INSIDE: USING AGAVE BIOMASS AS A RENEWABLE ENERGY FEEDSTOCK
Particulate Matters Choosing the Right Equipment to Control Particulate Matter Page 24
Plus: How the Final MACT Rule Impacts Biomass Plants Page 30
Permitting Pitfalls and Advice from the Trenches Page 36
What Denmark has Done to Streamline its Permitting Process Page 42
APRIL 2011 | VOLUME 5 | ISSUE 4
FEATURES 24 SUPPLY Controlling PM Current technology can control particulate matter in biomass plants but choosing the right equipment depends on several variables including feedstock, combustion process and physical and operational parameters. By Anna Austin
30 REGULATIONS MACT Madness
30 DEPARTMENTS 04 EDITOR’S NOTE BBI International to Publish Pellet Magazine By Rona Johnson
The U.S. EPA’s final Maximum Achievable Control Technology rules, which were released in February, contain several changes from the proposed rules that will impact the biomass industry. By Lisa Gibson
36 PERMITTING Pushing for Permits The permitting process for biomass projects differs by state and sometimes by region. Experienced project developers offer hard-won advice to others approaching the process. By Anna Austin
42 PROJECT DEVELOPMENT Particularity in Permitting The U.S. could take a lesson from Denmark when it comes to permitting biomass plants. The country has streamlined its process and today biomass accounts for about 70 percent of its renewable energy consumption. By Lisa Gibson
06 INDUSTRY EVENTS 08 POWER PLATFORM Cutting BCAP Funding: Penny-Wise and Pound-Foolish By Bob Cleaves
10 THERMAL DYNAMICS The Wood Stove Excels at Reducing Fossil Fuels—But Can it Get Clean Enough? By John Ackerly
12 ENERGY REVIEW A Mobile Indirect Biomass Liquefaction System By John P. Hurley
13 LEGAL PERSPECTIVE Continuing Regulatory Uncertainty Need Not be a Showstopper By Anna J. Wildeman
CONTRIBUTIONS 48 PUBLIC RELATIONS Do You Have Control Over NIMBY? Biomass project developers facing opposition need to find local support, build allies and reach out to third-party groups that support their development. By Al Maiorino
50 INNOVATION Integration and Use of Solid Waste from Agave A research and development company in Mexico is studying the potential for agave waste to be converted into bioenergy. By Francisco X. Villasenor
14 BUSINESS BRIEFS 16 FIRED UP 52 MARKETPLACE
Correction: A photo caption on page 14 in the March issue of Biomass Power & Thermal incorrectly identified a Bandit Industries Model 2290 track whole tree chipper as a WC2300 Vermeer Corp. whole tree chipper.
53 ADVERTISER INDEX APRIL 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 3
BBI International to Publish Pellet Magazine
RONA JOHNSON Editor email@example.com
The European Union’s goal of having at least 20 percent of its energy consumption be produced from renewable energy sources by 2020 has led to an increase in the demand for wood pellets, which plants in the U.S. and Canada are eager to supply (see page 16). In fact, an estimated 1.6 million tons of pellets were shipped from North America to the Netherlands, the U.K. and Belgium in 2010, which is double the amount that was exported in 2008, according to the North American Wood Fiber Review. BBI International, publisher of Biomass Power & Thermal, is well aware of the increase in pellet use in the EU and the interest of many in North America and other countries to produce pellets for export and will be publishing a new biannual magazine called Pellet Mill Magazine. The magazine will cover everything from production technology to supply and demand to pellet fuel standards to policy and environmental standards. The first issue of the magazine will be printed in April and sent to all Biomass Power & Thermal subscribers. It will also be distributed to attendees at our International Biomass Conference & Expo and at all of our regional biomass conferences. The first edition of Pellet Mill Magazine will include columns from industry leaders, several staff written features and a couple of features from freelancers, one in Brazil and the other in the U.K. Although it may be too late for you to send in feature-length contributions for the first issue, which are due March 30, the deadline for the second issue is in mid-September. So if you have a story idea or want to write a contribution for the second issue, please let me know. Speaking of pellets, you will want to read this month’s Thermal Dynamics column by John Ackerly, president of the Alliance for Green Heat and a member of the Biomass Thermal Energy Council (see page 10). Ackerly writes about how the U.S. needs to have a national inventive program to replace older wood and pellet stoves, set stricter emissions standards for new stoves and develop strategies to concentrate on the use of pellet appliances instead of wood stoves in urban air-quality and non-attainment areas. These measures would ensure that heating with wood and pellet stoves continues and would make it more attractive to lawmakers. It is not really far-fetched to imagine the government helping to replace wood or pellet stoves, when it is currently helping to replace homeowners’ appliances with energy efficient models and has even replaced people's clunker cars. It is important for our legislators to understand how important the wood and pellet stove industry is to America’s energy independence and the job market. And, it’s much easier to get government support if the industry is as clean and green as possible.
For more news, information and perspective, visit www.biomassmagazine.com
In her feature “Controlling PM,” Associate Editor Anna Austin writes about particulate matter—what it is, how and why it’s regulated and how it can be controlled in biomass plants. She also talks with some biomass project developers about their permitting experiences, good and bad, and gets some advice for future developers in “Pushing for Permits.”
4 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | APRIL 2011
Associate Editor Lisa Gibson details changes in the U.S. EPA’s Maximum Achievable Control Technology rules that relate to biomass plants in her feature called “MACT Madness.” Also, in “Particularity in Permitting” she explores the differences between permitting procedures for biomass facilities in the U.S. and Denmark, where the process has been simplified, enabling the country to make great use of its biomass resources.
EDITORIAL EDITOR Rona Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org ASSOCIATE EDITORS Anna Austin email@example.com Lisa Gibson firstname.lastname@example.org COPY EDITOR Jan Tellmann email@example.com
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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 www.BiomassMagazine.com 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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com. Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space.
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APRIL 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 5
¦INDUSTRY EVENTS 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. (866) 746-8385 www.biomassconference.com
Biomass conference panelists to provide solutions to control feedstock costs Fuel cost is an important component of any biomass project and with ever-changing prices, developers and investors are confronted with the task of managing cost risk to keep projects afloat, or even obtain enough funding to get them off the ground. Particularly with large-scale woody biomass facilities, feedstock prices fluctuate because of a number of variables, making it difficult for developers to maintain a reliable and consistent fuel cost. At the International Biomass Conference & Expo, Eric Kingsley, vice president of Innovative Natural Resource Solutions LLC, will discuss three mitigating factors that can substantially limit fuel cost risk: diversity of supply, surge capacity with existing suppliers and large-scale storage. “These are all ways the woody biomass industry has been addressing fuel availability for years,” he says. While maintaining a diverse group of suppliers can be a juggling act, there is safety in numbers, Kingsley says. Similarly, surge capacity can alleviate troubles that come into play when a facility’s suppliers are all providing 100 percent of their supplies. That puts the facility in a tenuous position, he explains, because if one supplier has to temporarily halt or reduce harvests, the biomass facility is left scrambling for a replacement supply and most likely will end up paying more and sourcing material from farther away. “A few suppliers giving you everything they have is a recipe for disaster,” he says. In addition, a large-scale facility should keep at least a 30-day supply on hand. “What we’ve seen time and again is facilities with small fuel yards,” Kingsley says. When wet weather and other factors diminish that supply, it must be replaced but that requires spending even more money. In his presentation titled Managing Fuel Cost Risk for Large Woody Biomass Facilities, he will also discuss factors that drive fuel cost including the health of other forest industries, weather and diesel costs. “These variables account for 80 percent of volatility in biomass costs,” he says. Developers can also manage the fuel cost risks by hedging these factors and Kingsley will present a calculator that determines the amount of diesel fuel a supplier is using per green ton of wood. “You can’t control or fix price, but you can really restrain the vast majority of risk in biomass fuel costs,” he says. Kingsley, who will be participating in the Capital and Project Development Strategies for Bioenergy Facilities panel discussion, will be joined by Gregory Lynch of Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, Keith Martin of Chadbourne & Parke LLP and Bill Tyburk of ENGlobal Power Group For more information or to register for BBI International’s International Biomass Conference & Expo, which will be held May 2-5 in St. Louis, go to www.biomassconference.com. ―Lisa Gibson
6 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | APRIL 2011
International 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 near-term research and development. (866) 746-8385 www.fuelethanolworkshop.com
International Biorefining Conference & Trade Show September 14-16, 2011 Hilton Americas – Houston Houston, Texas 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. Speaker abstracts are now being accepted online. (866) 746-8385 www.biorefiningconference.com
Northeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show October 11-13, 2011 Westin Place Hotel Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania With an exclusive focus on biomass utilization in the Northeast― from Maryland to Maine―the Northeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show is a dynamic regional offshoot of Biorefining Magazine and Biomass Power & Thermal magazine’s International Biomass Conference & Expo, the largest event of its kind in the world. The second conference will connect current and future producers of biomass-derived electricity, industrial heat and power and advanced biofuels, with waste generators, aggregators, growers, municipal leaders, utilities, technology providers, equipment manufacturers, investors and policymakers. (866) 746-8385 www.biomassconference.com/northeast
Exhibit Space and Sponsorships
Now Available Donâ€™t miss this once-a-year opportunity to reach hundreds of people in the biomass industry in search of solutions. There is simply no other means of meeting with this many biomass-related decision makers, influencers and stakeholders in the Northeast. Be there, interact and do business with these key decision makers, influencers and stakeholders. Exhibiting at the Northeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show will deliver real value toward your bottom line. Contact an account representative today for more information, or to learn about exhibit space and sponsorship opportunities. 866-746-8385 firstname.lastname@example.org
Cutting BCAP Funding: Penny-Wise and Pound-Foolish BY BOB CLEAVES
Throughout the month of February, the biomass industry engaged in a campaign to ensure the continued funding of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program. Congress is still debating the line items that will be included in the final 2011 budget—and we are making our case that BCAP should be one of them. We want to impress upon our lawmakers the huge bargain BCAP provides our nation. This source of funding pales in comparison to the resources given to other renewable energy sources—and it provides many benefits to the biomass industry, which in turn are passed on to the nation in dividends. Thanks to the willingness of many of you to speak on the industry’s behalf, we’ve been able to begin to illustrate to our leaders the widespread network of Americans who rely on BCAP. Representatives of all aspects of the biomass industry—from suppliers and truckers to loggers and plant managers—signed a letter of solidarity that was sent to Congressional leadership about the need to preserve this program. Many others e-mailed and called their senators to give a first-
8 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | APRIL 2011
hand perspective on the benefits biomass provides their home state because of BCAP funding. The letter emphasized the many ways BCAP supports the critical role played by biomass in the nation’s renewable energy sector—and it shed light on the “bargain” that BCAP provides Americans. For a mere fraction of the cost of funding other renewable energy sources, Americans receive half of the nation’s clean energy, thousands of jobs and forest fire prevention. We don’t yet know whether the BCAP budget will be preserved. What we do know is this: with Congressional action, U.S. EPA decisions and state legislative action hanging in the balance, it is more important now than ever for the biomass industry to band together. We must articulate all that we do for the country, on the national, state and local level. Thank you to all who provided their support to the BCAP cause. We are increasingly earning national recognition as a solid and dependable source of clean energy. Author: Bob Cleaves President and CEO, Biomass Power Association www.USABiomass.org
“The premiere organization for scientists, governments, and industry working in all aspects of algal biomass.”
Shay Simpson, Associate Director – Bioenergy Program at Texas AgriLife Research, a member of the Texas A&M University System
Attend the world’s leading algal industry conference.
2011 Algae Biomass Summit October 25 – 27, 2011 Minneapolis, MN
Attendees will gain the following: • Expertise from the leading algal industry players • Insight into where the algae industry is heading • Information on new opportunities created by the industry • Plans and strategies for your algae fuel venture • Knowledge on trends in external financing for algal projects • New cultivation and harvesting methods and techniques • A better understanding of the latest government policies
“One of the best biomass conferences I attended all year. The contacts and exposure have proven to be invaluable to our biomass program.” Richard Wilson, Marketing Manager, Applied Chemical Technology
More than 800 leaders will be in attendance: “This conference offered exceptional exposure, relationship building with the ability to cement meetings that were previously held by e-mail and phone only. The decision makers were there…” Victoria M. Kurtz, Fluid Imaging Technologies, Inc.
• Algae experts and leaders who are shaping the industry • The top algae biomass producers in the world • Companies in algae-related industries and businesses with synergistic operations • Entrepreneurs planning to start a venture in the algal industry • Venture capital, finance & investment companies exploring investments in this domain • The biofuels and other biofuel products research community • End-users who are purchasing and utilizing the energy created
Register Today! www.algalbiomass.org
Questions? Call us at 866-746-8385 Follow us: http://twitter.com/algaeindustry
The Wood Stove Excels at Reducing Fossil Fuels—But Can it Get Clean Enough? BY JOHN ACKERLY
Wood and pellet stoves are the only residential renewable energy system at scale in America today. According to the U.S. EPA, there are more than 10 million stoves in the U.S. compared to only about 300,000 residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. But one of the largest benefits of the wood and pellet stove is ignored: A $2,500 wood or pellet stove can reduce as much fossil fuel usage in the winter months as a $25,000 solar PV system does in a year. To leverage the enormous renewable energy production from wood stoves, we have to tackle emissions of older stoves and those produced today. In an average year, about 250,000 wood and pellet stoves are installed in America. Could we double that number and reduce emissions at the same time? Yes, but only if state and federal governments lower emission standards and incentivize the cleanest appliances. According to the U.S. Census, about 2 percent of Americans primarily heat their homes with wood or pellets. Another 3 to 5 percent use wood as a secondary source of heat. We estimate that wood and pellet stoves avoid 17.7 million tons of carbon from fossil fuel per year, equivalent to carbon emitted from more than four coal-fired power plants. While their ability to reduce the use of fossil fuels is extraordinary, only 3 million to 4 million of the 10 million stoves in operation are EPA certified. To resuscitate wood stoves as a technology that government can embrace, we need to achieve three things: a national incentive program to change out older stoves, stricter EPA emission standards for new stoves, and strategies to focus on pellet appliances instead of wood stoves in urban and air-quality non-attainment areas. Using life-cycle emission analysis instead of pointof-combustion analysis, some wood and pellet stoves are getting close to fossil fuel emissions. While wood stoves emit almost all their particulates at point of combustion, fossil fuels emit vast quantities in their extraction, refining and transportation. Engineers are pushing the envelope and starting to produce both pellet and wood stoves that are under 0.5 grams an hour (g/hr). Most major companies produce multiple stoves in the 2.0–3.0 g/hr range. Currently, the EPA permits up to 7.5 g/hr, and exempts classes of stoves, allowing many stoves to be installed that are not clean enough. 10 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | APRIL 2011
The EPA is developing New Source Performance Standards for wood and pellet stoves and early indications point to a recommendation of setting 4.5 g/hr for both wood and pellet stoves. While a 4.5 g/hr standard for wood stoves represents a modest advance, 4.5 g/ hr for pellet stoves is too high. Today the average pellet stove produces about 2.0 g/hr. Some EPA officials believe the marketplace itself will drive down emission levels. There is little evidence to support this theory, however. The driving force for the development of stoves with lower emissions has been Washington state, which lowered its standard to 4.5 g/hr for wood stoves and 2.5 g/hr for pellets and catalytic stoves in 1995. The industry soon began building to that standard with little difficulty. The marketplace thus far has done little to nothing to drive down outdoor wood boiler emmisions, for example. The beauty of promoting the cleanest wood and pellet stoves is that they achieve many of the same goals of solar and geothermal programs and help Americans affordably meet energy needs. Wood and pellet stoves drive job creation because the cleanest wood and pellet stoves today are made in America. We can keep those jobs and that fossil fuel reduction potential by investing in this sector. The pellet stove and wood pellet were invented in America, but we are on the verge of losing any advantage to Europe and China. While European governments have invested in research and development and incentives for clean pellet stoves and boilers, the U.S. government has focused on promoting biofuels and to a lesser extent, on biomass for electricity. If we develop strict emission standards for residential pellet stoves and boilers and provide common sense incentives, this technology holds promise for our economy and domestic energy needs. The U.S. relationship to wood stoves is different than Europe’s because we have a huge low-income population that relies on wood heat. If we want Americans to keep using renewable energy, we need to invest in next-generation wood heat technology with lower emission profiles. Authors: John Ackerly President, Alliance for Green Heat and Board Member, BTEC (202) 596-3974 www.biomassthermal.org
Put yourself in front of the largest
ethanol professionals in the world Make plans now to be a part of the largest ethanol conference & expo in the world. Exhibit space and sponsor opportunities are going fast. For pricing and additional information, please contact your BBI International Account Executive at (866) 746-8385 or email@example.com.
Sponsors as of March 14, 2011
A Mobile Indirect Biomass Liquefaction System BY JOHN P. HURLEY
The biomass industry knows all too well that transportation costs often stymie a project. Distributed or even portable energy and fuels production may be one method for diminishing the economic impacts of transportation costs in biomass utilization. To test this idea, the University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center is building a mobile system for converting cellulosic waste into liquid products. The work is being funded through the Xcel Energy Renewable Development Fund and the U.S. DOE through the EERC Centers for Renewable Energy and Biomass Utilization. The system is currently under construction. Parametric testing will be performed with the system during the summer and fall. In the EERC program, the technology will be demonstrated by building and testing a 200 pound per hour fixed-bed downdraft biomass gasifier, air-blown and with specialized gas cleaning to produce the syngas. The system will be integrated with approximately 3-meter-long packed-bed catalytic reactors for producing the liquid fuels and highly automated to minimize labor requirements. A design review has already confirmed the fixed-bed biomass gasifier selection as the lowest capital cost system for indirectly producing methanol. The methanol produced will then be tested by IdaTech LLC of Bend, Ore., to determine if it is of sufficient purity to power a fuel cell used to produce heat and electric power. A strong advantage of the EERC gasification system is that it can be used with green or wet wood. This reduces the need for drying the wood before gasification, resulting in substantial energy and processing savings. In fact, the high moisture content creates syngas with a significantly higher hydrogen content than if the moisture were not present. High hydrogen content is
12 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | APRIL 2011
especially useful when making a liquid fuel from the gas stream since the hydrogen-to-carbon ratio in a liquid fuel is much greater than that of the wood itself. By increasing the hydrogen content in the gas stream, higher carbon conversion efficiencies can be reached. By producing a liquid fuel for electricity generation elsewhere, overall biomass-to-electric power conversion efficiency is reduced relative to firing the syngas directly in a generator. However, by making a liquid fuel, the site at which the power is required can be decoupled from the site of the biomass resource. In this project, the biomass resource targeted is wet legacy piles of wood waste found at sawmills throughout Minnesota. These piles, often produced years ago, still contain a significant energy content but have degraded to the point at which they cannot easily be used as commercial products such as garden mulch. Rather than incinerating them, the EERC technology would turn the waste piles into a revenue stream through the production and sale of a carbon-neutral liquid fuel. Although the gasification design is new and unique, the EERC will be using commercially available technologies for gas compression and conversion. Initial laboratory testing of some of the subsystems shows that it may be possible to significantly improve the productivity of the system by using more experimental methods such as gas separation membranes or by modifying commercially available equipment to make it more useful in remote settings. These modifications will be the subject of a future article. Author: John P. Hurley Senior Research Advisor, Energy & Environmental Research Center (701) 777-5159
Continuing Regulatory Uncertainty Need Not be a Showstopper BY ANNA J. WILDEMAN
The regulatory climate for renewable energy project development is unpredictable. The federal government is promulgating new rules and regulations and officially “reconsidering” them at the same time, defending in court EPA’s greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting rules, and trying to thwart public nuisance actions against GHG emitters. Meanwhile, most states are working to implement the new GHG permitting requirements at the same time that bipartisan legislative efforts are attempting to moot EPA’s GHG rulemakings outright. And it’s not just agency rulemaking and legislative action creating this uncertainty. Public backlash to the siting, development and operation of various renewable energy projects—from wind farms to biomass energy generating projects—threatens to derail hundreds of proposed projects. So renewable energy developers need to make smart business decisions in this climate. The best advice for renewable energy developers is to build the project’s professional team early, create a regulatory strategy and timeline for implementation, and execute. Building a team of professionals requires a project developer to identify the technical, legal and political experts in the relevant field and jurisdiction. Each team member should have demonstrated success in executing similar projects and a can-do approach to project execution. The team must be integrated and, without sounding like too much of a sales pitch, a project’s legal experts will likely be involved in every element of the project. Technical expertise must come in the form of knowledgeable and effective facility designers and engineers. These experts must not only design facilities in compliance with all relevant technical standards, but they must have a deep understanding of the proposed site, design elements and potential concerns of the reviewing agency. Even if a technically compliant design meets all necessary standards, its project proponents must be able to effectively communicate, justify design decisions and address agency concerns to keep the project moving. Competent technical professionals must also be able to work closely with legal experts to identify and execute all necessary construction and operation permits. The permitting element is complex for biomass projects right now, as federal and state agencies and legislatures
continue to spar over applicability of certain air emission limitations and pollution control and permitting requirements. Although the biomass industry recently scored a three-year reprieve from EPA’s GHG permitting requirements, that does not provide the industry with any longterm certainty and it does not provide relief from other EPA and state-agency rulemaking or the seemingly constant federal and state litigation surrounding these issues. A project can be slowed or stopped if opponents can effectively inject alternate “expert” opinions and evaluations into an agency’s internal review process or during the public comment period. Even after a project has been reviewed and vetted by every level of federal or state regulators and all permits have been issued, developers must be aware of the potential for legal challenges. If the agencies issuing permits have done their jobs effectively, any such challenge should be handily defeated in the early stages of administrative or judicial review. However, the project’s legal experts must keep a close eye on the agency’s actions and the public record to ensure that any permit issued— and the procedure leading up to issuance—is legally defensible. Accurate front-end technical evaluations and sound legal support, including the ability to develop trust and negotiate with regulators, can keep a project moving. Finally, although the regulatory climate is uncertain, economic conditions are such that if a project has the potential to create jobs or boost the local tax base, local political leaders can become effective advocates. A competent political expert can help identify opportunities and open lines of communication with state and local leaders to develop incentive packages. Again, a project’s legal expert should be involved here too to identify potential business and tax implications of incentive packages. Although the regulatory climate is extremely uncertain and does not appear to be changing anytime soon, renewable energy projects can succeed, if the right team is involved. Author: Anna J. Wildeman Member, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP’s Land and Resources Practice Group and Energy and Sustainability Industry Group (608) 283-0109 firstname.lastname@example.org
APRIL 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 13
Business Briefs PEOPLE, PRODUCTS & PARTNERSHIPS
Patton Boggs boosts energy group with new hires Patton Boggs LLP has expanded its energy regulatory and enforcement practice with the addition of Cynthia A. Marlette, former general counsel of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and G. Scott Binnings, formerly a member of the energy group at Latham & Watkins. Marlette will
focus on electricity and gas matters. Her 30 years of experience in regulatory and policy issues will greatly benefit her clients. Marlette served six years as FERC’s general counsel, including service under three different chairmen—Pat Wood, Joseph Kelliher and Jon Wellinghoff. As general counsel, she was responsible for providing legal and policy advice in all areas under the agency’s jurisdiction. Binnings focuses his practice on energy regulatory and commercial matters, with a concentration on the production and delivery of electric energy and related products from renewable energy resources. He has been involved in representations before FERC, the U.S. DOE and state public utility commissions on behalf of electric utilities, independent power producers, project developers, energy traders, financial institutions and manufacturers of renewable, energy efficiency and smart grid technologies. CPM Roskamp Champion names industrial sales manager Scott Switzer has been named industrial sales manager for CPM Roskamp Champion. His responsibilities include sales and marketing of Roskamp Champion products and services to industrial markets. Switzer has more than 20 years of experience in the process equipment and size reduction industries. For many of those years, he was with Hosokawa Scott Switzer will Micron Powder Systems, use his 20 years of Summit, N.J., where he experience in the equipment worked in engineering, process and size reduction applications, sales, and industries in his new position as sales sales and marketing manager. management. He also worked in business development for Fluid Energy Process Equipment, Telford, Pa. He holds a mechanical engineering degree from Rutgers University
14 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | APRIL 2011
and an MBA in technical management from Fairleigh Dickenson University. Fecon introduces the FTX600
PHOTO: FECON INC.
Energy and infrastructure attorney joins Ballard Spahr Roger D. Stark, a lawyer known for his work in U.S. and cross-border energy sector project development and finance, has joined Ballard Spahr as a partner. As a memRoger D. Stark ber of Ballard Spahr’s has experience advising investors Energy and Project and sponsors in the Finance Group, he will renewable energy handle energy-related industry, including those involved project development in cross-border and financing transac- matters. tions, mergers and acquisitions, public-private partnerships, and infrastructure development matters. Stark has advised on the structuring and financing of traditional, renewable and clean technology energy projects, including lease-purchase financings and structured energy receivables financings, several of which were firsts in the industry. He has advised numerous investors and sponsors in the renewable energy industry, including acting as program counsel to the U.S. DOE loan guarantee program. He also advises on cross-border matters, particularly in Latin America, and has energy regulatory and litigation experience, including representing clients before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and state utility commissions. Stark was previously a partner with Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP in Washington, D.C.
TACKLING TOUGH TERRAIN: Fecon's FTX600 with its light footprint can be used for a wide range of applications.
Fecon Inc. has introduced the FTX600 tractor, which brings a combination of cutting performance, track power, ground pressure and serviceability in the 600 horsepower class of mulching machines. Equipped with a 600 horsepower Cummins QSX15 engine, the FTX600 delivers 210 gallons of hydraulic flow to the variable-speed mulching head and solid power to the hydrostatic all-steel oscillating undercarriage. Fitted with either the Fecon BH300 or BH350 Bull Hog, the FTX600 can achieve 98-inch cutting height and 32-inch below grade, giving the operator unparalleled range of motion. Fecon’s Power Management system optimizes torque and rotor speed, allowing the FTX600 to tackle tough material, rough terrain and demanding schedules. With 5.9 pounds per square inch ground pressure, this tractor offers less ground disturbance and a lighter footprint than most in the 600 horsepower class. The FTX600 is ideal for a wide range of applications including pipeline and power line right-of-way clearing, large-scale vegetation management and site preparation. Baisch Engineering hires business development, marketing manager Baisch Engineering has hired Christina FitzGerald as business development and marketing manager. She has 13 years of
marketing experience in the architectural, engineering and construction industry. Prior to joining Baisch Engineering, FitzGerald was the marketing manager at an engineering firm in Boston. FitzGerald is a certified professional services marketer with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and public relations from Northeastern University. A member of the Society for Marketing Professional Services, an organization dedicated to creating business opportunities in the architectural, engineering and construction industry, FitzGerald served on SMPS Boston’s board of directors for five years. Bandit Industries adds Flagler to its dealer network Bandit Industries welcomes Floridabased Flagler Construction Equipment as the company’s newest authorized dealer in the Southeast. Serving the Florida market since 1987, Flagler Construction Equipment will offer Bandit equipment, parts and service through five main branches covering the entire state, including Jacksonville in the northeast, Orlando in central Florida, Tampa in west central Florida, Ft. Myers in the southwest, and Davie on the southeast coast. In addition to these branches, Flagler also maintains an export parts facility in Miami. Flagler will feature a full line of Bandit equipment for sale through its dealer network. Information for their branches as well as other information on Flagler can be found at www. flaglerce.com, or through the dealer link at www.banditchippers.com. ACORE’s Eckhart steps down The American Council On Renewable Energy’s founding President Michael Eckhart retired Feb. 28 and joined Citigroup in New York as managing director and head of environmental markets and sustainability. Eckhart co-founded ACORE in 2001 with a commitment of an hour a day of his time,
but quickly forged the Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with collaborators who pledged to create a group that is “for renewable energy and against nothing,” Michael Eckhart, dedicated to “bringing who co-founded ACORE in 2001 renewable energy into and helped it grow the mainstream” and into a 650-member willing to “assume lead organization, has responsibility for the suc- retired and is joining cess of renewable energy Citigroup. in America.” ACORE has grown in less than 10 years from an idea to a $4 million a year operation with 650 organizational members, 42 members of the board of directors and advisory board, and 25 staff and interns. Parker Fluid Control introduces new flow meter line Parker Fluid Control Division, manufacturers of the Skinner and Gold Ring lines of solenoid valves and the Sinclair Collins line of process control valves, introduces a new line of Vortex Shedding Flow Meters as part of its expanding product portfolio. These inline flow meters are ideal solutions for applications utilizing water, water/glycol coolant and other low-viscosity fluids. They monitor the flow of cooling fluid for resistance welders, slurry pump seal water, machine coolant and steam boiler feed water. Additionally, Parker Flow Meters can be used for cooling water to furnace walls and inductors in steel mills; cooling boiler feed pumps and turbine bearing cooling in power generation plants; as well as for rubber, mining, municipal wastewater treatment, and water addition in chemical and process applications. Asahi/America expands regulating products offerings Asahi/America is now stocking PolyPure natural polypropylene Frank Series
pressure regulators and back pressure regulators in sizes ranging from one-half to 2 inches for its PolyPure piping system. Frank Series regulating products are engineered to meet tough demands. Mechanical parts are isolated from the system media by a diaphragm. Regulators are adjustable under working conditions and provide accurate and stable control over pressure, regardless of fluctuations or change in system demand. Pressure control is achieved throughout the world using Frank Series regulators. Installed in municipal, wastewater and processing facilities, Frank Series regulating products include pressure regulators, back pressure regulators, pressure relief valves and manual flow meters. Hancock joins Ascendant Partners Ascendant Partners Inc. has announced Jake Hancock has joined the Ascendant team as a junior business analyst in its Denver office. Hancock will play a key role in supporting Ascendant’s growing consulting and investment banking practice. Jake Hancock Hancock comes will use his experience to to Ascendant after Ascendant's working for Berkshire support consulting and Advisor Resource in investment banking Denver and passing the practice. three exams in the chartered financial analyst program. In addition to his financial background, he earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas.
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APRIL 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 15
FiredUp Testing Grounds Whether you’re a biomass fuel producer, potential user or a regional farmer, the University of New Brunswick’s Canadian BioEnergy Centre is equipped to assist you. Though operating since last year, the CBEC officially opened at the end of February. Director Michael Albright says the growing bioenergy sector has kept the center busy, and that new equipment in the lab allows the CBEC the ability to take on a considerable range of projects. “On the material characterization side, these capabilities include evaluating feedstocks coming into a potential pellet mill or bioenergy mill—the fiber qualities, the energy and ash content and any contaminants in the fuel that might affect the performance in a burning appliance—as well as things that might clinker or build up slag in the stove,” he says. “We also have a new device that can measure the ash fusion temperature.” A new lab-scale pelletizer, hammer mill and chipper will allow the CBEC to go on to the next step of biomass material evaluation, according to Albright. That is determining the fiber’s ability to be made into energy products, whether it is for chips to be burned directly at a biomass plant or to be further ground up for pellets. “We can determine how well the material will pelletize and stay together in pellet form, and then test the pellet afterward for its durability,” Albright says. “We can tell a producer that we’re not getting a very durable pellet, so they can go back and change the pel-
PHOTO: UNIVERSITY OF NEW BRUNSWICK
Canada’s biomass fuel industry will benefit from new testing center.
BENEFITTING BIOENERGY: The Canadian BioEnergy Centre will be an important resource for developers of renewable energy technology and projects in Canada.
let die or the process so that they’re forming a better pellet.” On the appliance testing side, the CBEC has some base appliances for testing fuels, and can actually measure particulate and gas emissions from a fuel. “This can address any health concerns, of the appliance putting out too many emissions,” Albright says. “By being able to measure them, we can recommend modifications to the manufacturer to bring it into compliance with industry standards.” CBEC’s work isn’t limited to wood or to pellets. The center is also working on ag pellets and briquettes, according to Albright. He says the next big initiative will be to facilitate a community district heating project, which would start with finding a facility such as a school that needs a boiler upgrade or heating system
replacement, and a small community nearby that could be part of a closed-loop heating system. “We might have a woodworking shop or saw mill or group of farmers who have underutilized lands or residuals left, and we’ll figure out how we can combine those together to make a renewable community,” Albright says. “It could be pellet producers, farmers or wood manufacturing individuals, and we have a number of small, rural communities that would fit well with this scenario. We’ll measure and quantify all of the social and economic impacts and benefits that come from it, and put that out there as a report and model for other communities.” The CBEC hopes to have the project agreed upon and ready to move forward within the next year, he adds. —Anna Austin
Export Enhancement North American wood pellet exports to the European Union have doubled.
Wood pellet exports from the U.S. and Canada to Europe have doubled in the past two years, with 1.6 million tons of wood pellets shipped from the countries to the Netherlands, U.K. and Belgium in 2010, according to Wood Resources International LLC. The report points out that, while Canada has been the major overseas wood pellet provider to Europe for the past 10 years, reaching about 1 million tons in shipments in 2010, exports from the U.S. have taken off since they began in 2008, reaching 600,000 tons in 2010. The European Union’s goal of reaching 20 percent renewable 16 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | APRIL 2011
energy by 2020 can be attributed to the increased demand, as many countries have ramped up their consumption of woody biomass in the form of wood pellets and wood chips in the past few years to meet the renewable target, the report said. More than 11 million tons of wood pellets were consumed in the EU in 2010, up 7 percent from the previous year. The report also predicts that higher oil prices will benefit wood pellet exporters in North America, and that shipments to Europe can be expected to increase during 2011. —Anna Austin
Wood Heat in the Northeast Researchers say using wood for heat is effective as long as itâ€™s harvested sustainably.
In the Northeast, using forest biomass for heat would be far more effective in replacing liquid fossil fuels than converting it to cellulosic ethanol for road transport, and it could replace as much as one-quarter of liquid fossil fuels currently being used for industrial and commercial heating in the region. That was one of many conclusions of a study released in mid-February by the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, which teamed up with the Environmental Defense Fund and University of Vermontâ€™s Gund Institute for Ecological Economics to analyze the supply of wood in the Northeast and the impacts of intensive forest harvest to supply biomass energy. Charles Canham, lead author of the study â€œForest Biomass and Bioenergy: Opportunities and Constraints in the Northeastern United States,â€? points out that it is widely assumed forest biomass is going to be an important part of the Northeastâ€™s renewable energy supply, and thereâ€™s little debate that if itâ€™s done sustainably, using wood from its forests can have significant environmental and economic benefits. â€œThereâ€™s been an awful lot of speculation about how much energy our forests can produce, and thatâ€™s what the report addresses; it assesses the potential of this form of renewable energy to replace fossil fuel consumption, in the eight Northeastern states,â€? he says. Forests cover a little more than two-thirds of the Northeast landscape. â€œThatâ€™s a remarkable recovery from 100 years ago when forests had been cleared from much of our landscape, and surprisingly the current forest landscape is very close to optimal in terms of productivity and its ability to sequester carbon,â€? says Canham, a forest ecologist and senior scientist at Cary Institute. What might come as a surprise is that the existing forest products industry already harvests most of the available net State
Area of Forestland (hectares)
Connecticut Maine Massachusetts New Hampshire New York Pennsylvania Rhode Island Vermont Total
697,829 7,145,731 1,221,938 1,943,857 7,669,011 6,738,913 141,001 1,856,854 27,415,133
growth for traditional wood products. â€œFrom our analysis, the bulk of additional biomass available for bioenergy will have to come primarily from waste from logging practices,â€? Canham says. â€œThe total we can sustainably harvest for bioenergy is a lot lower than what studies have previously said, although I have to note those early studies were typically based on much more limited data than our analysis.â€? The bottom line is that if all of the additional forest biomass that the researchers believe is sustainably available is channeled into the most efficient forms of biomass energy, it could make up from 1 to 2 percent of the regionâ€™s energy consumption, Canham says. That number varies, however, if the biomass is targeted at specific energy sectors. â€œThen it could represent a much more significant component of energy used,â€? he says. â€œFor example, we estimate if you use all the additional biomass to make pellets used to make residential heat, you could replace 16 percent of the oil we currently use for heat. If all of it was used to generate electricity, it could represent around 5 percent ON THE WEB of what we currently use.â€? To access a copy of the report, Canham says those numbers are visit www.caryinstitute.org/ small but significant. â€œThey are smaller report_biomass_2011.pdf than a lot of the hope and expectations out there, but they are still important numbers that would preserve working forests, create local jobs and develop regional renewable energy sources,â€? he says. â€œMore to the point, they could represent a meaningful fraction of a renewable energy standard that most states have adopted or are considering. But this is where the caution has to come inâ€”the benefits are lost if new regulations and incentives lead to unsustainable harvest rates.â€? â€”Anna Austin
Total Live Tree and Sapling Aboveground Biomass (metric tons) 108,731,556 602,552,693 183,057,479 251,365,457 981,655,842 920,560,580 19,944,474 249,572,980 3,317,441,061
Merchantable Biomass (metric tons)
Average Merchantable Biomass (metric tons)
80,489,837 381,242,694 135,522,519 177,544,327 701,468,378 667,356,854 14,520,667 177,665,817 2,335,811,095
115 53 110 91 92 99 103 96 85
Total aboveground tree biomass (adult trees plus saplings), and live tree merchantable biomass (biomass above the stump and below a 10.2 centimeter top branch diameter) in the Northeast, are shown by state and for the region as a whole, and per unit area (hectare).
APRIL 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 17
Shipshape With the lease of the Port of Beaumont in Texas, Zilkha Biomass Energy will join the growing list of American companies shipping wood pellets to feed Europeâ€™s booming biomass power market. The company is building an inventory of between 3,000 and 5,000 tons of its waterproof black pellets for the first shipment, expected to sail in April. The pellets will come from its plant in Crockett, Texas, which has a nameplate capacity of 40,000 tons, according to company CFO Glenn Dillon. â€œBased on our current capacity, itâ€™s estimated weâ€™ll be shipping every other month,â€? he says. It will be the first shipment from the U.S. of black pellets, he adds. Zilkhaâ€™s waterproof black pellets have a high energy density, are abrasion resistant, and can be stored outside like coal, according to the company. Zilkha conducted a test shipment in October before signing the lease agreement, which extends through the end of this year. After that time, the company will
assess its needs, Dillon says. The economics are more favorable in Europe than in North America, he says, as power pricing in Europe is higher. â€œWe are working strategically with some U.S. utilities. We donâ€™t have contracts with any yet. But we are focused toward the European power market.â€? Zilkhaâ€™s customers are in northern Europe, he says, declining to specify, but adding that they are all utilities. The Zilkha company name was established in 1984 with a strategy centered around oil and gas, but it switched its concentration to wind energy in 2000. Now, the company has updated its focus exclusively to biomass, mainly wood pellets from sawmill residues such as chips, sawdust and shavings, Dillon says. The company also has an idled plant in Alabama that is expected to resume operation by the end of this year. With the addition of the port to its assets, Dillon says Zilkha plans to increase production. â€œWeâ€™ll likely expand the Crockett plant to a higher capacity,â€? he says. â€”Lisa Gibson
PHOTO: ZILKHA BIOMASS ENERGY
Zilkha Biomass Energy has leased a port in Texas that will allow shipment of its wood pellets to Europe.
PELLET POWER: Zilkha says its black pellets are waterproof, abrasion resistant and can be stored outdoors.
Return on Renewables Study says renewable energy in the South will pay off if itâ€™s done right.
A report jointly released by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Duke University says that the South could pay less for its electricity than what current forecasts predict in 20 years if it invests in more renewable energy. That is, with the right mix of public policies. If done right, the region could produce as much as 30 percentâ€”up from less than 4 percentâ€”of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, the study finds. Titled â€œRenewable Energy in the Southâ€? the reportâ€™s authors build on a policy brief released last summer and provide an indepth assessment of the scope of renewable energy resources in the South and their economic impacts on electricity rates and utility bills in the region. Co-lead researcher, Marilyn Brown of GIT, says there are a few reasons for the potential lower electricity rates relative to the business-as-usual National Energy Modeling System forecast. First, the report assumes some incremental technology
18 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | APRIL 2011
improvements for several renewable energy resources including combined heat and power, biomass and solar, which bring down costs, as well as implementation of a renewable energy standard. â€œWe also assume updated wind and hydro resources, which are more expansive than in the NEMS forecast,â€? Brown says. â€œThat brings on a great deal of cost-effective wind and hydro.â€? Third, the researchers introduce a ON THE WEB great deal of combined heat and power To access the 193-page report, and other end-use renewables that result visit www.sealliance.org in a significant reduction in electricity use relative to the NEMS forecast, which drives down rates. â€œWe also assume that investment tax credits are extended, which moves some costs from the ratepayer to the taxpayer,â€? Brown says, adding that it is important to note that rates do rise in the reportâ€™s renewable energy scenario, but just not as much. â€”Anna Austin
Biomass-Powered Ethanol Plants The demand for ethanol with a lower carbon footprint seems to be spurring a movement in which ethanol plants are using biomass to power their operations. The lower carbon score of the manufacturing process can make the ethanol product itself more attractive, according to Mike Jerke, general manager of Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co. The Benson, Minn.-based ethanol plant produces about 46 million gallons annually and, when the price of natural gas is high, powers itself with corncobs and wood chips. The company is also in the process of permitting the system for sunflower hull feedstock. “If you can replace petroleum sources with something renewable, that gives you an end product that has more value in places like California, where they’re concerned about the carbon index score of the fuel they’re buying,” Jerke says. In addition to favorable carbon scores, the biopower movement in the ethanol industry was pushed in 2005-’06 by rising natural gas prices, Jerke explains. The gasification system CVEC employs creates a gas that can be handled similarly
PHOTO: CHIPPEWA VALLEY ETHANOL CO.
A growing number of U.S. ethanol plants are reaping the benefits of using biomass for power.
RUNNING ON BIOMASS: CVEC is one of several ethanol plants using biomass to reduce their carbon footprints and save on energy bills.
to natural gas. “We refer to it as producer gas,” he says. That producer gas is piped to the burner to heat water to produce steam that is distributed into the plant to run the process. And CVEC isn’t the only one. Poet LLC has proposed systems that utilize biomass combined heat and power, and Archer Daniels Midland Co. is using biomass cogeneration in Nebraska and Iowa.
It’s cleaner than petroleum and is simply the “right thing to do,” Jerke says. In addition, the current rate structure curtails the amount of natural gas that can be used on high-demand days, such as those in the middle of brutal Minnesota winters. So using biomass alleviates the need to resort to more expensive gas such as liquefied petroleum. “There are a number of benefits,” Jerke says. —Lisa Gibson
Key Renewable Player China’s growing renewable energy sector represents enormous opportunities, but significant challenges, for foreign investors.
The renewable energy sector in China is growing by leaps and bounds as the country strives to meet its goal of 15 percent renewable electricity by 2020. That poses opportunities for foreign investors, but all foreign investment in China, from a simple representative office to the creation of joint ventures, requires government approval, according to Ellen Eliasoph, managing partner with law firm Covington & Burling LLP. Eliasoph was one of five speakers discussing renewable energy in China during Developments in China’s Renewable Energy Markets, a March 1 webinar hosted by the American Council on Renewable Energy U.S.-China Program. “Foreign investment in China is regulated in every respect,” she says. “Luckily, the clean energy sector is very much open to foreign investment.” In fact, the country aims to strike a balance between supporting indigenous industry and encouraging foreign investment, she adds. All forms of foreign investment are allowed in some areas of manufacturing industries including biomass-drying pyrolysis systems and gasification devices, among many others; power
production and supply including biomass power stations; and scientific research, technical services and geological exploration, again including biomass energy development technology. There are some categories, however, where foreign investment is limited to joint ventures, such as the manufacturing of complete or key equipment for generating electricity with new energy sources including biogas, among several others. Foreign investment in the production of biological liquid fuels is restricted in China, and is prohibited in certain coal applications and products, Eliasoph says. Despite those challenges and restrictions, the Chinese energy market is opening up, according to webinar speaker Gary Wigmore, partner with Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP. Some issues in the regulatory framework have plagued the markets, but many have been amended, and more changes are most likely on the way, he says, adding that the country’s needs and targets have put it on the map with foreign investors. “We expect China will continue to be a key player in the renewable energy business,” McCloy says. —Lisa Gibson APRIL 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 19
Trends in Thailand Government policy in Thailand encourages further power production from biomass than is already being realized. That expansion could catapult the country to the top of the biomass market chain, and global companies are starting to take notice. Recognizing Thailand’s potential, China-based solutions provider DP CleanTech has opened an office in Bangkok, after successful development of many biomass power plants in China, and more in the works. “DP CleanTech has identified Thailand to be the next major market in its rapid rollout of biomass power systems in Southeast Asia,” the company’s website says. “Southeast Asia is home to onethird of the world’s attainable biomass, of which Thailand contributes a significant proportion.” But that expansion could also cause competition for feedstocks and, according to some, even a shortage. And on the heels of that shortage comes a price increase for raw material, according to Carl Kukkonen, CEO of Viaspace Inc. Viaspace is working with about five companies in Thailand that are interested in growing and using its trademark biomass feedstock, Giant King Grass, as a cheaper alternative to pricier materials available there now. The price hike has cost money for companies in long-term power purchase agreements that were signed with feedstock price assumptions, Kukkonen says. Since relying on the spot market has proven to be an ineffective strategy, companies are looking for a more reliable and secure feedstock, he adds. Most biomass power plants in Thailand either direct combust or employ anaerobic digestion (AD) processes, Kukkonen explains, adding that two of the most prominent AD waste feedstocks are from tapioca and pineapple processing. One of Viaspace’s prospective partners in Thailand, which Kukkonen declined to disclose, is developing an AD facility with a pineapple company and plans to codigest 30 percent Giant King Grass with the pineapple
PHOTO: VIASPACE INC.
A push for biomass power expansion might make Thailand a prime market in the global industry.
MASSIVE GRASS: Viaspace is looking at partnerships to allow utilization of its Giant King Grass in Thailand.
waste stream. Viaspace’s prospective partner will plant trials of the grass to ensure it will grow well in Thailand, but Kukkonen isn’t worried. “We’re certain that it will.” If all tests go well, that company plans to build several plants that will digest 100 percent Giant King Grass, Kukkonen says, but didn’t release a timeline for the construction of the power plants. “We expect that there will be Giant King Grass growing in Thailand in the next few months.” DP CleanTech doesn’t seem as concerned with feedstock availability, but shares in the excitement about the growing biomass power industry there. “Thailand’s abundant resources coupled with its accommodative renewable energy policies represent an excellent opportunity for further biomass development and a priority market for DP CleanTech,” the company says. —Lisa Gibson
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Pine Tree Potential Researchers are investigating the use of pine trees for bioenergy.
Researchers at the University of Georgia are using an $880,000 USDA grant to experiment with pine tree plantations for potential use for electricity and biofuel production. The project will not examine the economics of using trees for bioenergy, but will instead focus on quality growth methods and environmental impacts on soil and water quality and carbon sequestration. Each of the four team members, researchers at the UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, has a different role. Associate Professor Daniel Markewitz will study the amount of carbon stored underground by the trees and what happens to it when they are harvested. Associate Professor Michael Kane will focus on aboveground tree components including tree dimensions such as height, diameter and branching, as well as biofuel and timber biomass. Professor Robert Teskey will research the biology of tree growth, what happens physiologically to pine trees when planted closer together and how efficiently they capture energy from the sun. And, Assistant Research Scientist Dehai Zhao will provide an integrative life-cycle carbon analysis, modeling above- and belowground carbon accumulation and losses of carbon due to forest management activities, identifying the benefits of pine biofuels for reducing carbon loss to the atmosphere. Markewitz says the project is already underway, and the team is currently recruiting students to work on the project and selecting specific project sites. Field work will begin this summer. The researchers are focusing on pine trees for many reasons, Markewitz says. “First, we—in the collective sense including forest industry, timber management organizations, nonindustrial private forest landowners, public landowners, universities, etc.—are very good at growing pine,” he says. “This is amply demonstrated by
PINEY PROSPECTS: A University of Georgia study will focus on improving growth methods for pine trees and the environmental impacts on soil and water quality and carbon sequestration.
the timber resources growing in the Southeast, so there is already a lot of growing stock on the ground and a great deal of available infrastructure to grow and harvest this feedstock.” Additionally, most of the planted southern pines are native to the region, Markewitz says. “As such, we are trying to improve on many decades of existing knowledge and investment. Finally, the USDA was specifically interested in a number of feedstocks, which included southern pine.” The researchers believe that incorporating bioenergy feedstock production into existing systems of timber production could be beneficial to regional landowners and to national energy security. —Anna Austin
APRIL 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 21
Energy Innovation February marked an important milestone in the establishment of a bioenergy center in Vero Beach, Fla., as developer Ineos Bio JV held a groundbreaking ceremony that drew a larger crowd than expected to the project site. More than 200 people attended the event for the Indian River BioEnergy Center, according to Dan Cummings, vice president of commercial and external affairs for Ineos Bio. The excellent turnout included officials from the U.S. departments of agriculture and energy, as well as local government officials and investors. The excitement revolves around an innovative gasification-fermentation process that will produce 8 million gallons of bioethanol annually, as well as 6 megawatts of power, using local yard and household wastes from a nearby landfill. Unlike many power-producing gasification systems, the resulting steam is what generates the power, not the syngas. It is cooled and then fed into a steam turbine, according to Cummings. About 4 megawatts will be used at the facility and the rest will be exported to help power 1,400 homes, although power purchase agreements have yet to be finalized. “That’s what gives us a very good life-cycle profile, not only for this process, but for the fuel as well,” he says. The syngas, produced at a certain temperature regime to maintain quality, is used in the subsequent fermentation process to make the bioethanol, although a variation of the process does allow the use of syngas for electricity.
INEOS ADVANCES: Ineos Bio is developing a bioenergy center that will produce ethanol and power from biomass.
“We do have an alternative design where we actually bypass some of the syngas directly to the boiler to produce even more power,” says Mark Niederschulte, Ineos Bio chief operating officer. “That’s a design we’ve come up with to satisfy the needs of the European market.” Although the power production aspect of the facility does bring efficiency and economic benefits, it is essentially an outcome of the design and technology, Niederschulte adds. “Functionally, it works out,” he says. “It’s an outcome of the heat interaction of the design to try to maximize the energy efficiency of the entire process.” Ineos Bio began construction in February and expects the facility to be completed in April of 2012, with commissioning and operation shortly thereafter, Cummings says. —Lisa Gibson
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Ineos Bio’s bioenergy center will generate 6 megawatts of power from a gasification system, but not from the syngas.
A Financial Blessing
Grant money helps University of Alabama to continue to assist state biomass program.
Minnesota Angel Network aids new companies in need of funding.
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs has provided a $56,000 grant to the University of Alabama in Huntsville so that it can continue to assist ADECA in implementing its Biomass Energy Program. Through the program, ADECA reimburses companies up to $75,000 in loan interest payments over a maximum three-year period to install systems that use wood waste to power manufacturing processes. Eligible applicants include industrial, commercial, and institutional facilities, as well as agricultural property owners and city, county and state entities. Landfill gas projects are also eligible for funding consideration. UAHuntsville’s role in the program has been to visit companies interested in the program to observe existing equipment and operations to determine whether converting to a wood waste system is feasible. Once completed, university experts return to the project to ensure that the new equipment is operating properly and collect and analyze energy savings data for each project. —Anna Austin
New investors and start-up companies in Minnesota will soon have access to a new funding resource to help get projects off the ground. That includes emerging biomass and biofuel companies in the state, according to Melissa Kjosling of the BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota, a nonprofit state organization dedicated to developing new projects and funding start-up activities through increasing angel investor activity. In short, the Minnesota Angel Network provides a secure and focused webbased portal to facilitate connections between angel investors and companies, making it easier to obtain angel funding to grow their business. The system is also designed to save time for the investor by helping the company prepare for due diligence questions by providing seasoned mentors to aid them through the process. The program also aims to help maximize utilization of the Minnesota Angel Investor Tax Credit, which was signed into state law in April 2010 and provides a 25 percent individual income tax credit for qualified investors who put money into start-up and emerging companies focused on high technology or new proprietary technology. There is $15.9 million in tax credits available for 2011, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. The program is the result of two years of planning and is supported by the Biobusiness Alliance of Minnesota, several regional investor networks, Minnesota Initiative Foundations, universities and business leaders. Kjosling says that the Minnesota Angel Network website is still beta testing the application process, but the network will open the portal sometime this summer to companies and projects. —Anna Austin
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APRIL 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 23
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Today’s emission control devices are capable of keeping particulate matter emissions at reasonable levels and in line with regulations, but the best option may vary with each project. BY ANNA AUSTIN
APRIL 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 25
iomass power plant project opponents commonly claim that particulate matter (PM) emissions cause lung ailments and other health detriments and use that information to block the building of new facilities in their communities. What the developers of these plants, and authorities who permit them know, however, is that there are strict PM and other emissions limitations in place, and a number of options to help achieve these limits. Another common misconception of project opponents is that emissions regulation enforcement is passive, when it is quite the opposite. The U.S. EPA and state air pollution control districts closely monitor all power plants to make sure that they are in compliance with these laws, in order to protect public health and preserve air quality. In February, two 15.5-megawatt wood-fired biomass power plants in California’s San Joaquin Valley were fined a combined total of nearly $850,000 for failing to comply with PM and other emission regulations on both federal and district levels. In addition to the fines, the plants had to immediately install new equipment, and will be closely monitored for the next two years while they complete several other compliance orders. PM regulations currently in place are the result of decades of research and have changed over the years as methods of gathering relevant data have become more advanced. The first standards for PM were established by the EPA in 1971 under the Clean Air Act, and then were significantly revised in 1987 when the EPA changed the indicator of the standards to regulate inhalable particles smaller than or equal to 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10), or one-fourth of the size of a grain of table salt. Ten years later, they were changed again, setting separate standards for PM10 and fine particles (PM2.5) due to links with health problems and smaller microparticles. Twenty-four hour and annual standards were established for PM2.5, and PM10 has only a 24-hour standard due to insuf-
ficient evidence linking health problems to long-term exposure. Most recently, the EPA’s Maximum Achievable Control Technology rules, which were released Feb. 23, made additional, tighter requirements to new and existing biomass boiler PM and other emission limits and requirements. (To learn more about the changes, see “MACT Madness” on page 30.) So what might influence a biomass plant’s PM emissions and the type of control equipment that’s required? According to Paul Beauchemin, director and partner at Envirochem Services Inc., that depends on a number of factors.
PM Parameters and Equipment The chemical composition of the feedstock, physical and operational parameters, the combustion process and the type of air pollution control equipment used all affect PM emissions, Beauchemin says. For example, fuels high in ash, such as agricultural biomass, will require more costly PM controls than low-ash fuels. The combustion of wood, which is commonly used for power generation, produces different types of particles, according to Andy Miller, EPA national program director of global change research. These include small pieces of unburned fuel, which tend to be the largest particles. “These are fairly rare in industrial systems, especially in power generation plants, and can easily be captured by electrostatic precipitators (ESPs), cyclones and fabric filters,” he says. There are also particles composed of the inorganic ash in wood, and these tend to be much smaller, on the order of a micrometer in diameter. “These are similar to the ash particles from coal plants, but do not have as much heavy metal as is the case for coal,” Miller says. “These are well-controlled using both fabric filters and ESPs.”
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EMISSIONS¦ The last type of particle is composed of condensed liquid or gasphase organic matter that cools and forms small droplets. “These are also about a micrometer in diameter, but sometimes they are still in the gas phase when they get to the control system,” Miller says. “This material often condenses on the ESP or the filter, and is usually combustible, so that adds some operational difficulties to the system. There are ways around this problem, but the designers need to be aware of the issue, which they are for large systems like power generation plants.” In general, Miller says the most effective PM controls are fabric filters, with cyclones being much less effective and electrostatic precipitators (ESPs) falling in between, but much closer to fabric filters than to cyclones. For larger wood-fired plants, Beauchemin says he believes the best control option is ESPs. “For other fuels, material balances on the other chemicals in the fuel such as chlorine and sulfur may determine that some form of scrubbing or other mitigation process is required.” The final control level selected may depend on the evaluation of local and long-range impacts through the use of air shed analyses and dispersion modeling, Beauchemin adds. “There are now integrated controls appearing on the market that can manage PM, nitrous oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides and other gases in a single system,” he says. “Larger scale units typically have better controls than smaller units, usually because they can afford to, or are required by permit to have them. For example, small-scale industrial facilities are not currently fitted with ESPs, NOx reduction systems or air preheaters, all of which can affect the emissions.” Carlos Garcia, senior air quality engineer at the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District in California says the best controls depend a lot on the specifics of the particular installation. “[The best controls] for new biomass plants are likely to be a series of control techniques, such as a set of cyclones or a multiclone to take out larger
Basic Particulate Matter Control Options Electrostatic precipitator: An electrostatic precipitator uses non-uniform, high-voltage fields to apply large electrical charges to particles moving through the field. The charged particles move toward an oppositely charged collection surface, where they accumulate. Fabric filter baghouse: Fabric filters collect PM on the surfaces of filter bags. Most of the particles are captured on already collected particles that have formed a dust layer on the bags, and the fabric material itself can capture particles that have penetrated through the dust layers. Cyclone: Cyclones use the inertia of particles for collection. The particulate-laden gas stream is forced to spin in a cyclonic manner. The mass of the particles causes them to move toward the outside of the vortex. Most of the large-diameter particles enter a hopper below the cyclonic tubes while the gas stream turns and exits the tube. Wet scrubber: Particulate wet scrubber designs utilize particle and/ or droplet inertia as the fundamental force to transfer particles from the gas stream to the liquid stream. Within the scrubber, particleladen air is forced to contact the liquid droplets, sheets of liquid on a packing material or jets of liquid from a plate. Particles with too much inertia impact on the water droplet, water sheet, or water jet instead of passing around the target with the gas stream. SOURCE: U.S. EPA
APRIL 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 27
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¦EMISSIONS particles, followed by a scrubber, followed by a baghouse,” Garcia says. All eight biomass plants in the San Joaquin Valley were equipped with baghouses or ESPs when they were constructed. “These controls, which have similar abilities to control particulate emissions by 90-plus percent, were considered best available control technology (BACT) when constructed, and are still generally thought of as very good control technologies,” Garcia says. District rules require new biomass plants to control emissions with BACT, so their choices are limited, Garcia points out. “BACT is defined as the most effective control that has been achieved in practice anywhere in the world, at minimum. Also, anything that is more effective must be considered, and it will be required if it is also costeffective.” Garcia points out that the process of determining BACT is project-specific, and is quite complex and time consuming. “It would probably result in requiring the installation of something like the series of controls [cyclones-scrubber-baghouse],” he says.
Easing Fears of PMs As those in the biomass power industry know, air quality permitting regulations are designed to prevent health problems from industrial facilities, including biomass plants, Garcia says. “We can’t speak for the rest of the country, but PM emissions from biomass plants in the San Joaquin Valley are well-controlled. All have either baghouses or ESPs, and newly proposed plants would be expected to be even better controlled as technology has improved since the existing plants were permitted.” As for fears about PM in siting new plants, Garcia says it shouldn’t be an issue, at least not in the San Joaquin Valley. “Our permitting process would not allow us to issue a permit to a facility that is expected to cause a significant health risk to the public,” he says. “Of course, no one wants one in their backyard, just like they don’t want any industry in their backyard.” To assure compliance, biomass plants in the San Joaquin Valley are equipped with continuous emissions monitors that record emissions of some pollutants (although generally not PM) on an ongoing basis, which can be accessed from the district offices. The plants are also required to hire a third party to test the pollution being emitted from their facilities, Garcia adds, including particulate matter emissions, and report that information to the district. “Permits also contain conditions of operation that are expected to assure compliance with permitted emission limits, and we regularly inspect these facilities, as we do all permitted facilities, to ascertain compliance with those permit conditions.” When the district finds sources operating out of compliance, it issues Notices of Violation and requires them to come back into compliance. These facilities can be charged significant penalties for their period of noncompliance—the longer the periods of noncompliance, the higher the penalties, Garcia says. He points out that some biomass plants operate for years without significant violations, and some have larger problems, such as the two recently fined in the San Joaquin Valley.
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Miller says, generally speaking, biomass PMs don't pose any greater risk than coal emissions, but there will be differences between coal and wood, in that coal has more heavy metals and wood has more polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on a per unit energy input basis (pounds of emissions per million Btu of fuel input). “My view is that the public should be aware of these issues, and that all wood units should have effective controls,” he says. “It’s easy to look at small residential, commercial and industrial wood combustion units and think that a power plant will be the same, and will generate more [emissions] because it is bigger. However, it is always more cost-effective to have effective controls on larger units, simply because the cost of the control is a much smaller fraction of the total plant cost, and because large plants will have enough technical capability and people to make sure the systems are operating well.” Pollution control equipment manufacturers such as Eisenmann Corp., which offers a wet ESP that provides PM, acid gas and sodium oxide (SOX) removal, are confident their equipment can meet boiler MACT emissions limits. “The developers who feel [that EPA's emissions limits] are too harsh will convert their boilers to fossil fuels, while others will put in the appropriate emissions controls to meet compliance and probably modify their feedstocks to meet the [return on investment] they are looking for,” says Bradley Ginger of Eisenmann. “We'll most likely see new projects that will be using different feedstocks. Either way, the market will adapt so the economics will work out.” Some projects use separate systems to handle each pollutant, including PM, but that isn’t ideal, Ginger says. “Having multipollutant controls in place will give the developer the flexibility needed to stay in compliance and stay profitable.” Author: Anna Austin Associate Editor, Biomass Power & Thermal email@example.com (701) 738-4968
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30 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | APRIL 2011
MACT Madness The U.S. EPA has released an overhauled final version of the Maximum Achievable Control Technology rules, and the biggest changes will affect biomass boilers. BY LISA GIBSON
APRIL 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 31
hen the proposed Maximum Achievable Control Technology rules were released last April, a flurry of worry and borderline disgust engulfed the biomass power industry―concerned that it would soon be spending millions of dollars to install emission controls for hazardous air pollutants in existing units. It seemed the U.S. EPA’s proposals would mean that, or shutting down. Similarly, some developers feared they would have to scrap their plans, as the proposal made them uneconomical and burdensome. The nearly 5,000 comments submitted to the EPA during the public comment period pointed out what some believed to be flaw after flaw in the proposal. Biomass industry proponents worked to convince the agency that the rules were duds and did not reflect the realistic environment surrounding the biomass power industry, among others. Overwhelmed with the number of comments containing vital information, the EPA asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to grant it an extension of either six or 15 months past its Jan. 16 final rule deadline, to allow more time to review the comments and incorporate any needed changes. The latter was the preferred option, as it would accommodate a complete reproposal of the rules, along with another comment period. After a short, five-day extension for the court to mull over the request, it was denied and instead the EPA was granted only one month to
‘Based on this feedback, EPA revised the draft standards and found we could reduce emissions at a lower cost and still achieve the health benefits required under the law.’ ―Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator, EPA Office of Air and Radiation
craft the final rule, which it promised would differ significantly from the proposal. So with the biomass power industry on the edge of its seat anxiously awaiting a rule that could potentially devastate development, the EPA released its final rules on Feb. 23, cautioning up front that they were completely rewritten and compliance would cost about $1.8 billion less than projections for the proposed rules, a reduction of about half. “We received more than 4,800 comments that shed new light on a number of key issues,” says Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. “Based on this feedback, EPA revised the draft standards and found we could reduce emissions at a lower cost and still achieve the health benefits required under the law.” The rules are realistic, achievable and reasonable, she adds.
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32 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | APRIL 2011
REGULATIONS¦ The EPA expected it would not be granted its extension, McCarthy discloses, and thus began overhauling the rule immediately, shifting away from simply massaging the original proposal to rewriting it completely. “So while we would have preferred to have done it in a different process, we’re pretty comfortable with the rule that’s gone out,” she says. “We think it’s well-thought-out.”
Boiler Breakdown The actions released Feb. 23 encompass standards for four source categories—major source industrial, commercial and institutional boilers and process heaters; area source industrial, commercial and institutional boilers; commercial and industrial solid waste incinerators (CISWI); and sewage sludge incinerators—as well as an updated definition of solid waste, crucial in determining which rules a technology will fall under. The biggest change to the final rules that will save the most money in comparison with the proposal comes in the section dedicated to boilers at major source polluter locations. Major sources are categorized by the release of more than 10 tons per year of any single air toxic or 25 tons per year of any combination of air toxics. Based on the data received in comments, the major source rule—divided into 15 subcategories of units burning natural gas, biomass, coal and other fuels—combines
coal and biomass boilers into one solid fuel category. That closes the loophole for other solid fuel that may be burned, such as tires, and provides biomass boilers more flexibility. “As a result, the standards make it clear that many existing large biomass boilers no longer have to install scrubbers to control acid gases or lower mercury, because the data tells us that most of them don’t emit those pollutants to any great extent,” McCarthy says. The major source rule establishes emission standards for mercury (Hg), carbon monoxide (CO), dioxin/furans, hydrogen chloride (HCl), and particulate matter (PM). The rolling together of the two categories means higher and more easily achieved emission limits for PM, HCl and Hg in all existing biomass units. It also results in higher emission limits for three existing subcategories of biomass boilers for dioxin/furans. For CO, however, emission limits were decreased in two subcategories of existing units. And for new biomass units, emission standards for mercury and dioxin/furans were increased in all subcategories, but PM and HCl standards were decreased. CO standards were increased for two biomass subcategories and decreased for two. “By combining the coal and the biomass boiler categories for those three pollutants (PM, HCl and Hg), it has resulted in higher emission limits for the [existing] biomass units that will likely lead to them not having to install very expensive pollution
¦REGULATIONS ‘I think the final rule does provide some good incentives for coal to look at cofiring with biomass as part of a less-expensive compliance strategy.’ ―Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator, EPA Office of Air and Radiation
control equipment that the original proposal would have required,” says Deanna Duram, managing consultant with Trinity Consultants, headquartered in Dallas. But while the improvements for existing biomass units are a positive, the decreased standards for PM and HCl in new units will be challenging, she adds. Another important change also comes in the boiler categories. “We learned during the comment period that both new and existing small boilers are designed in a way that does not accommodate monitoring for specific pollutants,” McCarthy says. “That’s true whether you’re a major or area source.” In light of that realization, the EPA created a subcategory for small boilers— classified by a heat input capacity of less than 10 million Btu per hour—requiring only tune-ups every two years, in lieu of compliance with numeric emission standards. Limited-use boilers are also only required to conduct the tune-ups as well as all existing area source biomass boilers, and new area source biomass boilers with heat input capacity of 10 MMBtu per hour or greater are only required to meet PM limits. “It makes sense because these units are not a big piece of the pie in terms of toxic emissions and if we get them tuned up, they run more efficiently, more cleanly; they save money for the facilities and they keep emissions as low as they can get,” McCarthy says. Existing units falling under the boiler and process heater categories must comply with the rules by 2014, and new ones must comply upon start-up.
Incinerator Issues Both CISWI and sewage sludge incinerator rules control the five pollutants addressed in the boiler rules, as well as lead, cadmium, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. A major point of contention with the proposed rules in the biomass industry was the definition of solid waste, key to determining which rules a technology will fall under and subsequently how much money it will cost to comply. The deadline for compliance with CISWI rules is three years after the EPA approves a state plan to implement the standards, or 2016, whichever is earlier. Generally, to classify as a fuel instead of solid waste, a material must not be discarded initially; must remain in control of the generator; must be managed as a valuable commodity; have meaningful heating value and be burned in units that recover energy; and contain contaminants that are comparable to or lower than that of traditional fuel products. A petition process is also included for material that does not remain in control of the generator but has not been discarded and meets the legitimacy criteria above. Perhaps one of the most meaningful changes in the final definition for the biomass industry is the classification of resinated wood residuals as a nonsolid waste whether combusted in or out of the generator’s control, provided it meets the legitimacy criteria. That means forest products companies selling their board trim, panel trim, sander dust and other materials can consider them fuel. “The benefit in this change is basically the rule
34 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | APRIL 2011
as proposed said once it goes off-site, it’s a solid waste,” Duram explains, adding that the material has always been considered a valuable fuel in the forest products industry. “They still have to meet legitimacy criteria, but this was, for a lot of my clients, a very important change in the final rule.” As in the proposed rule, materials such as forest residuals, ag biomass and other clean cellulosic resources still qualify as fuels, but are now given the title of “alternative” traditional fuels. Had the biomass materials not qualified as fuels and instead solid waste, the operations burning them would be subject to stricter emission limits. As they are, the limits will require emission reductions at 85 of the 88 currently operating CISWI, according to the EPA. The rule requires stack testing, monitoring, and additional monitoring for new sources. Annual inspections of emission control devices are also required, as well as annual visible emissions tests of ash handling operations, and owners and operators must follow certain procedures for test data submittal. The sewage sludge incinerator rule includes multiple hearth and fluidized bed technologies and may require control device installations at about 196 of the 218 existing units, according to the EPA. The rules require provisions for testing, monitoring, recordkeeping, reporting and operator training. They were not included in the April 2010 MACT draft. For more information on the rules, visit www.epa.gov/airquality/combustion.
Moving Forward As a result of the significant changes in the final rules, the EPA announced a 60-day reconsideration period for certain aspects of the boiler and process heater portions, as well as for CISWI. The process will essentially replace the public comment period that would have been allowed with a 15-month extension. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is obligated to regulate hazardous air pol-
REGULATIONS¦ lutants from these sources and initially finalized a rule in 2004. It was vacated by the court in 2007, however, on the grounds that it did not properly distinguish “industrial boilers” from “solid waste incinerators,” which must be regulated separately, as per the CAA. The relevant definition of solid waste is not in the CAA, but rather the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The EPA, however, was tasked to determine which nonhazardous secondary materials are, and are not, solid waste as it relates to the CAA and MACT rules. The EPA fully expects petitions during the reconsideration period, McCarthy says, and promises to assess them fully, making further changes to the rules if necessary. “The rules we finalized [Feb. 23] are based on best scientific data,” she says. “They will lead to significant achievable reduction. They’ll promote tremendous public health benefits, and as we move forward with the next steps in the reconsideration process, we’ll make sure that these standards remain practical to implement and that American families can see the health benefits as soon as possible.” McCarthy also promised that the EPA will work with the U.S. departments of agriculture and energy to make compliance as easy and as inexpensive as possible for effected operations. The rules do, she adds, encourage the use of cleaner technologies by the dirtiest polluters: coal-fired boilers. “I think the final rule does provide some good incentives for coal to look at cofiring with biomass as part of a less-expensive compliance strategy.” Bob Cleaves, president and CEO of the Biomass Power Association, acknowledges the final rule is a large improvement, especially in the elimination of numeric emission standards for certain small biomass boilers, but doesn’t include the sweeping changes the BPA had hoped for. “Despite the best efforts by the administration and EPA, what we are left with is a rule that, in spirit,
is a very positive development,” he says. “I think a number of important changes were made, but I think it remains problematic.” The solid waste definition continues to worry the biomass power industry, as it can still include materials such as urban wood waste in California. “We are not incinerators,” Cleaves emphasizes. During the reconsideration process, the BPA plans to petition for a facility-byfacility basis for the rule, rather than the current pollutant-by-pollutant structure. While the new solid fuel subcategory of the major source rule increases some pollutant limits, the biomass power industry is still concerned about meeting the limits for mercury and dioxins, Cleaves says. He adds, though, that the subcategory does ease concerns considerably, and McCarthy agrees. “The move to solid
fuel category really provided flexibility for some of the biomass units and I think it was appropriate because it allowed them to target their controls to the actual emissions that they most contribute,” she says. Although Cleaves still has some complaints about the final rules, he is appreciative of the fact that the EPA attempted to better understand the biomass power industry and how those rules would affect it. “There’s no question that the EPA had a substantial learning curve in the past 12 months,” he says. Author: Lisa Gibson Associate Editor, Biomass Power & Thermal (701) 738-4952 email@example.com
Energy Solutions for a Sustainable World
143 Mallard Street, Suite F St. Rose, LA 70087 504.461.3801 www.guascor-usa.com APRIL 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 35
36 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | APRIL 2011
Pushing for Permits Every permitting experience is different. Biomass Power & Thermal talks to project developers about the challenges and successes of their permitting processes. BY ANNA AUSTIN
APRIL 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 37
ime, money and patience are perhaps the three most essential resources that a developer going through the permitting/approval process should have. Of course, each project is different and each state’s requirements may vary. Some developers discover that the entire process is much more difficult, complicated and time-consuming than initially anticipated, leaving them frustrated, unprepared and set back, and in some cases, regretting their decision to move forward with a project. In other cases, developers find themselves sailing through the process without much of a hitch. The process is especially difficult if the developer is using innovative technology, as is the case with James Taylor, president and CEO of Taylor Biomass Energy LLC, which broke ground on a 20-megawatt biomass gasification plant in Montgomery, N.Y., in early December. Taylor says it took him five years to gain all of the necessary approvals and permits for the garbage-to-energy plant, more time than he ever imagined it would take. He started the process in 2006, and completed phase one approvals in 2010. Taylor, who also owns a recycling business with which the biomass plant will be co-located, describes his experience as “an exhaustive, draining and sometimes duplicative process.” Not to mention costly. The final permitting price tag ran him about $3 million. Taylor wishes that before embarking on the process he had better understood the changes in regulations that would occur over the years. “I didn’t truly understand how much government has grown, and how many new requirements exist,” he says.
Local approvals were the toughest to get, Taylor says. Though public opposition or NIMBYism (not in my backyard) sometimes plays a role in achieving local approval, he says it really wasn’t the case in his situation. “There was no real opposition,” Taylor says. “In fact, most public turnouts were strongly in favor of approval of the project. I truly believe it was elected officials who were afraid to be in support of a project that they thought would hurt them instead of the opposite.”
Mostly Sunshine in Florida On the flip side, Rick Jenson, CEO of Florida Biomass Energy LLC, says he had a few setbacks when getting his 60-megawatt waste wood/vegetative waste-fired plant permitted, but his overall experience was positive. Unlike Taylor Biomass, Florida Biomass Energy is using timetested technology. Jensen says he has been working on the project, which is in Manatee County in southwestern Florida, for about two years and has all necessary permits in line. “We were actually permitted within about a year, but unfortunately, Florida has a statute called the Administrative Producers Act, which allows any individual in the state of Florida to challenge any project,” Jensen says. “We had a nearby individual who decided to challenge the project—not based on any merits but based on personal gain—so that set us back a good nine months. His first challenge was in November 2009, and it wasn’t resolved until October the next year, so it was about a 12-month slow-down, unfortunately.”
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SOURCE: FLORIDA BIOMASS ENERGY LLC
FLOURISHING IN FORIDA: Florida Biomass Energy has been working on permitting for a 60-megawatt biomass power project in Manatee County, Fla., for about two years. The plant would use waste wood and vegetative waste.
achieve the bare minimum in terms of standards. This creates challenges and difficulties along the way.” Like Taylor, Jensen says all of the different level of approvals required can be challenging and confusing because there is a lot of overlap. “It makes it a little more difficult in managing the process,” he says. States are working to make improvements though, including Florida, he points out. “The state has recently stepped up and is focused on combining some of the processes,” he says. “For the APA, in which we were recently challenged—on multiple fronts including our zoning, our comprehensive land-use change, our air
SOURCE: BIOGREEN SUSTAINABLE ENERGY CO.
Luckily, the situation ended in the biomass company’s favor. Jensen notes that it’s important for a developer to expect and be prepared for setbacks such as the one he faced. “It was resolved and we’re moving forward, but that really was an anomaly,” he says. “Unfortunately, most developers do have something like that they run into.” In his opinion, many problems developers face are often selfcreated. “The truth is that when you go in for development, there are both federal and state regulations for permitting and what’s allowed, and up until recently, developers have gone in trying to
CONSTRUCTION READY: Biogreen has all the necessary permits to build a 25-megawatt wood-fired biomass power plant in La Pine, Ore., and plans to break ground in the spring.
APRIL 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 39
¦PERMITTING permit and on our power purchase agreement with the Public Service Commission— each was an individual action that we had to address and defend separately. They recently implemented some new statutes in Florida where all challenges will be combined into a single-hearing, a single-challenge review. It’s an expedited action, and that will help tremendously in moving the process forward quickly.” Getting Florida Biomass Energy permitted was an overall positive experience
for the company, other than the project challenge, and Jensen attributes that to the attitude of the state of Florida. “They are pro-business,” he says. “The staff and folks in Florida were very supportive, and overall we had a good experience from a permitting standpoint, and that’s working with multiple agencies.” With all permits in hand, Florida Biomass Energy is now nearly ready to break ground. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll be able to obtain financing soon,”
‛People were more willing to accept our project, and they were more willing to help us move our project forward because they saw us as trying to do something positive, rather than trying to skate by with the minimum standards.’ ―Rick Jenson, CEO, Florida Biomass Energy LLC
Jensen says. “We went into full financing mode in the end of 2010, and we hope to obtain it and be able to break ground in the second quarter of 2011.” If that happens, the company plans to take advantage of the federal 1603 Program. “So far, we’re moving in that direction, and that’s our goal,” he says.
Permitting in the Beaver State While Oregon is a biomass-friendly state, it takes quite a bit of time to gain all of the necessary permits for a project; the key permits being air, water and zoning/land use, according to Robert Broberg, president of Biogreen Sustainable Energy Co. Biogreen is developing a 25-megawatt, wood-fired biomass power plant in the city of La Pine in central Oregon. Overall, it took the company about 20 months to acquire its permits at a cost of about $2 million. Broberg points out that this is the company’s first plant, and as with any first run at something, costs usually run higher than second or third attempts. The company estimates the total project will cost between $68 million and $75 million. For the most part, Broberg says the process went pretty well. “We engaged the public early and built a solid rapport with them, and this was key to moving the project through,” he says. “We also were fortunate to have very good consultants and attorneys working on the air, water and land-use critical path items.” Development in Oregon hasn’t been without its setbacks, however. “One problem that arose was a LUBA (Land Use Board of Appeals) appeal, which had
40 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | APRIL 2011
PERMITTING¦ nothing to do with the actual citizens of La Pine,” he says. “It was a result of outside interests and agendas. Going through the land-use process was the most difficult part of the whole process.” The La Pine city council rejected an appeal of the project in December. In Oregon, a LUBA appeal can be filed by a person, organization or corporation dissatisfied with the land-use decision or limited land-use decision made by the local government or special district. It is cheap to do, only costing a petitioner $400 to file the appeal, plus attorney costs if one is hired. “I think the only thing that needs a hard look at [in Oregon’s permitting process] is the issue of standing in a land-use appeal,” Broberg says. “Currently, anyone anywhere can appeal a land-use decision for any reason and it hardly costs them anything. These appeals should be reserved for citizens the project would actually affect. [The state] would see a lot more development if this issue was resolved.” Fortunately for the developers who have positive outcomes, LUBA requires the losing party of an appeal to reimburse the winning party for certain costs incurred during the process. Now past that setback and having all necessary permits in hand, Biogreen plans to break ground as early as this spring.
levels—the community and the state, and those on local and federal levels—they’ll see what you’re doing, and they’re smart people,” he says. Jensen says if developers who did that took a different angle going into a project, it could streamline the permitting process. “Our philosophy as a company is not to just go in green, but go in clean and green, so we went in as clean as possible. People were more willing to accept our project, and they were more willing to help us move our proj-
ect forward because they saw us as trying to do something positive, rather than trying to skate by with the minimum standards.” The reason that isn’t always done is because of costs, Jensen says. “It does cost more to be cleaner.” Author: Anna Austin Associate Editor, Biomass Power & Thermal (701) 738-4968 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Words from the Wise On advice to other developers, Taylor recommends making sure a developer is ready to deal with what could be a lengthy and stressful process. “Ask yourself, do you really want to do this?” Broberg believes the most beneficial move a developer can make when going through the permitting process is to engage the help of experts. “Hire good consultants and permitting specialists with a lot of experience,” he says. Jensen warns developers not to skate under the minimum thresholds. “Try to develop a project that truly is an asset to the community, not just a money-making entity for the developers and investors because the people you’re working with at all
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APRIL 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 41
42 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | APRIL 2011
Particularity in Permitting Compared with the U.S., Denmark has a shockingly simple permitting process for biomass heat and power facilities, undoubtedly a factor in its immense biomass energy consumption. BY LISA GIBSON
APRIL 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 43
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n some locations, permitting is a nightmarish rigmarole that can drag on for years before a project is finally ready for construction and operation. Permitting requirements for biomass power and thermal operations can vary by size, location, technology type and other factors, depending on the country—and sometimes the area within the country—where they’re being developed. Denmark has set itself apart from the rest of the world, however, with its efforts to simplify the permitting process for renewable energy operations, as it works toward its goal of 30 percent renewables by 2020. Especially when compared with the U.S., the country’s biomass power and heat facility permitting processes are admirable and undoubtedly have made development easier, contributing to the fact that biomass accounts for about 70 percent of Danish renewable energy consumption. Utilization of biomass material for energy has more than quadrupled from 1980 to 2005, and is still growing. “They’ve done a lot in Denmark to make [permitting] easy,” says Hans Christian Krarup, Danish country director for international consulting firm Golder Associates A/S. “It would be difficult to find another country where it’s easier.” Perhaps the most important factor in the case of permitting is that developers don’t have to distribute permitting applications and analyses to multiple agencies. Instead, it’s all submitted at the local level to the municipality with jurisdiction over the chosen development site, which conducts a majority of the permit issuances. “In Denmark, you have one-stop shopping with all the permits,” Krarup says. “You just make the application directly to the municipality and they’ll forward it to the relevant parties.” Krarup contributed to a 2008 study of noncost barriers to renewable energy growth in the European Union that found stakeholders in renewable sectors appreciated the onestop shopping aspect of permitting in Denmark, saying it simplified and streamlined the process, making it move more swiftly.
44 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | APRIL 2011
US Complications Most states in the U.S. have a much more complicated and involved process, highlighting another factor that sets it apart from Denmark’s: permitting requirements and processes vary significantly from state-to-state and often involve multiple agencies. While most large permits, such as air, must meet federal requirements, states are delegated to implement them and can enact more stringent requirements and thresholds than are dictated by federal laws. In Oregon, an energy facililty siting permit is required for biomass power plants producing more than 25 megawatts (MW), whereas in Washington the threshold for that permit is 350 MW. The permit in Oregon comes from the Energy Facility Siting Council and in Washington is issued by the Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, according to Golder Associates. Although the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council issues the certificate, it does not analyze the technical aspects of the project, as the group is made up of appointed citizens. “Being private citizens, they don’t work on evaluating the project per se,” says Chad Darby, Oregon-based senior consultant with Golder Associates. “The state [Department of Energy] has project officers who evaluate project applications and make recommendations to the council for approval or denial of the siting certificate.” In Oregon, the intent of the certificate is to look at everything the facility impacts, including air, water, noise, scenic views and other elements, numbering about 30 when all is said and done. Similarly, some states require a state environmental impact analysis or assessment. Again, the environmental impact permit requirements vary greatly from state to state and some projects can trigger state or federal environmental programs, such as Washington’s State Environmental Policy Act, the California Environmental Quality Act or the National Environmental Protection Act. Without a state
PHOTO: DANISH ENERGY AGENCY
DENMARK'S DEXTERITY: Permitting biomass power plants such as Plant Maarbjerg in Jutland, Denmark, a combined-heat-and-power facility, is much easier than in the U.S. as Denmark has an ambitious goal of 30 percent renewables by 2020.
environmental act, Oregon, for instance, would not require such a permit or assessment, outside of the energy facility siting certification, Darby says. U.S. biopower company Adage has alleviated some of the headaches that come with developing in different states by using a reference design intended specifically to fall under certain permitting requirements in the states the company has considered for development. Adage's 55-megawatt model will run on forest residues and employ best achievable control technologies (BACT) to ensure more ease in the permitting process, according to spokesman Tom DePonty. The company has permit-
ted two projects: one in Hamilton County, Fla., and another in Mason County, Wash. Florida permitting was made simpler because the site already had an Environmental Resource Permit, which comes from the State Department of Environmental Protection, DePonty explains. The permit needed minor amendments, though, because of differences between the biopower facility and the operation that was originally granted the permit but didn’t develop there. The air permit for Florida was also granted by the Department of Environmental Protection, which does not require a BACT analysis, DePonty says. “We meet
APRIL 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 45
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In Denmark, larger plants and those that generate issues with transmission lines, noise or other factors for neighbors must go through a public hearing process, whereas in the U.S., the construction permitting process is almost always open to public input. Intricacies with building permits can encompass zoning and conditional use factors, as well.
the BACT Standards, but Florida doesn’t require BACT analysis in their permit,” he says. In Washington, Adage received preliminary approval for an air permit from the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency, and a land-use permit, regulated by SEPA. The latter includes an environmental assessment with 13 different areas of analysis including water quality, noise and traffic, DePonty says. At press time, Biomass Power & Thermal learned that the Washington project was canceled because of poor market conditions. But the identical facility design will help Adage wade through the varying permitting requirements, making it simpler in comparison with companies developing different facilities in different states. “I wouldn’t disagree that it can be a complex process [in the U.S.],” DePonty says.
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In contrast, Denmark’s permitting requirement framework for biomass power and heating plants is the same across the entire country and has been since the 1990s, when it began using biomass resources extensively, according to Finn Bertelsen, senior advisor for the Danish Energy Agency’s Division of Energy Supply and Renewable Energy. Small changes have, of course, come into play, but the principle of the permitting process has remained static. “In the 1990s, the Danish Energy Agency was informed of municipalities’ decisions and could evaluate,” he says. “But since about 2004, we don’t do that anymore.” The law on heat production controls district heating plants,
46 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | APRIL 2011
while the law on electricity production controls those that generate electricity, he adds. Denmark is a constitutional monarchy divided into five regions and 98 municipalities, with governing bodies on the national, regional and municipal levels. Biomass power facilities 25 MW or larger in Denmark will need air and water permits that come from a regional environmental protection center, permission from the Danish Energy Agency to supply clean power to the grid, and in most cases, permission from the municipality to deliver district heat to its local network, according to Bertelsen. Any biomass power plant with an output below 25 MW is regulated entirely on the local level, including air and water permits, as are all small-scale district heating plants. District heating delivers more than 60 percent of the heating needs in Denmark, 40 percent from biomass. All power plants also provide district heat, Bertelsen adds. Power plants above 25 MW are also not required to submit an environmental and socio-economic impact analysis, although they do have to prove emission data, he says. “Bigger electricity-producing plants are on the market, so it’s a pure economic decision if you want to build that plant or not,” he says. Small district heating facilities are also not required to submit an environmental study. Air and water permits for biomass facilities fall under an all-inclusive environmental permit required for all operations that pollute, whether renewable energyrelated or as simple as an auto workshop, Krarup says. While Danish biomass plant water permits generally deal only with the quality of water discharged from the op-
PROJECT DEVELOPMENT¦ “The sense I get is that [Europe] has a also stem from the countries' industrial backerations, U.S. water permits can relate to stormwater runoff and other issues, much more holistic way of looking at pollu- grounds. “We are a small nation. We don’t and the approving agencies also vary tion,” Darby says. “The European permit- have many raw minerals so we have to use ting process for industrial sources looks at other resources. And there’s no doubt Denamong states. whole life-cycle impacts, whereas we have mark is ahead in many areas of the renewable a more fractured system where you’ve got energy sector. It has benefited our industry In Tiers In keeping with the theme of com- to go to one agency group to get a water that we have been open to [new technologies plicated permitting requirements, the permit … then you go to another agency and options for clean energy].” U.S. has a tiered, headache-inducing air group to get an air permit and so on.” Author: Lisa Gibson While it could be argued that differences permitting process that, to make matAssociate Editor, Biomass Power & Thermal ters even more confusing, is still being in permitting between Denmark and the U.S. (701) 738-4952 email@example.com formulated. Emissions above a certain are the result of contrasts in country size and threshold trigger major source require- government structure, Krarup says it could ments, causing consternation with greenhouse gas emissions from biomass power plants. “Once you get into that major source permitting category, Truck Receiving Systems there’s a whole lot more you have to do in order to get your permit,” Darby Efficiently unload chip trailers with reliable and robust says. The magnitude or type of facilequipment from BRUKS Rockwood. ity can categorize it under New Source www.BRUKS.com Performance Standards—applying to specific new, modified or reconstructed facilities in a number of industries— or the Maximum Achievable Control Technology rules, which splice permitting requirements even further between solid waste incinerators and boilers. “Our system can be very confusing,” Darby says. “There are requirements coming from a wide variety of agencies.” In Denmark, air permitting for biomass power is not so fractured and the only differentiating factor is the 25 MW threshold, Krarup says. “There are standard parts of environmental law which are by now quite well-integrated for these effects,” he adds. Of course, facilities in both countries need construction permits on the local level, which can also vary by location. In Denmark, larger plants and those that generate issues with transmission lines, noise or other factors for neighbors must go through a public hearing process, whereas in the U.S., the construction permitting process is almost always open to public input. Intricacies with building permits can encompass zoning and conditional-use factors, as well.
APRIL 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 47
¦PUBLIC RELATIONS CONTRIBUTION
Do You Have Control Over NIMBYism? What steps can you take when your biomass project faces opposition? BY AL MAIORINO
icture this. The chief executive officer of a large biomass corporation wants to pursue a new development. The economic difficulties haven’t slowed his company so he decides to build a new plant near a small town in Massachusetts. The company’s management team constructs the business plan, collects the proper paperwork and gets ready for the approval process. All of a sudden the zoning commission holds off on granting their permit. Why? Residents of the towns near the proposed site created an opposition group to fight the project. Despite the fact that the new plant would generate clean energy to power up sev-
eral towns, increase the tax revenue and improve the local economy, the community doesn’t seem to understand these benefits. The residents say the new facility would be too close to their homes and may be potentially hazardous to their health. They say it would create too much noise, pollution, and traffic, and would obstruct their views. This is when the chief executive officer realizes that opposition is indeed a roadblock that may halt or even destroy his project. So what does he do now?
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).
48 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | APRIL 2011
The problem that this company is faced with is not so uncommon. It is called the “not in my backyard syndrome” or NIMBYism. It consists of strong opposition by one person or a group of people to a new project or development in their community. Al Maiorino, NIMBYs, as they are commonly president of Public referred to, are likely to organize Strategy Group, develops and quickly to communicate their opmanages multiple position to a local project in an efcorporate public fort to curb development. affairs campaigns The origins of NIMBYism in a variety of industries. are somewhat vague. Some scholars believe the concept originated as early as the 1950s. However, the practice of communal opposition to development
blossomed in the 1980s. During that time, community concerns were reasonable and justified in most cases. First of all, the biomass industry was so new that people simply feared it as the unknown. In addition, with the technology available during that period, building a biomass plant in a neighborhood could mean noise, traffic, and pollution. While those days are gone, the sentiment of opposition remains, as does the stigma of a biomass development near one’s home. With the use of modern technology and strict government regulations, the inconvenience caused by any sort of development is usually reduced to the minimum. The NIMBYs, however, always find a reason to oppose development. It seems that often they are simply “in it to win it.” They oppose just for the sake of making a statement. The size of the “backyard” has grown so vastly that nowadays NIMBYism affects companies all over the world. From New York to Tokyo, businesses in the biomass industry are looking for ways to win the NIMBY battle.
Fight Misinformation If your firm finds itself involved in a NIMBY fight, take the steps necessary to ensure the proper message is getting out to the public. Very often the opposition stems from misinformation and poor communication between project representatives and the community. In this case, it is better to play on the offensive. Instead of waiting for the opposition to grow, present the facts up front. It is necessary to look for local support and build allies in order to form a supporter coalition. First and foremost, identify and create a database of local residents who are in favor, against or undecided about the project. A good way to begin is by conducting a poll or establishing a phone bank, asking local residents about their view of the renewable energy industry in general, and about your development plan in particular. The results of the surveys may then be published to showcase the positive attitude in the community toward your venture. Once the database is created, it has to be maintained and updated frequently for the campaign management to be aware of any changes in the local opinion. One way to do this is through a targeted direct mail and/or advertising campaign. A strong social media
PHOTO: PUBLIC STRATEGY GROUP INC.
HEAD OFF NIMBYS: Project developers need to get out ahead of any potential opposition and present the facts about their project right away.
campaign may also work as a modern tool to spread your message, reach out to the community and provide supporters with a communication outlet. Although many campaigns use modern technology to deliver a message, most grassroots campaigns mainly rely on direct face-to-face interaction between the developers and local communities.
Reach Out to Supporters Now that you have distinguished supporters from opposition, the next step is to reach out to third-party groups that support your development. These could be anything from small businesses to a local decision maker. Those companies or groups with whom you have had a positive relationship or will benefit from your project should be encouraged to participate in the campaign. Residents should express their support through writing letters to their elected officials or newspapers. Those who are looking to support further can attend public hearings where they can speak about the benefits of your project. Most likely, an independent progroup would have emerged by now and will actively participate in all aspects of the campaign. You may choose to fight NIMBY on your own. Experience shows, however, that hiring a specialized firm will provide you with the necessary tactics to ensure support for your development. More often than not, the
public relations firm you are looking to employ may not be equipped with the necessary tools and experience to tackle the NIMBY issue. Public relations specialists may help you develop your brand, create your image, and give your company the publicity it needs. Those benefits may be useful in some instances, but experience in grassroots campaigns is necessary to properly assess your project and analyze your NIMBY issues. Your best bet is to consult a public affairs organization. Professionals, trained in grassroots, will make sure that the correct message from your company is being distributed to the community and the silent majority is heard. The way you approach the situation will make all the difference. When it came down to it the chief executive officer of that biomass corporation had a decision to make. He could choose to ignore the NIMBY fight, avoid communicating with the local community and take the situation to an unnecessary level of tension. Instead the company’s management team hired a specialized firm that developed a strategy, engaged in conversation with the community and encouraged the proponents of the project to voice their support. Soon after the conflict was put to rest, the permit was granted and the company went on to build the plant. Author: Al Maiorino President, Public Strategy Group Inc. www.publicstrategygroup.com (617) 859-3006
APRIL 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 49
Integration and Use of Solid Waste from Agave A pilot project in Mexico will use the waste from agave processing to produce biocarbon, biofuel, steam and electricity. BY FRANCISCO X. VILLASENOR
Prompted by the high cost of energy in industrial processing, a research and development company, Carbon Diversion America Latina S.A. de C.V. (CDAL), was founded in 2007, in Mexico, to develop new paradigms for producing renewable energy by converting biomass in a closed-cycle energy system. Tranformacion Carbon y Energia, S de R.L. de C.V. (TCE) will be the first facility to use agave biomass as a renewable feedstock and operate the technology from CDAL, according to Franciso Villasenor, president
and CEO of Carbon Diversion, who has been researching second-generation biofuels and believes that converting agave residues will revolutionize heat and electricity production in Mexico. The first stage of the process will involve densifying―and in subsequent stages flash carbonization and torrefaction―the biomass into pellets and briquettes that can be used to produce biocarbon, biofuel, steam and electricity. This process will allow TCE to offer an efficient and responsible solution
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).
50 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | APRIL 2011
to reduce organic residues and carbon emissions. During the processing of agave, tequila is produced along with solid residues that are hard to dispose of. Specifically, the project operated by TCE has dual objectives: to ecologically dispose of the agave waste by converting it into a solid fuel, which will be considered a second-generation renewable fuel because it doesn’t use feedstocks that are consumed by humans, and to make use of left over agave leaves that previously had no other purpose, thereby solving a current environmental problem. With this process, the formation of carbon dioxide, as well as the methane that
HEAT SOURCE: Agave residue, woody biomass and other organic waste can be densified into pellets and briquettes that can be used to generate heat less expensivly than using diesel or other fossil fuels.
is produced inside the agave bagasse piles, will be avoided.
Project Status The first facility has been installed in Amatitán Valley in Jalisco State, Mexico, 40 kilometers (24 miles) from Guadalajara City, in order to certify the process and system as well as the production of agave briquettes, agave pellets and biocarbon. In other words, the pilot plant will use agave biomass as a feedstock to demonstrate its industrial viability. Since CDAL was founded, it has three pending patents registered in the intellectual property institute—Instituto Mexicano de Propiedad Industrial. The first patent covers the process and system to transform the agave biomass into biocarbon and simultaneously into energy. The second is related to the industrialization of the agave biocarbon, the mixes and the byproducts. The third is a patent for the mix and the method of preparing a solid fuel made out of Agave spp, and the biofuel in briquette and pellet forms. TCE will provide a disposal method for the waste produced in the agave industry, including tequila distilleries, inulin and honey factories, ethanol facilities and industrialized pharmaceutical alcohol production. TCE will be the first of many plants that will be installed in Mexico in the short term as the pilot project is developed.
The method to prepare this solid fuel from agave biomass involves pretreating the feedstock. Some of the outstanding properties of the new densified agave fuel are: • High fixed carbon • Low moisture • High density • Excellent superior heating value • Extraordinary chemical composition • Lignocellulosic material • Long-period consumption • Convenient dimensions • Cylindric format The pellets and briquettes are in cylindrical form and can be produced from agave residue and other biomass including clean wood waste, which may consist of sawdust and shavings, wood chips and other organic waste. It is a fuel that is widely used in developed countries for power generation through combustion in boilers and stoves. Economically speaking, the heat that’s generated using agave pellets or briquettes costs less than the cost to do so with diesel or other fossil fuels. Author: Franciso X. Villasenor President and CEO, Carbon Diversion America Latina S.A. de C.V. 52-33-37206455 firstname.lastname@example.org
APRIL 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 51
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