Kauai Biomass Facility to Get Fuel from Burned Forest

- by Chris D’Angelo, March 5, 2015, The Garden Island

Biomass logging in HawaiiIt is unlike any other logging operation in Hawaii’s history.

And the $90 million biomass-to-energy facility the logs are destined for is as unique as the project itself, state officials say.

“This is the largest operation that we’ve had,” said Lisa Hadway, administrator of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife, on a tour of the once-charred grounds Wednesday. “Given that the biomass plant is here on this island, I think this is a great way to help us improve this forest for recreation, for the watershed and for the restoration of this area.”

Now well underway, the Kokee Forest Restoration and Replanting Project calls for the removal of an estimated 15,000 tons of eucalyptus and pine trees from about 300 acres of forest reserve land scorched during fires in the summer of 2012, followed by the replanting of native and non-invasive species.

In January 2013, former Gov. Neil Abercrombie green-lighted the project via an emergency proclamation. Its purposes include “mitigating the post-fire damage” from the three blazes that burned about 4,000 acres in the Kokee area and eliminating the threat to public health and safety from potentially devastating post-fire effects, including flash flooding and erosion.

Biomass: The Unsustainable Energy Source

- by Atheo, Aletho News
biomass logging in frisco, coloradoThe promotional material from Big Green Energy, aka Biomass Gas & Electric, presents biomass as "clean, renewable energy," sustainable and green. The US Department of Energy uses the terms "clean and renewable" when introducing visitors at its website to the topic.
But is it accurate to describe the repeated removal of biomass from agricultural or forested lands as sustainable? A quick review of some basics on the role of organic matter in soils belies the claim.
To support healthy plant life, soil must contain organic matter, plants don’t thrive on minerals and photosynthesis alone. As organic matter breaks down in soil nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur are released. Organic matter is the main source of energy (food) for microorganisms. A higher level of microbial activity at a plant’s root zone increases the rate of nutrient transfer to the plant. As the organic matter decreases in soil so does this biochemical activity. Without organic matter, soil biochemical activity would nearly stop.

Soil is Not Renewable

- by Friends of the Wild Swan and Swan View Coalition
Private Land Soil Erosion in Oakridge, OregonSoils are the foundation of terrestrial life. Forest productivity is directly tied to soil conditions. Soil takes thousands of years to develop and is not "renewable"on a human time scale. Soil is an ecosystem in itself that must be healthy in order to provide for healthy forests, grasslands, and aquatic systems. Actions impacting such complex systems are prone to unintended consequences. Given the life-support role soils play, special care and prudence are essential.  
The National Forest Management Act (NFMA) prohibits "irreversible damage" to soils as well as "substantial and permanent impairment of productivity of land." Loss of soil (erosion) and displacement clearly cause "irreversible damage" and "permanent impairment of productivity of land." Loss of coarse woody debris causes soil damage that can last a century or more. Soil compaction negatively impacts soil productivity, overland flow, erosion, stream sedimentation, and late season flows. Soil compaction from logging can persist 50 – 80 years. 

Planned La Pine, OR Biomass Facility Hinges on Market

- by Dylan J. Darling, March 17, 2015, Bend Bulletin

A wood-burning power plant remains a possibility for La Pine, with the city now taking the lead on the project from Deschutes County and the company behind it waiting for a change in the energy market.

“It’s just been on hold due to market conditions,” said Rob Broberg, president of Biogreen Sustainable Energy Co., based in Vancouver, Washington. “And we plan on holding out until we are able to market and sell power.”

The company must find an energy buyer to make the planned plant economically viable, said Rick Allen, La Pine city manager.

“They need to find a power company that wants to buy their power,” he said. “…That’s really the issue.”

The $75 million, 25-megawatt biomass plant would produce enough electricity to power about 19,000 homes, Broberg said. The plant would burn wood — limbs and other scrap left over after logging, debris from thinning projects and urban waste — to heat water, create steam and turn a turbine. Interested power companies would likely be in California, where the state requires an increasing percentage of its power to come from “greener” sources such as biomass, wind and solar.

RWE Drops Biomass Power, Adds Biomass Thermal, Wind

- by Anna Simet, March 12, 2015, Biomass Magazine

While RWE Group reported it achieved its earnings targets for 2014 and EBITDA was significantly better than planned, low electricity prices and unusually mild weather negatively affected business performance, which dropped 25 percent from 2013 to 2014.

Peter Terium, CEO of RWE, said that currently, 35 to 45 percent of the utility’s conventional power stations are no longer making any money under current market conditions. “I am not talking about book values—these power stations are costing us real money,” he said. “We cannot avoid the sobering fact that conventional power generation is hardly viable any longer under current market conditions.”

He added that recent modernizations of RWE’s portfolio of power stations haven’t paid off, and that it is difficult to keep a gas or hard coal-fired power station commercially feasible. Previous Investments have made RWE the third-largest gas-fired power station operator in Europe, with capacity of around 15,000 megawatts across the continent. “Considering how quickly the electricity wholesale price fell in recent years, it would be impossible to cut a power station’s costs at the same rate to maintain margins or even make any profit at all,” he said.

BIOMASS TRUTH CONFERENCE CALL: Taxpayer Subsidies for Bioenergy Logging on March 19 @ 5pm PT / 8 ET

Biomass Truth Conference Call - Taxpayer Subsidies for Bioenergy Logging 
Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 5pm PST / 8 ET
Guest Speaker: Roy Keene, Our Forests
Roy Keene, public interest forester and director of Our Forests, has forty years of experience in the woods pushing for the protection of public forests and the reform of private land logging practices.

Call in on Thurs, March 19 at 5pm PT / 8 ET to learn about the various subsidies for “biomass” energy logging — including transportation, firefighting, weak private forest practice laws, tax exemptions, and public utilities buying biomass power above market rate — and how these taxpayer handouts further deplete already stressed forests and dwindling water supplies, without the promised increases in jobs or revenue.

Email thebiomassmonitor [at] gmail.com for call in number and access code.

Landfill Keeps Rhode Island Incinerator Debate Alive

- by Tim Faulkner, March 4, 2015, Eco RI News

The seemingly annual debate about building a waste incinerator in Rhode Island resolved little on the issue this year, except that any such facility is too expensive and likely at least 10 years from ever being built.

The sole advocate for considering an incinerator is the operator of the Central Landfill in Johnston, the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC). The agency simply wants to take a hard look at an incinerator as it investigates options for the state’s waste when the landfill inevitably runs out of space.

Currently, state law prohibits RIRRC from owning and operating an incinerator and from even considering it for its comprehensive plan. A pending bill would void the prohibition on studying incineration. It also would remove language in the state law that says incineration is the most expensive method of waste disposal.

“Removing this language is not consent to build,” Sarah Kite, RIRRC’s director of recycling services, said during a Feb. 26 Statehouse hearing. “This is not giving us permission to do anything other than really intensely study this issue and to bring those recommendations back to this board.”

Procter & Gamble Fires Up Massive Biomass Investment

- by Heather Clancy, March 3, 2015, Forbes 

[Another one-sided piece of "journalism" that takes all industry claims for granted and doesn't mention any health or environmental impacts of bioenergy. -Josh]

With companies like Apple and Google regularly stealing headlines for their solar and wind investments, it’s easy to forget “renewable” energy comes in many forms.

For consumer products giant Procter & Gamble biomass continues to be highly strategic. Indeed, it’s working on one of the biggest corporate biomass plants in the United States, a 50-megawatt installation at its Bounty and Charmin manufacturing plant in Albany, Georgia.

The $200 million project, spearheaded by Exelon subsidiary Constellation, is actually a replacement for a much smaller boiler that’s been in service for more than 30 years. The new cogeneration technology will provide 100% of the steam needed to run the production line, and approximately 60-70% of the energy for the facility, said Len Sauer, P&G’s vice president of global sustainability. The previous technology contributed about 30% of the total energy needed at the site.

Hardwood Trees Chipped for Nova Scotia Biomass

- by Roger Taylor, February 26, 2015, Herald Business

Hardwood trees are being allowed to go up in smoke, and with them a number of rural manufacturing jobs that are hard to replace.

It is easy to reach that conclusion after reading stories about several companies in rural Nova Scotia that have been making products from hardwood.

Just recently, the inability to access enough local hardwood was one of the reasons given by the owners of River’s Bend Wood Products Inc. for shutting down their flooring plant.

The factory in rural Antigonish County once employed 17 workers, but that number has been slowly whittled away. Now the remaining 11 employees will lose their jobs at the mill.

New York Republicans Trying to Slip Pricey Biofuels Mandate into Budget

- by Fredric U. Dicker, March 2, 2015, New York Post

With a bitter-cold winter and skyrocketing heating oil use, the GOP’s timing couldn’t be worse.

Senate Republicans, under pressure from maverick supermarket billionaire John Catsimatidis, are trying to slip a “green biofuels” mandate into Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new budget that could add $150 million a year to heating costs in New York, business sources have told The Post.

Catsimatidis, a Republican mayoral hopeful in 2013 and a heavy campaign contributor to Senate Republicans as well as Cuomo, is well known in the city for owning the Gristedes supermarket chain.

But he’s also the owner of United Metro Energy Corp., a large company that is putting the finishing touches on a massive Brooklyn biofuel-processing plant that will be the largest in the Northeast when it opens this fall.


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