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Branching Out Researchers Race to Optimize Fast-Growing Tree Species Page 40


What Makes the Pacific West Ideal for Bioenergy Development Page 26

How Will BCAP Work and What Role Will Woody Biomass Play Page 34



FEATURES 26 FEEDSTOCK Pacific West Biomass Profile Ample biomass supplies make the Pacific West a prime region for the industry to thrive. By Lisa Gibson

34 POLICY BCAP: New and (Maybe) Improved The final Biomass Crop Assistance Program rule is out but, questions remain about how the federal program will be administered. By Anna Austin


40 TREES Cream of the Coppice Researchers step up efforts to optimize short-rotation woody tree production in preparation for their increased use as a bioenergy feedstock. By Anna Austin

DEPARTMENTS 04 EDITOR’S NOTE Woody Biomass Use Doesn’t Have to be Controversial By Rona Johnson

06 INDUSTRY EVENTS 07 POWER PLATFORM How Will Republican Leadership Affect Biomass and Other Renewables? By Bob Cleaves


CONTRIBUTIONS 46 EMISSIONS GHG Emissions Trigger New Air Quality Permitting Requirements Keeping up with the U.S. EPA’s air quality permitting rules is imperative for existing and proposed biomass combustion facilities. By Brian Patterson and Geoff Scott

Biopower Technologies May Vary by Region By Bruce Folkedahl

13 LEGAL PERSPECTIVE Addressing Obstacles in the Biomass Feedstock Supply Chain By Kate L. Bechen


ON THE COVER: Field testing of Arborgen's freeze-tolerant eucalyptus have shown that the trees can be safely planted in parts of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. PHOTO: ARBORGEN




Woody Biomass Use Doesn’t Have to be Controversial



This month’s theme, woody biomass, has caused quite a stir as more projects that intend to utilize the resource to produce power and heat emerge. One of the main concerns people have about using woody biomass as a power source is that it will decimate our nation’s forests. I understand why this is a concern, but I maintain that the use of woody biomass can be sustained by concentrating on the planting of fast-growing tree species on marginal land, replanting tree stands as they are harvested, which is already being done, and focusing on wood residue that isn’t used by the wood products industry, such as insect and diseasedamaged trees and forest residue that’s removed to prevent fires. I recently read about a great example of how a group of forest managers, the forest products industry, environmentalists, economic developers and other interested parties in Arizona have worked together to sustainably use woody biomass from national forestlands. The White Mountain Stewardship Project, which involves the Apache and Sitgreaves National Forests in East-Central Arizona, was created to provide a long-term, reliable supply of woody biomass for the wood products industry, reduce the risk of wildfires and stimulate the local economy, according to the article. The project, now in its fifth year, has succeeded in maintaining and improving forest health, creating jobs, supporting the local timber industry and the economy, and producing energy. The article “Contract Brings Jobs, Energy, and Healthier Forests” by Steve Wilent was published in the December issue of The Forestry Source. The article talks about the project, its benefits and the effort it took to make it successful. As you may have guessed, a lot of hard work and compromise went into this project. As with any large-scale project involving several different people and entities—all with their own agendas and goals—there are challenges and disagreements, but the fact that they could all come to some sort of agreement is something that should be celebrated. And, as one of the sources in the articles pointed out, it didn’t happen overnight. “That’s one of the bigger lessons that we try to impart to other national forests who come out here and ask how they can make this happen on their forests,” says Sue Sitko, The Nature Conservancy’s White Mountain program manager. “You can’t simply decide you’re going to implement a stewardship project and expect everything to fall in line. There has to be a lot of work up front before that happens.” To read more about this project, visit 201012/#/0.

For more news, information and perspective, visit

Associate Editors

LISA GIBSON Associate Editor

Lisa Gibson’s “Pacific West Profile” feature details the myriad of biomass resources in the Pacific West that have yet to be fully tapped, including woody biomass, crop residue, animal waste, municipal solid waste, and food and beverage plant waste.


ANNA AUSTIN Associate Editor

Anna Austin writes about the development and optimization of fast-growing trees for bioenergy production in her feature “Cream of the Coppice.” She also provides an outsider’s view of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program as the industry awaits definitions and details about how it will be administered, in the feature titled “BCAP: New and (Maybe) Improved.”


ART ART DIRECTOR Jaci Satterlund GRAPHIC DESIGNER Elizabeth Burslie


Subscriptions Biomass Power & Thermal is free of charge to everyone with the exception of a shipping and handling charge of $49.95 for any country outside of the United States, Canada and Mexico. To subscribe, visit or you can send your mailing address and payment (checks made out to BBI International) to Biomass Power & Thermal Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You can also fax a subscription form to (701) 746-5367. Back Issues & Reprints Select back issues are available for $3.95 each, plus shipping. Article reprints are also available for a fee. For more information, contact us at (701) 746-8385 or Advertising Biomass Power & Thermal provides a specific topic delivered to a highly targeted audience. We are committed to editorial excellence and high-quality print production. To find out more about Biomass Power & Thermal advertising opportunities, please contact us at (701) 746-8385 or Letters to the Editor We welcome letters to the editor. Send to Biomass Power & Thermal Letters to the Editor, 308 2nd Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203 or e-mail to Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space.

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¦INDUSTRY EVENTS Heating the Northeast with Renewable Biomass April 13-14, 2011

Radisson Hotel Manchester Manchester, New Hampshire This conference will address how the Northeast can expand biomass heating, the challenges that need to be addressed and overcome, and the benefits of such an expansion, such as carbon reduction, energy diversity and security, and job creation. Expert panels, interactive discussions, technology demonstrations and presentations from business leaders will provide something for everyone.

Biomass Industry to Meet in St. Louis


As the world continues to switch from fossil fuels to renewables, 2011 could be a pivotal year for the biomass industry. That’s why it’s so important to register now to attend the 2011 International Biomass Conference & Expo to be held May 2-5 in the America’s Center in St. Louis. Are you interested in growing or harvesting biomass crops or using biomass to produce bioenergy? If so, you won’t want to miss this event where future and existing producers of biobased power, thermal energy, fuels and chemicals go to network with waste generators, energy crop growers, municipal leaders, utility executives, technology providers, equipment manufacturers, project developers, investors and policy makers. It’s where project developers converse with utility executives; where researchers and technology developers rub elbows with venture capitalists; and where Fortune 500 executives and influential policy makers sit side-by-side with American farmers and foresters. The conference will feature 30-plus expert panels and more than 100 speakers sharing information on topics ranging from anaerobic digestion to gasification and from pyrolysis to combined-heat-and-power systems all within a structured framework of six customized tracks: • Track 1: Crop Residues • Track 2: Dedicated Energy Crops • Track 3: Forest and Wood Processing Residues • Track 4: Livestock and Poultry Wastes • Track 5: MSW, Urban Wastes and Landfill Gas • Track 6: Food Processing Residues The International Biomass Conference & Expo is the fastest-growing event of its kind, boasting 1,700 attendees in 2010, an 80 percent increase from 2009. As always, the event will include a world-class expo where venders can showcase their equipment, technologies, services, programs and solutions for potential customers. Golf enthusiasts will want to take part in the golf outing at Gateway National, a first-class links course designed in the tradition of Carnoustie, Royal Lytham, St. Anne’s Old Links and other famous courses in the British Isles. Gateway National is the only true links-style course in the St. Louis Metropolitan area. This fourth annual conference is organized by BBI International and coproduced by Biomass Power & Thermal and Biorefining magazines. For more information or to sponsor, exhibit and register for this important event, go to 6 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL |JANUARY 2011

International Biomass Conference & Expo May 2-5, 2011

America’s Center St. Louis, Missouri The largest, fastest growing biomass event was attended in 2010 by 1,700 industry professionals from 49 states and 25 nations representing nearly every geographical region and sector of the world’s biomass utilization industries―power, thermal energy, fuels and chemicals. Plan to join more than 2,500 attendees, 120 speakers and 400-plus exhibitors for the premier international biomass event of the year. (701) 746-8385

Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo June 27-30, 2011 Indiana Convention Center Indianapolis, Indiana The FEW is the largest, longest-running ethanol conference in the world, and is renowned for its superb programming which focuses on commercial-scale ethanol production―both grain and cellulosic―operational efficiencies, plant management, energy use, and nearterm research and development. Speaker abstracts are now being accepted online. (701) 746-8385

International Biorefining Conference & Trade Show September 14-16, 2011

Hilton Americas – Houston Houston, Texas This event will unite bioconversion technology providers and researchers from around the world with agriculture, forestry, and refining professionals to discuss and examine the scaleup and commercial establishment of advanced biofuels and biobased chemicals. Organized by BBI International and produced by Biorefining magazine, the International Biorefining Conference & Trade Show brings together agricultural, forestry, waste, and petrochemical professionals to explore the value-added opportunities awaiting them and their organizations within the quickly maturing biorefining industry. (701) 746-8385


How Will Republican Leadership Affect Biomass and Other Renewables? BY BOB CLEAVES

Happy New Year and happy new Congress. The 112th Congress begins its first session later this month. As all are aware, the Republicans have wrested control of the House away from the Democrats. How will these changes in Washington affect the biomass industry? The short answer is that things will probably change to some extent, but probably not a whole lot. Below are a few areas where we can expect to see differences from the Democratic reign. But, rest assured, the Biomass Power Association will be working closely with our team in Washington to continue to keep the biomass industry and our legislative issues front-and-center for new and old members alike. Renewable energy standard: During the 111th Congress, many in the renewable energy sector had high hopes for the passage of a renewable energy standard, which would likely have resulted in extra incentives for renewable energy forms over more traditional forms of energy production. The Republican majority in the House may not have the same appetite for aggressive federal stimulus for the renewable sector. That said, clean energy is a bipartisan issue, so stay tuned. Taxes: Since Republicans tend to vote heavily in favor of business interests—especially small business—we are hopeful that the 1603 tax extenders will be enacted at the beginning of the new Congress (if they were not enacted during the December lame duck session). Tax extenders would give many new and existing facilities some room in the budgets for updating equipment, hiring extra help and many other expenses that are essential to effectively running a biomass facility. Many other renewable energy associations are similarly hopeful for a near-term 1603 passage. As this column is going to press, the fate of the production tax credit for existing facilities is very much uncertain. Jobs: Jobs and the economy will likely take a place of prominence during the start of the new Congress. If your district elected a new member of Congress, we

urge you to write a letter of introduction to your new representative. Ideally, the purpose of your letter would be threefold: explaining what biomass energy is, listing the number of jobs that your biomass facility provides to the district’s economy and describing the many economic and environmental benefits of biomass energy. As we all know, many states are taking a growing interest in our industry. The state level traditionally has been where the biomass industry fights some of its most challenging battles, and we do not expect this to change. Some states, like California, have been highly supportive of biomass throughout the industry’s short existence. Others, like Massachusetts, have proven to be more difficult to win over. As more biomass facilities are built across the country, we will continue to work closely with state and local officials to ensure they have a good understanding of the many potential benefits offered by biomass. Meanwhile, the U.S. EPA has announced a few policy changes that will positively affect the industry, either immediately or sometime in the future. It appears increasingly likely that the agency will correctly classify biomass as environmentally friendly or carbon neutral in the new year. BCAP: Finally, there is BCAP, which remains a significant program for the biomass industry. All of us will have to work hard in the coming year to make sure Congress funds BCAP at acceptable levels. While our job will be made extra challenging in this era of fiscal restraint, biomass deserves the same level of support provided to other forms of agriculture. It’s up to us to make sure that happens. We wish each and every one of you a Happy New Year, and we look forward to working with you to continue to educate Americans and our elected officials about our industry. Author: Bob Cleaves President and CEO, Biomass Power Association


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Renewable Energy Solutions


Biopower Technologies May Vary by Region BY BRUCE FOLKEDAHL

Technologies for biobased heat and power, and the resulting economic and environmental benefits, may vary because of the regional availability of resources and needs. In Maine, for instance, the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences has published a report that finds burning of whole trees for electricity production may not be as carbon neutral as once thought and that it will take 40 years for the carbon balance to catch up. This study does, however, conclude that trees used for combined heat and power (CHP) have a much more positive effect on efficiency and carbon balance. The Manomet study makes assumptions about the use of forest assets that can tend to make the projections less favorable for trees used for heat and power. This study is also an example of the regional differences in application of biomass for heat and power and the assumptions that must be made to project the efficacy of individual biomass technologies. In contrast to Maine, the type of biomass applications you would find in the Central Plains states of the United States are quite different. In the Plains states, agriculture residues and energy crops would be the primary source of biomass for use in heat and power generation. Biomass feed systems, burner retrofits and emissions control will be different for agricultural residues or energy crops compared to the use of trees. Recent studies at the Energy & Environmental Research Center have shown that cocombusting woody biomass with coal has the potential to remediate some of the fouling issues in the furnace, thereby enhancing the overall plant efficiency, but this will

depend on the type of woody biomass and the combustion conditions. Cofiring sawdust can reduce the amount of inorganic material or ash that will be available in the furnace to impact heat-transfer surfaces and reduce the cause of fouling and slagging issues, while cofiring bark or hog fuel with inherent higher inorganic ash content may not reduce fouling and slagging issues. For agricultural residues such as wheat straw, cofiring can also be problematic because of very small silica phytoliths that are contained in the plant material to give rigidity. These phytoliths are an amouphous form of silica, can have low melting temperatures, and will mix with other inorganic elements in the ash to produce sticky ash material that will adhere to heat-transfer surfaces reducing thermal efficiency of the furnace. This can be overcome by adjusting the design of the furnace and the way the straw is combusted. EERC pilot testing shows that it is imperative to match technology applications with resources to properly utilize the vast biomass resources available in the United States to offset our fossil fuel use and reduce overall carbon emissions. In the end, smart planning, matching biomass technologies with biomass resources, and learning from the experience of others will ensure the continued growth of biomass and U.S. energy security while reducing carbon emissions. Author: Bruce Folkedahl Senior Research Manager, Energy & Environmental Research Center (701) 777-5243


September 14-16, 2011 Hilton Americas - Houston Houston, Texas

For more information: 701-746-8385

Produced by


Addressing Obstacles in the Biomass Feedstock Supply Chain BY KATE L. BECHEN

Biomass is one of the oldest energy sources, and there are compelling arguments for its use to generate electricity. First, unlike fossil fuels, the regenerative capacity of biomass provides for a renewable fuel source. Second, a significant amount of viable feedstock is considered waste, the use of which serves the dual purposes of energy production and waste management. Third, the use of sustainable biomass displaces the use of fossil fuels. Though both fuel sources emit CO2, the CO2 emitted by biomass would occur anyway through the process of decomposition, so there is a net reduction in CO2 emissions. Finally, the combustion of biomass also reduces methane emissions associated with the naturally occurring process of decomposition. Despite the significance and potential of biomass as an energy source, development of a reliable feedstock supply chain has not occurred. Developers understand that a stable, long-term feedstock agreement is essential to procuring financing for any biomass project. Demonstrating to a landowner or farmer that the economic and other benefits of producing biomass (the production of which is often a multi-year commitment) outweigh the current land use can be a challenge without an established demand for the feedstock. Current land use, such as row crops, hunting habitat or Conservation Reserve Program acres, competes with biomass crops. Creating demand for feedstock also requires construction of conversion facilities, which require financing in addition to the financing of the generation facilities. And, in the true spirit of the chicken and the egg conundrum, lenders and investors require a reliable, long-term feedstock source before financing a project. Prohibitively high costs are often cited as a major driver behind decisions to abandon biomass projects. Research into cost saving processes is currently underway. For example, it has been shown that denser fuel pellets offer cost savings but the drawback is that often the pelletization process results in significant feedstock loss. At the same time, the storage and transportation costs of denser pellets are significantly lower than other densification options, such as baling. Efforts to integrate biomass with traditional agriculture, for example through the use of crop rotation and agricultural intensification may lead to yield increases and price reductions. Sustainable harvesting techniques, such as one-

pass harvesting, can reduce harvest site fuel consumption significantly. Further, developing synergies between harvest and transport, for example by using self-compacting wagons for both harvesting and transportation, may also provide cost savings. Satellite processing may save costs by allowing certain preprocessing of the biomass to occur before transportation to the conversion facility. Drying and densification of the feedstock with mobile equipment that can be located close to the feedstock can reduce transportation costs. The establishment of regional processing centers that aggregate, process, store and supply biomass to the region could also provide significant cost reductions. In addition to drying and densification, regional centers could perform other preprocessing procedures to homogenize feedstock from several sources. Developers could decrease expenses associated with having multiple feedstock contracts. The aggregator, given its size, should be able to provide a more reliable supply, as a result of the large quantities it can handle. According to the chief executive officers of several major biofuel companies, advanced biofuel commercialization is only a few years away, even though many argue that this is overly optimistic. Biomass projects will need to find the right combination of the type and location of feedstock, cost effective harvest and transportation methods and demand for output. With an increasing number of states adopting or expanding their renewable portfolio standards, utilities can help drive demand for biomass projects. Often utilities assign more value to biomass projects because unlike wind or solar, it is base-load power. As technology evolves, we will see maturation of the supply chain through the introduction of satellite and regional processing facilities. These advances, in conjunction with more effective harvest techniques, the development of high-yield energy crops and advancements in processing and conversion technology can all work to move the industry forward. Author:Kate L. Bechen Member, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP’s Renewable Energy, Health Care and Business Practice Groups (414) 225-4956



by the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration. VPP star status is the highest honor given to work sites with comprehensive, successful safety and health management systems. Sites such as Covanta Delano are committed to effective employee protection beyond the requirements of state or federal standards and participants develop and implement systems to effectively identify, evaluate, prevent and control occupational hazards to prevent injuries and illnesses.

Acrowood sells equipment to China Acrowood has sold a complete chip thickness screening system and a slant disc chipper to a new bleached kraft pulp mill in China. Guangxi Jingdaxing purchased the Acrowood equipment in August for delivery in April. Acrowood’s successful installation in 2006 at Sun Paper in Yanzhou, Shandong, China, of its advanced technology ADF Engineering hires O’Toole and proven components helped the ADF Engineering Inc. mill management make its decision. A with corporate headquarters mill in Nanning, Guangxi, China, also in Miamisburg, Ohio, has purchased a year’s supply of spare parts. announced the addition of The company has also sold an AcroBrian O’Toole as a process wood model 8425 Slant Disc Chipper engineer. O’Toole is a recent and a three-deck, Dual Drive Suspended graduate of the University Rotary Screen to Yunnan Yunjing Forof Dayton with a bachelor’s Brian O'Toole will be concentrating on estry & Paper Co. Ltd. in Jinggu County degree in chemical engienergy conservation of Pu’er City in Yunnan Province. neering. With experience and process safety in research and process in his new position design, he will be focusing at ADF Engineering. Ceres publishes energy crop production guides on energy conservation and Energy crop company Ceres Inc. process safety in the bioscihas published two new crop management ence industry. guides that include the most current recommendations on the establishment, manCovanta Delano recognized for agement and harvest of switchgrass and exemplary health, safety high-biomass sorghum. Frank Hardimon, Covanta Energy, a wholly owned Ceres sales director, says the recommendasubsidiary of Covanta Holding Corp., tions in the guides are based on results from announced its Covanta Delano biomass the company's extensive trialing network as facility has earned star status in California’s Voluntary Protection Program administered well as its involvement in bioenergy proj-


ects. Published under the company's Blade trade name, the free guides titled “Planting and Managing Switchgrass as a Dedicated Energy Crop, 2nd Edition” and “Managing High-Biomass Sorghum as a Dedicated Energy Crop” can be downloaded at www. Print copies can be requested by emailing info@BladeEnergy. com. BinMaster introduces MVL multi-scanner system BinMaster Level Controls has introduced the MVL multiple scanner system that integrates multiple point measurement data from two 3DLevelScanners to cover a wide surface area and provide better inventory accuracy for large vessels. Designed specifically for the challenges of large bins, the BinMaster MVL system displays a visual representation of the material surface that shows high and low points in the bin such as cone BIN BUSTER: BinMaster's up, cone down, leave sidewall buildup or 3DLevelScanners nothing to the imagination bridging. Reports when it comes to bin contents. generated by the 3D software provide data such as volume as a percentage, in bushels, or cubic feet or meters; maximum, minimum and average levels or distances to product; weight in U.S. tons, pounds or metric tons; and historical logs of bin measurements. AgriLab installs second heat recovery system AgriLab Technologies LLP has completed installation of its second major


Cogent provides information management for Pinnacle Pinnacle Pellet has selected Cogent Industrial Technologies Ltd. to provide integrated automation, controls and information management system services for its 400,000-metric-ton per year greenfield pellet facility in Burns Lake, British Columbia. The plant will utilize residue from local sources and wood feedstock from the Hampton Affiliates Babine Forest Product mill located about 3.5 kilometers (2 miles) away. Construction began in mid-July and was expected to be finished at the end of November. Cogent has worked closely with Pinnacle in the past to define and design process control, information technology and automation systems for the company’s five existing pellet production plants in British Columbia.



Martin Engineering offers new conveyor cleaning blade

CLEAN SWEEP: Martin Engineering's new blade has a long life and works with any material.

A new cleaning blade for use on vulcanized conveyor belts features a special polyurethane blend and tungsten carbide tip to deliver service life two to three times longer than conventional urethane blades. Designed to provide excellent cleaning performance immediately, avoiding any breakin period, the QCM #1 MT Pre-Cleaner from Martin Engineering maintains consistent tension without frequent adjustment, requiring retensioning just twice a year in most applications. The blade can be used at belt speeds up to 900 feet per minute (4.6 meters per second) and there is no

HEI unveils new AD technology Hoffland Environmental Inc. has introduced a unique piece of heat recovery equipment that optimizes the output of biogas from anaerobic digesters. Called the “hougulay,” it is a piece of proprietary process equipment that is used to facilitate high production of biogas. The hougulay was first developed and used at HEI’s hogmanure-to-biogas-to-electricity plant located on the island of Cyprus where agricultural waste is used to generate 1 megawatt of power. The size of a hougulay, its internal design and components, its flow rates— both the heat and material balances across the unit—are optimized features that are esoteric to any kind of feedstock entering the plant. Critical to the design and engineering of the hougulay is an understanding of basic heat transfer equations including thermal transient analysis. Also, hougulay optimization depends upon knowledge (and on-line measurement) of the specific heat and/or heat capacities of the feedstock components. Natural Power enters biomass industry International renewable energy consultancy Natural Power recently announced the company’s move to the biomass sector, further adding to its products and services provided in the wind, wave and tidal markets. A team of professionals across the biomass and associated industries have joined Natural Power’s renewable energy experts at its global headquarters in Scotland. The biomass team led by Dan Gates, who has a forestry background with engineering and project management experience, joined Natural Power earlier this year and work has already been secured including due diligence

services on a 15-megawatt biomass plant in England. Other projects range from private estates and large public sector clients to established developers who require development support across the biomass project life cycle. Bandit-sponsored race car finishes strong in Kansas


limitation to the type of material on which it can be used.

project in North America. As the world’s agricultural and waste management industries seek cleaner and greener tools for curbing global warming and saving valuable organic resources, this company has perfected heat capture from organic waste through, static, aerobic composting. The newest installation is on a dairy heifer calf raising facility near Albany, N.Y. The facility maintains 2,000 head when full. The composting and heat recovery system will virtually eliminate the farm's dependence on propane, while dramatically reducing diesel, electric and grid-based energy dependence. Forty percent volume reduction will save on equipment, fuel and man-hours to field apply compost.

NEED FOR SPEED: The Bandit Industries' sponsored NASCAR suffered a a spinout and still managed to take 24th at the Kansas Lottery 300.

NASCAR nationwide sensation Parker Kligerman delivered a valiant effort at the Kansas Lottery 300, taking the Bandit Industries/ Team 42 Dodge Charger to 24th position despite a spinout on the final lap of the race. The number 66 car of Steve Wallace was the guilty party, tapping Kligerman on the final lap and sending him backward into the wall. Kligerman had been running in 11th spot after fighting back from being a lap down. He qualified seventh but fell back early on. Kligerman remained consistent through the run, holding near the end of the lead lap for most of the event. With the ongoing adjustments by the Team 42 crew, he was able to mount a strong comeback in the later laps, climbing as high as second before sliding just outside the top 10. Despite the crash, Kligerman was able to complete all 200 laps.

SHARE YOUR INDUSTRY NEWS: To be included in the Business Briefs, send information (including photos and logos, if available) to Industry Briefs, Biomass Power & Thermal, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You may also e-mail information to Please include your name and telephone number in all correspondence.


FiredUp Closing the Cottonwood Loop Energy crops have yet to reach their full potential in the U.S., but a new dedicated woody crop supply service could help them gain popularity. It offers a closed-loop solution to a continuous supply of cottonwood feedstock, managed from start to finish by one company. Virginia-based C2Invest LLC (C2I) is a project development and management company that added the supply service to its portfolio a year ago. “What we do is purely afforestation and high-density plantations,” says Page Gravely, senior director for C2I. “If you’ve got a utility looking for a dedicated, sure supply of feedstock, we go out and secure the acres and oversee the specific planting of those trees for a specific volume over a preferred longterm agreement.” Many feedstock supply companies hand off the seed to a grower, who takes the responsibility of growing and often delivering the biomass to the end user. C2I, however, is involved in the entire life cycle until it gets to the end-user's door. “Our design is to be more turnkey and full service,” says Carey Crane, a C2I founder. The company secures the land for planting, has a hand in the cutting supply, designs spacing for the plantations, and oversees quality control of planting, growth, harvesting and delivery. “We’re not only the supplier, but the project manager, if you will, for that entire supply chain,” Crane says, adding that C2I works with landowners to secure acreage. The crops planted currently are in Louisiana, but prime cottonwood growing soil is predominantly in the Mississippi Delta, beginning where the Mississippi and Ohio rivers split in Illinois and extending to the Gulf of Mexico. The regions include eastern Louisiana, eastern Arkansas, western Mississippi and western Kentucky. In those areas, cottonwood can grow 12 to 15 feet per year, allowing for a biennial harvest, Gravely says. “One of the natural benefits of cottonwood is that they coppice,” he says. “It is truly and literally a renewable tree that regrows when it’s harvested.” Growing biomass coppice is an old practice and in Europe incentives for dedicated energy crops often surpass that of forest materials. So pellets or briquettes manufactured using such crops will bring in a higher price. “It’s a huge benefit,” says Karl-Heinz Schulz, vice president of technology and engineering for BiEnergy Group LLC, an engineering and consulting company. “The utilities can pay more for the pellets than if the feedstock was from [forest-based] woody biomass.” BiEnergy Group works with energy-from-biomass projects such as district heating and combined heat and power, but also does feasibility, construction, engineering, project development



Biomass supply service offers a closed-loop approach to cottonwood feedstock.

COTTONWOOD CROP: The Mississippi Delta, where the Mississippi and Ohio rivers split in Illinois, and the area extending to the Gulf of Mexico offer prime soil for growing cottonwood trees.

and equipment acquisition for biomass pellet and briquette operations. About 90 percent of pellet manufacturers in the U.S. ship their product to Europe, where the market is better established and incentivized, Schulz says. C2I has no contracts in place for the supply service currently, but is in negotiations with several entities. It’s no secret that securing a feedstock supply can be one of the toughest aspects of a project, especially in markets experiencing a rise in competition for material. “One of the rubs has been how do you have a security of supply?” Gravely says. “How do you have a consistent supply? That’s where closed-loop really checks a lot of those boxes.” —Lisa Gibson


Tried and Tested Gasifier transforms turkey litter into heat, power and fertilizer.


Invented by David Mooney of Roswell, Ga.based REM Engineering Inc., Enginuity Energy’s Ecoremedy biomass gasification system is slated for commercial deployment in the spring. This milestone will be reached at an energy nutrient recovery facility in Pennsylvania, following several years of development and testing. Ecoremedy was awarded a patent in 2005, two years after initial alpha testing. Beta testing continued through 2007, with advanced pilot plant operations taking place at Tyson Foods Bolivar Feed Mill in Fairmount, Ga., through 2008. Since deployment at Tyson, the technology has been successfully operated at Illinois State University and other confidential private corporations, according to Rich Madeira of Enginuity Energy. Madeira says Ecoremedy is advanced but simple to operate and doesn’t require higher skill sets than those required to operate and maintain conventional boiler technology. Once the biomass TESTING GROUNDS: Enginuity Energy recently completed construction of a research and development facility at Harrisburg Community College in Pennsylvania. is transferred from storage, it enters a gasifier chamber and is heated on advanced conveyor technology. The smallest Ecoremedy unit can be mounted on a 53-foot flatGases from the heated biomass are forced upward, bed trailer and process several hundred thousand pounds of material and hot air ignites the gas to create a fireball that heats the boiler per hour. A 2.5 megawatt (MW) plant can be constructed on a 1-acre and creates steam. The steam is used to generate thermal energy site, and the largest designed plant of 22 MW requires less than five and/or electric power generation, and the exhaust gases pass acres. through an air heater. Ambient air is heated before being sent to The 2011 business activity outlook for Enginuity seems to be the gasifier to continuously fuel the fireball, and before being circulated under the conveyor belt to heat the biomass. Exhaust goes healthy. “We have a 22-MW plant designed and a letter of intent on a 2.5-MW power plant that will annually convert 85,000 tons of egg through filters to separate fine particulates that are captured and laying manure into energy and recover 13,000 tons of nutrients,” Maprocessed as part of the recovered nutrient, which is processed deira says. During this particular installation, all of the carbon will be and then can be used as a fertilizer, feed supplement or biochar. removed so nutrients can be recycled as an animal feed supplement. Madeira emphasizes the value of the additional component “However, the output could be regulated to increase carbon content of the technology besides heat and power generation—recovery of the nutrients within agricultural byproducts such as poultry lit- to create a biochar product,” he says. Recently, Enginuity constructed a new Ecoremedy research ter, manures, spent mushroom substrate and more. “The materials and development facility on the Harrisburg Area Community Colthe system focuses on using as feedstocks are readily and overly lege campus in Harrisburg, Pa., that will serve to advance biomass abundant and possess high levels of nutrient content,” he says. gasifi cation testing, evaluate new materials for their application as fuel “This combination offers the opportunity for no- or low-cost proand evaluate nutrient content for use as fertilizer or feed supplement. curement of the feedstocks with a significant resale value once the Madeira adds that in January, Enginuity, working in conjunction with nutrients have been recovered via the gasification process.” In addition, the system isn’t hindered by the need for uniform the American Mushroom Institute and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, will use the Ecoremedy system to prove that spent size, shape or moisture content of the fuel, as it allows up to 65 mushroom substrate is a viable source of clean energy and recoverpercent moisture content, 80 percent ash, and varied moisture and size. The energy output varies with the material used, Madeira able nutrients. Live demonstrations will be held in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Farm Show in January. —Anna Austin explains. JANUARY 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 17


LEANER AND GREENER: Replacing fuel oil with biomass, practicing sustainable forest management and getting public and government support could lead to increased biomass use in Greene County, according to a recent study.

Getting Greener New York's Greene County aims to be a state leader in biomass utilization.

A study initiated by Greene County, N.Y., to evaluate its biomass resources and potential has found that the county could lead the state in biomass fuel production, given its vast amount of underutilized resources, location and transportation infrastructure. The study concluded that to get the ball rolling, however, public support must be built through multiple steps. Dan Conable of study co-conductor Cato Analytics LLC says familiarizing local businesses, residential consumers and the logging industry with firewood as a source of heat, in lieu of fuel oil, would be a good starting point. In Greene County roughly 70 percent of residences and small commercial/institutional heating comes from fuel oil, Conable says. The county has less than 50,000 people and spends about $2 million dollars monthly on imported fuel oil in the winter, he says. “For New York state, the heating oil bill comes to more than $5 billion per year.� Since many homes and businesses are heated with fuel oil, there is a real opportunity for wood heat in Greene County—as is the case with most of the Northeast—even though petroleum prices have been depressed by the economic crisis of the past few years. Although the Btu value of wood is competitive with fuel oil, without any form of subsidy, a large barrier remains—the relatively high up-front cost of an efficient pellet stove or twostage wood furnace, Conable says. These units have better than 75 percent thermal efficiency and acceptable emissions levels. To help with up-front costs, the report recommends including biomass energy in the state’s Property Assessed Clean Energy program to set the stage for a pilot program. PACE eliminates the up-front cost for energy improvements by allowing property owners to pay for the improvements over 15 to 20 years through an increase in their annual property taxes. Forest sustainability and harvest practices are also addressed 18 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL |JANUARY 2011

in the Greene County study. “One unique aspect of Cato Analytics’ analysis was that it moved away from the net growth approach to modeling forest biomass availability,� Conable says. “We call that the ‘haircut approach,’— as long as you do not cut it faster than it is growing, you’ll never grow bald. The problem with that approach, as far as forests are concerned, is that it assumes that the only threat to forest health is over-cutting. In fact, the big threats to good forest management are  On the Web invasive species and the pattern of harread more about the vesting known in this part of the world as To study, visit http://greeneida. ‛high-grading.’� com Generations of over-harvesting the best hardwood species, including removal of trees at sub-optimal diameters, has left Greene County with degraded forests dominated by low-value trees. “In Greene County, business as usual, which is continued high-grading, might give us about 50,000 tons of low-grade wood chips harvested each year, assuming adequate local markets,� Conable says. If landowners had the incentive to regenerate their forests by removing a significant percentage of undesirable tree species, then coming back for a pre-commercial thinning 15 or 20 years later, there would be two important results, from Conable’s perspective. “For about 40 years, we would quadruple the supply of available biomass, assuming regeneration cutting of 5 percent of the county’s forest every year,� he says. “After 40 years, we’d be looking at a forest not unlike the hardwood forests of Europe, producing a higher percentage of prime hardwood logs than we’ve been able to harvest in this country for several generations, and a much lower percentage of biomass. That would be fine, given the likelihood that genetic improvements will make cropped biomass a lower-cost source of lignin and cellulose than natural forest, very likely within the next 15 years.� —Anna Austin


Biomass Down Under Although slow to develop, Australia’s biomass industry has potential.

Slightly larger than the continental U.S. with a drastically Biomass Source Quantity 2010 (GWh/y) 2020 (GWh/y) 2050 (GWh/y) smaller population, Australia Poultry 94 million 297 1,055 seems to offer great potential in Cattle-feedlots 870 thousand 112 442 the growth of biomass crops. Pigs 1.8 million 1 22 205 At the same time, the biomass Dairy cows 1.4 million 22 89 resources the country already 1.3 million tonnes 337 1,773 possesses are vastly underutilized. Abettoirs According to the Australian Stubble-grain and cotton crops 24 million tonnes 47,000 Clean Energy Council, in 2008, Bagasse 5 million tonnes 1,200 3,000 4,600 biomass and biogas accounted for Sugar cane, trash, tops and leaves 4 million tonnes 165 3,200 less than 1 percent of electricOil mallees 112 484 ity generation in Australia. The Camphor laurel 83 20 small fraction of biomass energy Forest residues (native forests, ~9 million tonnes 79 2,442 4,554 produced is mainly derived from plantations, processing residues) bagasse, wood and wood waste Black liquor 285 365 365 at about 50 facilities nationwide, Other pulp and paper wastes 74 141 141 and nearly all of those plants Urban food wastes 2.9 million tonnes 29 267 754 are sugar production plants in Queensland. Notably, only about Garden organics 2.3 million tonnes 29 121 461 50 percent of the cane biomass Urban paper and cardboard 2.3 million tonnes 38 1,749 available for use is collected. Urban wood/timber wastes 1.6 million tonnes 45 295 1,366 Aside from bagasse, BioLandfill gas 772 1,880 3,420 energy Australia Manager Steve Sewage gas 57 901 929 Schuck says wood waste is one of the most underutilized resources OUTBACK OBSTACLES: Low electricity prices, water availability and the lack of any biomass-specific in the country. Bioenergy Ausgovernment incentives are some of the issues holding back biomass power development in Australia. tralia is a government-industry SOURCE: CEC BIOENERGY ROADMAP 2008 forum, formed in 1997 to foster and facilitate the development of biomass for energy, liquid fuels of new renewable electricity by that year.” and other value-added biobased products. Besides that market mechanism, there are few specific incenInterest and activity in growing new biomass crops for energy tives for bioenergy. “At a state level in New South Wales, there is generation is coming around, Schuck says. He points out, in paran incentive for diverting wastes from landfills, where the mateticular, that Delta Electricity, one of Australia’s largest utilities, is rial would be converted to methane,” Schuck says. “One plant, a embarking on an AUD $200 million project to grow oil mallee eu3-MWe digester in Sydney, takes advantage of this incentive under calypts as an energy crop in central New South Wales. “They wish the New South Wales Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme.” to produce energy pellets from coppiced mallee, and then cofire at So what are some current hurdles that need to be overcome, 20 percent rates at Wallerawang Power Station initially,” he says. “So and how does Australia compare to the U.S.? “The wholesale price far they have engaged 10 farmers, and also conducted a trial burn at of electricity has fallen by a third over the past 18 months, mainly this level. The units are 500 megawatts (MW), so this equates to 100 due to a drought breaking in Queensland, freeing up cooling water MW of biomass per unit.” for large, efficient coal-fired power,” Schuck says. “Also, the REC Regarding suitable, available land for growing energy crops, (renewable energy credit) price is volatile and depressed, due to unapproximately 70 percent of Australia is desert/semi-arid land, but intended consequences of a PV (photovoltaic) and solar hot water Schuck believes there is sufficient land, pointing out that mallees are stimulus measure.” adapted to grow in arid conditions. The [Australian biomass] industry is probably behind the U.S., Unfortunately, there aren’t any biomass-specific government he adds, but the hurdles aren’t all that unique in comparison. “Many incentives in the country, as they generally target renewable energy, [hurdles] are economic and social,” Schuck says. “Issues such as Schuck points out. “Our main driver is the Renewable Energy food verses fuel, land use competition, and water resources will Target, which supports the target of 20 percent renewable energy— remain issues, even though I believe there is enough land for both essentially electricity—by 2020. This requires 41,000 gigawatt hours food and fuel.” —Anna Austin JANUARY 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 19


Canada’s Greenest University Using a torch, University of Northern British Columbia President George Iwama fired up the school’s combined-heat-andpower (CHP) biomass gasification system in November. Supplied by Nexterra Inc., the system will heat all of UNBC’s core buildings, replace its fossil fuel usage by 85 percent—an energy savings of $800 per year—and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 3,500 metric tons per year. Fuel for the gasifier is woody biomass provided by a local family-owned sawmill, Lakeland Mills, according to Robert van Adrichem, UNBC’s vice president of external relations. The gasifier is currently running intermittently for testing, and a grand opening will be held in mid-March. The CHP system and a small pellet plant on campus are part of UNBC’s Bioenergy Center for Innovation. “It’s an idea to connect the university, students and researchers to the bioenergy industry, economic development organizations and the government to determine what the ingredients are to make this viable, economic and sustainable industry of value to this community, region, province and country,” van Adrichem says. The pellets produced in the facility are used to heat the campus’s forestry lab. “We use them to heat a building that’s growing trees and doing forest research, and then using that product to heat the building,” van Adrichem says. “Initial work was on analyzing the difference between using wood pellets verses natural gas, which is what we’ve used for fuel to date on campus, and some other research projects there now are related to emissions and the use of ash as a soil additive.” These projects are being done primarily because bioenergy is emerging as a significant industry in the region, according to van Adrichem. “Because bioenergy has never been a big part of



The University of Northern British Columbia is fired up for bioenergy.

PRACTICAL AND EDUCATIONAL: UNBC will use its CHP system and pellet plant to reduce fossil fuel use, answer questions the community and forest products industry may have about bioenergy, as a research and development platform and an educational tool.

the forest industry here—we’re a world leader in lumber production—it’s a whole new thing,” he says. “This program provides a new opportunity for the university to work with the community, region and forest industry on fundamental questions surrounding bioenergy—not just ‘who is going to buy my pellets when I make them,’ but a look at more foundational questions around forest land base sustainability, emissions, moisture content and energy performance.” UNBC hopes to use the biomass gasifier and the pellet plant as showcases for the local industry, as well as platforms for applied research and education. —Anna Austin


Drying Crops with Crop Residues The cost of using propane to fuel a grain dryer can be astronomical for farmers and grain elevators, especially if the dryers are running 24 hours a day in the fall, which is often the case. A Bismarck, N.D., furnace company says its biomass retrofit can slash that cost by 90 percent. Not only that, but the system’s heat recovery application is essentially 100 percent efficient, according to the company. “What we’ve done is displaced the propane burner with a combined system and heat exchanger that blows hot air the same way, but doesn’t use super expensive fuel,” says King Coal Furnace Corp. President and CEO Mike Robb. Farmers can use the residues and waste products from their crops, such as sunflower screenings, soybean trash and spent grain, to fuel the biomass burner. King Coal can build portable systems between 1 million Btu (MMBtu) and 10 MMBtu, and on-site systems up to 50 MMBtu. Robb declined to release a cost for the dryers, but said the company is currently building two for seed company locations in Minnesota and South Dakota. With propane costs at $1.50 per gallon, those operations can spend up to $16.50 per MMBtu, whereas sunflower screenings at current prices of $30 per ton and 9,000 Btu per pound, would mean a cost of only $1.65 per MMBtu, Robb says. “That’s a 90 percent reduction,” he says. The cost is only one advantage. “The real neat thing about this is this system does not have a chimney,” Robb says. It takes gases through a proprietary dust collection system and then redirects it back into the furnace. “So the million or so Btus that would be wasted up the chimney go right back into the drying process,” he emphasizes.


King Coal says its biomass burner can replace propane in grain dryers and save cash.

COST-CUTTING DRYER: North Dakota-based King Coal has built a prototype of its biomass burner that burns crop residue instead of costly propane.

“Essentially, we’ve developed a 100 percent efficient heat recovery system.” King Coal has a 2 MMBtu prototype at its Bismarck location to demonstrate the system’s function. The company has been building coal-fired air heaters for years with the same type of technology. The modular, self-cleaning and automated system leaves only the responsibility of loading the fuel bin to the operator. Robb expects the first installation to be ready in Minnesota next year. —Lisa Gibson

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Unsound Science


Gram CO2 eq/kWh

Envio Energi CEO’s research proves woody biomass is carbon neutral.



Envio Energi LLC had six biomass power plant projects in the works when the U.S. EPA’s proposed Industrial Boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology (IB MACT) rule was released. Then everything came to a screeching halt, says CEO Roland Fjallstrom. Now, he's unsure of the fate of those projects and his business. Fjallstrom, born and raised in Sweden, is a pioneer of biomass combined-heat-and-power systems and has worked in the forest products industry most of his life. In 2009, he obtained a license from KMW Energi, the largest supplier of wood bioenergy plants in Sweden and expanded into the U.S. market. Fjallstrom, also a wood chemist, has been compiling carbon footprint data (see chart) since the IB MACT proposed rule release. His research included turning to the EU Commission for clarification on its modeling for carbon footprints, which utilizes the ISO 14000 accredited Life Cycle Assessment. This is a method that’s used to analyze the cumulative environmental impact of a process or product through all stages of its life, from equipment manufacturing to construction to operation and maintenence. Fjallstrom also acquired data from a study done by the British government in 2006 and updated its harvesting information. “A big portion of carbon footprint calculations is the physical harvesting,” he says. “What they’ve done with modern machines today is about half of what it used to be in 2005 and 2006. This needs to be displayed to the public and the U.S., at least within this industry, because the EPA’s current approach is ridiculous.” The ISO certification of various biomass LCA methods is wellestablished in Europe, Fjallstrom says. “The biogenic carbon cycle of woody biomass proves that it consumes and absorbs more carbon dioxide in its life cycle than it would ever emit in a reasonable combustion process. It is carbon neutral, if not carbon negative.”

Coal Gasification




Natural Gas


Natural Gas (Combined Cycle)


Woody Biomass (Power Only)


Woody Biomass (CHP)


PV (Photovoltaic)


Wave Technology


Hydro (Dam)


Hydro (River)


Wind (Off Shore)


Wind (On shore)


Nuclear (Sweden-Ringhals)



CARBON CONCERNS: Roland Fjallstrom says the data he's gathered, especially taking into account improvements in the harvesting process, proves that woody biomass is carbon neutral. SOURCE: ROLAND FJALLSTROM

“I’ve gone through GHG life cycles many times, and now I’m seeing studies that more or less suggest that [the U.S.] cannot use the science the Europeans have used over the past 50 years, rather we must reinvent it,” Fjallstrom adds. “An individual biomass source consumes and absorbs more CO2 in its life cycle than it will ever emit. There can be no re-sciencing of that—it has already been proven.” —Anna Austin


Brushing Up on Biomass Northern Maine has about $6 million in Recovery Act funding that will go toward six different biomass boiler installations. In light of the volume of current projects, the Mobilize Northern Maine Biomass Action Team for Wood Supply organized a tour in early December of four biomass-related facilities, to not only direct agencies already committed to installing biomass boilers, but also to inform and educate any that might still be on the fence. Tour stops included a Seven Islands Land Co. chipping operation near Ashland; Boralex Inc.’s wood-fired Ashland Power Station; a Maine Woods Co. sawmill in Portage Lake; and Northeast Pellets in Ashland. About 35 people took advantage of the free tour opportunity, exceeding organizers’ expectations of 25. “It generated a lot more interest than we expected,” says Bill Greaves, member of the action team and a Forest Protection Division Northern Regional ranger for the Maine Forest Service, which administers the Recovery Act funding. Attendees representing organizations that received project grants included school superintendents, university presidents, hospital managers and even custodians who will be operating the boilers once installed, he says. “They had a lot of questions about what kind of fuel they need for these boilers,” he recalls. “They were able to talk with engineers who were installing the boilers and designing the boiler systems. And they were able to talk to the fuel providers.” At the Seven Islands stop, participants learned from a forester how the biomass material is harvested, chipped and sold. Another destination, Maine Woods, has a biomass boiler at its sawmill so manager Don Tardie was able to speak to tour attendees about both mill and biomass boiler operations. The Mobilize Northern Maine Initiative, the action team’s parent group, aims to convert 4,500 households to biomass heat


Tour illuminates aspects of biomass boiler projects for Maine agencies exploring or planning to install the boilers.

TEACHING TOUR: A group in Maine organized a tour of of biomass-related facilities, including the Maine Woods Co. sawmill, to educate those installing biomass systems and potential project developers.

by 2015. The initiative also hopes to see 10 commercial establishments convert, and is well on its way at nine. The Mobilize Maine Initiative is statewide, but split into six regions and only the northern and eastern groups have begun to roll out their strategies. The program, which was announced by Gov. John Baldacci and supporting agencies in April 2009, is designed to spur community and economic development after a decline over the past decade in traditional manufacturing and commodity-based industries. “The idea is for the six regions in Maine to embrace this initiative and go about implementing Mobilize Maine in each of their regions,” says Walter Elish, president and CEO of the Aroostook (County) Partnership for Progress, the lead agency for Mobilize Northern Maine. —Lisa Gibson



Spurring Development The Oregon Biomass Producer or Collector Tax Credit program was passed in 2007 and administered by the State Department of Revenue to incentivize biomass supply options for the state’s rapid renewable energy development. In 2009, however, administration of the law was passed to the Oregon Department of Energy, requiring the credits be certified and mandating changes to the program. After input from industry stakeholders and the public, the state DOE released its final certification rules Nov. 2, outlining eligibility and the application process. “So our rules are really designed to administer the certification program and they describe how to apply for the tax credits, what type of documentation there is and how the department will act on those,” says Matt Krumenauer, senior policy analyst for the Oregon DOE. “The change in the certification program was driven partly by industry request and partly by the Department of Revenue because one of the features of this program is that the tax credits are transferrable.” The credit offers $10 per green ton of eligible biomass to be used in energy generation and Krumenauer says it has done its duty in spurring biomass production. “It’s been quite a popular program, primarily

on the woody biomass side,” he says. “We put some criteria in there to target more efficient uses of woody biomass in particular.” Those criteria include a cogeneration efficiency standard of 40 percent. Eligible applicants are agricultural producers or biomass collectors; have a title to the biomass at the time it is delivered to the bioenergy producer; produce or collect the biomass in Oregon, directly or indirectly and including through agents or employees; and deliver or facilitate delivery of the biomass to be used as biofuel or to produce biofuel in the state. The rules apply to tax years beginning on or after Jan 1, 2010, and before Jan. 1, 2012. The state started the rule-making process in December 2009 with committee meetings of stakeholders, and released temporary rules in July. “The temporary rules allow us to administer the program, learn from it, find out exactly how it works for us, and how it works for our stakeholders and customers,” Krumenauer says. The final rules released in November had only minor changes from the temporary ones, he added. The program is designed to promote anaerobic digestion, biofuel production, and electricity and heat generation, Krumenauer says, adding that thus far, the credits have been used mainly by those supplying biomass for power and thermal applications.



Oregon DOE issues permanent certification rules for its tax credit program.

BIOMASS BACKER: Oregon provides a tax credit to promote anaerobic digestion, biofuel production, and electricity and heat generation.

In the past three years since the credit was implemented, numerous companies devoted solely to the removal of forest residues have cropped up in the state. “So I think it has gone to support job growth, especially in rural areas,” he says. —Lisa Gibson


Biobased Bounce Back Group recommends Minnesota maintain its logging infrastructure and grow its forest-based products industry.

The BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota has released a paper with four recommendations designed to ensure long-term availability of forest biomass, foster development of new markets and maintain logging industries. The state’s forest products industries have not been immune to the global economic downturn and three of its five oriented strand board mills have shut down since 2007, dropping wood consumption by 20 percent, or 1 million tons. That brings the state’s surplus to 3.2 million green tons, according to the paper, “Minnesota’s Forest Biomass Value Chain: A System Dynamics Analysis.” “We’re at a point where a lot of wood isn’t being used,” says Tim Welle, BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota project manager. “We need industries to come in and use that so there’s an incentive to continue to manage the forests.” Forest management is a prerequisite for successful long-term growth in any forest-based industry, so the first recommendation is to rely on it, as well as increased utilization, to ensure a long-term supply of raw materials. Underutilization

of the forests is threatening the state’s logging infrastructure, the paper says. The second recommendation is to support efficient utilization of that forest wood for heat and power generation, which would also help develop markets for the timber industry. The alliance recommends changes to existing policy tools, including an expansion of the Conservation Improvement Program to include credit for biomass-fired combined-heat-and-power facilities. The program mandates utilities meet an ongoing annual 1.5 percent energy savings, but Welle says it’s getting harder and harder for them to meet that standard year after year. The recommendation also states that tax credits for expenditures on wood energy equipment should be comparable to tax credits for other types of renewable technologies. In 2009, the state had 41 facilities using wood for heat and electricity, some cofiring, for a total consumption of 1.8 million green tons. “Recommendations one and two are to keep loggers working to keep the infrastructure that we have today and really maintain it so that we can continue

to manage forestry and can continue to rely on our forests for our economy,” Welle says. The other two recommendations focus on the state’s next-generation high-value opportunities that can serve as the bellweather of the economy for the next 100 years. “We’re really trying to grow the pie,” Welle says. Recommendation three is to actively pursue emerging high-value opportunities such as advanced biofuels and biochemicals that can sustain themselves in the longer term. And recommendation four is to foster cooperation in the implementation of all the recommendations. “Enormous potential exists if Minnesota can manage its forest biomass supply chain in such a way that creates opportunity for both traditional and emerging forest-based industries,” the paper states. “The quick story we want to tell is the forest is in a position that we need to act now to keep our communities vibrant, to make sure that we have the employment infrastructure to have a healthy forest-based economy in Minnesota,” Welle says. —Lisa Gibson






Biomass Profile

The Pacific West is known for its abundant woody biomass, but numerous other resources hold opportunities and enormous potential. The scale of development varies greatly, however, from state to state. BY LISA GIBSON


iomass potential in the Pacific West goes far beyond the well-known forestry resources. From urban wood waste to dairy manure and agricultural waste, the Pacific states of Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, Washington and California have a lot to offer. But even with such vast opportunities, development has been slower in some states than in others because of complications such as the lack of forest products industries, the need for a centralized biomass collection system, or the absence of a market for the biomass material.

Nevada Needs Infrastructure Nevada is no stranger to such barriers. It is home to about 9 million acres of juniper and pinyon trees that are susceptible to extensive forest fires, drought and climate change, according to Dusty Moller, wood utilization manager for the Small Business Development Center at the University of Nevada, Reno.


¦FEEDSTOCK “It’s an extremely serious condition,” Moller says of the risk that he calls a climax environmental situation. “Something really needs to be done.” The state is in desperate straits, he says, because it never had a primary wood products industry that would have allowed for the processing and removal of biomass material from forests. “When you don’t have that lumber product to pay for that equipment and pay those wages, you really have a problem,” he emphasizes. In addition to its forest resources, the state also could make use of the tremendous volume of urban wood waste that is landfilled each year. In Clark County alone, home of the Las Vegas strip, more than 230,000 tons of urban wood waste is buried annually, Moller says. But Nevada has not seen the development boom it can support with such extensive resources and only has one operating biomass facility: a combined-heat-and-power (CHP) plant located at the White Pine County School District in Ely, part of the U.S. Forest Service Fuels for Schools program. “It’s a chickenand-egg kind of thing,” Moller says, adding that agencies are working together to establish a framework for biomass use. He says the pinyon and juniper plots could provide around 6 tons of biomass per acre at a cost of about $300 per acre, but without a market, that material gets burned or chipped and applied back

to the land. “You can put a little bit back, but in the desert, you’ll come back 20 years later and it will still be sitting there because without water, it won’t decompose,” he says. Plenty of scenarios could jump-start Nevada’s biomass industry, currently in limbo, and be included in the equation to help the state reach its renewable portfolio standard (RPS) of 25 percent by 2025. “If we had a CHP plant or if coal-fired power plants would get onboard and start cofiring coal with this available biomass, then you could start to develop some markets,” Moller explains. “If we had a market, if the coal-fired people would cofire, if we could increase the Fuels for Schools projects, if we could get a biomass power generator, then we could have a market that would be a pull situation. So we can pull that biomass off that land. Once you get that started, it’s just kind of like a sustainable, stable industry.”

Oregon Offers Incentives On the opposite end of the spectrum sits Oregon, with its 14 operational wood-fired CHP plants collectively making use of between 3 million and 4 million tons of woody biomass per year, according to Matt Krumenauer, senior policy analyst for the Oregon Department of Energy. It should come as no surprise that the state makes use of its abundant forest biomass resources and Krumenauer says the existing sawmill industry has been crucial to biomass

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development. Two-thirds to three-fourths of woody biomass used currently in Oregon is mill residuals. In fact, most of the biomass facilities are at lumber or sawmill operations, with the exception of one independent plant in the southern part of the state that generates only electricity. “It certainly is a resource we’re going to explore and try to utilize much more of,” Krumenauer says. “We do have a number of projects either under construction, in development, or in operation in the state.” A study commissioned by the Oregon Forest Research Institute found that treatment of about 4.25 million acres, 15 percent of the state’s forestland, would provide about 20 million bone-dry tons, with an additional 1 million annually for the next 20 years, not including merchantable saw timber. About 29 percent of the 4.25 million eligible acres are privately owned, the rest dominantly federal. Other than fuel treatment of overstocked forestlands, the largest source of forest biomass is 3.6 million acres of juniper in 14 eastern counties. Urban wood waste is another biomass resource available for use in the state, as citizens discarded more than 500,000 tons in 2004, according to the state DOE. But like other Pacific West states, woody biomass does not represent the only biomass opportunity in Oregon. In 2004, Oregonians disposed of about 3 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW), 70 percent of which


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FEEDSTOCK¦ could have been used for energy generation, according to the state DOE. Oregon also supports biogas operations at wastewater treatment plants that generate heat or electricity. Still, the DOE estimates that about 36 percent of the biogas produced at wastewater treatment facilities is unused. In addition, biogas from more than 100 dairy farms large enough to install digesters could produce about 13 megawatts (MW) of electricity if used to its full potential. Oregon also has a well-established grass seed industry, freeing up tremendous amounts of grass straw residue. The state DOE estimates that in 2003, a total of 1.5 million bone-dry tons of material was available from farming operations and capable of producing about 213 MW. “We’re finding ways to use that either in digesters or in pellets or in ethanol production,” Krumenauer says. Oregon offers a number of incentives for renewable energy generation including tax credits for the production and collection of biomass material for use in bioenergy or biofuels. The program offers $10 per green ton of biomass material and helps reduce open burning while helping leverage forest stewardship work, Krumenauer says. “It’s been quite a popular program, primarily on the woody biomass side.” With such incentives and an existing framework boosting so many projects, Or-

BIOMASS BONANZA: Oregon farmers are growing hybrid sorghum and using it to produce power they plan to sell to the grid.

egon seems to be well on its way to reaching its RPS of 25 percent by 2025 for larger utilities and between 5 and 10 percent for smaller




Idaho Eyes Dairy Waste Being the third-largest dairy state in the

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COW CAPACITY: Idaho is the third-largest dairy state and is making a push to utilize waste materials from the industry.

U.S., Idaho has made a push to utilize waste materials and has five operating dairy digesters. “We’re a huge dairy state,” says John Crockett, senior energy specialist for the Idaho Office of Energy Resources. “There’s a huge potential there.” Idaho is home to more than 600,000 dairy animals and about 70 percent of them, along with 126 of the largest farms, reside in the south-central portion of the state dubbed the Magic Valley, according to an Idaho Strategic Energy Alliance Task Force report. The report estimates that the Magic Valley alone could produce more than 34 billion Btu per day from dairy waste. As in most populated areas, MSW could serve as another resource for bioenergy and the task force report estimates about 1.08 million pounds were discarded in 2006. That volume could produce enough landfill gas to generate about 1,482 MW and power about 120 homes. The state supports two landfill gas-to-energy projects and has identified 49 food and beverage facilities that are candidates for anaerobic digestion. Eight already employ the process to treat wastewater, yielding a total annual energy production value of

FEEDSTOCK¦ 542 billion Btu and accounting for 39 percent of the biogas potential from the entire 49, the report says. Still, Idaho is experiencing an increased interest in woody biomass utilization and already has three wood-fired power plants, with another on the verge of securing a power purchase agreement, Crockett says. “Our biggest resource is wood,” he says. According to task force reports, the state’s forest biomass, including thinning and residues, amounts to about 1.3 million dry tons annually, enough to generate about 130 MW. The report points out, however, that the material is at logging sites and would need to be harvested and transported. The report recommends the state help spur development of woody biomass facilities through creation of a business tax credit, expansion of the Fuels for Schools program, creation of a biomass removal incentive, an increase in Forest Service funding for forest restoration, a change in the federal definition of biomass, and an increase in community support. Idaho is also the sole Pacific West state without an RPS.

In addition, Idaho is home to a number of citizen working groups pushing for the use of the available woody materials, Crockett says, including one that spans four counties, another in the central part of the state and one in the north. “We’re hoping to try to get those groups working together if we can,” he says.

Washington Wipes Out Waste Such teamwork is almost perfected in Washington, where many state agencies are forging ahead with strategies aimed at increasing biomass use. The most recent biomass inventory for the state found it produces about 16.4 million tons of underutilized dry equivalent biomass each year, capable of producing more than 1,700 MW, about 50 percent of annual residential electricity consumption. Not surprisingly, forestry makes up 49 percent of that total, but is complemented by crop residues, animal waste, food processing residues and municipal wastes. “What we’ve demonstrated is there’s a lot of material out there, but what we also know is it’s not really organized,” says Mark Fuchs of the Washington

Department of Ecology Waste 2 Resources program and author of the report, “Biomass Inventory and Bioenergy Assessment: An Evaluation of Organic Material Resources for Bioenergy Production in Washington State.” “This industry is ripe for entities to come in and organize.” Work is being done to collect broadly distributed feedstocks at centralized locations, he says, but that chore is just beginning. Fuchs' assessment does not put an economic factor on collection of biomass material and roughly one-third of it already goes through some sort of system and would need further refining to recover energy nutrients, he says. The state is now home to 13 significantly sized wood-fired facilities, 12 of which are CHP, according to Peter Moulton, senior energy policy specialist for the state Department of Commerce. Following forestry, municipal waste accounts for 24 percent of the 16.4 million tons; field residues come next at 14 percent; and animal waste represents 11 percent, according to the report. Fuchs makes note of the fact that a 2005 study by the U.S. DOE and USDA, “Biomass as Feedstock for a Bioenergy and Bio-

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WASTE NOT WANT NOT: In California, landfill gas, wastewater digester gas, which is produced at this Sacramento plant, and manure digesters produce 2,600 gigawatt hours of electricity annually.

products Industry: The Technical Feasibility of a Billion-Ton Annual Supply,” also known as the Billon-Ton Report, seems to have underestimated Washington’s organic material availability at 9 million tons. “We think we’re closer to 16 million,” he says. “That’s a 76 percent increase.” He adds that reports due out in the next few months will likely find even more biomass material potential. To help utilize all that tonnage, the Waste 2 Resources program has established the Beyond Waste plan, which has a 30-year vision of transitioning to a society that views waste as inefficient and where most wastes and toxic substances have been eliminated, Fuchs says. The state also has an RPS of 15 percent by 2020. “I expect that in 10 years or so, there will be lots of companies doing [feedstock organization] work,” he says. “But it’ll take time for people to recognize that there’s a business opportunity there.”

California’s Commanding RPS California has the most aggressive RPS of the five Pacific West states, at 33 percent by 2020. It’s a good thing, then, that the most

FEEDSTOCK¦ recent inventory found that biomass in the state totaled 83 million gross bone dry tons in 2007, and is expected to increase to 98 million by 2020, according to “An Assessment of Biomass Resources in California, 2007.” The report specifies, though, that technically sustainable resources, which amounted to 32 million bone dry tons in 2007, are expected to increase to 40 million in 2020. The current technical potential includes 8 million tons in agriculture, 14 million from forestry and 9 million tons from MSW excluding waste in landfills and biomass in sewage. Dedicated crops are being grown mostly on an experimental basis and are not included in the total for 2007, the report clarifies. Gross electrical generation potential from biomass in 2007 was near 9,500 MWe with more than 1,900 MWe from agriculture, 3,500 from forestry and 3,900 from MSW including landfill and sewage digester gas. Technical generating potential is closer to 3,820 MWe. A gross capacity of 985 MW could be reached collectively in California from about 30 existing solid fuel combustion facilities, 60 landfill-gas-to-energy systems,

20 wastewater treatment plants, and 22 animal and food waste digesters, according to research by Rob Williams, development engineer for the University of California, Davis’ California Biomass Collaborative. Roughly 5,000 gigawatt hours per year are produced through direct combustion of about 5 million bone dry tons of solid fuels such as forest biomass, urban wood, agricultural and food processing materials, and MSW, he adds. Landfill gas, wastewater digester gas and manure digesters produce another 2,600 gigawatt hours or so per year. But expansion of biogas from manure development has come to a halt because of a limit of 9 parts per million on nitrogen oxide emissions by the state Air Resources Board, according to Mark Jenner, plant sciences analyst at UC Davis and member of the California Biomass Collaborative. Policies and standards could be a barrier in the way of other biomass plant development, too. “The debate over moving the build up of fuel out of the forests to prevent wild fires versus leaving it within the forest to preserve habitat and reduce disturbance is

as active in California as it is anywhere else,” Jenner says. “Wildfires destroy thousands of acres each year and are expensive to fight. They destroy lots of resources and emit lots of particulate matter, VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and CO2 (carbon dioxide). Biofuels and biopower could serve as potential drivers to pay for the removal, but the policies need to be coordinated before that can happen.” Resources in the Pacific West are by no means in short supply and such policy analysis and change could mean a better environment for their use in bioenergy development. Learn more about the potential, technologies, existing projects, development barriers and more at BBI International’s Pacific West Biomass Conference & Trade Show to be held Jan. 10-12 at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel in Seattle. Author: Lisa Gibson Associate Editor, Biomass Power & Thermal (701) 738-4952

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BCAP: New and (Maybe) Improved USDA made significant changes to the Biomass Crop Assistance Program in its final rule, many involving woody biomass utilization, but the jury is still out on how the changes will be implemented. BY ANNA AUSTIN




ritics of USDA’s Biomass Crop Assistance Program, a federal program designed to jump-start the use of biomass for bioenergy production, caught the attention of USDA officials when they questioned whether certain woody biomass should be included as eligible material in the program. Their criticism proved to be true when, after the original Notice of Funding Availability in April 2009, some woody biomass suppliers sold their materials to eligible biomass-based heat, power, fuel or chemical producers allowing them to receive matching BCAP payments, rather than selling to their traditional customers. In most cases, that led to higher prices for customers who weren’t eligible to participate in BCAP, such as particleboard makers, and therefore distorted established markets. This caused a suspension of the program so the federal agency could make necessary modifications. Anna Dirkswager, biomass program coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Forestry Di-

vision, said that that particular loophole definitely affected Minnesota, which has 16.7 million acres of forestland. “With a strong forest products industry in Minnesota, there were a lot of folks upset with round wood or whole trees being chipped and going to combined-heat-and-power facilities, because those materials were eligible,” she says. "In some areas where we have collapsed markets, we would like to see those trees cut, the forests managed and that material indeed being used as biomass," she says. Though initial BCAP rules many not have been crafted as meticulously as they could have been, the USDA has altered them with the intent to safeguard materials already being used. At the same time, the door has been left open for qualification of residuals with no local higher value market while endorsing responsible forest management/thinning practices. USDA has not yet determined who will decide whether there is a local, higher-value market for some wood material.

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The job may be handed to foresters or Farm Service Agency personnel. While FSA agents know their way around corn and soybean fields, there are concerns that they may not have enough knowledge about wood markets to make these determinations. Dirkswager says she doesn’t think the majority of FSA agents have a particularly good understanding of wood markets, but she is hopeful that FSA will work with her and other state officials, and the forest products industry, to determine certain program details such as what constitutes an acceptable Forest Stewardship Plan.

Making a Plan The 2008 Farm Bill defines a Forest Stewardship Plan as a site-specific plan that addresses one or more resource concerns on land where forestry-related conservation activities or practices will be planned and applied. The plan must be prepared by a forester with a bachelor’s degree in forest

POLICY¦ BCAP Basics BCAP is designed to support the establishment and production of biomass crops for conversion to bioenergy in selected areas, and to assist agricultural and forest landowners and operators in supplying eligible material to biomass conversion facilities. Collection, harvest, storage and transport payments: CHST payments are the first of two different types of financial assistance BCAP offers, providing matching payments to eligible biomass material owners (EMOs) in the amount of $1 per $1 paid per ton up to $45 per dry ton delivered to a qualified biomass conversion facility (BCF), for a time limit of two years after the first payment is made. An EMO is a producer of an eligible crop, or a person or entity with the legal right to collect or harvest the eligible material; a BCF is a facility that will use the material to produce power, heat, biobased products, advanced biofuels or any combination. Establishment/annual payments: The second funding component of BCAP covers up to 75 percent of the costs of establishing and producing a biomass crop. Biomass producers in BCAP project areas can receive annual payments for five to 10 years, depending on the crop.

management or an equivalent curriculum. It must include, but is not limited to, landowner and plan preparer information; legal descriptions or directions to the site; the number of acres covered; general property description; interaction with surrounding properties; known/ threatened/endangered wildlife present; and soil information as well as in-depth descriptions of stand species, class, health, quality, growth rate, hazardous fuels and timber production potential. Developing a Forest Stewardship Plan may sound time consuming, but Fred Schatzki, a registered forester for American Forest Management Inc., says once ap-

proved, funded and scheduled, it only takes him about two weeks from beginning the fieldwork to preparing the completed plan. The cost will depend on the tract size and the ownership objectives. “As a rule of thumb, it’s safe to say that rates run about $8 to $12 per acre with a minimum fee of $600,” Schatski says. He says he expects his workload to increase moderately when the BCAP is fully implemented. “My expectation is we’ll still

be managing the same base resource, but we’ll be looking at capitalizing on harvest residues that currently have no good market,” he says. The verdict is still out, however, on what constitutes an acceptable plan, as well as what defines a higher value market. “We’re trying to be proactive here in Minnesota and work with FSA to suggest how it might define these and several other program definitions that haven’t

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BCAP TIMELINE • June 2008, Congress releases 2008 Farm Bill, which contains BCAP • June 2009, USDA issues NOFA for matching payments • August 2009, Missouri-based Show Me Energy Cooperative becomes first to receive a matching payment • February 2010, Proposed Rule published in Federal Register, public comment period begins • February 2010, program frozen/matching payments suspended • April 2010, public comment period ends • October 2010, BCAP Final Rule published in Federal Register

yet been defined,” Dirkswager says. “For higher value markets, is it going to be from the logger’s home area of residence, or is it a procurement radii? Wood chips are eligible only without an existing higher value market and when a result of an ecosystem restoration service, but we don’t know what ecosystem restoration will be defined as. We’ve got a variety of things we would like to suggest, but it is difficult to have a go-to person to make these suggestions to.” Once a Forest Stewardship Plan has been established, it’s important to note that eligible woody material must be directly harvested or collected from the land, meaning it cannot be collected or harvested after transport and delivery, nor collected or harvested by separating from that of a higher value material in order to be used for heat, power, biobased products

or biofuels. If the material comes from outside of a BCAP project area, it must be a byproduct of preventive treatments to reduce hazardous fuels, to reduce or contain disease or insect infestation, or for ecosystem restoration. Tom Kimmerer, senior scientist at Moore Ventures and a BCAP specialist, gives the following example: A logging contractor runs a flail de-barker in the woods, which strips off bark and chips the wood for pulp. The bark can be delivered to a biomass facility and it will be eligible for matching payments. However, if there is an established market in the area for bark, such as bark mulch, the bark may not be eligible; that’s up to the discretion of the local FSA office. If that same logging contractor delivers whole trees to a paper mill, which strips the bark off and chips the wood for pulp, the bark can be delivered to a biomass facility but will not be eligible for matching payments. Along with the changes made to the woody biomass eligible materials, there were also modifications to the annual payment component of BCAP that were not implemented with the original NOFA.

More Changes Annual payments are now paid on a tiered model based on the end-use of the material, a component that favors cellulosic ethanol and advanced biofuels over biopower or bioheat. Upon sale of the crop, if used for heat, power or biobased products, payment is reduced by 40 percent, compared to a 1 percent reduction for cellulosic ethanol and 10 percent for advanced biofuels. “These payments [for biopower/bioheat] are still significant, but one reason for incentivizing advanced biofuels may be because under the [renewable fuel standard 2] there’s an aggressive congressional mandate for advanced biofuels and so far, we’re well short,” says Gregory Lynch, managing partner with Michael Best & Friedrich LLP. “The [U.S.] EPA has been lowering that over the past couple of years by a


POLICY¦ fairly significant amount, and I think this is one of the policy tools USDA is using to try to promote that.” Related-party transactions, if in accordance with USDA definitions, are also allowed, meaning that a group or party can be both the eligible material owner and the biomass conversion facility, which would include closed-loop bioenergy production models. Additionally, several new feedstocks were added to the eligible materials list, including algae, jatropha, energy cane and pongamia. While the industry waits for clarification of the new rules, an old concern is still swirling that BCAP funding demands will be much higher than anticipated, and that some eligible participants may miss out. “If ecosystem restoration is considered a thinning or something that’s restoring forest health and quality, that’s a great opportunity to subsidize work we’d normally have a hard time paying for,” Dirkswager says. “But given that $430 million is allocated for fiscal 2011 and only $130 million of that pot is available for the matching payment portion nationwide, we have concerns over how much of that money will actually reach Minnesota. Many of the necessary program pieces that must come together to receive funding are not yet in place and I fear that we’ll get ready and it’ll be gone. If we did actually get matching payments funds, there are good opportunities to subsidize forest management work.” A significant majority of the $243 million in matching payments already distributed or committed under the original NOFA went to woody resources. “[Foresters] are all curious about how it will ultimately shake out,” Schatzski adds. “Last year's experience indicated that there was significantly more demand for BCAP funding than was originally thought.” Now is a unique time for BCAP, as in the past 18 months there’s been a lot of stopping and starting, Lynch says. “But the next 30 to 60 days is really the time that companies, especially wood producers or pulp and paper companies should seriously

start looking at planning how they can take advantage of BCAP.” In order to ensure that all program participants are in compliance with the modified or new rules, everyone must apply, even those who had previously qualified and were already receiving matching collection, harvest and storage payments. Though the necessary federal notices have yet to be issued, Lynch says some additional clarification can be expected soon. “Sometime later this month USDA plans to issue additional guidance in what they’ll look for in establishing BCAP designated project areas, and they’re looking at doing a fairly aggressive education program for industry participants,” he says. “The first tentative meetings will be held in early January, and USDA will give presentations on interpreting the new BCAP rules, as well as provid-

ing guidance to interested parties on how to certify project areas.” BCAP’s past trial-and-error period and collaboration with experienced and relevant state agencies could result in a well-crafted, successful program. Dirkswager says her department has already been working with Minnesota’s FSA on BCAP-related issues. “The [USDA] was able to work with us in being able to get some of the systematic hurdles resolved, but I think the creation of the final rules was a polite way of writing off the forest products industry,” she adds. “But perhaps a necessary one, with the market diversion it was creating.” Author: Anna Austin Associate Editor, Biomass Power & Thermal (701) 738-4968





Cofream the Coppice Hybrid poplar, willow and eucalyptus are highly adaptable, fast-growing and easy to regenerate, but will landowners grow them if they can’t reap instant rewards? BY ANNA AUSTIN


healthy, harvest-ready stand of hybrid poplar can yield four to 10 tons of biomass per acre annually. Each tree is capable of growing more than 60 feet in six seasons, with little maintenance beyond the first planting year. Though short-rotation trees such as poplar, willow and eucalyptus already possess impressive growth characteristics, researchers are working to optimize them as the potential for their use as bioenergy feedstock materializes. Timothy Volk, who leads State University of New York’s shortrotation woody crops program, and his team are concentrating their efforts on willow, mainly because disease issues associated with poplar in the Northeast have limited its use there. Research at SUNY has included breeding, optimum plant spacing, nutrient requirements, rotation lengths and other crop management issues in and beyond the region, in order to test the trees across a broad range of conditions.

Growing Willow The main impetus behind willow research is to determine how to economically grow the trees on marginal land, Volk says. “Much of our region tends to have a high clay content and poor drainage,” he says, adding that this is land that traditional row crops would not typically grow well on. “The first step in the planting process is to control existing vegetation—if it’s an old field you need to kill it off and plow it in a fairly traditional fashion.” If that’s done in the fall, Volk recommends planting a winter cover crop to control soil erosion. “The following spring we’d plant in late April and early June, putting in just under 6,000 unrooted dormant plant cuttings per acre, which is done with a planting machine pulled by a tractor,” he says.


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DIGGING IN: Researchers are trying to determine how to feasibly grow willows on marginal land that is not suitable for traditional row crops.

Volk says his team has relied on equipment designed in Europe, where willow trees are more commonly grown as a bioenergy feedstock. “There are probably about 30,000 to 40,000 acres, largely in Sweden and the U.K. right now,” he says. The imported equipment is modified to work more effectively for growing conditions in the Northeast. The problem is that shipping the machines is expensive, and getting new parts or supplies in a timely fashion can cause problems. “If something breaks and it takes a while to get here, the planting season is half gone,” Volk says. Fortunately, an upstate New York firm has recently obtained a license to manufacture one of the European planters for the North American market, which should help, he adds. After the seedlings are in, the focus of the first year is on weed control. “Typically after the first year, the leaves drop and then we cut them down,” Volk says. “We work with willow’s ability to resprout effectively. In the first year you might have two to four stems per plant per year, and after coppicing it during the dormant season it’ll sprout back the next spring and you’ll get a lot more stems coming back, anywhere

TREES¦ from six to 15 stems per plant.” At that point, the trees look like bushes or shrubs. Harvest should occur after three or four growing seasons. “The only thing you do during the next rotation is put a little fertilizer on in the spring as it’s sprouting, cut it again and let it grow for another three or four years,” Volk says. “If you run on a three-year cycle for example, you’ll put it in the ground once and harvest seven times.” Currently, researchers are harvesting 4 to 5 dry tons per acre each year, but new varieties in SUNY’s breeding program are showing yield increases of 20 to 25 percent. “That’s very initial work, but I think we’ll be able to increase that steadily over time,” Volk says. Across the U.S. in the Pacific West, Greenwood Resources Inc. is also selecting and breeding short-rotation woody crops, zeroing in on hybrid poplar.

Planting Poplar Greenwood manages 35,000 acres of poplar in Oregon and Washington, which are being used for biomass energy and saw and pulp logs. Jake Eaton, Greenwood’s managing director of acquisitions and resource planning, says the company believes poplar and woody crops such as eucalyptus will become the feedstock choice for biomass energy, whether for heat and power generation, gasification or advanced liquid biofuels. Greenwood’s business model is to partner with an energy or technology company, identify a growing area, analyze the potential investment, take the project to investors to get funding for plantation development, and then sell the feedstock to the customers. As poplar is the most widely adapted tree species in the world, Greenwood has extended its reach into China, Europe and South America, including operations in Chile to provide feedstock to power stations, Eaton says. Ideal locations for poplar plantations are in temperate regions of the globe. “Good conditions for poplar are deep, well-drained soils, moderate heat and sunshine, and access to water either through ground water or adequate precipitation,” he says, adding that they are grown intensively with timely weed and pest control, and fertilizer if necessary. “The production systems for biomass require 12- to 15-year rotations within which we have four to five coppice cycles where the tree is harvested,” he says. In the Southern U.S., South Carolina-based Arborgen Inc. is developing high-yielding, short-rotation crop seedlings including poplar, but its highest yielding crop is its freeze-tolerant eucalyptus, which was approved for field testing by the USDA last summer.

Quantifying Eucalyptus Field testing of Arborgen’s freeze-tolerant eucalyptus has shown the trees can survive temperatures as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit and can therefore be planted in Florida, southern Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana and southern Texas. Arborgen Product Development Manager Jeff Wright says an average 25-megawatt (MW) power plant would require about






FIELD OF TREES: A mature hybrid poplar stand should be planted like row crops.


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137,700 bone dry short tons (BDT) per year, assuming a heat rate of 11,000 Btu per kilowatt hour, 90 percent capacity factor and a heat content of 8,000 Btu per pound. “Most woody biomass is delivered shortly following harvest, and the 25-MW power facility would require 250,400 green short tons at a moisture content of 45 percent,” he says. “To supply 100 percent of the woody biomass requirements in southern Georgia would require approximately 19,600 acres of plantation eucalypts on seven-year rotations (7 BDT per acre per year, planting and harvesting 2,800 acres annually).” To supply all of the woody biomass requirements in south Florida would require 11,500 acres of plantation eucalypts on five-year rotations (yielding 12 BDT per acre per year, planting and harvesting 2,300 acres annually). “However, at present, it is unlikely that a 25-MW power facility would be supplied solely by purpose-grown trees given availability of harvest, mill and urban biomass sources not presently utilized,” Wright adds.

Challenges and the Future The system for growing willow trees at a meaningful or commercial scale for bio-


energy needs to be further optimized, Volk says. “But it’s at a stage where it can start being deployed and, as long as we learn as we go, we can improve it over time,” he says. Brad Hunter, Greenwood business development analyst, says the company is seeing increased demand for commercial applications in Europe, and while there is interest from utilities and others in the U.S., regulatory uncertainty is weighing on the biomass market. “In the areas where these wood pellet, cellulosic ethanol and electricity companies are operating, there’s increasing demand for purpose-grown trees and management systems,” Hunter says. The demand for these trees in the U.S., however, will largely depend on permitting and engineering developments in bioenergy facilities, Wright says, and also continued financing. Another challenge is the upfront establishment cost of tree farms. “If we’re putting in or near 6,000 [willow] plants per acre, we’re probably spending $800 to $1,000 an acre to get the crop established,” Volk says. “Landowners look at that and see it as a big outlay, not getting any money back for four years until the first harvest.” To help alleviate these costs, Arborgen will provide landowners an opportunity to

TREES¦ grow both pine biomass for bioenergy and a higher value pine for saw timber. “The analysis undertaken would suggest that financial returns to the landowner will be higher for the flex stand than either biomass or saw timber in separate plantations,” Wright says. SUNY has done some economic modeling of the willow production system, which, using seven three-year rotations, predicts a return of 5 to 5.5 percent. “That doesn’t sound so bad for an ag crop, but that’s over 21 years,” he says. “When you run a cashflow analysis, the upfront establishment investment doesn’t get paid back until about year 12 or so, about mid-way through the rotation. The last three or four harvests is when you’re making your money.” The Biomass Crop Assistance Program should reduce establishment cost, making it much more attractive for landowners, according to Volk. When SUNY’s model is run with BCAP incentives plugged in— cost share and annual rental payments—the upfront establishment costs are recovered at first harvest and cash flow is positive after that. “The return on investment then is about 35 percent, so it makes it attractive,” Volk says. “I’m actually a little concerned that it’ll be overly attractive. In Sweden in the early ’90s, they over-incentivized willow and in a couple years they planted 20,000 or 30,000 acres but much of it was poorly established and had poor yields. There was this initial boost with the incentives, but it stalled out the program longer term.” Hunter says Greenwood is working with several conversion facilities to apply for the BCAP. “We think it is a good opportunity to share the establishment risk, but we’re still waiting for more clarity from local [Farm Service Agency] staff on how it will be implemented,” he says. Right now, Volk believes the cropping system is ready for deployment if a package can be put together. “That’s the way to make it work—to link those pieces together and share the risk,” he says. Author: Anna Austin Associate Editor, Biomass Power & Thermal (701) 738-4968




GHG Emissions Trigger New Air Quality Permitting Requirements Biomass plant operators and developers need to be aware how the U.S. EPA’s Tailoring Rule was developed and to keep track of important dates and trigger levels. BY BRIAN PATTERSON AND GEOFF SCOTT


he U.S. EPA has recently promulgated environmental regulations for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that will impose significant new air quality permitting requirements on both new and existing industrial facilities and projects. For new projects in particular, these requirements could substantially affect the associated cost, design, and permitting timelines. On Dec. 7, 2009, the U.S. EPA issued

its Endangerment Finding, which determined that the current and projected concentrations of the six key GHGs— carbon dioxide (CO 2), methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride—in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.1 As a result of this and subsequent rulemaking, these GHGs became “regulated pollutants” under a number

The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Biomass Power & Thermal or its advertisers. All questions pertaining to this article should be directed to the author(s).


of air quality regulatory programs. Because of the special nature of GHGs, including the much larger mass of emissions required to have an environmental impact relative to traditional air pollutants, the EPA has since been working to clarify how these new pollutants will be regulated under existing air quality permitting programs. On June 3, the U.S. EPA published the “Prevention of Significant Deterio-


New GHG Triggers for Title V Permitting

Step 1: January 2, 2011 through June 30, 2011

Step 2: On or after July 1, 2011

Existing Facilities • No new requirements

Existing Facilities • Subject to Title V permitting for all pollutants if CO2e emissions exceed 100,000 tons/year; and • GHG mass emissions exceed 100 tons/year

New Facilities • GHG requirements must be incorporated into the Title V permit if the project is already otherwise subject to Title V permitting

New Facilities • Same as for existing facilities.

Table 1

ration and Title V Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule,”2 clarifying how GHGs are to be treated under these two existing air quality permitting programs (this is known as the Tailoring Rule). As a result, existing facilities and new projects will need to consider the potential applicability of the Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Title V permitting programs (discussed further below) due to GHG emissions. In some cases, one or both of these programs may apply due solely to GHG emissions, whereas they would not have applied prior to issuance of the Tailoring Rule. Of interest to the readers of Biomass Power & Thermal, as part of the Tailoring Rule, the EPA has solicited further information about issues surrounding the degree of carbon neutrality that might be applied to GHG emissions resulting from the combustion of biomass fuels. Although the fact that additional information is being solicited suggests that the EPA may apply different criteria to biomass combustion GHGs in the fu-

ture, currently the Tailoring Rule does not treat these GHGs differently than the GHGs emitted from fossil fuels. One way that GHG emissions will need to be quantified in order to assess applicability of the PSD and Title V permitting programs is to estimate the sum of each individual GHG annual emission rate multiplied by its global warming potential (GWP); this sum is known as the CO2 equivalent emission rate, or CO 2e.3 For biomass combustion sources, the value for CO2e will be determined primarily by CO 2 emissions. The current applicability of GHG emissions to the PSD and Title V permitting programs, based on CO 2e emission levels, are described below.

Changes to Title V Permitting The Title V permitting program provides the top tier of air quality operating permits for existing facilities and is applicable only to facilities with relatively large emissions of regulated air pollutants. Compared to lower tier permitting,

Title V permits typically require a higher level of compliance monitoring and incur higher annual permitting fees. At the time of this writing, Title V permitting requirements generally apply only to facilities that have the potential to emit greater than 100 tons per year (tpy) of a regulated pollutant, or 10/25 tpy of an individual/all combined hazardous air pollutants. Going forward, GHG emissions will trigger the need for a Title V permit as described in Table 1. As shown in Table 1, existing facilities not subject to Title V permitting prior to July 1 will become subject to Title V permitting on that date if the facility has the potential to emit over 100,000 tons per year of CO 2e and 100 tons per year of GHG on a mass basis (i.e., not accounting for GWPs). For these facilities, a Title V permit application must be submitted within 12 months of becoming subject to these requirements. For reference, a single wood-fired boiler with a heat input capacity of roughly 110 million Btu per hour (MMBtu/hr)



New GHG Triggers for PSD NSR Permitting

Step 1: Permits issued January 2, 2011 through June 30, 2011

Step 2: Permits issued on or after July 1, 2011

PSD applies to GHGs if all of the following are met: • The new source or modification is otherwise subject to PSD for a non-GHG pollutant, and •The new source or modification has the potential to emit at least 75,000 tpy of CO2e.

PSD applies to GHGs if all of the following are met: • The new source or modification has the potential to emit at least 100,000 tpy CO2e, and • The new source or modification has the potential to emit at least 250 tpy (or 100 tpy for certain source categories) of GHGs on a mass basis. OR • The new source or modification meets the requirements for permits issued between 1/2/2011 and 6/30/2011 as shown in this table.

Table 2

that has no permit restrictions on annual hours of operation would have the potential to emit 100,000 tons per year CO2e.

Changes to Major New Source Review The PSD new source review (NSR) permitting program provides air quality construction permits for projects at relatively large facilities with significant increases of air pollutant emissions located in areas that attain national ambient air quality standards. Unlike the potential Title V permitting requirements for GHG emissions, which can apply to existing facilities not making any changes, the PSD NSR permitting requirements can only be triggered by new facilities, the addition of new emission units to existing facilities, or the modification of existing emission units at existing facilities (i.e., something has to change at a facility that results in a significant increase in emissions). Under the Tailoring Rule, many projects for new and modified facilities that wouldn’t have previously been affected will be pulled into the PSD permitting program. Prior to the new rule, only those facilities with total emissions of greater than 250 tons per year (or 100

tons per year for certain types of facilities) of a regulated air pollutant could potentially be subject to PSD permitting requirements. These levels of emissions are typically indicative of a relatively large industrial facility or process. For example, a new biomass-fired boiler emitting a reasonably low 0.20 pounds per MMBtu of nitrogen oxides (NOx) would need to have an average heat input rate of at least 285 MMBtu/hr before exceeding the 250 ton per year threshold for regulation under the PSD permitting program (assuming it was the only stationary NOx-emitting source at a facility with the 250 tpy threshold). With emission controls, even much larger biomass-fired industrial boilers could avoid the PSD program. Under the new GHG regulations, relatively small facilities with combustion sources will be subject to PSD review for GHGs and, likely, for other pollutants as well. The new GHG PSD applicability thresholds will phase in as shown in Table 2. These GHG emission thresholds apply to all new and modified sources combined at a facility. In addition, starting July 1, if a facility (new or existing) has total GHG emissions exceeding 100,000 tpy


CO2e, and new emissions (due to adding new sources or modifying existing sources) of other pollutants exceeding their associated Significant Emission Rates (SERs), the project will be subject to PSD NSR requirements for those pollutants as well, even if facility-wide emissions of no other pollutants exceed 100/250 tpy (SERs for many regulated pollutants fall in the range of 10 to 40 tpy). As an example, a new biomass power plant consisting of a 150 MMBtu/hr wood-fired boiler, steam turbine, and ancillary fuel handling equipment could have the following maximum potential annual emissions: • 25 tpy of particulate matter less than 10 microns (PM10) (SER of 15 tpy) • 130 tpy of NOx (SER of 40 tpy) • 136,000 tpy of CO2e (SER of 75,000 tpy) Prior to July 1, this project would not be subject to PSD NSR permitting requirements because emissions of each non-GHG pollutant are less than 250 tpy. Starting July 1, such a project would be subject to PSD NSR requirements for PM10, NOx, and GHGs because CO2e emissions exceed 100,000 tpy and maximum potential emissions of all three pollutants exceed their associated SER, likely


In this new era of federal regulation of GHGs, the Tailoring Rule provides what is likely to be only the first step in a program of air quality permitting requirements aimed at reducing overall GHG emissions from industrial sources.

increasing the cost of the project significantly. The PSD NSR permitting program includes potential requirements such as: • Use of Best Available Control Technology for control of air pollutant emissions. • Dispersion modeling to demonstrate compliance with ambient air quality standards and PSD increments. • Dispersion modeling to demonstrate potential impacts to visibility and deposition within Class I protected areas. • Pre- or post-construction monitoring of ambient air pollutants. Compliance with these additional requirements under the PSD NSR program can range from tens of thousands to millions of dollars, depending on the project. In November 2010, the EPA released a guidance document for implementation of the new GHG regulations. Among other topics, this document discusses potential approaches to evaluating BACT for GHGs. Briefly, some of the guidance provided is as follows: • BACT for new facilities will need to evaluate energy efficiency measures for the emission unit itself as well as overall energy efficiency of all aspects of the facility pertaining to the energy produced by the facility and used at the facility site (e.g., steam and/or electricity). • BACT for modified existing facilities only need to evaluate energy ef-

ficiency measures for the new or modified emission units themselves. • Energy efficiency improvements to be evaluated include changes to the emission unit design, but not wholesale changes to the fundamental business purpose for the proposed emission unit or facility. For example, a proposed wood-fired boiler need not consider replacement with

:22'&+,36 6+5(''('3$3(5 +2**('3/$176 6$:'867

a natural gas boiler. However, the guidance document gives the specific example of a subcritical steam pressure boiler that would need to evaluate the improved energy efficiency provided by a supercritical steam pressure boiler, which is likely to be a cost-effective change relative to associated reductions in GHG emissions. • Capture and use (or sequestration)

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ÂŚEMISSIONS of GHGs should at least be considered and evaluated within the framework of the BACT determination process. In general, if PSD NSR requirements for GHGs are triggered, all BACT options that would reduce GHG emissions to the atmosphere must be considered as part of the evaluation process and either dismissed on the basis of technical infeasibility, dismissed on the basis of adverse environmental impact, dismissed on the

basis of cost-effectiveness or incorporated into the project.

Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Next? The discussion above provides only a brief overview of the new GHG regulations under the Tailoring Rule, but gives an indication of how otherwise exempt new or existing biomass facilities might get pulled into the Title V permitting program, and similarly how new or modified

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biomass facilities might get pulled into the PSD NSR permitting program. In addition to evaluating the potential applicability of these permitting programs under the new rules, facility operators and developers should track future GHG rulemaking resulting from: â&#x20AC;˘ The EPAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s future determinations concerning the degree of carbon neutrality associated with combusting biomass-derived fuels. This could alter the applicability of the permitting programs discussed in this article to emission units combusting biomass-derived fuels and/or specific source categories. â&#x20AC;˘ The EPAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s indication in the Tailoring Rule that they intend to eventually lower the GHG emissions thresholds for applicability of the permitting programs discussed in this article, pulling in even smaller facilities. These changes will be finalized no later than July 1, 2012, with implementation following one year later. However, the EPA committed in the Tailoring Rule that no facilities with GHG emissions (or emission increases) below 50,000 tpy CO2e would be pulled into these programs before April 30, 2016. In this new era of federal regulation of GHGs, the Tailoring Rule provides what is likely to be only the first step in a program of air quality permitting requirements aimed at reducing overall GHG emissions from industrial sources. 1 Later published in Federal Register, Volume 74, No. 239, December 15, 2009, pp 66496 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 66546. 2 Federal Register, Volume 75, No. 106, June 3, 2010, pp 31514 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 31608. 3 GWP values are provided relative to the GWP for CO2, which is assigned a value of one. Other GWP values can be found in the U.S. EPAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mandatory GHG reporting rule (40 CFR Part 98).

Authors: Brian Patterson, Ph.D. Associate and Senior Consultant, Golder Associates Inc. (503) 607-1820 Geoff Scott, P.E. Senior Project Engineer, Golder Associates Inc. (503) 607-1820


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Biomass Power & Thermal - January 2011