Bioenergy Capacity Continues to Increase

- by Erin Voegele, September 26, 2014, Biomass Magazine

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has released the September issue of its Electric Power Monthly report, indicating total in-service bioenergy capacity equaled 13,431.4 MW as of the close of July, up from 13,368.4 MW at the close of June. Overall, 313 MW of new bioenergy capacity was added in July, with 250 MW of bioenergy capacity reductions.

According to the EIA, wood and waste wood biomass capacity increased from 8,215.3 MW to 8,329.8 MW. Overall landfill gas capacity decreased slightly, from 2,046.4 MW to 2,044.2 MW. Municipal solid waste (MSW) capacity decreased slightly from 2,230.7 MW to 2,244.0 MW. Capacity from other sources of waste biomass also decreased, from 876.0 MW to 833.4 MW.

Over the next 12 months, EIA data shows 229.3 MW of planned bioenergy capacity additions. This includes 73 MW of wood and waste wood biomass capacity, 33.5 MW of landfill gas capacity, 88 MW of MSW capacity, and 34.8 MW of capacity from other waste biomass sources.

20 Years, Yet EPA Still Fails to Protect Us From Polluting Incinerators

- by Phillip Ellis and Neil Gormley, October 4, 2014,  Huffington Post

Joe Poole Lake is a popular destination for Dallas and Fort Worth residents looking for a weekend escape to the great outdoors. Lined with barbecue grills, hiking trails and sandy beaches, the 7,400-acre lake and its wooden welcome sign invite endless opportunities to relax and unwind. For Becky Bornhorst, a stay-at-home mom who never missed a PTA meeting, this lake was where she went to relax and create memories by sailing on a catamaran with her husband and two children and walking the family dog, a yellow lab named Nellie.

Six years ago, Becky was forced to find a new spot to make these memories after she became aware that levels of mercury, a potent neurotoxin, were increasing in the lake — an increase she blames on the industrial incinerators nearby.

Commercial/industrial waste-burning incinerators like the one near Joe Poole Lake burn waste produced from utilities and mining, oil and gas operations or from the manufacturing of wood and pulp products, chemicals and rubber. About 15,000 incinerators are scattered across our country.

Oregon Site Selected for Biofuel Plant

- by Eric Mortenson, September 19, 2014, Capital Press

Red Rock Biofuels, a subsidiary of IR1 Group of Fort Collins, Colo., will use forest biomass — debris from logging or thinning operations — to produce fuel. It is one of three firms selected for the project, which is intended to produce a combined total of 100 million gallons annually at an average cost of less than $3.50 a gallon and producing 50 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuel. Firms in Nevada and Louisiana also were selected for the project. Details of the contracts were not immediately available.

The plants will produce what is called “drop-in” biofuels, meaning they are chemically similar to existing petroleum-based fuel and can be used in ships and planes without extensive retrofitting.

Thanks to NY Biomass Incinerator, Firewood More Difficult to Find

- by Pete Creedon, October 6, 2014, Watertown Daily Times

Always nice to see a company come in an offer jobs and other things that will benefit the area it serves (“ReEnergy wins huge contract at Drum,” Sept. 30).

The question is, at what cost? The people this will affect in a negative way are a small group of people who for the most part will not receive any of the benefits of this biomass plant.

These people are the ones who heat their homes with wood. For the last couple of years as this plant has been coming online, it has become harder to find firewood and at a price that has not been inflated.

There was an article in the paper last year, I believe, how the firewood producers were saying that they have not cut back on firewood production in favor of wood chip production for this biomass plant. That is hard to believe. The company I get my firewood from, I know for a fact, supplies this plant.

Last year, it was difficult to find the wood I needed for last winter. The price was almost double what I spent the year before.

Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Set to Drive Biomass Demand

- by David Appleyard, September 3, 2014, Cogeneration and Onsite Power Production

New analysis from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) forecasts combined heat and power (CHP) and industrial heat demand are set to drive global bioenergy consumption over the coming decade and more.

According to Global Bioenergy Supply and Demand projections, a working paper for REmap 2030, global biomass demand could double to 108 EJ by 2030 if all its potential beyond the business as usual is implemented. Nearly a third of this total would be consumed to produce power and district heat generation with a total of 47% going between heating applications in the manufacturing industry and building sectors. Biomass use in CHP generation will be key to raise its share in the manufacturing industry and power sectors, IRENA says.

The trend towards modern and industrial uses of biomass is growing rapidly, the report notes, adding that biomass-based steam generation is particularly interesting for the chemical and petrochemical sectors, food and textile sectors, where most production processes operate with steam. Low and medium temperature process steam used in the production processes of these sectors can be provided by boilers or CHP plants. Combusting biogas in CHP plants is another option already pursued in northern European countries, especially in the food sector, where food waste and process residues can be digested anaerobically to produce biogas, IRENA adds. A recent IRENA analysis (2014b) estimated that three quarters of the renewable energy potential in the industry sector is related to biomass-based process heat from CHP plants and boilers. Hence, biomass is the most important technology to increase industrial renewable energy use, they conclude.

Louisiana Biorefineries Getting $161 Million Taxpayer Handout

- Ted Griggs, October 4, 2014, The Advocate

Two bioenergy companies are getting a combined $161 million in federal loan guarantees or contracts that will help them develop biofuel refineries in Plaquemine and Alexandria.

Cool Planet Energy Systems is getting a $91 million federal loan guarantee to produce renewable biofuel in central Louisiana from trees, forestry waste and natural gas at a previously announced plant at the Port of Alexandria.

Emerald Biofuels will build a previously announced animal fats-to-diesel refinery in Plaquemine through a $70 million contract from the U.S. departments of the Navy, Energy and Agriculture.

U.S. Agriculture Department Secretary Roger Vilsack said the Energy Department will help Emerald Biofuels with construction, USDA will help buy down the cost of feedstock, and the Defense Department will buy the plant’s production for five years.

Vilsack was in Baton Rouge on Friday and discussed the Emerald Biofuels contract after holding a news conference to announce the Cool Planet loan guarantee.

The Emerald Biofuels facility will be able to produce 82 million gallons of fuel each year.

Composting vs. Waste-to-Energy: The Politics Of Green Waste

- by Stephen Handley, October 3, 2014, Sustainablog

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, green waste is very much on the political agenda. According to Tulsa World, the city’s trash board voted this week to pursue a plan to collect and incinerate it rather than invest in an active composting facility. Proponents of the composting plan are deeply disappointed by the vote.

City Councilor Karen Gilbert says, “That [vote] sets us further back from the original plan of having an active composting, mulching facility,” Gilbert said. “It’s frustrating that we start off with an investment, but then we don’t follow through with the priority of that investment.”

Those in favor of the incinerator approach complain that the city can’t afford the cost of the proposed composting facility and that is costs too much money to separate out the green waste from the rest of the city’s trash. Doesn’t it seem as though the situation in Tulsa is a microcosm of the entire “global warming/climate change” debate going on around the globe?

Bulgarians Blockade Road to Protest Proposed Biomass Incinerator

- September 22, 2014, Novinite.com

Residents of the southern Bulgarian city of Smolyan have staged a brief road block to oppose plans to build a biomass-fired thermal power plant.

Residents of the Ustovo district of Smolyan blocked traffic along the Smolyan – Madan road for some 10 minutes on Monday, according to reports of the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency and Capital Daily.

The protesters demand a clarification by the municipality and the respective competent authorities on the environmental impact of the project and the legality of the permits issued so far.

Nikolay Melemov, Mayor of Smolyan, announced Monday that the permit for the designing of the site had been issued by the Smolyan Municipality in 2011 and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the plant had been approved after that.

He vowed to review the paperwork surrounding the project and to appeal the EIA in the case of detecting irregularities.

Forest Service and Collaboratives Garden Our Forests

- by George Wuerthner, September 25, 2014, The Wildlife News

If the public really understood the illogic behind Forest Service polices, including those endorsed by forest collaboratives, I am certain there would be more opposition to current Forest Service policies.

First, most FS timber sales lose money. They are a net loss to taxpayers. After the costs of road construction, sale layout and environmental analyses, wildlife surveys, (reforestration and other mitigation if required) is completed, most timber sales are unprofitable.

Indeed, the FS frequently uses a kind of accounting chicanery, often ignoring basic overhead costs like the money spent on trucks, gasoline, office space, and the personnel expenses of other experts like wildlife biologists, soil specialists and hydrologists that may review a timber sale during preparation that ought to be counted as a cost of any timber program.

The FS will assert that ultimately there are benefits like logging roads provide access for recreation or that thinning will reduce wildfire severity. However, as will be pointed out later, most of these claims are not really benefits. We have thousands of miles of roads already, and adding more does not create a benefit. Reducing wildfires–even if thinning did do this which is questionable–it can be argued that we should not be reducing wildfire severity.

Are Biomass Incinerators Gobbling Up Firewood?

[While we are certainly not advocating for any form of burning, including firewood, it's interesting how the biomass industry competes with itself. -Ed.]

- by Anna Simet, October 03, 2014, Biomass Magazine

Last week, I blogged about the pellet availability situation in the Northeast (the “shortage” last year, what might happen this year, etc.) What I didn’t mention—new to my radar this week— is that right now, the very same thing is going on with cordwood that did with pellets. It’s been making headlines in several northeastern states.

So, I called up my friend and Biomass Magazine columnist John Ackerly, president of the Alliance for Green Heat, to get some more details on the situation. 

He said he’s never seen a situation like this.

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