New Law Will Make Biomass Heating Cheaper in Massachusetts

- by Shira Schoenberg, December 1, 2014, Mass Live

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"320","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 333px; height: 221px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","title":"Photo: John Suchocki"}}]]A new law that goes into effect in January will make it cheaper to use renewable energy to heat a home – and could provide a boost to the wood industry in rural parts of Western Massachusetts.

"This is going to help (renewable) technologies compete with and replace oil-fired furnaces and other fossil fuels for use for heating ... and cooling," said David O'Connor, a former Massachusetts Commissioner of Energy Resources who is now senior vice president for energy and clean technology at ML Strategies and who lobbied for the law on behalf of the Massachusetts Forest Alliance.

The new law builds on an existing law that requires electricity suppliers to buy a certain amount of electricity from renewable energy sources. The electricity suppliers can fulfill this requirement by buying "renewable energy credits" from companies that produce electricity through renewable means. The new law creates renewable energy credits for the production of thermal energy – energy used for heating and cooling. This could include the use of solar panels, wood pellet stoves and boilers, geothermal heat pumps, and a range of technology that uses hot water, solar, biomass or other renewable energy forms to generate heat.

Commercial Use of Wood Energy is Heating Up

- by Michael Mccord, November 26, 2014, New Hampshire Business Review

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"318","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 320px; height: 480px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","title":"Photo: New Hampshire Business Review"}}]]New Hampshire’s recently released 10-year energy strategy acknowledged an ongoing fact of life for the state’s commercial and residential sectors: New Hampshire imports 100 percent of its fossil fuels and natural gas. According to the NH Wood Energy Council, New Hampshire pays more than $1 billion annually to import heating oil, with a large chunk of that paid for by businesses, since the state’s commercial sector is the second most dependent on heating oil in the nation, just behind Maine.

As energy customers realized again last winter, this dependence makes the state vulnerable to wild market swings and, in the case of natural gas last winter, shortages due to limited pipeline infrastructure.

That’s why, among its many recommendations, the state’s energy strategy calls for a greater use of wood as a fuel source. Wood, the energy report says, “offers a promising alternative to home heating oil and other petroleum products, providing a much needed option to extend fuel choice to rural areas of the state. Since New Hampshire is one of the most forested states in the nation, wood also presents an opportunity to capitalize on locally‐produced resources, keeping money in state while promoting land conservation efforts.”

In fact, the growth of a wood/biomass heating alternative for commercial use has been an ongoing under-the-radar trend taking place in more rural areas of New Hampshire. Like the wood stove heating the general store a century ago, biomass heating in the forms of wood pellets and wood chips has become an economically viable option for larger-scale municipal, school and commercial operations.

Sign Comments to EPA on Clean Power Plan - Due Monday!

SIGN ON: Tell EPA to clean up the Clean Power Plan!

www.energyjustice.net/cleanpowerplan

DEADLINE is Monday, December 1st

As you probably know, the EPA has published its Clean Power Plan, intended to reduce carbon emissions from the nation's electricity sector, for public comment. Our comments ask EPA to:

  • Set more aggressive targets
  • Comply with the Civil Rights Act and address environmental justice
  • Regulate power plants (not states) and disallow pollution trading and offsets
  • Close the methane loophole and not bless the move from coal to gas, which is worse for the climate than coal
  • Close the biogenic CO2 loophole, and disallow a shift from coal to biomass and waste incineration, whose CO2 emissions are also worse than coal
  • Disallow nuclear power subsidies
  • Disallow new investment in old coal plants
  • Reject carbon capture and sequestration and enhanced oil recovery

Read the full comments and sign on to them here: www.energyjustice.net/cleanpowerplan

Ethanol, Fighting for Its Life, Gets a Temporary Reprieve

- by Matthew Philips, November 24, 2014, Bloomberg Businessweek

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"314","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 333px; height: 222px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","title":"Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images"}}]]The ethanol industry just avoided a death blow. Rather than deciding to permanently lower the amount of renewable fuels that have to be blended into the U.S. gasoline supply, as it first proposed a year ago, the Environmental Protection Agency last week opted to wait until next year to decide. The delay (official notice here) means this year’s ethanol quotas won’t be set until 2015 and ensures they will be lower than the original mandate envisioned. That’s not great news for ethanol producers, but it gives them more time to fight and avoids an outcome that could have been far worse.

When Congress first passed the Renewable Fuel Standard during the George W. Bush years, it set out a schedule of yearly mandates that rose steeply with what it thought would be the country’s perpetually growing demand for gasoline. Biofuel production has tripled since then, into a $30 billion-a-year industry.

Commissioners Scrap Frederick, MD Incinerator Plan

- Associated Press, November 21, 2014, Herald-Mail

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"313","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 333px; height: 283px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;"}}]]The Frederick County Commissioners are scrapping plans for a waste-to-energy incinerator after more than five years of debate.

The Frederick News-Post reported that the board voted 3-2 Thursday night to cancel a contract with Wheelabrator Technologies Inc. for the $471 million project.

The board unanimously voted in favor of hauling the county's trash to an out-of-state landfill for up to five years.

The project suffered a blow in April when Carroll County pulled out of an agreement to jointly fund the project.

The incinerator had been planned for an industrial park south of Frederick near the Monocacy National Battlefield. Opponents, including the National Park Service, had argued it would pollute the air and water, and obstruct views from the Civil War site.

Tanker Truck Collapses, Spills Ethanol in Kenilworth, NJ

- by Katie Lannan, November 19, 2014,  NJ.com

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"312","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 333px; height: 221px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","title":"Photo: Katie Lannan, NJ.com"}}]]Firefighters called to the scene of what was originally described to them as a "small spill" Wednesday afternoon instead found 500 gallons of ethanol that had leaked out of a collapsed tanker truck.

The truck, carrying 7,000 gallons of ethanol, split as it was offloading its contents at a North Michigan Avenue business, said borough Fire Chief Lou Giordino.

"The tank itself just collapsed and broke open," he said.

Firefighters called the county hazardous materials team and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's emergency response team to the scene. Fire departments from nearby communities, including Union Township and Elizabeth, also assisted with the cleanup.

College Trash Habits Cause Concern, as Does Incinerator in Chester

- by Bobby Zipp, November 20, 2014,  Swarthmore Phoenix

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"311","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 333px; height: 189px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;"}}]]Two weeks ago, a group of the Green Advisors conducted a waste audit of Kohlberg Hall and the Science Center. The purpose of the annual audit is to create a visual representation of the amount of waste produced by those buildings and test how well the Swarthmore community knows what to compost, recycle and put in the trash. Spearheaded by Green Advisor coordinators Kelley Langhans ’16,  Indy Reid-Shaw ’17 and Laura Laderman ’18, a team of GAs spent a day sorting through the 347 pounds of waste that was produced by Kohlberg and the Science Center on a single day and recorded the amount of waste in each of the three categories that was incorrectly disposed of. They found that out of everything that had been placed in trash bins, 35.3 percent of it was actually trash, and the rest could have been composted or recycled. Trash at Swarthmore is burned at Covanta Waste facility in Chester, the largest energy-from-waste incinerator in the country, which is located about eight miles away from the college.

More Wood to be Burned for Energy in 2015

- by Erin Voegele, November 14, 2014, Biomass Magazine

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"310","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 300px; height: 233px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;"}}]]The U.S. Energy Information Administration has released the November issue of its Short-Term Energy Outlook, which includes updated forecasts for the use of wood and biomass fuels in U.S. heat and power production.

The EIA predicts that wood biomass will be use generate 118,000 MWh electricity per day in 2015, up from 116,000 MWh per day in 2014 and 109,000 MWh per day in 2013. Waste biomass is expected to be used to generate 58,000 MWh of electricity per day next year, up from 54,000 MWh per day this year and 55,000 MWh per day last year.

The electric power sector is expected to consume 0.262 quadrillion Btu (quad) of wood biomass and 0.277 quad of waste biomass next year, up from 0.25 quad and 0.259 quad this year, respectively. The industrial sector is expected to consume 1.198 quad of wood in 2015, down from 1.25 quad this year. The industrial sector is also expected to consume 0.0169 quad of waste biomass next year, down from 0.172 quad this year. The commercial sector is expected to consume 0.091 quad of wood biomass and 0.046 quad of waste biomass next year, compared to 0.079 quad and 0.046 quad this year, respectively. The residential sector is expected to consume 0.571 quad of wood next year, down slightly from 0.580 quad this year. Across all sectors, the U.S. is expected to consume 2.123 quad of wood biomass next year, down from 2.164 quad this year. The U.S. is also expected to consume 0.492 quad of waste biomass next year, up from 0.478 quad this year.

SOS! National Day of Action to Save Our Southern Forests

/*-->*/ -By Emily Zucchino, October 28, 2014, Dogwood Alliance


[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"308","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"480","style":"width: 160px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left; height: 160px;","title":"Photo: Dogwood Alliance","width":"480"}}]]Today’s biggest threat to Southern forests is the growing biomass industry. The wood pellet industry is expanding at a rate that is impossible for Southern forests to sustain. Our beautiful forests are being clear-cut, processed into pellets and then shipped to Europe to be burned for electricity.

 

We know that our forests aren’t fuel, and that’s why we’re sending an SOS to EU policymakers to Save Our Southern forests.

 

On November 13th, as the wood products industry meets in Chesapeake, VA to celebrate the destruction and export of our incredible forests, people from across the US are coming together for a National Day of Action to send an SOS to Save Our Southern forests. With 20 existing wood pellet facilities and 33 proposed, it’s crucial that we show EU policymakers that the biomass industry is bad for our environment, our communities and our economy. Join us in sending an SOS of more than 10,000 messages to EU policymakers.

 

Join us on November 13th to send an SOS to Save Our Southern forests.

PLEDGE TO TAKE ACTION NOW!

 

The increased demand for wood as a fuel source in the EU and particularly in the United Kingdom is driving the expansion of wood pellet manufacturing and export in the Southern US. We call on policymakers in the EU to hear our SOS and take action to stop the destruction of these forests.

The large-scale burning of wood pellets is not a solution to climate change or a feasible alternative to coal.

 

Mounting scientific research shows that burning wood pellets manufactured from trees will increase near-term carbon emissions and accelerate climate change. A recent report released by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change confirms that all scenarios in which whole trees or coarse woody residuals are used for wood pellets produce a result that is not carbon beneficial.

 

Additionally, our living forests provide many benefits.

 

Standing forests are our best defense against climate change through gathering and storing carbon.

 

Forests provide our communities with clean air to breathe, water to drink, and natural protection from flooding and hurricanes. They are home to countless species of plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth. Cutting them down as a solution to the climate crisis is bad policy and makes no sense. We can no longer invest in forest destruction; we need to focus on forest conservation.

 

Protect our bottomland wetland forests!

Join us on November 13th to send an SOS to EU policymakers.

Help us reach our goal of 10,000 messages!

Biofuel Company Files for Bankruptcy

- by Katie Fehrenbacher, November 11, 2014, Gigaom.com

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"309","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 333px; height: 220px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;"}}]]Biofuel company KiOR, which has become a symbol of the difficulties of venture capitalists investing in clean technology startups, finally filed for bankruptcy this week, many months after shutting down its biofuel plant and operating on fumes, unable to pay its debts. Many, including myself, have been predicting this for awhile and thought it would come a lot sooner. But affiliates of early investor and major shareholder Vinod Khosla, as well as Bill Gates (also an investor in Khosla Ventures), have been funding the company’s day-to-day operations, keeping it going throughout the year.

Affiliates of Khosla could end up with the assets of KiOR, as they’ve placed the only bid in the sale process, and if there are no better offers, KiOR plans to sell the assets to “senior lenders,” which means funds affiliated with Khosla. Senior lenders agreed to convert $16 million of senior secured debt into new equity in the deal. KiOR interim CFO Christopher Artzer said in the filings that after an asset sale or reorganization, KiOR will continue research and development efforts on its biocrude development technology.