets will be part of our energy future. But this is a time when everything in New York’s energy world is changing, from the debate over natural gas fracking to the possibility that far more Canadian electricity could be imported from the north. Curran’s efforts to keep his company alive reflect the hope that renewable and locally-made fuel will be a part of the mix over the long term. BIOMASS REG THREATEN RENEWABLE ENERGY EXPORT BOOM Written by AOL Energy July 9, 2012, Boston, MA - A single Northeastern U.S. state is preparing to miss out on growing export markets for woody biomass fuel production due to pending new regulation designed to lower carbon emissions. According to an AOL Energy online article, the decision would be a departure from the design of most regulations and markets designed to prevent global warming in Europe and the US. Massachusetts is poised to adopt a regulation which, according to biomass experts, would keep forest products on the renewable energy sidelines. State definitions of biomass vary, but they all list forest-thinning and harvesting residues, such as tree tops, limbs, and salvageable deadwood, as qualified boiler fuels. Massachusetts, however, is the only state to conclude that biomass leads to a net increase in atmospheric carbon. The Department of Energy Resources says its proposed, RPS Biomass Regulation would support the state's Clean Energy and Climate Plan, which directs the state to slash 1990 levels of carbon emissions 80% by 2050. The regulation reflects "careful consideration of how woody biomass should qualify for the state [renewable portfolio standard] in a manner that is consistent with the Commonwealth's commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the broad range of human and ecological services of the forests," says DOER. To that end, the regulation would require biomass plants to operate at 60% efficiency to qualify for a full, renewable energy certificate. (Plants operating at 50% efficiency would qualify for "half" REC's). But the standard means "only combined heat and power systems could qualify" for REC's, Bob Cleaves, president of the Portland, ME-based Biomass Power Association, told AOL Energy. He added that a McHale & Associates study determined that "no biomass-to-electricity plant in the world could meet that standard" without co-generating thermal energy. While plant developers "would love to do that from a business standpoint," said Cleaves, "when you're in rural areas [where chip production is co-located with forestry operations] you don't have nearby cities or industrial facilities as steam hosts." CLEAN ENERGY CAN CREATE NORTH COUNTRY JOBS By DAN MASON SPECIAL COMMENTARY FRIDAY, JULY 13, 2012 ARTICLE OPTIONS A A On June 22nd, over 250 people from the north country met in Lake Placid for a clean energy conference co-sponsored by the Adirondack North Country Association, which represents 14 counties that comprise over 11,000 square miles. Businesses and other energy consumers joined companies that provide energy technologies, and university researchers in these technologies, at the Lake Placid Convention Center. Sessions focused on solar, wind, hydro, biomass, conservation and efficiency. This gathering was one way to educate commercial and public energy customers on clean energy, share best practices and demonstrate how to obtain funding through the North Country Regional Economic Development Council initiatives. This conference facilitates Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Cleaner, Greener Communities program, which awarded the north country $1 million with the intent of accelerating efforts to a sustainable and energy-efficient future. This program enables energy customers to use public funds for clean-energy plans, and supports the north country to become more energy-independent. Clean-energy use helps businesses and organizations save money And increasing local, homegrown energy keeps more money in the region’s economy, and creates local jobs. In an assessment conducted by the North Country Regional Economic Development Council — Clean Energy Team, they determined that the effect of the clean-energy economy on the job market could create up to 2,000 jobs in the seven-county region of the north country. Even if it were only half that, it’s still like bringing in a big factory to the local economy, and we know that such an event happens infrequently. So what we are talking about is the creation of small businesses and jobs for local workers. In our region, we are fortunate to have solar, wind, water and biomass available. This is in addition to the many conservation and efficiency steps that people and businesses are currently taking or plan to take. Some actions require legislative and regulatory changes to increase penetration. With the right changes, multiple homeowners or businesses can share a wind turbine or solar panels, distributing the costs and the benefits. For hydro, the current pricing structure is putting pressure on many rural hydro facilities. Changes in policy and regulations could improve their fiscal viability without adding new subsidies. And lastly for biomass, with public funding, the Edwards-Knox Central School in Russell reduced their heating costs by 75 percent by replacing fuel oil with biomass heating. By using biomass heat, they freed up money to spend on classrooms and teachers without raising school taxes. Every school, building and hospital should follow the example of Edwards-Knox, and some already have. Through the public-private partnership developed by Gov. Cuomo, the north country will be able to reduce dependence on outside energy sources and become energy-independent (excluding transportation). With the north country’s skills, people and available technology, we can create and maintain a real sustainable clean-energy economy. This will make the north country the greenest energy economy for New York state and demonstrate a real economic path forward for rural communities across the United States. Dan Mason is on the board of the Adirondack North Country Association and is a North Country Regional Economic Development Council Clean Energy leader. He retired as an engineering manager after 34 years from a Fortune 100 petrochemical corporation. SKI RESORTS GO RENEWABLE U.S. ski resorts tap renewable energy sources to combat climate change Updated: July 13, 2012, 6:47 PM ET By Jesse Huffman | ESPN Action Sports Courtesy photoSummer and winter alternate views of Park City's wind and solar installation, which is located at the top of their Silverlode chairlift. As the volatility of the 2011-12 season made clear, the stake ski resort's have in resolving climate change is a big one. Over the past three years, resorts like Bolton, Burke, Jiminy Peak and Grouse Mountain have installed wind turbines, while others have pursued efficiency updates, in an effort to take responsibly produce, and reduce, the power and heat involved in swinging chairs and heating lodges all winter long. Now, four more areas, from local ski hills in the Northeast to major resorts in the Rockies, have installed or invested in renewable power sources ranging from solar to biomass to coalmine methane. Smuggler's Notch closed early this winter after a spring meltdown saw the highest March temperatures in Vermont's history. The same solar energy that drove skiers and riders batty as it took away their snow is now being put to use by an array of 35 solar trackers, which collectively produce 205,000 kWh per year -- around five percent of Smuggler's total electrical use. The array provides enough juice for most of the resort's Village Lodge. Dan Maxon, Smuggler's Notch Solar Installation Project Manager, toured me through the installation on a recent morning, when the GPS-enabled trackers, manufactured by a Vermont company called ALLEarth Renewables, were tilted east to catch the a.m. sun. "We believe it is important not only for ski resorts, but for all energy users to take some responsibility for their energy consumption," Maxon told me. "There was a good confluence of energy and desire that made this project come together -- we'd been looking at various renewable projects for six-seven years, but couldn't pull them off. This one we could." [+] Enlarge Courtesy photoSmuggler's solar tracker array with Madonna Mountain in the background. The array would normally have cost a million dollars to install, but Smuggler's engaged in an innovative leasing program from AllEarth, and in five years it will have the option to buy the equipment outright at a reduced price. Smuggler's is adding this solar project to existing efforts to outfit new condominium units with solar hot water heaters. As for further renewable projects, Maxon says that Smuggler's will be focusing on efficiency at the resort and in the snow making system next. I asked Maxon if he thought that ski resort's high-elevation locations made them especially suitable to industrial-sized wind generation, like the type at Bolton Valley or Jiminy Peak. He pointed out that while ski resort ridgelines could be prime locations for wind power, many ski resorts, including Smuggler's, lease land from the State, making such projects difficult. Over at Mt. Abram in Maine, renewable heat has literally risen from the ashes. A lighting strike set fire to the ski resort's main lodge in the summer of 2011, burning the building to the ground. Taking the occasion to revisit the resort's dependence on fossil fuels, Mt. Abram built their new lodge with a wood pellet boiler. Stoked by dry, highly-pressurized wood pellets from sustainably-harvested sources right in the state, the "Energy Box" system provides plenty of warmth for the lodge. Building off that momentum, Mt. Abrams updated the heating in their rental shop and top patrol shack with pellet heaters as well. "Switching from No. 2 heating oil to a carbon-neutral, locally-sourced system was an easy decision based on our current goals as a ski area" says Erin Bragg, Mt. Abram's Director of Sustainability. "The move was also pushed to the forefront of our 'greening' time line due to the destruction of our oil boiler in the fire." The base lodge project, which offsets the use of more than 12,00 gallons of No. 2 heating oil per year, helped win the resort a National Ski Area Association Golden Eagle Award for Environmental Excellence this year. Hancock believes that "all ski areas have a strong self preservation interest in promoting projects that support colder, snowier winters." Courtesy photo Mt. Abram's GM standing with the resort's Golden Eagle award in front of their wood-pellet boiler. In the case of solar, says Hancock, many ski areas have available land but it's likely to be facing north, and thus not in the direct path of the sun. Mt. Abram, like Smugglers, has enough south-facing acreage to make solar a real option. "Mt. Abram has engineered and is fully permitted for a two-acre solar array specified to generate more electricity annually than we consume," says Hancock. He adds that the resort is the final phases of financing and hopes to have the installation in place before the 2012 ski season. Hancock sees pressure from customers, not just warming winters, as a driver that will push resorts to do more to lower their impact. "You don't venture out with kids and grandparents in zero degree windy weather if you don't love the outdoors and care greatly about the planet," says Hancock. "As more ski areas take a more serious approach to their environmental footprint, I believe a greater environmental stewardship will be an ante to stay in business." Across the divide in the Rockies, Park City Mountain Resort has recently installed a Falcon 12kW vertical axis wind turbine at the top of their Silverlode chairlift. Paired with a solar panel, the installation generates 30,000 kW hours of electricity annually, around three times the amount of an average home. Park City also included an informational kiosk that will let the public see the power being generated in real time. "Our goal is for our guests to see a turbine and solar array installation up close and hopefully encourage them to install wind or solar at their home or business," says Brent Giles, Chief Sustainability Officer of Powdr Corp, Park City's parent company. "We live, work and recreate in a mountain setting and we want to continue this lifestyle for years to come," says Giles. "Therefore we have adopted a policy to reduce emissions generated by our operations." Large-scale renewable installations aren't really an option at Park City, says Giles. Instead, the resort purchases wind power renewable energy credits that offset 100 percent of their electricity usage, which averages 14 million kWh's annually. Auden SchendlerElk Creek mine in Colorado, where Aspen's coal mine methane-to-electricity project will be developed. In Colorado, Aspen Ski Company is taking a leading role in developing an innovative form of clean energy from coalmine methane. The practice of venting methane from coalmines to prevent underground explosions has turned into a climate change bottleneck with 20 times more warming potential than CO2, coalmine methane contributed ten percent of the all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2010, according to the EPA. Aspen is the capital investor in a new project at Elk Creek Mine that uses waste methane to power a dynamo and generate electricity, downgrading the methane to CO2 and at the same time. The project is a first of its scale in the United States, and helped net the resort a National Ski Area Association Golden Eagle Award for Environmental Excellence this year. "We've been looking for a large scale clean energy project for over a decade and we finally found one," says Auden Schendler, Aspen Vice President of Sustainability. Schendler expects the 3 megawatt project to go online around September, and says that in a matter of month it will make approximately the same amount of electricity that Aspen uses annually, around 25 million kilowatt hours. "Because we're destroying methane in the process," adds Schendler, "this is equivalent to triple offsetting our carbon footprint each year." Schendler believes that industrial scale, on-site power generation wasn't feasible for Aspen, and isn't necessarily the solution for other resorts. "We're trying to develop a huge amount of clean power, we're not trying to do something gimmicky," says Schendler. "We don't need to shoehorn clean power into inappropriate places like most ski resorts, there are plenty of good projects to develop, they don't happen to be at ski resorts. The atmosphere doesn't care if the power gets used on site -- scale is everything when it comes to solving climate change." Which isn't to say that Schendler and Aspen don't support renewable energy development by ski resorts. The opposite in fact: "It's important, so that when these resorts go to Washington to ask for an aggressive climate policy they have a leg to stand on and some credibility," says Schendler. "We need to walk before we can talk." BIOMASS THERMAL VICTORIES MAKE FOR A SWEET (ENERGY) INDEPENDENCE DAY 0 On 07.13.2012, In News, by admin As our Independence Day nears, I can’t help but associate the word independence with energy, and that’s because it’s a phrase I come across in our industry on a daily—at minimum—basis. By Anna Simet | July 02, 2012 As our Independence Day nears, I can’t help but associate the word independence with energy, and that’s because it’s a phrase I come across in our industry on a daily—at minimum—basis. “We need to achieve energy independence…this will bring us one step closer to energy independence…” It’s actually used so often and so loosely that it likely provokes an eye roll here and there, and that’s mainly because that there’s a huge difference between simply speaking the words and actually being out there, feet on the ground, making things happen and working tirelessly until they do. During the last couple of weeks it has become very evident that the pellet/biomass thermal industry has been doing just that, and it’s taken great strides in the right direction. First, New Hampshire became the first state to grant full renewable portfolio standard credit to thermal applications, which is a big deal. And let me tell you, that didn’t happen overnight, and it wasn’t the result of a spontaneous light bulb turning on in a bill drafter’s head. It was the work of the biomass thermal industry—years of data collection, research compilation and real proof of concept—and of course, endless phone calls, letters, hounding, and the near stalking of congress people I’m sure (just kidding). While it was just in New Hampshire, those who made it happen, particularly the Biomass Thermal Energy Council, knows other states will look to it as example. And once it proves to be a successful move, others will likely follow suite. On top of that news, a new bill was proposed that would grant tax credits for industrial and commercial biomass heating and cooling systems—up to 30 percent, if the efficiency of the system is over 80 percent. So the biomass thermal industry is on a roll. It seems somebody is actually hearing their responsive shouts of “WE CAN HELP” to the energy independence question. On a completely different note, I recently got an email from a gentleman named Justin who owns and operates a custom cattle feedlot operation in Iowa. He told me that his business is looking into pelletizing corn cobs, and they’re in need of some technology providers. He was hoping I could steer him in the right direction. Of course the right direction is to you, our readers and most often the experts, so I’m wondering if anyone thinks they may be able to help Justin with his request. If so, leave a note here or email me, and I will connect you with him. With that said I will close, and to those of you planning to celebrate the U.S.’s Independence Day, I wish you a wonderful, safe holiday. I hope you all take a moment away from the fireworks, hamburgers and beer to remember those who have made—and continue to make—the ultimate sacrifice so that we can be free and safe in our great country. REPORTS ADDRESS US PELLET PRODUCTION, EU SUSTAINABILITY CRITERIA By Erin Voegele | July 17, 2012 • U.S. producers of wood pellets will likely need to meet or exceed sustainability standards set by the European Union for solid biofuels in order access the European export market. Two reports have recently been published that examine the economic, environmental and policy implications of the expanding wood pellet market. A report produced by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation, titled “Pathways to Sustainability,” evaluates the programs and practices that are available to U.S. pellet producers to meet European buyer’s sustainability expectations and policy requirements, while the Environmental Defense Fund’s report, titled “European Power from U.S. Forests,” addresses how EU policies are shaping the transatlantic trade in wood biomass. The EDF report notes that wood pellet demand in Europe has been driven primarily by the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive. While the European Commission included minimum sustainability requirements for biofuels and bioliquids in the 2009 RED, sustainability requirements for solid biomass were not addressed until the following year, when a follow-up report was published to outline recommend sustainability criteria for solid biomass production and use. According to the EDF report, the European Commission is expected to release an additional report later this year that clarifies uncertainties related to sustainability in the EU pellet market. That report is expected to identify which sustainability programs meet EU approval, rule whether certification or other sustainability schemes constitute a barrier to trade, and address whether EU-wide binding sustainability criteria are necessary for solid biomass. According to the EDF, experts predict that the sustainability requirements outline in the RED and the follow-up report will remain the as baseline criteria for the new standards for solid biomass. The EDF also points out that in the absence of EU-wide sustainability standards for pellets, member states have developed their own requirements, incentives and policies with little coordination. In addition, industry-led certification programs have also been developed, as are programs designed by the European Committee on Standardization and the International Standardization Organization. The important point for U.S. industry is that no matter what standards the EU settles on, pellet producers will need to meet or exceed those guidelines. “It is probably that certification of pellets will become the norm within the EU, and U.S. producers need to consider how they might begin to meet those requirements,” concludes the EDF in its report. “Whether or not forest management practices within North America are generally considered to be ‘sustainable,’ it is necessary to ensure that specific sustainability requirements for wood pellets in the EU are met or exceeded by U.S. forestry practices.” The Pinchot Institute’s report specifies that although international trade in wood biomass for bioenergy is expanding due to European demand, relatively few U.S. pellet producers currently ship to the EU. However, this is expected to change, with the southeastern pellet and wood chip manufactures seeming to be the most likely to expand exports to Europe. In its report, the institute describes four pathways that could represent means to mitigate environmental and other risks in the supply chain, including certified forest management, controlled and mixed sourcing, inspected compliance with stewardship plans and best practices, and uninspected compliance with stewardship plans and best practices. The report also provides a comparison of major European energy sector sustainability schemes, and how they relate to the four pathways in the U.S. forest sector. According to the Pinchot Institute, its goal is to clarify how the pathways can help U.S. pellet producers meet the expectations of different European customers, the environmental community, and European sustainability criteria. Full copies of the reports are available for download on the EDF website. ST. MARY'S BAND GETS BIOMASS FUNDING By Contributed - Kootenay News Advertiser Published: July 18, 2012 9:00 AM Updated: July 18, 2012 9:07 AM The St. Mary’s Indian Band will benefit from the fourth round of funding from the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund with equity funding of $200,000. “Biomass thermal heating systems are particularly advantageous to people in our region. Here we are able to make use of poor quality wood that is unfit for lumber and keep people warm at the same time. I wish the St. Mary’s Indian Band every success with this project,” said Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett. Project details: • These funds will support the construction and operation of a biomass thermal heating system. • The system will initially hook up two buildings with future plans to hook up the entire village. • The project will remove the use of natural gas and decrease thermal energy payments to users. • The St. Mary’s Indian Band has over 5,000 hectares of dense conifer forest and proposes to supply the heating system with waste-wood chips. It will also provide the band with an opportunity to receive revenue through wood-chip delivery. “When Bill first gave me the call I wasn’t sure what to expect, but when I learned we were granted the full amount we requested I was thrilled. Today is a really great day for the St. Mary’s Band. Now we can move forward with some of the more detailed work and get the system in place. We’re really grateful the Province is supporting this initiative, helping us leave a smaller footprint on our land,” said St Mary’s Indian Band Chief Cheryl Casimer. $200M CONVERSION COMING FOR ATIKOKAN COAL PLANT Biomass plant expected to be up-and-running by 2014 CBC News Posted: Jul 19, 2012 3:59 PM ET Last Updated: Jul 20, 2012 5:38 AM ET (L-R) OPG Plant Manager for Thunder Bay and Atikokan Chris Fralick, Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro and Atikokan Mayor Dennis Brown are all smiles after announcing plans to go ahead with the conversion of the Atikokan coal plant to burn biomass. (Jeff Walters/CBC) Atikokan's power plant will finally be converted to burn wood pellets, or biomass, instead of coal. An announcement Thursday morning confirmed the provincial government will keep the plant open and go forward with the plan — one that has been in the works since 2006 — to adapt the plant. It’s one of the best pieces of news Atikokan's Mayor Dennis Brown said he's heard in a long time. The $200 million conversion will create 200 construction jobs and sustain existing jobs at the plant. Part of Brown’s excitement stems from the fact the plant — operated by Ontario Power Generation — is an important piece of the economy in Atikokan. More than a third of the town's taxes are paid by OPG. Mauro and Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro said the 200-megawatt plant will provide stability for the regional power grid and provide additional an additional power source for mines that are expected to open within the next couple of years. The government said the wood pellets will come from Ontario, creating additional jobs throughout the province. However, officials have not yet identified the suppliers. The project is scheduled for completion by 2014. KOREA SOUTHERN POWER TO BUY WOOD PELLETS FOR RENEWABLES QUOTA By Sangim Han - Jul 19, 2012 9:17 PM CT Korea Southern Power Co., a unit of Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEP), plans to be the first of the nation’s utilities to buy wood pellets to meet a renewable- energy quota imposed by the government, a company official said. Korea Southern is seeking to buy 15,000 metric tons of pellets for delivery in October, the official said by phone today, asking not to be identified because the information hasn’t been made public. The purchase is part of plans to buy 50,000 tons in the fourth quarter, an e-mail from the official showed. Bidding will be at 10 a.m. on the tenth day after a tender notice is posted on the company’s website between July 23 and 25, the official said. South Korea’s 13 power utilities must boost the use of renewable sources after the government imposed an alternative- energy quota this year to reduce emissions. The mandatory quota for the proportion of electricity generated by renewable sources will be increased to 10 percent in 2022 from 2 percent in 2012, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy. More utilities may purchase wood pellets to meet the quota because of the time taken to develop solar and wind sources for power generation, the official said. The details of the planned purchase are as follows: ---------------------------------------------------------------- Product: Wood pellets Quantity: 15,000 tons Condition: Supply for Hadong Power Plant Offers Close: 10 a.m. Korea time ten days after a tender notice to be posted July 23-25 ---------------------------------------------------------------- To contact the reporter on this story: Sangim Han in Seoul at email@example.com To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alexander Kwiatkowski at firstname.lastname@example.org REPORTS ADDRESS US PELLET PRODUCTION, EU SUSTAINABILITY CRITERIA By Erin Voegele | July 17, 2012 • U.S. producers of wood pellets will likely need to meet or exceed sustainability standards set by the European Union for solid biofuels in order access the European export market. Two reports have recently been published that examine the economic, environmental and policy implications of the expanding wood pellet market. A report produced by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation, titled “Pathways to Sustainability,” evaluates the programs and practices that are available to U.S. pellet producers to meet European buyer’s sustainability expectations and policy requirements, while the Environmental Defense Fund’s report, titled “European Power from U.S. Forests,” addresses how EU policies are shaping the transatlantic trade in wood biomass. The EDF report notes that wood pellet demand in Europe has been driven primarily by the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive. While the European Commission included minimum sustainability requirements for biofuels and bioliquids in the 2009 RED, sustainability requirements for solid biomass were not addressed until the following year, when a follow-up report was published to outline recommend sustainability criteria for solid biomass production and use. According to the EDF report, the European Commission is expected to release an additional report later this year that clarifies uncertainties related to sustainability in the EU pellet market. That report is expected to identify which sustainability programs meet EU approval, rule whether certification or other sustainability schemes constitute a barrier to trade, and address whether EU-wide binding sustainability criteria are necessary for solid biomass. According to the EDF, experts predict that the sustainability requirements outline in the RED and the follow-up report will remain the as baseline criteria for the new standards for solid biomass. The EDF also points out that in the absence of EU-wide sustainability standards for pellets, member states have developed their own requirements, incentives and policies with little coordination. In addition, industry-led certification programs have also been developed, as are programs designed by the European Committee on Standardization and the International Standardization Organization. The important point for U.S. industry is that no matter what standards the EU settles on, pellet producers will need to meet or exceed those guidelines. “It is probably that certification of pellets will become the norm within the EU, and U.S. producers need to consider how they might begin to meet those requirements,” concludes the EDF in its report. “Whether or not forest management practices within North America are generally considered to be ‘sustainable,’ it is necessary to ensure that specific sustainability requirements for wood pellets in the EU are met or exceeded by U.S. forestry practices.” The Pinchot Institute’s report specifies that although international trade in wood biomass for bioenergy is expanding due to European demand, relatively few U.S. pellet producers currently ship to the EU. However, this is expected to change, with the southeastern pellet and wood chip manufactures seeming to be the most likely to expand exports to Europe. In its report, the institute describes four pathways that could represent means to mitigate environmental and other risks in the supply chain, including certified forest management, controlled and mixed sourcing, inspected compliance with stewardship plans and best practices, and uninspected compliance with stewardship plans and best practices. The report also provides a comparison of major European energy sector sustainability schemes, and how they relate to the four pathways in the U.S. forest sector. According to the Pinchot Institute, its goal is to clarify how the pathways can help U.S. pellet producers meet the expectations of different European customers, the environmental community, and European sustainability criteria. Full copies of the reports are available for download on the EDF website. SWEDISH, U.S. FIRMS FINISH FIRST OF WOOD PELLET BOILER SERIES By BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota | July 20, 2012 • [L-R]: Gregg Mast, BBAM, Pete Smerud, Wolf Ridge ELC, Will Steger, Arctic Explorer, Jonas Hafström, Swedish Ambassador to U.S., Per Carlsson, ABioNova, Chuck Gagner, WoodMaster, Dale Wahlstrom, BBAM An International partnership in the area of environmental technology was on display at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, Minn., on June 29. Sweden-based ABioNova and Minnesota-based WoodMaster celebrated their first in a series of “Made in America” commercial wood pellet boiler system installations at a ribbon-cutting ceremony highlighted by special guest, Swedish Ambassador to the U.S., Jonas Hafström. The biomass boiler system installed at Wolf Ridge was developed by ABioNova in partnership with Italy-based D’Alessandro Thermomeccanica Company. Additionally, ABioNova also designs and manufactures its own control panel with NovaReg software. ABioNova partnered with WoodMaster to manufacture locally and distribute the European-based technology known as the WoodMaster Commercial Series Boiler throughout North America. Assisting the partnership in identifying and accessing public and private resources throughout the region has been The BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota and the Area Partnership for Economic Expansion. “Our partnership with WoodMaster is about showcasing how effective technology transfer can be between two countries,” said Per Carlsson, ABioNova owner and CEO. “We are building a model on how our dependency on foreign fossil fuels can be lessened and how to take care of your own natural resources within local and regional boundaries can work, and build economic growth from it.” The Wolf Ridge installation replaces a cordwood system that was over 25 years old. Two new wood pellet boilers provide heat and hot water to the district heating network totaling 81,000 sq. ft. while also allowing for greater handling of the peak and off-peak heating loads. The smaller boiler has a capacity of 1.2 MMBtu/hr and the larger boiler has a capacity of 2.2 MMBtu/hr. The wood pellets are being sourced from a regional wood pellet manufacturer and stored on-site in a 20-ton pellet silo. During the coldest parts of the year, 20 tons of wood pellets will provide about 10 days of heating for Wolf Ridge. It is estimated that heating with wood pellets will provide a 50 percent cost savings over propane on a per MMBtu basis. Wolf Ridge also plans to share with each of its visitors, some 14,000 people a year, about how the center utilizes its biomass system. “This new wood pellet system is bringing both economic and educational benefits,” said Chuck Gagner, president of Northwest Manufacturing, “not only to Wolf Ridge, but to the community at large as it demonstrates how local partners can work together to advance technology and capture as much energy spending in their local communities as possible.” While the ABioNova and WoodMaster team have installed several boilers in the northeastern U.S., the installation at Wolf Ridge represents their first in a series of projects in Minnesota with locally produced boilers. During his remarks, Swedish Ambassador Jonas Hafström emphasized the importance of economic activity and trade between Sweden and the U.S. “Success stories such as this are exciting for the Swedish Ambassador,” Hafström said. Renewable Biomass as a Poultry Facility Heating Option? July 17, 2012 by collinmotschke Written by The Minnesota Project’s Clean Energy Program Manager, Jake Fischer Recently, I was invited to attend a grand opening event at Becker Fireplace Center, in Becker, MN. The company was debuting and promoting its new line of biomass furnaces and boilers. Jim Eiynick, one of the company’s co-owners, had reached out to me after hearing about the work we’ve been doing regarding energy efficiency in poultry facilities with LED lamps. Jim was excited about Becker Fireplace’s new offerings and noted that the new Wood Master-developed Forced Air Pellet Furnace they had brought to market would be the first of its kind selling in the United States. Calling their new biomass fueled furnace initiative “Advanced Bio Heat,” the company will be offering commercial grade wood pellet furnaces in the 430,000 to 850,000 Btu range. Integrated hot forced air technology onto these furnaces is what makes them particularly unique, said Eiynick. Traditionally, furnaces of this size have utilized hot water piping heat exchanges converted to forced air, which results in some fuel to heat efficiency loss. Advanced Bio Heat’s new offerings will take the hot air from the furnace and be able to deliver that heat supply directly to the ductwork, resulting in a more efficient heating process. Of particular interest to The Minnesota Project is this new technology’s potential application to heating poultry barns. Poultry producers have a considerable heating requirement, especially in Minnesota, and the opportunity to address this need through a renewable feedstock in wood pellets presents an interesting idea. Of course, The Minnesota Project is always excited to see new developments promoting renewable fuels over traditional fossil fuels, but, depending on the spot price of delivered fuels such as propane, wood pellets will often present a more cost effective fuel, making pellet heating a potentially sound investment. This tool, from Penn State University, provides a handy little calculator outlining various heating fuel sources, and which may be more economical than the other, taking into account current fuel costs. As an added bonus to potential cost savings, the utilization of a wood pellet heat source appears to have some opportunity to improve flock health and working conditions in poultry barns. These potential benefits are realized through the very dry heat produced via the wood pellet burning process. Dryer air in poultry barns can mean reduced barn ammonia levels, and a prolonged, higher quality litter. I had the opportunity to view one of these new furnaces in action, and it was pretty impressive. I’m admittedly only beginning to learn about bioheat applications in farming, so I’ll continue to attempt to learn more about the positives and/or negatives of this technology moving forward. For the time being, this sounds like a good Minnesota company working on issues that may present a win-win situation for both the energy efficiency/ renewable energy sector and agricultural sector. I’ll be excited to watch how this initiative develops. Thanks again to the folks at Becker Fireplace and Advanced Bio Heat for having me out and showing me around, it was a great experience. What are your thoughts? Any experience with bioheat systems? How about poultry? Would this be something that appeals to you? What might you identify as benefits and challenges? DEMAND FOR WOODY BIOMASS DROPS Written by Wood Resources International July 23, 2012, Seattle, WA - Prices for woody biomass in the US, whether sawmill by-products, forest residues or urban wood waste, have been sliding for most of the past three years, but were still higher late in 2011 in most regions than they were five years ago, according to the North American Wood Fiber Review. In the 2Q/12, woody biomass prices were down between 2-10 percent in the key biomass-consuming regions, the US South, Northeast and in the West as compared to the 1Q/12. In the US Northwest and California there continues to be a substantial price discrepancy between mill biomass and forest biomass, but this price difference is minimal in the US South. During 2011, natural gas prices fell about 45 percent in the US and the lower prices have reduced the urgency for investing in woody biomass projects in the country. However, despite the plunging natural gas prices, plans for more facilities utilizing woody biomass continued during 2011 and 2012 in both Canada and the US, with some projects nearing completion and others in start-up mode. Wood fiber demand for all planned biomass projects in the US dropped in the first half of 2012 as compared to early 2011. Most of the decrease in wood usage the past year has been that wood used in the generation of electricity for the domestic market in the US, while the pellet industry has continuously expanded capacity to serve the growing demand in Europe. The US had about 450 announced and operating woody bioenergy projects in the spring of 2012, including wood pellets, liquid fuel, electricity-generation and combined heat and power (CHP). The projected wood fiber use for all planned biomass projects is estimated to reach just over 30 million dry tons of fiber annually by 2020, according to Forisk. Commercial and residential energy consumers’ interest in switching to more expensive green energy is likely to continue to be lukewarm as long as demand for energy is low and natural gas prices are their lowest levels in over ten years. For more information visit: www.woodprices.com ONTARIO TO CONVERT NORTHERN COAL PLANT TO BIOMASS Written by Ministry of Energy July 19, 2012, Toronto, ON – The Ontario government is moving forward with the conversion of the Atikokan Generating Station from coal to biomass, creating 200 construction jobs and helping to protect existing jobs at the plant. The conversion is the first of its kind in the province. The project will create new economic opportunities for Ontario's forestry sector, which will provide the biomass fuel to the plant, located near Thunder Bay. Demand for biomass pellets from the plant is expected to create or support about 200 jobs. The converted plant will be able to deliver more than 200 megawatts of clean, renewable power and is expected to be complete in 2014. "Our plan to transform our electricity system and ensure a sustainable clean energy program is working. Together we are building a clean energy system in Ontario that is spurring new investment, creating jobs and providing Ontarians with cleaner air, healthier communities and a brighter future, said Minister of Energy Chris Bentley. The Atikokan Generating Station will become the first Ontario Power Generation-owned facility to be converted from coal to biomass. It will be one of the largest biomass-fired electricity generating facilities in the world. Under the terms of the agreement to convert the station, the biomass must be sourced from Ontario's forests and processed in Ontario. The procurement will provide a new market for waste fibre and act as a catalyst for a larger biomass industry in Ontario. Wood pellets will be made primarily from unused and underutilized species, non-marketable wood, forest residue and sawmill residue. "The conversion of Atikokan from dirty coal to biomass means we are reducing harmful emissions and building a modern, clean, reliable energy system. We'll keep energy jobs in the Town of Atikokan and create forestry jobs in northern Ontario while ensuring a cleaner, healthier Ontario for families and future generations,” said MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikoka Bill Mauro. NEW EMISSIONS REGULATIONS COULD COST TRILLIONS AS NATURAL GAS PRICES RISE July 25, 2012 The cost of new environmental regulations for the power generation industry could rise into the trillions in coming years, one energy industry analyst told AOL Energy. At a seminar hosted earlier this month at the Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions, Deloitte MarketPoint founder Dale Nesbitt explained to participants that the ultimate cost of new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations restricting emissions will depend largely on the price of natural gas. The final number, however, will likely range between $1.5 trillion and $2 trillion regardless. The U.S. has been using around 7 trillion cubic feet per year to fuel natural gas power plants, but that number could double as utilities begin to take advantage of plummeting natural gas prices to help comply with the new rules. However, Forbes reports that gas could see a dramatic reversal in fortunes. Having dropped when production rose as demand stayed stagnant, the fossil fuel's prices could spike as production is scaled back and demand finally begins to increase. Freetricity - the green venture with biomass 9:20am Friday 27th July 2012 in Latest News Freetricity - a green business venture led by businessman Paul Williams and entrepreneur and environmentalist Ben Way, who have both appeared on Channel 4’s “Secret Millionaire” - is offering businesses, schools and charities across Wiltshire the opportunity to apply for free, green heating systems which could cut their energy bills by up to 50 per cent. The firm is offering free biomass (wood fuelled) boilers to business owners, schools and charities under a Government backed scheme which will provide commercial biomass boilers for free on a 20 year serviced and maintained basis. The school or business pays only for the wood that fuels it and can save between 30-50 per cent on future fuel bills. FREETRICITY Paul Williams, CEO of Freetricity said: “Over the last year, we have grown to become one of the leading players in the solar energy sector. “However, as a business we are always looking to grow and so we have decided to diversify into the biomass energy sector. "We believe that this is an exciting new area of business for us which offers similar benefits to business owners as our solar energy offer has. Over time, we hope to expand Freetricity further into other renewable sectors. “Biomass offers significant savings for buildings which have high heating bills like schools, hotels, pubs and leisure centres. “This type of heating system offers a greener, more cost effective way of heating buildings. By installing one of our free biomass boilers, there are no upfront costs but businesses benefit from cheaper heating bills and no capital outlay for a new boiler which can cost up to £200,000. ” Paul Williams and Ben Way met on Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire programme and discovered a shared interest in the environment. They decided to launch a green business together and Freetricity is the result. The business offers renewable energy solutions to domestic homeowners and commercial business owners including solar panels, biomass boilers and shortly renewable heat pumps. Ben Way, Chief Technical officer said: “Biomass boilers are essentially wood fuelled boilers. They are a fantastically efficient method of heat production compared to more traditional fuels such as oil, LPG and natural gas. "The biomass system, when designed correctly, will provide 100 per cent of the annual heat load of the building, replacing the requirement for a conventional boiler. Businesses who are interested should apply at www.freeheating.net . “The fact that we can offer the equipment absolutely free makes this a fantastic deal for business owners who want to cut costs and do their bit for the environment.” GERMANY ON TOP OF EUROPEAN PELLET PRODUCTION • July 28, 2012 In the first half of 2012 pellet production in Germany reached the highest level ever. The German Fuel Wood and Pellet Association (DEPV) reported to date, that 1,050,000 tons of wood pellets were produced from January to June. This is about 15 percent more than in the first half of 2011. In particular, this record level is based on a production increase to more than 550,000 tons during the second quarter. For the full year 2012, DEPV for the first time expects an increase in production to over two million tons. Above all, a grow in the market for medium and large heat generators on wood pellet base caused that effect, the industry association said. By the end of 2012, DEPV predicts an increase of domestic consumption of wood pellets to 1.6 million tons, an upswing of more than 12 percent over the previous year. An annual production of over two million tonnes - up from 1.9 million tonnes in 2011 - is very likely. Germany now leads Europe in pellet production. Worldwide, Germany is on third place behind the U.S. and Canada.