Sunday, March 31, 2013
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 LOS ANGELES TO STOP USING COAL-FIRED POWER BY 2025, MAYOR SAYS SEALASKA SWITCHES BOILER SYSTEM TO PELLET POWER USDA'S LOCAL INVESTMENT IS $153M SINCE 2009 CANADIAN BIOENERGY ON FIRM SUSTAINABILITY FOOTING STUD LUMBER SHORTAGE PREDICTED NORTH DAKOTA OIL FILTERS ILLEGALLY DUMPED, TRIBAL OFFICIAL SAYS BIOMASS SECURE POWER SECURES LOCATION FOR LA. PELLET PLANT BLOOMBERG BRINGS GOOD NEWS FOR BIOMASS MINN. HOUSE ENERGY POLICY COMMITTEE ADDRESSES 2 BIOMASS BILLS MINNESOTA UTILITY OFFERS RENEWABLE ENERGY GRANTS UPDATE ON GREENHOUSE GAS STRATEGY ACTIVITIES NORTHWEST TERRITORIES BIDS CALLED FOR £150M WOOD PELLET STORAGE FACILITY SFI APPLAUDS EU'S NEW ILLEGAL LOGGING RULES LEARNING ABOUT LIGNIN AT CRIBE DOMTAR INAUGURATES COMMERCIAL LIGNIN PRODUCTION CANADIAN TOWN WINS GRANT FOR BIOMASS HEATING SYSTEM SIERRA CLUB SUES DTE OVER ALLEGED VIOLATIONS AT COAL-FIRED PLANTS WOOD PELLET PLANT COULD COME TO BR PORT SPECIAL PROGRAM SUBSTANTIALLY LOWERS ENERGY AUDIT COSTS FOR POULTRY PRODUCERS CANADIAN PELLETS HEADING TO THE UK CONFLUENCE ENERGY ACQUISITION NEARLY DOUBLES PELLET CAPACITY CANADIAN WOOD PELLETS WANTED NEW PLAN CALLS FOR WOOD CHIPS TO FUEL PUBLIC BUILDINGS NEWPAGE DULUTH CUTS JOBS WAUSAU PAPER TO CLOSE BRAINERD, MINN. SPECIALTY MILL CHOPSTICK PLANT TO OPEN IN WHITE PINE, MICHIGAN THERMOGEN TO BUILD $80 MILLION TORREFIED WOOD PELLET PLANT NEAR EASTPORT, MAINE CANADIAN WOOD PELLETS WANTED ARS RESEARCHER STUDIES HOME HEATING WITH SWITCHGRASS PELLETS BIOMASS BASED HEATING SYSTEMS CHEAPER AND CLEANER THAN OIL BASED ONES TOWN HOPES FOR JOBS TAPPING CALIFORNIA'S HUGE OIL FORMATION LOS ANGELES TO STOP USING COAL-FIRED POWER BY 2025, MAYOR SAYS March 1, 2013 By Dorothy Davis Content Director Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has said the city will stop using coal-fired power within 12 years, reports Southern California Public Radio. During an event sponsored by UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, Villaraigosa revealed plans to sign an agreement that would end the use of what was once the city's most-used energy source by 2025. “In a couple of weeks I will be signing agreements to get completely out of coal by 2025,” Villaraigosa pledged. Villaraigosa’s ambitions go back to the start of his first term in 2009 when he set an initial goal of eliminating the use of coal-fired generation to power L.A. by 2020. However, issues with the city’s utility such as the political battle over a carbon tax and energy rate increases have stalled the initiative's progress. Further complicating the issue are the terms of the city’s contracts with the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station in Arizona and Intermountain Power Plant in Utah, which provide nearly 40 percent of L.A.'s power. Nevertheless, Villaraigosa was firm in his comments at the event on a plan to end the city’s relationships with the two plants. “We’ll be out of Navajo, 2015. Intermountain looks like 2025,” Villaraigosa said. “It will be a big deal.” Supporters of the initiative are saying the plan is viable, pointing to recent reports that the Navajo Generating Station is facing significant challenges to remain operational. New federal environmental regulations would increase operating costs at the plant by an estimated $1 billion, which could force its closure in time to meet Villaraigosa's 2025 objective. In addition, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) outlined in its 2012 Integrated Resource Plan it will consider selling its share in the Navajo Generating Station by 2015, four years ahead of its scheduled lease end date. Concerning the Intermountain Power Plant, LADWP said the facility is considering a conversion to natural gas by July 2025. Yet, any future plans must also have the approval of California’s 35 other purchasers of the plant’s power before moving ahead. As of this release, neither the mayor’s officer nor LADWP have made an official announcement on the planned phase-out. More information on environmental regulations regarding coal-fired power can be found at PennEnergy's research area. SEALASKA SWITCHES BOILER SYSTEM TO PELLET POWER Posted: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 By JONATHAN GRASS Sealaska is bringing a renewable energy into Alaska, starting with Sealaska Plaza. The building has been outfitted with a wood-pellet boiler system that replaces its oil-based system. Back | Next "There's been a large push to have renewable energy throughout the region," said Sealaska Executive Vice President Richard Harris. "One source is biomass heating." All offices in the building will be completely converted to the renewable heat source, which will fire up Nov. 8 and be commissioned the following day. Wood pellets are a renewable energy source made from condensed sawdust and wood chips, essentially byproducts of other wood manufacturing products. Sealaska's renewable energy coordinator Nathan Soboleff described it as "using a product that used to be discarded." They are constructed at high pressures, making the pellets very dense. As there are no glues or additives, the pellets are completely combustible without waste, plus the density produces little ash because there is little moisture. Soboleff said this prevents visible emissions from the smokestack. He said it produces little ash that flows into an ash container that only needs to be emptied up to 12 times a year. "The best use of wood is producing heat, not electricity," Soboleff said. "The nature of a wood pellet leads itself to an easy heating system because they flow easily and can automatically feed into a boiler system. That makes it user-friendly." Harris said the new system will burn 280 tons of wood pellets a year, replacing 35,000 gallons of heating oil a year. Soboleff described how this demonstrates wood pellets as a cost-saving measure for heat as well. Soboleff said buying a ton of pellets at $300 is equivalent to buying heating oil at $2.52 a gallon on a per million BTU basis. Since heating oil sells at more than $3 a gallon, this would result in a significant cost savings, he said. He added no one in Southeast Alaska has paid $2.52 per gallon of heating oil in at least five years. In rural areas, the cost of oil can be much more. Harris cited a school in Kake that spends more than $4 a gallon. "The cost of burning wood over oil the payback may be in as little as four or five years," Harris said, noting that depends on the amount used. He said Sealaska's own saving estimate is $1 million within 25 years. Plans for the conversion have been in the works for about a year, and construction began Sept. 1. Synergy Systems, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sealaska, acted as construction managers for the project, supervising and bringing together all the technical advisors and other personnel for each aspect. Harris said he's particularly proud that the construction was overseen by a Sealaska subsidiary. Synergy's construction manager, Sam Bergeron, said it's about 85 percent complete with all the major systems in place. He said it was a simple conversion from the oil-burning system. The new system was helped by an emerging energy technology grant from the Denali Commission. The grant is for implementing existing viable technologies in Alaska. One of the grant's conditions is the heating system serve as a research and development project for the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The university has installed monitors and will evaluate the system, including costs and emissions, as it goes, making all of the reports public. "We call it a marquee project because it's here in the capital and right near the legislature and it's all very visible, very public," said Harris. The idea is that Sealaska will serve as a model for other companies plus homes to convert to wood pellets for heat. Soboleff said wood pellet energy is a new entity in Alaska and is still rare in North America, yet has been used in Europe for more than 30 years. As such, the technology for the system already existed so nothing had to be invented. He said this helped Sealaska prove it was a viable and economically feasible alternative. Harris said by implementing the system here, other buildings can use those designs for their own buildings and even personal homes. He said the idea is already getting around and the Federal Building in Ketchikan is working with a contract for biomass energy, specifically for wood pellet burning. Another step toward the Alaska introduction is the bulk delivery system for wood pellets for commercial-sized buildings. As there are no bulk wood pellet dealers in Southeast Alaska, Sealaska sells pellets by the ton. Harris said he hopes the idea will lead to more sellers here. Bergeron said there is interest in making a small pellet mill in Ketchikan. Soboleff said a home using wood pellets would purchase them in 40-pound bags rather than bulk. Harris said the board of directors has been wanting the company to head toward a green initiative, which initiated the process toward wood pellet burning. He said part of that initiative is to create new sustainable energies. "We said someone ought to put one of these systems in and decided 'Gee, it ought to be us,'" he said. Sealaska will maintain its hydro boiler as a backup system. Soboleff said he provides information on renewable energy solutions. He can be reached at 586-9278. • Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. USDA'S LOCAL INVESTMENT IS $153M SINCE 2009 JEDC to get $100,000 continue Southeast Cluster Initiative Posted: December 13, 2011 - 12:03am Michael Penn / Juneau Empire Jim Nordlund, Alaska director for rural development at the USDA, points to a chart showing how over $150 million in federal money has been invested in Southeast Alaska in the last three years to promote economic development during a press conference at the Hangar on the Wharf’s ballroom on Monday. Along with Nordlund are Beth Pendelton, regional forester for the Forest Service, Danny Consenstein, executive director for the Alaska Farm Service Agency and Brian Holst, executive director for the Juneau Economic Development Council. By RUSSELL STIGALL JUNEAU EMPIRE With over $153 million invested in Southeast Alaska in the last three years, it would be hard to find a local industry not touched by the United States Department of Agriculture. The funds go to both strengthen existing industries and to help build up new ones — whether investing in schools for oyster farmers, or helping build out wood pellet energy infrastructure. Small loans even go to help start up new small businesses, say, by helping obtain a business license. In an attempt to make these and future investments as effective as possible, the USDA announced an award of $100,000 to continue to fund the Juneau Economic Development Council’s Southeast Cluster Initiative. Early this year JEDC was asked to bring together interested and motivated Southeast Alaskans to create working groups based around four important Southeast industries. Three are established industries: ocean products, forest products and visitor products, while the last is the emerging renewable energy industry. More than 130 individuals have participated in the effort to date, according to the JEDC website. While JEDC started its Cluster Initiative with these four industries, JEDC Executive Director Brian Holst said additional industries, such as health care or mining, will be added in the future. Over the last several months, these working groups created dozens of ideas to clear hurdles and create opportunities for economic growth in Southeast. These ideas include working with the University of Alaska system to develop tourism industry training as part of its business school or using young growth wood to build facilities in the region, Holst said. These groups will present these ideas to each other, agency heads and the public at the Southeast Alaska Economic Cluster Summit in Juneau at Centennial Hall Tuesday through Thursday. This marks in important step in the Cluster process as it is the first time all four working groups have come together to “advance the work of the clusters, the initiatives, and by extension, the Southeast Alaska economy,” according to the JEDC website. This summit will include working sessions and progress reports by the individual Cluster work groups, sessions on common issues impacting regional economic foundations and an industry and government policy panel discussion. Department heads from all of USDA’s agencies are in Juneau for the summit — the Forest Service, Rural Development, Economic Development and even the Farm Service Agency. “It turns out that mariculture, shellfish farmers, qualify for a lot of those programs. These are some of our people,” said Danny Consenstein, executive director of the Alaska Farm Service Agency. Other experts on hand will come from private industry, the University of Alaska system, state agencies, legislators, Sealaska Corp., Southeast’s Native Village corporations and municipal governments. For more information or to stream the summit, visit www.jedc.org/summit. • Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at email@example.com. CANADIAN BIOENERGY ON FIRM SUSTAINABILITY FOOTING March 1, 2013, Quebec - Never mind what you hear from Greenpeace or the NIMBY crowd - Forest bioenergy is a good alternative to fossil fuels in Canada. That was the main message from sustainability experts at the Canadian Wood Pellet Heating Conference. Held in Quebec City February 27-March 1, the event was presented by the Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC) and QWEB. An entire session on the first day was dedicated to environmental issues and sustainability, and featured presentations from both Dr. Evelyne Thiffault, forest biomass research scientist with Natural Resources Canada, and Amelie Samuel-St-Laurent, project manager with nature Quebec. "Forest bioenergy is a great idea," Thiffault stated in explaining its potential role in displacing fossil fuels. "Looking forward, the drivers behind it will only get stronger with time." Still, she noted some challenges as well, including a negative reaction often based on poor forest management in tropical countries around products like palm oil. "There are really good stories about forest bioenergy, and really bad ones. As an industry you need to be sure you are in a position to tell the really good stories, and to differentiate yourself from the scandals we see elsewhere." Both speakers noted that the carbon cycle makes forest bioenergy a much more palatable energy source than any fossil fuel, but cautioned that not all bioenergy sources or products are equal. The number one pellet fibre supply, mill residues, are "exemplary" as Thiffault explained. So too are construction waste material. Others, such as harvest residues, are also generally excellent supplies if managed with forest sustainability in mind. When it comes to off-species, salvage harvesting, and roundwood, both speakers agreed that the stories can still be very positive compared to fossil fuels, but the carbon debt will take a little longer to repay. "Context matters," Thiffault explained. "Your fibre mix matters, but so too does the end use. Is it local CHP, is it shipping to the EU? It is all renewable, and they can all work, but some will make a better story than others as far as your footprint." Thiffault has been involved in extensive trials involving various harvest residual removal levels in different forest types. In most cases their is no negative impact on stand productivity, but she added that in some cases there was, so the application and intensity needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis. "There are many safeguards to forest bioenergy development in Canada compared to other parts of the world. First we have forest management regulations that have been recognized as among the most stringent in the world. Bioenergy harvesting must operate in that context. Second, we have the highest certification rate in the world. Finally, we are conducting research on the ground and talking about it at conferences like this. As long as that all continues, I feel confident that the industry is developing properly." Samuel-St-Laurent challenged producers to maximize the environmental benefits of bioenergy, by optimizing the sources used, streamlining transport, and encourage the use of domestic heat and CHP as much as possible. In the latter case, governments and communities clearly have a key role to play. STUD LUMBER SHORTAGE PREDICTED by WOOD MARKETS | Mar 2013 As U.S. new residential lumber demand more than triples from 2009 to 2017, lagging stud lumber output and capacity is expected to create huge supply chain dislocations with soaring prices as the outcome, according to a new report. North American Stud Industry and Market: Current Situation and Outlook to 2017, a new report by International WOOD MARKETS Group is an extensive survey of the North American lumber industry on how the impact of rebounding U.S. lumber demand will strain the supply chain. The survey of stud lumber producers is indicating that shortages of stud lumber can be expected, at times, over the next two to five years as the U.S. housing recovery heads back towards 1.5 million housing starts (and most likely even higher). The report will include: • Estimates of when North American stud lumber production could start to lag demand in the housing sector as well as other end-use segments. • Analysis on the potential supplies from Europe: it will take higher prices to allow European stud mills to consider exports to the U.S., and there limitations in terms of domestic log costs, mill configurations, planer capacity, shipping costs, currency exchange and market risk. • Annual price forecasts: for benchmark solid sawn and finger-joint stud products in key lengths to show where prices are headed and if price premiums between producing region will hold or change, based on market demand and preferences. • Annual North American market demand forecast for studs: including projections of species, grade, lengths, size, geographic region, and customer segments in 2017 as compared to 2012. • The potential supply response to 2017: by producing region and stud type (i.e., solid sawn, finger-joint, imported, and steel), taking into account fibre supply constraints. • Annual forecast of potential capacity: of North American and European stud mills, as well as random length mills that are able to cut PET stud products. • China and Japan: how export markets can further impact demand and prices for studs. "It is already evident that rising U.S. demand from the recovering U.S. housing market is going to put serious demand pressure on stud lumber supply," states the report. "It also appears that many companies have not yet properly assessed the full impacts on their business from the potential of this new stud demand surge. There will be big winners as a result of how business plans are adjusted to account for the projected demand for stud lumber as the recovery continues, including possible acquisitions and even mergers." NORTH DAKOTA OIL FILTERS ILLEGALLY DUMPED, TRIBAL OFFICIAL SAYS Associated Press Posted: 03/06/2013 12:01:00 AM CST Updated: 03/06/2013 09:49:14 AM CST Potentially radioactive filters used in the oil industry are being illegally dumped in fields and garbage containers and along roads on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in western North Dakota, tribal officials say. The filters used to screen fluids at oil wells look like small nets and might attract children and endanger their health, according to Edmund Baker, the Three Affiliated Tribes' top environmental official. Baker issued a public notice and said he plans to attend meetings around the reservation to educate residents about the danger, according to a report from the Bismarck Tribune. Some communities are isolated and not aware of oil field waste issues, he said. North Dakota health rules prohibit the disposal of radioactive waste above a minimum level at any landfill in the state. Health and industry officials are studying the possibility of new waste management rules for disposal in specially permitted landfills. Baker said he was alerted to the problem of illegal filter dumping when a tribal garbage delivery was stopped at a McKenzie County landfill and fined for attempting to bring in the filters. The drivers were unaware the filters were in their load, he said. The tribe in late 2011 announced efforts to crack down on oil companies improperly disposing of waste on the reservation, which lies in the heart of the oil patch that has seen production boom in recent years. Those efforts included hefty fines for violators. "This office is asking the communities to report any illegal activity regarding the dumping or the abandoning of these filters within our boundaries," Baker said. The filters have been found throughout the reservation but particularly in the Mandaree area, he said. BIOMASS SECURE POWER SECURES LOCATION FOR LA. PELLET PLANT By Chris Hanson | March 07, 2013 • Biomass Secure Power is also proposing to develop storage and chipping facilities at the Port of Natchitoches on the Red River. Port of Natchitoches As of March 1, Biomass Power Louisiana, a subsidiary of Biomass Secure Power Inc., secured a six-month option to lease a site where it is proposing to build a new pellet plant. The plant is a four-phase project set to be completed over several years. Phase one consists of three production lines capable of producing 340,000 tons of white wood pellets a year from whole trees and chipped fiber. Upon completion, the first phase will have the capacity to produce 1 million tons annually. The scope for the first phase will be released April 2013, with construction beginning summer 2013. Torrefied pellets will be incorporated into the first production line in the second phase. Upon securing a buyer for the torrefied pellets, all lines developed during phase one will be modified to produce either standard grade or torrefied pellets, depending on the request. In addition to the Baton Rouge Plant, Biomass Secure Power is proposing to develop storage and chipping facilities at the Port of Natchitoches on the Red River. From there, they would store and process logs before shipping to the main plant in Baton Rouge. The wood pellets are destined for Europe, and the company is currently in talks with Asian and European power plants for long term off-take agreements. The plant is partially funded by the Port of Baton Rouge by using municipal bonds sponsored by the port authority. BLOOMBERG BRINGS GOOD NEWS FOR BIOMASS By Bob Cleaves | March 04, 2013 • Last month, Bloomberg and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy released their Sustainable Energy in America 2013 Fact Book, a comprehensive overview of the state of sustainable energy in the U.S. This joint project is an annual evaluation of the entire sustainable energy industry and its many sub-industries, including biomass, which delves into changes over the past year and projects what’s ahead. I wanted to share with you some of the highlights contained in this year’s report. Overall, biomass fares pretty well, especially when compared to the other renewables. The news is not all good, but the trends show a resilient biomass industry that, despite some challenges, fights and achieves growth. The best news from the report is that it seems that the federal and state support the industry has fought for and earned is paying off. This support, mostly in the form of federal tax credits and state renewable portfolio standard programs (RPS), has translated into significant investment in the biomass sector. Though significantly lower than solar and wind due to high capital costs and the need for long-term power purchase agreements (PPA), annual investment in the biomass sector averaged just over $900 million between 2008 and 2012. The report notes the importance of the federal Production Tax Credit and the Investment Tax Credit, both of which are available to biomass, observing that “These tax credits are truly the lifeblood of the renewables industry as they allow renewable energy technologies to be more cost competitive with other sources of generation. Thus any potential expiration of these credits inevitably unsettles the industry.” Fortunately, these credits were recently enhanced as part of the fiscal deal package, allowing new facilities to qualify if construction is begun by the end of 2013, rather than completed by the end of this year. The Biomass Power Association is working toward an extension of the PTC deadline this year as part of our government relations efforts. Equally important was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which, through the 1603 grant program administered by the Department of the Treasury, provided a much-needed strategy for developers to fund the ITC in an efficient manner. While not every state policy has been supportive of biomass in recent years, the fact book indicates that many states are truly looking to biomass as a realistic and reliable alternative to fossil fuels, and their policies are contributing to overall growth. The report correctly notes that while “support for renewables at the federal level has had its dramatic ups and downs over the past five years,” state-level support has been more reliable and uniform, with 29 states enacting an RPS. Importantly, each of the 29 states’ RPS programs embrace biomass energy. The report also notes, “Since 2008, interest in dedicated biomass combustion has started to pick up, driven by attractive state subsidies or feedstock availability.” The report made some interesting observations relating to biomass and utilities. First, utility-scale projects are responsible for the largest percentage of new renewable generating capacity in recent years. The reasons cited for this include declining capital costs coupled with the availability of federal and state incentives. While growth across the renewable sector varies widely by technology, the growth of utility-scale biomass continues, albeit haltingly. On the other hand, biomass growth appears relatively small when compared to other renewables. According to the fact book, annual asset finance for biomass generation was substantially lower than the funding received by the wind and solar sectors, due to the smaller number of bankable projects. Capital tends to be available for biomass projects that have in place a PPA, and also an experienced engineering, procurement and construction contractor and some protection against feedstock availability and price risk. None of these factors are deal breakers on their own, but finding the right combination of funding and expertise can be a challenge, as so many biomass entrepreneurs are aware. For biomass, the biggest takeaway in the fact book is this: while it’s great news to see that the federal funding we’ve been working so hard for has indeed contributed to industry growth, it’s all the more crucial for us to keep advocating for biomass on the federal and state levels. I encourage everyone reading this to continue sharing your biomass stories with your elected officials. Author: Bob Cleaves President and CEO, Biomass Power Association www.biomasspowerassociation.com firstname.lastname@example.org MINN. HOUSE ENERGY POLICY COMMITTEE ADDRESSES 2 BIOMASS BILLS By Erin Voegele | March 08, 2013 • On March 4, the Minnesota House of Representatives Energy Policy committee held hearings for two biomass energy-related bills. The first, H.F. 623, addresses biomass project development by the cities of Hibbing, Minn., and Virginia, Minn., in partial fulfillment of the biomass electric energy mandate issued to Xcel Energy by the legislature as part of the 1994 Prairie Island nuclear waste storage compromise. The second, H.F. 780, would allow waste heat used for heating or cooling and the displacement of fossil fuels by biomass-generated thermal heat to apply toward a utility’s energy saving goal, which is 1.5 percent of the previous year’s retail sales amount. H.F. 623 was introduced on Feb. 14. A House research bill summary published on the legislation notes that the 1994 Prairie Island nuclear waste storage compromise called for the development of 110 MW of biomass-fueled electrical capacity. If signed into law, the bill would specify various elements of an amendment to the power purchase agreement that must be negotiated by mid-April and approved by the state Public Utilities Commission. Specifically, it applies to electric and steam generation facilities owned by the municipalities of Hibbing and Virginia. The facilities were converted from coal to biomass several years ago. The amendment includes a fuel cost adjustment, requiring Xcel to reimburse the plant ownership for all costs to procure and transport the fuel used to produce energy covered by the power purchase agreement. H.F. 780 was introduced in the Minnesota House of Representatives on Feb. 21 and referred to the Energy Policy committee. Regarding biomass, the legislation would allow the state commerce commissioner to approve biomass-generated thermal heat used to displace natural gas heating within city buildings or college campuses to count toward a utility’s natural gas savings goal. Similarly, the bill summary notes that for similar biomass projects that displace fuel oil or propane in areas where natural gas service is not available, the commerce commissioner may allow utilities to count the energy savings realized at a rate of 1 KWh per 3,415 Btu. MINNESOTA UTILITY OFFERS RENEWABLE ENERGY GRANTS By Erin Voegele | March 08, 2013 Minnesota state law requires Xcel Energy, a utility operating within the state, to set aside money each year for its Renewable Development Fund. The RDF was created in 1999 as part of the 1994 Radioactive Waste Management Facility. Essentially, the law requires Xcel to contribute money into the fund for the casks of spent nuclear waste fuel being stored at its Prairie Island nuclear power plant. The money comes from Xcel Energy customers. According to the company, it contributes $19.5 million in the fund each year. Currently, Xcel has up to $30 million available to invest in renewable energy projects and research focused on new ways to produce electricity from renewable sources. The utility recently announced it is accepting grant proposals under the fund. According to information published by Xcel, grants are available for various-sized projects in three categories: energy production, research and development, and research funding for Minnesota institutes of higher education. The last funding cycle tool place in 2007, when 91 project proposals were submitted. A total of 24 projects received a combined $22.6 million. Biomass, solar, hydro and wind projects are all eligible. Active biomass projects that have received funding through the program include a feedstock pelletization R&D project sponsored by Minnesota Valley Alfalfa Producers, an R&D project sponsored by the University of Minnesota to provide guidelines for biomass removal from fields, a biogas system sponsored by RCM Digesters Inc., a project to demonstrate equipment to supply farm-grown trees to power plants sponsored by Energy Performance Systems, a gasification project sponsored by Coaltec Energy USA, an indirect wet biomass liquefaction system gasifier project sponsored by the University of North Dakota, a loss of mains project sponsored by Northern Plains Technologies, and a feedstock production, pre-processing and delivery system project sponsored by the U of M. The application deadline is April 1. Additional information is available at http://www.xcelenergy.com/rdf I wish you luck with your applications. UPDATE ON GREENHOUSE GAS STRATEGY ACTIVITIES NORTHWEST TERRITORIES Mar 11 2013 Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to update the people of the Northwest Territories one of our key initiatives to respond to the global climate change problem: The NWT Greenhouse Gas Strategy. As Members will recall, the Greenhouse Gas Strategy is one of the driving forces aimed at reducing our energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, particularly within our Government’s operations. It is this Strategy that drives related initiatives in the areas of alternative energy, energy efficiency and climate change adaptations. More importantly Mr. Speaker, the Greenhouse Gas Strategy is having a positive impact with direct emissions from Government of the Northwest Territories operations down 30 percent during the 2001 to 2011 time period. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources recently updated this important Strategy to build on these successes. The newly revised 2011-2015 Greenhouse Gas Strategy goes beyond the GNWT and identifies actions in all sectors – government, industry and communities – to increase energy efficiency and identify new clean sources of renewable energy. There is strong support from a broad spectrum of interests for our continued efforts to increase the growth of renewable energy sources for the NWT. Solar electricity is quickly becoming almost as cost-effective as burning diesel. There is already about 262 kilowatts of solar electricity capacity installed here. Battery-based off-grid solar applications account for 90 kilowatts while grid-interconnected systems are responsible for the other 172 kilowatts. The recent expansion of the Fort Simpson solar energy project by 178 panels, a joint project between the Northwest Territories Power Corporation and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, will displace about 100-thousand kilowatt hours of diesel generation per year, and remove 84 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent from the atmosphere. Mr. Speaker, this is just one of 27 solar projects we funded this year. Interest in the potential of solar electricity continues to grow. The Tåîchô Government is proposing proposed utility-scale solar projects in two of its communities, which will allow us to determine the maximum solar capacity on their grid. Biomass currently constitutes about 12 percent of total heating fuel consumption in our communities. More than 130 wood and wood pellet stoves and boilers have been installed in people’s homes this year with support provided by this Government. During the past five years, we have commissioned 11 biomass heating systems in larger government buildings resulting in the displacement more than 2.4 million litres of heating oil, equivalent to about 16 percent of the GNWT’s heating fuel consumption. These projects have reduced more than 6,500 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from government operations. The demand for biomass energy continues to grow as communities realizes the potential for energy reduction and the opportunities for local supply. We continue to work with Aboriginal governments and communities to assess the best approach for developing forest industry opportunities and local biomass fuel production to support more biomass energy developments. Mr. Speaker, interest in establishing a wood-pellet manufacturing facility in our territory will provide significant economic benefits and employment opportunities in communities where they are most needed. Our role is to support the sustainable development of a local forest industry. Biomass energy and supply are providing an avenue to accomplish this by providing essential forest planning support, resource information, and advice to communities and entrepreneurs on sustainable development and management of our forest resources. Actions being taken by industry, communities and Aboriginal partners complement the work we are taking and are essential to helping us achieve our long-term goals. For example, the Diavik Diamond Mine installed four wind turbines that started production in September 2012. These turbines have a total generation capacity of 9.2 mega watts and are expected to reduce emissions by 12,000 tonnes per year. The City of Yellowknife just received recognition from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for the steps it is taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Through their Community Energy Plan, the City has reduced its emissions by 10% since 2004. The Tåîchô Government recently installed a biomass fired district heat system that will provide heat to seven buildings in Behchokö . This system will reduce heating oil use by 200,000 litres per year and eliminate 530 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year. The Tetlit Gwich’in Council in Fort McPherson is now installing a biomass boiler in their community and are taking steps to start harvesting their own local wood supply to provide the fuel. Mr. Speaker, I have mentioned only a few of the businesses and communities taking steps in the same direction that the GNWT is moving because these are cost effective measures. We have demonstrated that there are ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in ways that make financial sense. We will need to continue with this work. While we are on track to meet our next target of stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions at 2005 levels by the year 2015 it will be a challenge to continue to identify and implement actions that can meet the energy needs of our growing economy. At the recent Energy Charrette, many participants discussed the need to ensure the NWT has access to clean, reliable energy at competitive prices. The implementation of actions outlined in the revised Greenhouse Gas Strategy is occurring on a cooperative and collaborative basis with a wide range of government, non-government and industry groups. This approach will move us all closer to our common goal of a strong and sustainable North. Thank you. BIDS CALLED FOR £150M WOOD PELLET STORAGE FACILITY Aaron Morby | Mon 11th March | 7:01 Peel Ports is pressing ahead with plans to build a huge wood pellet dockside storage facility at the Port of Liverpool. The massive storage depot will supply a biomass power station planned at the port. Operators of the port say the project is likely to be split into two phases with construction of phase one estimated to cost around £60m to store up to 100,000 tonnes of wood pellets. The scope of the full ‘Biomass Import and Storage and Outloading to Rail’ project is expected to come in at an expected cost of £150m and create facilities to ultimately store up 350,000 tonnes of wood. It is planned as a designa and build contract and will include supply and installation the train and road transport loading facilities equipment. Also included will be, all required control and automation systems, all fire detection and suppression systems. The new facility is expected to be built at Alexandra Dock 3 at the site of an old grain terminal to supply a nearby power station. Mersey Docks and Harbour Company is working to a tight timetable with PQQs dues inb y 26 April for a contract to be signed at the end of June. The project is due to complete in September 2014. Contact. Richard Woosnam tel: 01519496000 or email: email@example.com SFI APPLAUDS EU'S NEW ILLEGAL LOGGING RULES by SFI | Mar 2013 A leading forestry organization applauded the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR), which took effect March 3 and prohibits illegally harvested timber or products derived from such timber to be brought in the European Union. "Illegal logging undermines responsible forest governance, damages wildlife habitat, and reduces the potential for forests to provide stable supplies of products and support local communities," saidKathy Abusow, President and CEO of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI) . "The EUTR, just like the U.S. Lacey Act, is an important regulatory tool to address illegal logging and enable legal global trade in forest products." Abusow is speaking at The Economist World Forests Summit in Stockholm, Sweden, on the timely topic of timber regulations that prohibit the sale of illegally harvested timber. On this panel, Abusow applauded timber regulations as one of many important mechanisms to combat illegal logging. She also asked the audience to remember that while illegal logging is a global problem, responsible forestry is the solution given the many economic, environmental, and social values that working forests support. "The European Commission has recognized that forest certification programs can be an important tool to help suppliers meet EUTR requirements," Abusow said. "Products certified to forest certification standards, including PEFC and SFI, are demonstrating they have mechanisms in place to avoid illegal fiber in the supply chain, and are committed to promoting responsible forestry." While forests certified to the SFI Standard exist only in the U.S. and Canada where there is negligible risk of illegal logging, and 98% of the fiber sourced by SFI Program Participants for their North American facilities comes from the U.S. or Canada, SFI has mechanisms to assess and address risks to avoid illegal sources of supply. In addition, in recognition that it takes a variety of interests, mechanisms, policies and tools to address illegal logging and more importantly to promote sustainable development, SFI has been supportive of tools to assist purchasers of forest products in securing products from legal sources, including the Forest Legality Risk Information Tool developed by the World Resources Institute. The SFI Program is internationally recognized and has been endorsed by the independent Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). Ben Gunneberg, PEFC Secretary General, said "PEFC International has undertaken measures to revise its PEFC Chain of Custody standard to be fully aligned with the due diligence requirements of the EUTR. The EUTR is expected to drive increased market interest in forest certification as the simplest and most credible tool currently available for demonstrating legality and minimizing risk." While forest certification is not accepted as automatic proof of EUTR compliance, as the European Commission cannot formally endorse non-regulatory instruments, forest certification is referenced in the EUTR and supporting regulations and guidance as a potential tool for risk assessment and mitigation. The European Commission has specified that certification or other third-party verified schemes may be taken into account where they meet certain criteria, all of which PEFC and SFI Standards meet. LEARNING ABOUT LIGNIN AT CRIBE New FPInnovations lab pushes research forward. Written by Andrew Macklin The continued emergence of the Canadian bioeconomy has increased the need for homegrown solutions for pushing the agenda forward. As provinces work to expand opportunities for research and development for a variety of bioenergy solutions, the establishment of the Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-economy in Thunder Bay, Ontario, has provided the needed funding for a new lab that looks to learn more about the marketable value of lignin. An overhead view of the lignin pilot plant operated by FPInnovations at the Resolute Forest Products mill in Thunder Bay. ________________________________________ In June of 2011, CRIBE announced that it was providing $850,000 for the establishment of a world-class lignin lab and demonstration plant at the Resolute Forest Products (RFP) mill site (formerly AbitibiBowater) in Thunder Bay. In addition, Natural Resources Canada provided $500,000 in funding for the project, which is being run by FPInnovations (FPI). The demonstration plant is the first facility of its kind in North America. The plant has been directly integrated into the kraft mill process at RFP. Testing and evaluation of lignin is done in the FPInnovations lab onsite, with further testing and evaluation of lignin and its product applications at other FPI labs as well with various research and commercial partners. Lignin, once it has been extracted from a black liquor sample, undergoes a series of tests to determine what its best product application is. ________________________________________ Part of the work that needed to be done in advance of constructing the demonstration plant was to determine an effective system for lignin extraction based on the kraft mill process already in place at Resolute. “In our process, the lignin precipitates from the black liquor as a solid when the black liquor is acidified,” said Kirsten Maki, associate research leader for the Bio-Economy Technology Centre. “The resulting slurry is sent to a filter press, where the lignin solids are trapped in the filter while the remaining black liquor passes through the filter media. The lignin is then squeezed, washed, and dried with pressurized air, and is discharged as a clean cake of lignin at around 60% solids. This cake can be dried further and then crushed, ground or pulverized, depending how fine a product is desired.” One of the key reasons for linking the demonstration plant directly to the kraft mill process is the production of lignin to meet the growing demands of end users. The initial production capacity is 100 kilograms per day, which has already been met by Resolute. As a result of the current lignin resources made available from the demonstration plant, over 25 organizations from across Canada, the United States and a handful of international partners have already received samples of the lignin for use in product development. “Our largest order to date, approximately two tonnes, went to a phenol formaldehyde resin manufacturer – the lignin can replace some of the phenol in the formulation,” said Maki. “The expectation is that resin will be among the first higher value/higher volume uses of lignin derived from kraft black liquor (versus using lignin for its fuel value).” Collecting Samples Smaller samples of the lignin created at the demonstration plant are being used in the research conducted at the FPInnovations black liquor and lignin evaluation lab located on the same site. The large quantity available from the extraction process at RFP will allow for in-depth testing, helping to determine variations in lignin quality based on the type of wood and the process by which the lignin was extracted. Black liquor samples are sent to the FPInnovations Lignin Lab from across Canada by companies looking to understand the best end-use for the product. The lab and pilot plant also has the capacity for accepting black liquor and lignin samples from across Canada and around the world. Those samples are voluntarily sent by manufacturers looking to understand the characteristics of the lignin to determine the best end use for the product. Currently, lignin is being evaluated by companies across Canada as an alternative to petroleum-based chemicals used to make products such as carbon fibre, pharmaceuticals, resins, rubber additives, and thermoplastics. As researchers are able to provide thorough evaluations of lignin samples from a variety of wood species, these companies will be able to gain a greater understanding of the lignin they will need in order to produce the highest quality product. At the same time, researchers at the lab also gain that same knowledge, which will allow for the creation of an extensive database of information for comparing lignin samples from around the world. The tests being run on the black liquor and lignin samples are being conducted by a four-member team of researchers from FPInnovations, and supported by the work of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Thanks to a partnership between FPInnovations and the Lignoworks network, in co-operation with The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, students from major universities across Canada have access to the lab to assist graduate-level research being done in relation to both the extraction process and lignin-based product development. The research and development that will result from the work being done at the lab will provide significant benefits for the bioproducts industry in Canada. The constant, available supply of lignin will help the industry move from the production of lignin-based products at the laboratory sample level to a much larger scale. The evaluation of the demonstration plant’s performance will help FPInnovations, and its engineering partners at NORAM, understand the design requirements necessary to increase the scale of lignin production. Classifying, researching, and evaluating lignin from different extraction processes and wood samples will give producers a real understanding of the most effective end uses for those same lignin samples. The world-class lab and demonstration plant at RFP in Thunder Bay, in partnership with FPInnovations, has the potential to provide the needed research and development to vault Canada to the forefront of the global bioproducts industry. DOMTAR INAUGURATES COMMERCIAL LIGNIN PRODUCTION Written by CNW March 12, 2013, Montreal, QC – Domtar Corporation announced that it has successfully installed a commercial-scale lignin separation plant at its Plymouth, North Carolina mill, the first U.S. facility of its type in over 25 years. The production of BioChoice lignin began in February, with a targeted rate of 75 tons a day, destined for a wide range of industrial applications as a bio-based alternative to the use of petroleum and other fossil fuels. The successful installation of commercial-scale lignin removal capacity at the Plymouth Mill is the culmination of a research and engineering project launched by Domtar in 2010. This project was further boosted when the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy awarded the company a grant through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative. Domtar's lignin operation sets a new path for the industry and also marks the latest sustainability milestone for a company that has long been recognized as an industry leader in forest certification and environmental stewardship. "Our vision is to be a global leader in fiber-based innovation," said Bruno Marcoccia, Domtar's director of research and development. "A big part of this is our focus on partnering with best-in class collaborators to develop new products and markets for a wide portfolio of initiatives, like BioChoice." "The possibilities for making a real difference in terms of offering manufacturers a bio-based alternative to the use of petro-chemicals is truly exciting," said Hasan Jameel, a professor in North Carolina State University's Department of Forest Biomaterials. "This is a big win for sustainability on two counts - Domtar improves the efficiency of its pulp-making process, and at the same time the market gets a reliable, high-quality source of this underused material with so much potential." A wide range of potential applications for BioChoice lignin exists, including fuels, resins and thermoplastics. CANADIAN TOWN WINS GRANT FOR BIOMASS HEATING SYSTEM By Infrastructure Canada | March 13, 2013 • The Village of Telkwa will receive $680,230 from the Government of Canada through the Gas Tax Fund transfer to retrofit their municipal building and install an innovative biomass heating system, as well as to develop a sustainable subdivision plan. "Building clean energy infrastructure is an investment in the economic prosperity and long-term sustainability of Telkwa," said Bob Zimmer, Member of Parliament for Prince George—Peace River. "I am pleased our Government is supporting this environmentally friendly initiative that will create jobs, strengthen the local economy and support the growing needs of the community." The Village of Telkwa will improve the exterior of their municipal building and install a biomass heating system, which will burn waste wood from the forest around the community. The new system is intended to provide heat to the municipal building, a nearby business, a school and four residences, and will enable the Village to become a leader in green energy for Northern BC. The completed project is expected to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by almost 10 metric tons a year. The sustainable subdivision plan will include a review and recommendations on how best to update the municipality's subdivision control bylaw. "We are very excited to receive the Gas Tax funding to retrofit the exterior of our municipal office and to establish a district heating system," said Telkwa Mayor Carman Graf. "The Village of Telkwa recently structured their official Community Sustainability Plan within the principles of a long-term planning framework that established guidelines and principles related to economic, environmental, social and cultural sustainability. This project fits perfectly into that framework." "Protecting our environment creates a stronger B.C. and sets the stage for a positive range of health, social and economic outcomes," said Bill Bennett, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development. "This biomass heating system, which will assist Telkwa in achieving their Climate Action goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, is a great example of the type of innovative green infrastructure that will help build sustainable, resilient communities in this province." "Telkwa's project will lead to cleaner air and reduce the cost of operating their municipal building for years to come," said Union of British Columbia Municipalities President Mary Sjostrom. "I am very pleased to see the Gas Tax Fund supporting this district energy system." Since 2006, the Government of Canada has made unprecedented investments in infrastructure. Through the Gas Tax Fund alone, municipalities across the country have received over $10 billion in transfers for local priority initiatives. Making this fund permanent at $2 billion annually was part of Canada's Economic Action Plan—a plan to help create good jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity. Between 2006 and 2014, British Columbia will receive more than $1.56 billion from the Gas Tax Fund to improve local infrastructure. The Union of British Columbia Municipalities administers the Gas Tax Fund in B.C., in collaboration with Canada and British Columbia. SIERRA CLUB SUES DTE OVER ALLEGED VIOLATIONS AT COAL-FIRED PLANTS March 13, 2013 By Dorothy Davis Environmental group the Sierra Club has filed a lawsuit this week against DTE Energy and certain subsidiaries for what it claims are at least 1,400 violations of the federal Clean Air Act across four Michigan coal-fired power plants. The suit filed Tuesday claims DTE’s Belle River, River Rouge, St. Clair, and Trenton Channel coal-fired plants are outdated and lacking the pollution controls required to meet federal regulations on emissions. According to the suit, each violation relates to an instance when visible emissions from the plants exceeded opacity limits. The opacity of a power plant's visible emissions is often used as an overall indicator of the level of particulate matter. The Sierra Club said the violations listed in the suit are based on data obtained from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which it claims reveals emissions from the plants exceeded the opacity limits allowed by their pollution permits repeatedly between 2007 and 2011. However, DTE spokesman John Austerberry has responded saying the plants in question are in compliance and any exceeding opacity limits were “brief events, lasting a matter of minutes.” “All of our plants operate fully compliant with state and federal emissions regulations,” said Austerberry. “I suspect it’s more of a strategy to get headlines than anything else.” Austerberry also highlighted that DTE has invested more than $2 billion over the past decade toward emissions controls at its power plants, with plans to invest up to $2 billion more towards continued environmental upgrades. DTE currently operates six coal-fired power plants in Michigan, serving 2.1 million electric utility customers and 1.2 million natural gas customers through its subsidiaries. Read the full complaint filing here: Sierra Club vs. Detroit Edison Co., DTE Energy Co. and DTE Electric Co. WOOD PELLET PLANT COULD COME TO BR PORT BY CHAD CALDER Advocate business writer March 13, 2013 0 Comments A Canadian company is looking to build a wood pellet facility on 90 acres of Port Allen property owned by the Port of Greater Baton Rouge. Biomass Secure Power Inc., of Abbotsford, British Columbia, has an option on the property south of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and north of Northline Road that is good through August. A company executive said Wednesday that there is a good chance construction will begin then. Jim Carroll, Biomass’ president and chief executive officer, said the plant could ultimately be a $400 million investment, if all four phases are built, and would produce 4 million tons of wood pellets per year. The first phase will have three production lines, the first taking about 14 months to build and the second and third completed within 18 months from groundbreaking. The three lines will produce about 1 million tons of pellets per year. Carroll would not disclose whether Biomass has any contracts lined up or if the project is financed, but he said he is confident that work can begin by about August. “We don’t see any problem with completing everything we have to complete in that timeframe,” he said. The company, shares of which trade over the counter, created Biomass Power Louisiana LLC to operate the plant. Port Director Jay Hardman said the port has given Biomass some standard terms for leasing the land and for wharfage, but said a final lease would come before the port commission. The commission would have to deal with other issues, such as who would own the infrastructure if the two parted ways. He also said the port will make sure Biomass has signed contracts for customers who would burn the wood pellets for fuel before signing an agreement, a lesson learned from its dealings with Point Bio Energy. Point Bio had an option on port property but was taking a long time to get its financing together. The port decided to market the property, and Point Bio later leased land from Sun Plus Inc. near the port. Like Point Bio, Biomass would sell the pellets it produces on the open market, Hardman said, making it somewhat different than a $30 million pellet transport facility that United Kingdom-based multinational Drax Group has planned at the port. Drax would manufacture its pellets in plants in Morehouse Parish and in Mississippi and bring them into the port facility to be shipped out for use as fuel in Europe and by Drax itself. SPECIAL PROGRAM SUBSTANTIALLY LOWERS ENERGY AUDIT COSTS FOR POULTRY PRODUCERS Posted: Monday, March 18, 2013 11:00 am Producers in the nation’s No. 2 broiler state could potentially save thousands of dollars each year on the energy needed to heat, light and run small motors in their poultry houses. Identifying energy inefficiencies and suggesting solutions to reduce them are the goals of audits now available to Arkansas poultry producers, thanks to a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. The audit program showed an average potential energy savings of 28 percent for participants in its first year. Those savings add up quickly in a field where energy costs are almost 60 percent of a typical contract broiler grower’s variable production costs, and energy costs have quadrupled since 2000. For a fee of $380, rather than the $1,500 other auditors can charge, an energy professional will visit a producer’s operation and inspect the farm’s configuration, processes and equipment that affect energy efficiency. The specialist will provide recommendations that, once implemented, can yield important savings in energy costs. Producers can also apply for additional grants to help pay for the recommended changes. Energy-savings plans can include recommendations such as using energy efficient light bulbs, installing air circulation fans under ceilings to improve heating efficiency, replacing double siding doors with roll-up seal doors and using radiant brooders. One grower in Lincoln County learned of potential savings of about $3,000 a year – 24 percent – on gas and $2,250 a year, or 29 percent, on electricity from the audit. Findings from audits on 40 poultry farms showed the potential to save more than 226,000 gallons of propane and 2.4 million kilowatt hours of electricity. Two USDA competitive funding programs can help offset the costs of implementing the recommended energy related upgrades, which, to date, have averaged about $120,000 per farm, assuming a four-poultry house farm. A farm energy audit is a requirement for applying for these grants. The Natural Resource Conservation Service offers 75 percent assistance for eligible producers to implement conservation practices, and the USDA Rural Development Agency’s Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP, is a 25 percent cost-share grant. While the grants can’t be combined to cover 100 percent of costs, farmers can still apply for both, according to Yi Liang, assistant professor-air quality for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “Producers can use one for their lighting upgrade, for example, but could use another to retrofit energy efficient heaters,” she said. The audits are funded by a USDA Rural Development grant awarded to Liang and Thomas Costello, both of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. Approximately 10 audit slots are still available. Farmer should apply for the audits as soon as possible to ensure the audits are completed by April 30 – the grant’s end date. NRCS field office staff can help farmers apply for the On-Farm Energy Initiative, that includes the energy audit and the 75 percent cost-share, energy-related retrofit grant. NRCS contact information can be found at www.ar.nrcs.usda.gov/contact/field_offices.html. CANADIAN PELLETS HEADING TO THE UK UK’s Tilbury Power Station may be a major buyer of Canadian wood pellets. Written by Gordon Murray In November 2011, a boatload of wood pellets left Vancouver bound for the United Kingdom. Four weeks later, pellets from that ship were among the first to be burned at the newly converted biomass power station at Tilbury, a small port town 40 kilometres east of London. Sandy Ferguson of BC Bioenergy Network and I visited Tilbury Power Station (TPS). Owned by RWE npower (RWE), TPS is the first major coal-fired power station in the world to be converted to run on 100% sustainably sourced wood pellets. With three power units totalling 750 MWe of capacity, TPS is the largest dedicated biomass plant in the world. From left to right: Mark Flower, Gordon Murray, Sandy Ferguson and Chrissie Martin at Tilbury Power Station. ________________________________________ Operation of TPS on biomass rather than coal has resulted in greenhouse gas savings greater than 70% in comparison to coal. The conversion has also resulted in significantly lower emissions of NOx, SOx, dust and ash. In fact, the ash from wood pellets is coveted by farmers for use as fertilizer. Upon our arrival at TPS, we were greeted by RWE representatives Nigel Staves, plant manager; Steve Bradley, project manager; Mark Flower, engineer; and Chrissie Martin, environmental consents manager. Our hosts were justifiably proud of their power station and most enthusiastic about its future. TPS is located at an ideal site on the bank of the River Thames, tucked just a short distance upriver from the North Sea. There is a deep-water jetty capable of receiving Panamax class vessels, eliminating intermediate freight costs. Since TPS hasn’t any facilities for land storage of wood pellets, when pellets are unloaded from ships, they are conveyed directly into the boilers. Once one ship is unloaded, another ship must be ready to take its place immediately to prevent the plant from running out of pellets and having to shut down. TPS can only operate for about six hours between shipments. Pellets are unloaded from ship-holds using Vigan pneumatic ship unloaders, which are essentially gigantic vacuum cleaners that suck the pellets out of each ship-hold and deposit them onto conveyors that transport the pellets into the power plant. From its opening as a biomass plant in December 2012 until its expected closure in July 2013, TPS is expected to use around 1.3 million tonnes of wood pellets. RWE is now looking into the option of extending the life of TPS, enabling it to operate as a dedicated biomass power station for another dozen or so years to around 2027. The company has submitted planning applications for the modifications that are necessary to extend the life of the power station. If successful, the plant will be closed for 15 months while construction is carried out, and then come back on line in 2015. When completed, the plant will deliver performance and emissions levels as if it were a new plant. Once completed, TPS will operate with thermal efficiency above 37%. The plant will consume around 2.7 million tonnes of sustainably sourced, renewable wood pellets each year, which will be sourced 30% from RWE’s own 750,000 tonne-per-year pellet plant in Waycross, Georgia; 60% from Canada; and 10% from Europe. Steve Bradley and Mark Flower explained the rationale behind pellet quality specifications. We learned the importance of small particle size due to the inability of coal mills to reduce particle size below what arrives in pellets. If particle size is too large in the boiler, then the particles will not fully combust, resulting in carbonization of the ash, thus poor fuel efficiency and difficulty in ash disposal. Pellet durability is also important because excessive dust is hazardous and is an explosion risk. Chlorine content is important because excess chlorine combines with hydrogen to create acid resulting in corrosion of the boilers. And nitrogen and sulphur levels are important as well, because if levels are too high, it leads to unacceptable emissions into the atmosphere. Since that first shipment in November 2011, Canada’s pellet producers have shipped many more thousands of tonnes of pellets to Tilbury, thereby contributing to the greening of the UK’s power supply. We wish RWE all the best as the company works toward extending the life of Tilbury Power Station and Canada’s pellet producers look forward to sending many more boatloads in the future. ________________________________________ Gordon Murray is executive director of the Wood Pellet Association of Canada. He encourages all those who want to support and benefit from the growth of the Canadian wood pellet industry to join. Gordon welcomes all comments and can be contacted by telephone at 250-837-8821 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. CONFLUENCE ENERGY ACQUISITION NEARLY DOUBLES PELLET CAPACITY By Anna Simet | March 21, 2013 • Confluence Energy has nearly doubled its production capacity. Confluence Energy Kremmling, Colo.-based Confluence Energy has acquired certain assets of Rocky Mountain Pellet in Walden, Colo., a transaction that will nearly double the company’s current capacity of 100,000 tons. Both facilities, which are about 60 miles apart, began production in 2008. Since then, both have sourced pine beetle-killed wood as feedstock, and Confluence Energy has a 10-year feedstock materials contract with the U.S. Forest Service, which was awarded last December. The acquisition, according to Confluence Energy, includes one building on approximately 90 acres on of land, plus all fixed and mobile assets. With the completion of the deal, Confluence Energy gains facilities housing four pellet presses with the capacity to produce 120,000 tons of wood pellets annually. The company obtained an undisclosed amount of funding through an Industrial Revenue Bond for the acquisition, and loan specifics were also undisclosed. Confluence Energy CEO Mark Mathis said the acquired plant should be fully operational later this quarter, after some minor modifications are completed. CANADIAN WOOD PELLETS WANTED March 19, 2013 By: Lauren Levay Recently surpassed by the U.S. as the largest exporter of wood pellets to Europe, Canada now has the opportunity to catch up as a 300 per cent increase in European wood pellet demand is predicted by 2020, according to Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC) figures. With the high cost of oil, gas and electricity in Europe, coupled with the European commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, wood pellet consumption will continue to rise, says Gordon Murray, Executive Director of Wood Pellet Association of Canada. Europe’s current wood pellet consumption is 12 million tonnes annually. Murray explains that Europe supplies an impressive 75% of their consumption. Their production capabilities are currently near capacity, which puts their production at 8 million tonnes annually. Gordon Murray “To put it into comparison,” Murray says, “Canada’s production is somewhere in the order of about 1.8 mill tonnes annually. Germany themselves are producing about 2 million tonnes annually.” Italy produces about 550,000 tonnes annually from 301,200 square km of land with approximately 10 million hectares of forest. “Italy produces 550,000 tonnes of pellets from just nine million hectares of forest – a rate of 61 tonnes per 1,000 hectares – whereas Canada produces 1.5 million tonnes from 397 million hectares, a rate of just four tonnes per 1,000 hectares. If Canada could reach the same production rate, it would produce 23 million tonnes of pellets per year.” Murray says, the only place markets are not growing is Canada and the U.S. “It’s odd,” he expresses, “because in Canada, pellets are a little more expensive than natural gas but much less expensive than electricity, oil or propane. And in Canada, barely half of homes are served by gas and the other half is electricity, oil, propane or some other type of fuel.” “It’s just a matter of not doing a good enough job as an industry at promoting wood pellets as being a cheap, clean, and convenient alternative to oil and electric heating,” Murray contends. Many people are simply unaware of the simplicity and convenience of the modern pellet appliance. “There is a huge capacity for more pellet production in Canada,” Murray says. “Pellets in Canada are produced 100 per cent from waste material,” and “when you look at the number of pellet plants in Canada, we’re using just a small fraction of the amount of material being wasted.” With lumber prices rising and a recovery in the solid wood sector, Murray sees boundless opportunities for a booming pellet sector in Canada. “As the solid wood sector comes back online,” Murray suggests, “We will see more sawmills starting up in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes again, there will be more residuals which pellet producers can make use of.” “And sadly,” Murray continues, “the pulp industry has declined quite a bit, so there will be a surplus in material that used to go to them. We’re just pretty much out there trying to make use of the scraps.” Importantly, Murray explains, “We don’t see ourselves as competing with the primary forest sector. We believe to be healthy as an industry, we need to have a healthy pulp industry and healthy sawmill industry. From the perspective of sawmills, we are just providing a little bit of revenue that they didn’t have before. “Sawmills then obviously need the pulp mills as an outlet for chips, and because we want to see sawmills around them, we have an interest in seeing pulp mills around. We can also trade bark with the pulp mills and get sawdust and shavings back. With the power boilers in the pulp mills, it doesn’t matter whether they are burning bark or sawdust, whereas for us it does.” There is plenty of room for cooperation with the other sectors of the forest industry Murray affirms. “We are always concerned that other sectors might see us as a threat, but we are anything but a threat. We are there trying to participate, to make their life easier and trying to flourish as well,” Murray says optimistically. There are currently millions of tonnes of material left behind from forestry operations which pellet producers could make use of, says Murray. “You can go about 1 hour radius around a pellet plant to get the material, and then beyond that it would not be economical.” Referring back to the flourishing opportunities in Europe, Murray explains “Some coal power plants in Europe have switched from coal to wood pellets, either entirely or even partially.” In the UK, where Murray says the majority of Canadian pellets are destined due to easily accessible ports, plants are converting 100% from coal to wood pellets. Hopeful and optimistic, Murray expects much more progress for the use of wood pellets in Canada with a little more awareness and understanding of the low impact, high efficiency material.◊ NEW PLAN CALLS FOR WOOD CHIPS TO FUEL PUBLIC BUILDINGS Author: Richard Barnes An Eastern Canada-based company is looking to boost its current operations while both clearing trees from forests and helping those forests to thrive. Wood Industry Pushing for Reform An Eastern Canada-based company is looking to boost its current operations while both clearing trees from forests and helping those forests to thrive. PEI Bioheat, operating under the umbrella of Atlantic BioHeat, is proposing to use wood chips harvested through the thinning of Prince Edward Island forests to provide a natural fuel source for a total of 32 publicly-owned sites, including government buildings. Some of PEI’s forests are currently overly dense, making it difficult for trees to thrive. By thinning the trees, PEI Bioheat would actually boost the long-term health of the forests while creating a renewable and environmentally-friendly fuel source to heat the buildings. The wood chips would be harvested from areas of the forest on a rotational basis. According to research conducted by the company, only three per cent of the trees would have to be culled to provide enough wood chips to provide fuel for 32 furnaces for the next 10 to 15 years. That would mean a reduction in oil consumption of roughly four million litres a year, offering immediate environmental benefits. Furthermore, the energy produced by burning the wood chips would have a minimal environmental impact of their own. The carbon emissions created by burning the wood chips are considered clean as the chips would normally have released a similar amount of carbon due to natural decomposition or by being burned in forest fires. The impact of such emissions are typically short-lived, so provided the company sticks to its goals and does not overharvest PEI forests, it will provide multiple benefits to the environment. The company is currently vying for a government tender spanning 20 years. The request for proposal, put out last fall, calls for bidders to provide biomass heating for 22 schools, four manors, three hospitals and the provincial correctional facility. Atlantic BioHeat is already a player in the biomass energy game, providing heating for two schools. NEWPAGE DULUTH CUTS JOBS February 26, 2013 (Local News)—Thirteen employees at NewPage paper mill in West Duluth have been laid off, the result of the companywide reduction of 300 employees. NewPage Corp., owner of the Duluth mill and seven other mills in the United States, is eliminating 300 of its 6,000 positions at its eight U.S. paper mills because of rising costs and declining demand for its paper products. The layoffs follow the company’s emergence in December from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. For Duluth, which had 282 employees before the layoffs, it resulted in the elimination of 13 hourly and salaried positions, he said. WAUSAU PAPER TO CLOSE BRAINERD, MINN. SPECIALTY MILL MOSINEE, WI, Feb. 21, 2013 (Business Wire)—Wausau Paper today announced the closure of the Company's technical specialty paper mill in Brainerd, Minnesota, to occur early in the second quarter of 2013. The closure will affect approximately 130 employees. The Company recently announced its intent to strategically reposition the company to focus on its Tissue business. A range of alternatives for the divestiture of the technical specialty business have been explored. It has become clear that Brainerd will not contribute to those alternatives and the closure will significantly improve the continuing Paper segment operating results. CHOPSTICK PLANT TO OPEN IN WHITE PINE, MICHIGAN January 18, 2013 (Local News)—Global Wood Sticks LLC has entered into a deal to purchase the former Custom Metals building in the White Pine, Michigan Industrial Park. The plan is to produce wood products to be marketed overseas, including chopsticks. The company will operate a sawmill, 58 cutting machines, and employ from 70 to 80 local people in the first year. Species of interest include: aspen, basswood, and paper birch. It will be the first plant of its kind in Michigan to manufacture specialty wood products from local Michigan forests and send them overseas, according to the release. THERMOGEN TO BUILD $80 MILLION TORREFIED WOOD PELLET PLANT NEAR EASTPORT, MAINE February 23, 2013 (Bangor Daily News)—Thermogen Industries, a subsidiary of Cate Street Capital, released a statement Friday confirming reports that it has plans to construct an $80 million wood pellet plant near the Port of Eastport marine cargo terminal. The plan calls for construction of a plant that can produce between 200,000 and 300,000 tons of torrefied wood pellets each year. The facility could create, approximately 100 jobs in Eastport. Last year, Cate Street Capital announced plans to build a $48 million torrefied wood facility at the site of the Millinocket paper mill creating 25 jobs. Torrefied wood is a type of microwaved wood pellet that burns as hot as coal without coal’s pollutants. The product burns about 30 percent hotter than typical wood pellets. CANADIAN WOOD PELLETS WANTED March 19, 2013 By: Lauren Levay Recently surpassed by the U.S. as the largest exporter of wood pellets to Europe, Canada now has the opportunity to catch up as a 300 per cent increase in European wood pellet demand is predicted by 2020, according to Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC) figures. With the high cost of oil, gas and electricity in Europe, coupled with the European commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, wood pellet consumption will continue to rise, says Gordon Murray, Executive Director of Wood Pellet Association of Canada. Europe’s current wood pellet consumption is 12 million tonnes annually. Murray explains that Europe supplies an impressive 75% of their consumption. Their production capabilities are currently near capacity, which puts their production at 8 million tonnes annually. Gordon Murray “To put it into comparison,” Murray says, “Canada’s production is somewhere in the order of about 1.8 mill tonnes annually. Germany themselves are producing about 2 million tonnes annually.” Italy produces about 550,000 tonnes annually from 301,200 square km of land with approximately 10 million hectares of forest. “Italy produces 550,000 tonnes of pellets from just nine million hectares of forest – a rate of 61 tonnes per 1,000 hectares – whereas Canada produces 1.5 million tonnes from 397 million hectares, a rate of just four tonnes per 1,000 hectares. If Canada could reach the same production rate, it would produce 23 million tonnes of pellets per year.” Murray says, the only place markets are not growing is Canada and the U.S. “It’s odd,” he expresses, “because in Canada, pellets are a little more expensive than natural gas but much less expensive than electricity, oil or propane. And in Canada, barely half of homes are served by gas and the other half is electricity, oil, propane or some other type of fuel.” “It’s just a matter of not doing a good enough job as an industry at promoting wood pellets as being a cheap, clean, and convenient alternative to oil and electric heating,” Murray contends. Many people are simply unaware of the simplicity and convenience of the modern pellet appliance. “There is a huge capacity for more pellet production in Canada,” Murray says. “Pellets in Canada are produced 100 per cent from waste material,” and “when you look at the number of pellet plants in Canada, we’re using just a small fraction of the amount of material being wasted.” With lumber prices rising and a recovery in the solid wood sector, Murray sees boundless opportunities for a booming pellet sector in Canada. “As the solid wood sector comes back online,” Murray suggests, “We will see more sawmills starting up in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes again, there will be more residuals which pellet producers can make use of.” “And sadly,” Murray continues, “the pulp industry has declined quite a bit, so there will be a surplus in material that used to go to them. We’re just pretty much out there trying to make use of the scraps.” Importantly, Murray explains, “We don’t see ourselves as competing with the primary forest sector. We believe to be healthy as an industry, we need to have a healthy pulp industry and healthy sawmill industry. From the perspective of sawmills, we are just providing a little bit of revenue that they didn’t have before. “Sawmills then obviously need the pulp mills as an outlet for chips, and because we want to see sawmills around them, we have an interest in seeing pulp mills around. We can also trade bark with the pulp mills and get sawdust and shavings back. With the power boilers in the pulp mills, it doesn’t matter whether they are burning bark or sawdust, whereas for us it does.” There is plenty of room for cooperation with the other sectors of the forest industry Murray affirms. “We are always concerned that other sectors might see us as a threat, but we are anything but a threat. We are there trying to participate, to make their life easier and trying to flourish as well,” Murray says optimistically. There are currently millions of tonnes of material left behind from forestry operations which pellet producers could make use of, says Murray. “You can go about 1 hour radius around a pellet plant to get the material, and then beyond that it would not be economical.” Referring back to the flourishing opportunities in Europe, Murray explains “Some coal power plants in Europe have switched from coal to wood pellets, either entirely or even partially.” In the UK, where Murray says the majority of Canadian pellets are destined due to easily accessible ports, plants are converting 100% from coal to wood pellets. Hopeful and optimistic, Murray expects much more progress for the use of wood pellets in Canada with a little more awareness and understanding of the low impact, high efficiency material.◊ ARS RESEARCHER STUDIES HOME HEATING WITH SWITCHGRASS PELLETS By USDA Agricultural Research Service, Ann Perry | March 27, 2013 • Biomass pellets burning inside the boiler furnace chamber supply radiant heat for 8 acres of greenhouses at Plainview Growers. USDA ARS, Matt Myers Studies by a USDA scientist have provided a complete cost-benefit breakdown of using switchgrass pellets, which are potentially a cheaper source of energy, instead of fuel oil to heat homes and businesses in the Northeast. Agricultural Research Service researcher Paul Adler led efforts on a lifecycle analysis that compared costs of energy generation from coal, natural gas, fuel oil, and switchgrass in the form of energy-dense cubes, briquettes, and pellets. Adler works at the ARS Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit in University Park, Pa. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency, and this work supports the USDA priority of finding new sources of bioenergy. The researchers calculated the economic outlays associated with switchgrass production throughout the supply chain, as well as greenhouse gas emissions generated by switchgrass production, densification, and conversion to heat and power. This included the first lifecycle inventory of switchgrass seed production and greenhouse gas emissions associated with seed production. The analysis indicated that 192 pounds of "carbon dioxide equivalent," or CO2e, was emitted for every ton of switchgrass dry matter that was sown, harvested, and delivered to densification plants for processing into pellets. CO2e is a measurement used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases based upon their global warming potential. The researchers calculated that using switchgrass pellets instead of petroleum fuel oil to generate one gigajoule of heat in residences would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 146 pounds of CO2e. Totaling all costs associated with installing an appropriate residential heating system and fuel consumption, the team concluded that each gigajoule of heat produced using switchgrass pellets would cost $21.36. Using fuel oil to produce the same amount of heat would cost $28.22. Adler is now working with Plainview Growers to determine how the carbon footprint differs between heating greenhouses with biomass and heating them with fuel oil. Plainview Growers, which has its headquarters in Pompton Plains, N.J., sells more than 160 million nursery plants produced from seeds every year. Results from this research were published in Environmental Science & Technology. BIOMASS BASED HEATING SYSTEMS CHEAPER AND CLEANER THAN OIL BASED ONES By Joao Peixe | Mon, 25 March 2013 23:14 | 0 Benefit From the Latest Energy Trends and Investment Opportunities before the mainstream media and investing public are aware they even exist. The Free Oilprice.com Energy Intelligence Report gives you this and much more. Click here to find out more. It seems that our ancestors may have been on to something when they burned wood as fuel. A new study by the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has found that burning biomass is far cheaper, more efficient, and cleaner than burning heating oil. The study shows that millions of US homes and businesses would benefit from burning switchgrass biofuel pellets in basement furnaces. Economically, the idea of converting heating systems to burn switchgrass biofuel instead of oil makes good sense as switchgrass is cheaper than heating oil, especially in the North East where heating oil prices are generally higher. Looking at the total cost of installing and fuelling a new biofuel pellet heating system in a house, the ARS report estimated that it would cost $21.36 per gigajoule of energy (the standard unit of energy measurement), whereas oil would cost $28.22 per gigajoule. According to the study burning switchgrass pellets is also better for the environment. Looking at the entire supply chain, from the production of the switchgrass seeds, to their growth, harvesting , and then burning, the study determined that a ton of dry switchgrass would produce 192 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per gigajoule of heat produced; 146 pounds of CO2e less than oil. Switchgrass biofuel has always been considered as a an alternative to gasoline, but the study states that this focus has been all wrong and that the biggest market for switchgrass would be as a replacement to heating oil. By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com TOWN HOPES FOR JOBS TAPPING CALIFORNIA'S HUGE OIL FORMATION The Monterey Shale oil deposits span 1,750 square miles, but the petroleum is deep underground, trapped in dense rock. Methods such as fracking would bring environmental concerns and no guarantees. By Shan Li, Los Angeles Times March 30, 2013, 9:35 p.m. TAFT, Calif. — This two-stoplight town was built on petroleum, and residents here never miss a chance to pay tribute. A 38-foot monument to wildcatters stands downtown; locals brag it's the tallest bronze sculpture west of the Mississippi. Every five years, the city throws an "Oildorado" festival. There's even a beauty pageant in which young women dubbed "the maids of petroleum" vie to be crowned queen. It's all an homage to the bustling days when Taft boasted two giant oil fields and Standard Oil Co. of California was headquartered there. The oil giant left in 1968, jobs dried up, and today the Kern County town is saddled with high unemployment and memories of past glory days. That could be about to change. Residents are betting on a second boom from oil trapped miles underground in dense rock formations. It's part of what's called the Monterey Shale, where oil deposits span 1,750 square miles through Southern and Central California. "Everyone and their dog would be working if they find that oil," said Joe Gonzalez, 53, who began toiling in the oil fields around Taft three decades ago as a roustabout. "It's a huge deal for Taft." But a key question is: Could these modern-day wildcatters actually squeeze oil out of the rock? Some believe technology that can reach previously inaccessible oil means it's just a matter of time; others are convinced it's an over-hyped promise. Oil companies have begun exploring the Monterey Shale underneath towns like Taft that have survived on oil for a century. More than 15 billion barrels of oil, or two-thirds of the continental United States' total deep-rock deposits, is estimated to be locked in the Monterey, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Extracting it could mean enormous wealth if oil prices stay around $97 a barrel, and could pump billions of dollars into the local economy. The much smaller Bakken shale formation in North Dakota has fueled a boom that has driven unemployment in the state down to 3.3%, the nation's lowest. Taft's unemployment rate is 13.3%. But the process is slow going. "It's not like the old days where you put a straw into the ground, you get a gusher and you dance around," said Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Assn., an industry lobbying group. "It's a very complicated process." Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum and Venoco Inc. of Denver, two of the largest stakeholders in the Monterey, have already drilled exploratory wells. Federal land leases on the shale are going for $500 per acre at auction, up from $2 to $5 per acre just a few years ago, said Gabriel Garcia of the Bureau of Land Management's Bakersfield office. Economists say tapping the shale would be a big boost for the Central Valley, which depends heavily on agriculture and petroleum. By 2015, California could see half a million new jobs and $4.5 billion in oil-related tax revenue, according to a USC study. "It's not the muckety-mucks, the higher-ups, who live here," said Kathy Orrin, executive director of the Taft Chamber of Commerce. "It's the people in cowboy boots and cowboy hats and Wranglers — and they can make a good living in the oil industry." Around noon in Taft, oil workers in dusty coveralls park trucks outside the few lunch spots in town: the OT Cookhouse & Saloon, where black-and-white photos of California's first gushers line the walls; Jo's Restaurant, where diners sit below painted oil derricks and fields; and a Tex-Mex place. Rick McCostlin, 45, thinks jobs could come back and revive Taft. Another oil boom might even attract some of the locals who fled to better-paying gigs in North Dakota's oil fields.