INSIDE ¦ April 2014
ON THE COVER
People in Biomass Exclusive Backstories on 18 Industry Pros
(Left to right) Bob Cleaves, Seth Ginther, Chris Wiberg and Michael McAdams PHOTO: ELIZABETH BURSLIE, BBI INTERNATIONAL
APRIL 2014 | VOLUME 8 | ISSUE 4
06 EDITOR’S NOTE The Biomass Industry’s Beating Heart By Tim Portz
07 INDUSTRY EVENTS Plus: How Les Otten Went from Skis and the Red Sox to Biomass
08 BUSINESS BRIEFS
Q1 Biomass Construction Update Sees Multiple Projects to Completion Page 12
12 BIOMASS CONSTRUCTION UPDATE
12 COPYRIGHT © 2014 by BBI International
Biomass Magazine: (USPS No. 5336) April 2014, Vol. 8, Issue 4. Biomass Magazine is published monthly by BBI International. Principal Office: 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. Periodicals Postage Paid at Grand Forks, North Dakota and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Biomass Magazine/ Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58203.
POWER 20 NEWS 21 COLUMN Lessons of Winter By Bob Cleaves
22 FEATURE Power Pundits
Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts or samples before recycling
Subscriptions Biomass Magazine 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 Magazine 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Advertising Biomass Magazine 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 Magazine advertising opportunities, please contact us at 701-746-8385 or email@example.com. Letters to the Editor We welcome letters to the editor. Send to Biomass Magazine Letters to the Managing Editor, 308 2nd Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203 or email to asimet@bbiinternational. com. Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space.
Fostering public and policymaker education, technological development and continual innovation, Steve Bossotti, Bob Cleaves and Mark Paisley have made a mark on the biomass power industry. By Anna Simet
PELLETS 28 NEWS 29 COLUMN The Multifaceted Benefits of Pellets By William Strauss
30 FEATURE Pellet Propellers Chris Wiberg, Seth Ginther and Les Otten are a few of many professionals dedicated to growing the residential and export pellet markets. By Tim Portz
APRIL 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 3
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BUILDING EQUIPMENT THAT CREATES OPPORTUNITIES
MARCH 2014 | VOLUME 8 | ISSUE 4
2014 International Biomass Conference & Expo
2014 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo
2014 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo
22nd European Biomass Conference & Exhibition
AgFuel Energy Systems
Amandus Kahl GmbH & Co. KG
Continental Biomass Industries, Inc.
CPM Roskamp Champion
Dieffenbacher DustMASTER Enviro Systems
Electromatic Equipment Company, Inc.
Greenbelt Resources Corporation
Hurst Boiler & Welding Co. Inc.
Iowa Economic Development Authority
KEITH Manufacturing Company
MEGTEC Systems Inc.
THERMAL 36 NEWS 38 FEATURE Thermal Trailblazers Thanks to the ambitions of individuals such as Scott Nichols, Charlie Niebling, Norman Senf and John Ackerly, biomass thermal is is gaining some long-overdue mainstream acceptance and legislative attention. By Anna Simet
New Holland Agriculture
Parr Instrument Company
SCHADE Lagertechnik GmbH
Seeger Green Energy, LLC
West Salem Machinery
Wolf Material Handling Systems
BIOGAS 45 NEWS 46 COLUMN Taking Recycling Efforts to the Next Level By Amanda Bilek
47 FEATURE Biogas Bolsterers Mel Kurtz, Amanda Bilek, Joshua Rapport and Patrick Serfass have devoted their careers to growing the U.S. biogas energy sector. By Chris Hanson
ADVANCED BIOFUELS & CHEMICALS 53 NEWS 54 COLUMN A Biomass Farm Bill By Margaret McCormick
55 FEATURE Advancing Biofuels Michael McAdams, Susan Hager, Jason Quinn and Graham Noyes are playing significantly different but equally important roles in moving the advanced biofuel and chemical sector forward. By Sue Retka Schill
APRIL 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 5
The Biomass Industry’s Beating Heart This issue of Biomass Magazine opens with the first quarterly Biomass Construction Update of 2014. Five of the 24 projects listed in the report bear the stamp “Project Complete.” Drawing attention to construction may seem curious, considering this installment is our TIM PORTZ VICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT first-ever “People Issue,” but it under& EXECUTIVE EDITOR firstname.lastname@example.org scores and validates our decision to build an entire edition of Biomass Magazinee that celebrates the men and women who are the beating heart of the biomass industry. The 45-MW power facility that DTE Energy has just completed and brought on line in Stockton, Calif., is the final manifestation of a collection of people who put their knowledge, skill, passion and tireless energy to work. Remove any one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who worked on that project, or any of the other projects in the Biomass Construction Update, and the project decelerates. That said, in an industry built to deliver Btus, MWs and gallons, people can and do get lost in the shuffle. Recognizing this, we decided to draw attention to a handful of people who make an invaluable contribution to the biomass industry. This proved to be challenging, as our potential subjects often deflected inquiries away from themselves and toward their work, the industry and the importance of expanding the possibilities of biomass-derived energy. Themes did emerge. For example, all of the people we profiled wear many hats. It seems this commonality stems from their willingness to do what needs to be done. Bob Cleaves, president of the Biomass Power Association, ping-pongs around the country to educate policymakers at both the state and federal levels about the value of base load, renewable energy. His is a game of plate spinning, but for Cleaves, the plates are scattered across the country. A thread of an enthusiastic curiosity for technology and technology adoption can also be found woven throughout this issue. Mel Kurtz, Les Otten and John Ackerly all recount their first exposures to various conversion technologies, and, for each, it was a watershed moment. An industry is nothing without its people. I would even dare to suggest that the biomass industry is even more reliant on people such as those featured in this issue, because every gallon, every Btu and every MW we advocate and innovate for, and work to bring on line, emerges in spite of an entrenched incumbent. Without our people, this industry would simply wither.
6 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | APRIL 2014
EDITORIAL PRESIDENT & EDITOR IN CHIEF Tom Bryan email@example.com VICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT & EXECUTIVE EDITOR Tim Portz firstname.lastname@example.org MANAGING EDITOR Anna Simet email@example.com NEWS EDITOR Erin Voegele firstname.lastname@example.org STAFF WRITER Chris Hanson email@example.com COPY EDITOR Jan Tellmann firstname.lastname@example.org
ART ART DIRECTOR Jaci Satterlund email@example.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Raquel Boushee firstname.lastname@example.org
PUBLISHING & SALES CHAIRMAN Mike Bryan email@example.com CEO Joe Bryan firstname.lastname@example.org VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS Matthew Spoorr email@example.com MARKETING DIRECTOR John Nelson firstname.lastname@example.org BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR Howard Brockhouse email@example.com SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER Chip Shereck firstname.lastname@example.org CIRCULATION MANAGER Jessica Beaudry email@example.com TRAFFIC & MARKETING COORDINATOR Marla DeFoe firstname.lastname@example.org
EXTERNAL EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS Timothy Cesarek, Enerkem Inc. Shane Chrapko, Himark Biogas Stacy Cook, Koda Energy Benjamin Anderson, University of Iowa Gene Zebley, Hurst Boiler Andrew Held, Virent Inc. Kyle Goerhing, Eisenmann Corp.
INDUSTRY EVENTS¦ International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo JUNE 9-12, 2014
Indiana Convention Center Indianapolis, Indiana Now in its 30th year, the FEW provides the global ethanol industry with cutting-edge content and unparalleled networking opportunities in a dynamic business-to-business environment. The FEW is the largest, longest running ethanol conference in the world—and the only event powered by Ethanol Producer Magazine. 866-746-8385 | www.fuelethanolworkshop.com
National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo OCTOBER 13-15, 2014
Hyatt Minneapolis Minneapolis, Minnesota Produced by BBI International, this national event will feature the world of advanced biofuels and biobased chemicals—technology scale-up, project finance, policy, national markets and more—with a core focus on the industrial, petroleum and agribusiness alliances defining the national advanced biofuels industry. With a vertically integrated program and audience, the National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo is tailored for industry professionals engaged in producing, developing and deploying advanced biofuels, biobased platform chemicals, polymers and other renewable molecules that have the potential to meet or exceed the performance of petroleum-derived products. 866-746-8385 www.advancedbiofuelsconference.com
International Biomass Conference & Expo APRIL 20-22, 2015
Minneapolis Convention Center Minneapolis, Minnesota Organized by BBI International and produced by Biomass Magazine, this event brings current and future producers of bioenergy and biobased products together with waste generators, energy crop growers, municipal leaders, utility executives, technology providers, equipment manufacturers, project developers, investors and policy makers. It’s a true one-stop shop – the world’s premier educational and networking junction for all biomass industries. 866-746-8385 | www.biomassconference.com
APRIL 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 7
Business Briefs PEOPLE, PRODUCTS & PARTNERSHIPS
Elevance hires chief technology officer Elevance Renewable Sciences has hired Robert Kumpf as chief technology officer. In his new role, Kumpf will focus on expanding the company’s product and applications development capabilities. Kumpf Prior to joining Elevance, he served as chief operating officer at Plextronics, a developer of semiconductive polymers and ink formulations. He also previously served as chief administration officer at Bayer MaterialScience. Chesterfield BioGas wins contract for biogas upgrading system Pressure Technologies has announced that its alternative energy division, Chesterfield BioGas Ltd., was awarded a £4.2 million ($7 million) contract to supply, install and commission biogas upgrading
equipment for a biogas-to-grid project in the U.K. The project will utilize Greenlane Totara-plus water-wash upgraders and will be capable of processing up to 5,000 cubic meters of biogas per hour. The resulting biogas will consist of 89 percent pure methane. VIC adds team member Vecoplan Integrated Controls has added Henry Gilliland to its electrical engineering team. Gilliland graduated from North Carolina State University in 2012 and brings three years of practical experience Gilliland to his new position. He worked on a co-op basis at Highland Industries while pursuing his undergraduate degree, and later worked as a full-time engineer with the company.
m rgy Syste e n E t a e H
Reliance Industries to invest in Algae.Tec biofuel plant India-based Reliance Industries Ltd. has announced an investment in Australiabased Algae.Tec’s first Indian biofuel plant. RIL will initially invest $1.5 million in the company, followed by $1.2 million at a later date. Algae.Tec plans to use the initial capital to build a pilot biofuel plant that utilizes its algae fuel technology.
Štambaský (left) is congratulated by former EBA president Wellinger.
EBA elects new president The European Biogas Association announced its members have voted to
Biomass Pelletizing & Energy Systems Pellet Plants | Dryers | Furnaces | Steam Boilers | Thermal Oil Heaters | Cogeneration Dieffenbacher USA, Inc. 2000 McFarland 400 Blvd. | Alpahretta, GA 30004 Phone: (770) 226-6394 | email@example.com 8 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | APRIL 2014
make Jan Štambaský the organization’s new president. Štambaský will replace Arthur Wellinger, who served as president for five years. David Collins of the U.K.’s Renewable Energy Association Biogas Group was also elected to join the board. Štambaský is the founder of NovaEnergo Ltd., which focuses on advanced biochemical approaches to enhance the overall efficiency of biogas and biomethane production processes. He is a member of the Czech Biogas Association and was appointed a member of the EPA’s executive board in 2009. Sensor Electronics adds new gas detector Minnesota-based Sensor Electronics has announced a new gas detector that spots methane leaks in biogasification plants, collector tents, distribution networks, pipelines,
pumping stations, storage tanks and other critical areas. The detector works both indoors and outdoors and can operate in conditions with airborne contaminants, corrosive atmospheres, fog, smog, rain, snow, dust, sleet, aerosols, and temperature and humidity extremes. The detector shows actual biomethane levels on a digital readout panel, while color-coded LEDs indicate rising gas levels.
Puritan announces spout magnet Puritan Magnetics Inc. has announced the availability of its EZ Clean Vertical Spout Magnet. The product is engineered to
remove fine to large ferrous contaminants from high-volume, gravity-fed product streams. The system is ideally suited for products that would bridge or choke in a magnetic tube-type separator and easily removes ferrous contaminants from products that are moist, lumpy, granular or in powder form. Construction starts on biogas upgrading system in China China Shipbuilding Industry Corp. has invested in an EnviFarm Classic biogas plant with an EnviThan gas upgrading system in Jiyuan, Henan province. The plant will operate using pig manure as feedstock. The 500-standard-cubic foot facility is expected to begin operations this year.
SHARE YOUR INDUSTRY NEWS: To be included in the Business Briefs, send information (including photos and logos, if available) to Business Briefs, Biomass Magazine, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You may also email information to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and telephone number in all correspondence.
HELPING ALTERNATIVE ENERGY BECOME MAINSTREAM. PROUDLY SUPPORTING AMERICA’s AMER CA s ENERGY INDEPENDENCE.
©2014 CNH America LLC. All rights reserved. New Holland is a trademark registered in the United States and many other countries, owned by or licensed to CNH Industrial N.V., its subsidiaries or affiliates. NHBM03148928
Palm oil plantation, Asia. Provide a rugged, stand-alone CHP system to operate under harsh conditions in a remote location. Elliott delivered a cost-effective steam turbine generator package providing power and process steam.
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Biomass CONSTRUCTION UPDATE Biomass Power
Q1: A Quarter of Progress and Completion by Kolby Hoagland
The Q1 2014 Biomass Construction Update celebrates the start of commercial operation for five bioenergy installations: DTE Stockton LLC, Gainesville Renewable Energy Center, Enviva Pellets Northampton LLC, Hometown Bioenergy LLC and KB Bioenergy. These five plants represent a total of 156.7 MW of biomass power and 500,000 metric tons of pellet capacity. The terms that define a plant's completion and start of “commercial operation” vary greatly among the four sectors covered in the Biomass Construction Update: biomass power, pellets, biogas and advanced biofuels. Multiple and varying factors influence when a project completes construction and begins commercial operation. For biomass power, start up is defined as a multistep process that begins during commissioning, and continues after the plant is supplying electricity to the grid. This is done to ensure that the power plant can dependably supply electricity to the grid. Regulation and the technological intricacies of power generation and supply require a slower start up than other sectors. Commissioning and start up of advanced biofuel plants and biogas facilities require synchronization of microbial communities and industrial processes. Abengoa’s Kansas cellulosic ethanol plant, for example, has a 21-MW biomass power plant installed in line with the pretreatment, fermentation and distillation processes necessary for producing cellulosic ethanol. Naturally, the more complex a project's design and base technology, the
DTE Stockton LLC, DTE Energy Location
Gainesville Renewable Energy Center PHOTO: GREC
more time required to bring the project into commercial operation. Contracts also play a large part in when a plant is considered complete and ready to sell bioenergy products and services into its respective market. Regulators and funders often set financial benchmarks and performance requirements that tie to funding. The capital, time, and coordination needed to bring a project to successful completion is not a feat with a clear finish line, but a period of time during which achieving a number of small goals denotes enormous accomplishments. If you would like your construction accomplishments covered by Biomass Magazine, please send an email to email@example.com.
Gainesville Renewable Energy Center, American Renewables LLC Location
ESI Inc., DTE Stockton, LLC
Bubbling fluidized bed
Combined heat & power
Combined heat & power
Federal 1603 grant
IPP or Utility
IPP or utility
The project is complete and operating commercially.
GREC is now operating commercially.
Atikokan Generating Station, Ontario Power Generation Inc. Location
Atikokan, Ontario, Canada
Aecon, Doosan, Nordmin
Suspension fire system
Combined heat & power
IPP or Utility
Boiler controls commissioning is underway. Silo mechanicals are 80 percent complete, and transfer tower electrical and cladding are proceeding.
12 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | APRIL 2014
Atikokan Generating Station PHOTO: ONTARIO POWER GENERATION INC.
CONSTRUCTION UPDATEÂŚ Drax Power Station, Drax Group plc
Eagle Valley Clean Energy, Evergreen Energy
Drax, Yorkshire, U.K.
Forest restoration residue
Pulverized fueled boiler
Combined heat & power
Combined heat & power
Federal 1603 grant
IPP or Utility
IPP or utility
April 2013 (1st unit)
The first of four storage domes, rail receipt and unloading, and distribution systems are complete and operating. The first converted unit will soon fully operate on the new storage facilities.
The facility was placed into start-up service in December.
Enviva Pellets Northampton LLC, Enviva LP
Amite BioEnergy, Drax Biomass International Inc.
Builder Pellet mill
Enviva Port of Chesapeake
Port of Greater Baton Rouge
Hardwood and softwood
Southern yellow pine
Type of pellets
Type of pellets
Industrial premium pellets
Fire prevention technology
Fire prevention technology
500,000 metric tons
450,000 metric tons
First half 2012
First half 2013
Facility is under commercial operation.
Project continues on schedule.
Enviva Pellets Southampton LLC, Enviva LP
Fram Renewables Fuels - Hazlehurst, Fram Renewable Fuels LLC
Enviva Port of Chesapeake
Port of Brunswick
Hardwood and softwood
Type of pellets
Type of pellets
Residential and industrial
Fire prevention technology
Fire prevention technology
500,000 metric tons
First half of 2014
January 2014 (line 1)
Project is currently completing ramp-up and commissioning phases.
Line 1 construction is complete and undergoing commissioning. Civil and electrical work will begin soon for lines 2 and 3. Lines 4 and 5 will be constructed in 2015.
German Pellets Louisiana, German Pellets GmbH
Hamilton Biofuel, Courtice Energy
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
German Pellets Louisiana LLC
Thermotech Technologies Inc.
Port of Arthur
Port of Hamilton and Quebec City
Softwood and hardwood
Hardwood and softwood
Type of pellets
Industrial and premium
Type of pellets
Fire prevention technology
German Pellet proprietary
Fire prevention technology
1.1 million tons
500,000 metric tons
Conversion from a previous industry facility to a pellet plant continues on schedule.
Plant is in the commissioning stage. Quality assurance and process flow testing is also underway.
APRIL 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 13
Morehouse BioEnergy, Drax Biomass International Inc.
Vulcan Renewables LLC
St. Augustine, Fla.
Port of Greater Baton Rouge
Southern yellow pine
Type of pellets
Industrial premium pellets
Type of pellets
Premium and industrial
Fire prevention technology
Fire prevention technology
Water Deluge System
450,000 metric tons
Europe and Korea
Project continues on schedule.
In early March, the project was nearly complete.
Hometown Bioenergy LLC, Minnesota Municipal Power Agency Project Complete
Le Sueur, Minn.
Barr Engineering, I&S Group
Ag and food wastes
Gas cleaning technology
H2S media treatment system
Biogas production capacity
Biogas end use
Hometown Bioenergy LLC
The project is complete.
PHOTO: HOMETOWN BIOENERGY LLC
KAHL Wood Pelleting Plants
Quality worldwide. AMANDUS KAHL USA Corporation · 380 Winkler Drive, Suite 400, Alpharetta · GA 30004-0736 Phone: 770-521-1021 · Fax: 770-521-1022 · firstname.lastname@example.org AMANDUS KAHL GmbH & Co. KG · SARJ Equipment Corp., Mr. Rick B. MacArthur · 29 Golfview Blvd., Bradford, Ontario L3Z 2A6 Phone: 001-905-778-0073 · Fax: 001-905-778-9613 · email@example.com · www.akahl.us
CONSTRUCTION UPDATEÂŚ KB BioEnergy, City of Akron Engineer/Builder
Project Complete BIOFerm Energy Systems and Schmack Biogas GmbH
Two complete mix, two horizontal plug flow
Gas cleaning technology
Gas cooling/drying, siloxane and hydrogen sulfide removal prior to CHP
Biogas production capacity
Biogas end use
KB BioEnergy, City of Akron
The project is complete.
PHOTO: BIOFERM ENERGY
FCPC Renewable Generation LLC, Waste-to-Energy Facility
Sacramento Biodigester, CleanWorld Partners
Symbiont Inc., Miron Constr., Biothane
Peabody Engineering, Otto Construction
Food processing waste
Pre- and post-consumer food waste
Anaerobic membrane bioreactor
Three-stage, high-solids liquid digester
Gas cleaning technology
H2S media treatment system
Gas cleaning technology
Biogas production capacity
Biogas production capacity
Biogas end use
Biogas end use
Electricity and vehicle fuel
Construction is substantially complete and clear water testing is complete. Tanks are being filled in preparation for start up.
SCHADE Stockyard Equipment for Wood Pellets
Total EX-Proof protection including third party certiďŹ cation (DEKRA EXAM) Leading storage capacities for wood pellets Minimum contract to start-up period Optimum economic machine-type for wood pellet handling SCHADE Lagertechnik GmbH P +49 2325 58740 F +49 2325 58 74 74 firstname.lastname@example.org www.schade-lagertechnik.com
Construction is continuing on schedule. Once complete, the digester will produce electricity and 700,000-gallon-per-year equivalent of renewable transportation fuel.
UC- Davis Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digestion, CleanWorld
Rosendale Biodigester LLC, UW Oshkosh Foundation
Peabody Engineering, Otto Construction
BIOFerm Energy Systems
Food and ag waste, manure, animal bedding
Three-stage, high-solids liquid digester
Gas cleaning technology
Gas cleaning technology
Biogas production capacity
Biological desulphurization, moisture removal, activated carbon filtration
Biogas end use
Biogas production capacity
Biogas end use
Construction is continuing on schedule. Microturbine commissioning has begun with landfill gas. Completion was imminent in early March.
Completion was imminent in early March. Interconnect approval was granted mid-December, and minor sitework, painting and paving will be completed when weather permits.
Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas LLC, Abengoa Bioenergy US Location
Corn stover, wheat straw, switchgrass
Type of RIN
21 MW biomass power
Project is virtually complete. Boiler and 21 MW cogen plant commissioning was completed December, 2013.
INCLUDING WORLD BIOREFINERY
3–5 JUNE 2014 JÖNKÖPING, SWEDEN
Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas LLC, Abengoa Bioenergy US PHOTO: ABENGOA
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CONSTRUCTION UPDATE¦ DuPont Cellulosic Ethanol - Nevada, DuPont
Enerkem Alberta Biofuels LP
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
KBR Inc. and Fagen Inc.
Cellulosic ethanol, biomethanol, biochemicals
Type of RIN
90% D3 RINs
Type of RIN
Renewable solid fuel
2nd half 2014
2014: methanol; 2015: ethanol
Construction is on track for 2014 opening.
Enerkem Alberta Biofuels is nearing structural completion. Plant commissioning has begun and is scheduled to be completed over the next few months.
Green Energy Products, WB Services
Southeast Renewable Fuels LLC
Uni-Systems of Brazil
ASTM 975 biomass-based diesel
Advanced biofuel (ethanol)
Distillers corn oil, organic fat, oils and greases
Type of RIN
1.7 D4 RINs per gallon
Type of RIN
Steam and biogas
25 MW biomass power
The plant is nearing mechanical completion. Start up and commissioning are scheduled for Q1.
JETBELTTM An efﬁcient system requiring less horsepower than other systems. Used for dry bulk handling requirements in a variety of products.
The project remains on schedule. Foundation work continues, and all equipment has been ordered and is arriving onsite.
MODEL G Built standard with 10-gauge construction to accommodate large capacities of free-ﬂowing materials. Provides years of trouble-free service under extreme applications.
TRAMROLL™ Enclosed belt conveyor with innovative features such as self-reloading and self-cleaning tail section, and multiple inlets. The heavest-duty design in the industry.
MODEL RB Designed for self-cleaning and quiet operation with a u-shaped trough for handling soft stock or materials that are easily crumbled or broken.
316.264.4604 tramcoinc.com UK +44 (0) 1482 782666
BUCKET ELEVATOR Centrifugal Discharge design used for the bulk handling of free-ﬂowing ﬁne and lose materials with small to medium size lumps. Built-to-last for the toughest requirements. BULK-FLOTM The heavy-duty chain conveyor designed speciﬁcally for processing applications such as; wet and sticky, varying sizes and densities, and abrasive or corrosivematerials.
The World’s Most Complete Line of Chain and Enclosed Belt Conveyors.
Euro-Tramco BV +31 33 4567033 APRIL 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 17
SCIENTISTS LIKE NUMBERS, BUT THEY LOVE OUR NUMBERS.
For scientists, the proof is in the numbers. Since 2001, Iowaâ€™s bioscience growth has far outpaced the nation in 3 of 5 specialty subsectors. This has attracted R&D investment of more than $600 million a year for our universities in cumulative grants, contracts and cooperative research. In fact, bioscience R&D in Iowa is 12% higher than the national average. Fueling breakthroughs at our three research universities. Spawning a culture of innovation and opportunity. And bioscience success. Learn more at iowaeconomicdevelopment.com. See how our numbers make science an exact science. iowaeconomicdevelopment.com
RETSCH CUTTING MILL SM 300 RETSCH have extended their range of cutting mills by a new model which combines powerful size reduction with very easy handling. The new cutting mill SM 300 can be perfectly adapted to many different â€“ and also difÂżFXOWVL]HUHGXFWLRQWDVNVWKDQNV to the variable speed from 700 to 3,000 rpm. The powerful 3 kW drive with RES technology and a high torque ensures excellent grinding results so that even heterogeneous sample mixtures are no longer a problem!
Science for Solids
RETSCH VIBRATORY SIEVE SHAKERS AS SERIES RETSCHâ€™s line of sieving machines not only covers a wide measuring range. Thanks to various sieving motions and sieve sizes it is possible to select the ideal instrument for practically any bulk material. The instruments produce exact and reproducible results and comply with the requirements for the test materials monitoring according to DIN EN ISO 9000 ff. www.retsch.com/as
CARBOLITE AAF SERIES ASHING FURNACES For optimum and complete ashing of laboratory samples, the AAF Ashing Furnace is the ideal solution. With a maximum temperature of 1200 Â°C, the AAF series is ideal for foods, plastics, coal, and biofuels. www.carbolite.com/aaf
SCIENCE FOR SOLIDS The VERDER SCIENTIFIC Division of the VERDER Group sets standards in VFLHQWLÂżF HTXLSPHQW IRU TXDO LW\FRQWUROUHVHDUFKDQGGHYHORS ment of solid matter. With more than 500 employees the companies of the division develop and manufacture laboratory instruments for sample preparation through disintegration and homogenization, for heat treatment (physical and material stress tests), for analyzing samples through particle characterization and for elemental analysis by combustion. 7KH9(5'(56&,(17,),&'LYLVLRQXQLWHVWKHOHDGLQJPDQX facturing companies CARBOLITE, ELTRA, GERO, RETSCH and RETSCH TECHNOLOGY. ZZZYHUGHUVFLHQWLÂżFFRP
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PowerNews U.S. adds 777 MW of capacity in 2013
2013 capacity additions
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission data shows that 97 new biomass-fired electricity generation units were placed into service last year. Together, those units have a combined capacity of 777 MW. In 2012, 155 units with a combined 580 MW of capacity were placed into service. As of the close of 2013, the FERC estimates that the U.S. was home to approximately 15.74 GW of biomass power capacity, equating to roughly 1.36 percent of total U.S. power capacity. Of the renewable power generation technologies, only wind and hydro have a greater share of nationwide capacity. The U.S. currently has 97.88 GW of hydropower capacity, equal to 8.44 percent of total capacity. Wind capacity is 60.29 GW, or 5.2 percent. Geothermal steam has 3.83 GW capacity, equating to 0.33 percent of total capacity. There is also 7.42 GW of solar capacity, or 0.64 percent of the total, along with 1.13 GW of waste heat capacity, equating to 0.07 percent.
No. of units
Installed capacity (MW)
SOURCE: FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION
European Commission proposes new renewable energy targets The European Commission recently proposed new clean energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction objectives, calling for an EU-wide 27 percent binding target for renewable energy by 2030. The commission is also calling for a GHG reduction of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. In addition, the commission has proposed to establish a new governance system and a set of new indictors to ensure a competitive and secure system. The new targets build upon previously established targets that are to be attained by 2020. Those goals included a 20 per-
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cent GHG reduction, a 20 percent renewable energy goal and 20 percent energy efficiency improvements. The U.K.-based Renewable Energy Association has criticized what it calls a â€œlack of ambition for renewable energyâ€? in the proposal, noting it sets no specific targets for EU member states. The REA also noted that the proposal indicates the renewables target would be ensured by a new governance system based on national energy plans, but that the U.K. government has been pushing for a technology-neutral approach that downplays the role of renewables.
Lessons of Winter BY BOB CLEAVES
This long, cold winter has uncovered a few inconvenient truths about our power supply and its long-term prospects. The prevailing opinion in recent years, reflected in state and federal energy policy—or lack thereof—is that natural gas is plentiful and cheap, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Because of this estimation, encouraged by a fracking and drilling boom in places like North Dakota and Texas, there hasn’t been much urgency in promoting alternatives to fossil fuels. Until now. At the end (we hope) of a bitterly cold winter, the coldest in recent memory, the flaws of this plan are becoming clearer. As temperatures dropped, Americans cranked up their thermostats. The sudden increase in demand caused electricity costs to spike beyond belief, at times as high as $475 per MWh in places like Boston, more than 10 times the usual rate. Perennially low natural gas prices couldn’t keep up with the high demand, and rose to their highest levels since 2008. This scenario, causing sticker shock to homeowners paying utility bills across the country, underscored the need for reliable, baseload energy sources to make up the difference during peak demand seasons and times. Natural gas as a sole baseload source of energy, supplemented by solar and wind as alternative sources, is not a reliable enough mix of energy sources to sustain the country during extreme
weather conditions. There must be a solid range of baseload energy sources, like biomass and nuclear power, available to generate energy during a polar vortex or an especially brutal August. A recent Greenwire story highlighted the impacts of a natural gas-centric energy policy on the nuclear power industry. The focus on supporting the use of inexpensive natural gas has had the unintended consequence of endangering the nuclear industry because, as one nuclear expert put it, the industry is “waning without a price on carbon in markets that don’t recognize the value of carbon-free power.” Just like nuclear power, biomass is challenged because natural gas is seen as the fuel of choice. Utilities’ substitution of natural gas for coal could prove to be a penny-wise, pound-foolish strategy, whereas investing in a power source like wood is the wiser long-term choice. Wood is a stable, predictable commodity that can be relied upon with some certainty. While unpleasant, Old Man Winter may have taught us something this year: our energy policy needs to put much more of a premium on reliable, baseload power. Author: Bob Cleaves President and CEO, Biomass Power Association www.biomasspowerassociation.com firstname.lastname@example.org
APRIL 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 21
Bob Cleave Cleaves es Biomass Power Association Associatio on
Power Pundits Steve Bossotti, Bob Cleaves and Mark Paisley are making a mark on the biomass power industry. BY ANNA SIMET
22 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | APRIL 2014
ost in the biomass power sector recognize the name or face of Bob Cleaves, president of the Biomass Power Association. Usually boarding several planes per week en route to do so, Cleaves spends his time tirelessly representing, educating and advocating for the industry. Trained as an attorney—first as a white-collar prosecutor immediately after law school and then in the private sector— Cleaves says he always gravitated toward public policy. “In law school, my dream job was to become an anti-trust lawyer for the U.S. Justice Department,” he says. “I applied, but wasn’t even granted an interview. In hindsight, that was fortunate, because working as an anti-trust lawyer in the Reagan White House would have been a Maytag repairman-like experience.” While he didn’t get his dream job, Cleaves’s contact at the DOJ told him the environmental section might have openings. “As luck would have it, I interviewed with the head of a white-collar section, who happened to be from Maine. When he learned that I, too, was from Maine, I was hired. That opportunity gave me great insight into environmental laws and policy—knowledge that has proven invaluable in my work for the biomass sector.” After about 15 years in law, Cleaves sought something new and different, but that utilized the skills he had developed. By the early 2000s, environmental and energy policy converged through the promotion of renewable energy, and Cleaves had the chance to consult for a subsidiary of Waste Management, Wheelabrator Technologies, and was invited to assist the company in promoting a sector of their business— biomass power—that was outside of their mainstream waste-to-energy business. “I became involved in the biomass trade as-
sociation, which was then called the USA Biomass Power Producers Alliance,” he says. “I was asked to run the organization in 2008, changed the name, moved it from northern California to Portland, Maine, and the rest is history.” Cleaves describes his work at BPA as part educating, part advocating. “To do that, we [BPA] need to be present at the federal and state levels—the latter being particularly challenging, given the small nature of our association—participate in seminars, collaborate with other trade associations, and be in the mix on Capitol Hill.” A typical week in Bob’s shoes may involve Monday in Maine doing weekly staff calls, Tuesday in a state capital meeting with energy officials on the importance of biomass, Wednesday in a D.C. meeting with fellow trade associations on various initiatives, Thursday on Capitol Hill attending a tax or energy related meeting, and Friday back in Maine planning an event like the BPA annual fly-in. So what’s changed in the biomass power industry since Cleaves’s debut? “Exposure,” he says, in a word. “Historically, we were a little-known industry that was an “inside baseball” kind of business. Few people understood the value of biomass energy. That has changed, in part because of the renewable energy growth in the U.S., and in part because of the misunderstanding caused by studies like Manomet, which opponents have wrongly used to conclude that biomass is worse than coal.” The industry has also changed in terms of complexity, Cleaves adds. “Until recently, our focus was federal tax policy— it is now much broader. We need to be a jack-of-all-trades by involving ourselves in a wide variety of energy policy issues, and, importantly, U.S. EPA regulatory matters.” To adjust to those changes, commu-
APRIL 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 23
¦POWER nication and outreach strategies by the association have become more sophisticated. “Part of that was out of necessity, because of the spotlight that biomass has received in recent years, but it is also because we feel that the single largest hurdle for our industry is the public’s lack of knowledge, and therefore appreciation for what we do,” Cleaves says. “School children in the country know about wind turbines and solar panels, but how many of them can explain how a steam turbine works, and why it makes sense to take waste wood and generate electricity? If we can’t change that, we will never be successful in defeating the misinformation campaign that asserts that we are harvesting natural forests for energy.” Milestones are being made, however, particularly with federal departments such as the USDA. “Last year, with the help and leadership of USDA and the U.S. Forest Service, we created a public/ private partnership and signed a memorandum of understanding,” Cleaves says. “USDA gets it. Biomass energy—to heat our homes and provide electricity to our communities—not only comes from homegrown sources of energy, but it helps solve a critically important challenge for federal land managers facing the challenge of reducing forest fire risk and keeping forests healthy.” On near-term milestones, Cleaves says he’d like to see the EPA complete its work on biogenic carbon. “There’s a tremendous amount of misinformation, and EPA plays a critically important role in setting the record straight. Once we get the carbon policy settled, Congress needs to put a price on carbon. Without valuing the externalities of carbon emissions, I fear that all renewable technologies—
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POWER¦ not just biomass— will be unable to realize their full potential. The story of biomass has a long way to go before it’s fully written.”
Steve Bossotti During his lengthy 25-plus-year career in the energy-fromwaste (EfW) sector, Steve Bossotti has performed most roles that a power facility has to offer. Throughout the years, the Bayside, N.Y., native has witnessed this biomass power sector transform, innovate and maximize efficiency. Now a seasoned industry veteran, Bossotti is equipped with the skills and knowhow to help craft cuttingedge strategies to ensure Covanta Energy Inc.’s fleet of facilities are squeezing as much value as possible out of municipal solid waste. When asked where his work values and drive come from, Bossotti points to his parents. “They were raised during the Great Depression, and taught us there was no substitution for hard work, that it would lead to opportunities in life,” he shares. “Like most kids, I dreamed of being a Major League baseball player, but my skills were better suited for a career focused on math and science. My father was instrumental in guiding me to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and instilling in me a keen interest in engineering. “ Bossotti graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y., in 1987, and served his obligation in the Naval Reserves, where he attained the rank of Lieutenant. “It was at Kings Point where I became passionate about people and leadership,” he says. “It was also there that I received my formal education in engineering and gained an interest in steam plants.”
Bossotti’s first job in the EfW business was as a control room operator at a new facility in 1988. “As I do today, I found energy production fascinating, and that I was able to really apply what I learned in school. Thermodynamics, heat transfer, fluid mechanics—I had my own laboratory with a myriad of data points and could demonstrate how they all worked in unison to make energy.” Bossotti became a shift supervisor within a year, and then received the opportunity to work as a field engineer. “This allowed me to rapidly develop ideas and improvements to systems in the facility,” he says. “I learned to influence without authority in this role, and took pride in making systems better for my coworkers. My colleagues in this industry are some of the most dedicated people you will ever meet, and I knew then that I wanted to help make their lives better while improving the operations of our facilities.” That desire led to Bossotti’s first managerial role leading a 24-person maintenance department at one of Covanta’s larger facilities. “I learned a lot about prioritization and planning, and how to stretch a budget in this role,” he says. “I also learned the importance of key performance indicators and open discussion with employees. As with any business, you can often find employees that don’t know what the end goals are, and, ironically, they are the ones with the ability that allows us to attain them. I found that holding round table meetings and open discussions about where to focus, how to improve and what training we needed to stay sharp, were a great help in bridging that gap. Subsequently, we were able to improve facility availability nearly three percent year over year. “
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¦POWER Those maintenance achievements led to a promotion to operations engineering manager and eventually facility manager at two of Covanta’s largest facilities. “I learned to directly manage facility finances while standing firm on employee engagement and continuous improvement.” By 2005, Bossotti was promoted to vice president of operations to lead nine facilities and two waste transfer stations. “In this role, I had the opportunity to see wonderful ideas and different improvements implemented at each facility, and I was able to successfully facilitate the sharing of that knowledge,” he says. Finally, Bossotti entered the role he presently has—leading a newly formed group dedicated to organic growth and innovation. “In this role, I’m charged with creating new or improved business opportunities at all of our facilities using technology advancements specific to metals recycling, ash reuse and liquids disposal,” he says. “What started as a new, three-person group has now grown to 14 professionals focused on adding revenue through innovative technology and lessons learned.” Less than 15 years ago, rather than recycling it, Covanta was paying to dispose of metal at some of its plants. Today, it is an important part of the company’s business. “The ferrous and nonferrous metal market advancements have fostered tech-
nology improvements that now allow us to recover finer particles of metal for resale,” Bossotti says. “We’re creating business lines that didn’t exist even four years ago—it’s exciting. Today we are focused on new metal recycling systems, and tomorrow it could be something completely different, but I’m sure it will be cool and innovative.” Ultimately, Bossotti’s dream is to see EfW facilities in the U.S. reuse ash more often, for better purposes. “Bottom ash, outside the U.S., is often used for roadbed, drainage and for other construction and industrial purposes,” he says. “A high percentage of ash material from U.S. facilities can be substituted for aggregate, instead of sent to an ash mono-fill for reuse at landfills as daily cover. There are numerous studies that suggest it’s possible, and I have participated in pilot programs with members of academia and industry to study the feasibility of making it work. With the right focus and support from regulators, we can absolutely accomplish ash reuse in the U.S. It would allow us to completely close the loop by utilizing the last remaining waste product from our industry.”
Mark Paisley Mark Paisley has been in the biomass industry a long while, likely before it was even recognized as that. Armed with numerous patents and a lengthy, accomplished career
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history, Paisley’s work has advanced biomass gasification in the country, and his work still isn’t done. Paisley grew up in Zanesville, Ohio, and attended the UniMark Paisley versity of Cincinnati. Taylor Biomass “I have always had an Energy interest in science and designing things, so chemical engineering seemed to be a natural,” he says. In college, he had anticipated studying biomedical engineering—a brand new field at the time—but had a change of plans, thanks to the military draft. He eventually accepted a job at Babcock and Wilcox Company at its research center in Alliance, Ohio, and it was there that he began his gasification journey. “In the early 1970s, in the height of the energy crisis, B&W was working on a number of gasification projects, and I was involved in several of them,” Paisley says. “I caught the alternative energy bug then, and have been involved in gasification projects since. My first patent for a gasification process was issued while I was working at B&W, for a coal gasification process that used sulfur dioxide as the gasifying agent.” His career at B&W began in 1972, after which he joined Battelle in Columbus, Ohio, where he was employed for 20 years. “Dur-
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POWER¦ ing those 20 years, I was fortunate enough to have a dozen patents issued in my name, covering a variety of gasification processes and recycling technologies. It was at Battelle that I was first introduced to biomass as a gasification feedstock, and I discovered that biomass had many desirable attributes, as well as few of the undesirable attributes that were present in coal. In short, I became a biomass advocate.” Paisley’s work at Battelle included inventing what is now known as the SilvaGas process, which was demonstrated at commercial scale in Burlington, Vt., in the late 1990s. When Future Energy Resources bought the SilvaGas process from Battelle in 2000, Paisley moved to the company along with the technology, where he oversaw the final stages of the Vermont gasification program. Finally, in 2005, Paisley joined Taylor Biomass and invented another biomass gasification process that he says, “further improves the market opportunities for commercial biomass implementation.” For Paisley, the versatility of products that gasification can produce has been the real appeal of the technology. “Options include replacements for gaseous, liquid, and even solid fuels, and by means of synthesis applications, chemical feedstocks and products can be produced,” Paisley says. “Hydrogen production can also be produced effectively using gasification as the starting point. This sustainability and the potential of biomass to provide a significant impact to the world’s energy supplies continue to keep my interest. “ While no week is the same for Paisley, his activities usually involve travel to and participation in process design activities with engineering partners, authoring and presentation of technical papers for technical meetings, presentation of short courses, data evaluation and interpretation, project development, and test plan development. “Laboratory work related to process operation is also a part of the activity list, but has been limited as the plant [Taylor Biomass Energy’s power plant in Montgomery, N.Y.] has not yet been completed. I also work closely with the patent attorney in his patent prosecution efforts.”
While widespread deployment of biomass gasification in the U.S. is yet to be seen, Paisley said during his career, one significant change that’s occurred within the sector is that biomass-based energy has developed from an industry-specific energy solution— pulp and paper—to a much more widespread energy option. “Along the way, interest in specific energy products has varied, directed primarily by political option as implemented by the U.S. DOE. Today’s biomass energy programs, being directed more by industry, are poised to take advantage of the range of
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energy options available and move into true commercial application.” Before retirement, Paisley adds, he hopes to see biomass gasification and biomass energy, in general, be recognized and implemented as a significant contributor to the world’s energy supply. Author: Anna Simet Managing Editor, Biomass Magazine firstname.lastname@example.org 701-738-4961
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APRIL 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 27
PelletNews Obama signs Farm Bill, launches new initiative
Total forest ecosystem carbon density imputed from forest inventory plots, conterminous U.S., 2000-2009. SOURCE: WILSON ET AL., CARBON BALANCE AND MANAGEMENT 2013
RFF event addresses carbon accounting, forest management Resources for the Future recently hosted a seminar focused on carbon accounting and forest management. The event, titled “Considering the Contributions of Forests in the Management of Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” was cosponsored by the Society of American Foresters. Roger Sedjo, senior fellow and director of the Forest Economics and Policy Program at RFF moderated the discussion, noting forests can play an important role in moderating greenhouse gas emissions.
When it comes to monitoring net biogenic emissions from bioenergy facilities, he said there are two major options. The first focuses on individual facilities. The second involves monitoring the overall stock of wood in the forest. “A huge advantage of the second approach is its low cost compared with detailed monitoring of individual facilities,” Sedjo said, noting the U.S. Forest Service already collects much of the data that is needed.
President Obama signed the 2014 Farm Bill into law during a Feb. 7 ceremony at Michigan State University. During his speech, Obama also announced the launch the new Made in Rural America export and investment initiative. “Despite its name, the Farm Bill is not just about helping farmers,” Obama said during his speech at MSU. “Secretary Vilsack calls it a jobs bill; an innovation bill; an infrastructure bill; a research bill; a conservation bill—it’s like a Swiss army knife,” he continued, noting the legislation helps create jobs and provides an economic lift for rural communities. The Made in Rural America initiative is expected to further benefit the U.S. agriculture community and related businesses. The program is charged with bringing together federal resources to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new customers and markets abroad.
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The Multifaceted Benefits of Pellets BY WILLIAM STRAUSS
When people talk about energy, particularly at the federal level, they think of electricity and transportation. In the northern states, those two large sectors account for about 65 percent of energy use. The other 35 percent—which is heat for homes and businesses— is often ignored in policy discussions. The reason this matters is that the heat in many homes is produced from burning imported petroleum-based fossil fuel in boilers or furnaces. For northern states that are dependent in part on heating oil and propane, the majority of every dollar spent on heating fuel leaves the regional economy, and much of that money spent on heating leaves the country. If heating oil were a product of U.S. petroleum, at least the money spent would stay in the country. But most of the heating oil refined in the U.S. for the northern markets is not. Only about 19 percent of the heating oil refined in the Gulf Coast refineries comes from petroleum extracted from U.S. wells At a price of $3.80 per gallon, FutureMetrics estimates that about 770,000 jobs are exported to the other countries that supply the petroleum for heating oil and some of the propane used to keep Northern Tier states’ homes and business warm. This estimate excludes areas that already heat with natural gas or electricity, and areas that are likely to get natural gas. A very optimistic scenario might suggest that by 2020, most urban centers will have natural gas. But that will leave a lot of homes and business on heating oil or propane. The pictured chart shows the number of rural households in the northern tier states that are not on natural gas, most of which will never have a natural gas connection. It would be irresponsible, given the current demands by the pulp and paper industry, to suggest that there is sufficient sustainable forest feedstock today to make pellets to heat 6 million homes. But the world is changing, and demand for fiber from our working forests for papermaking will change dramatically in the coming decade. We are already almost half way to having enough pellet fuel for 6 million homes. Currently, the U.S. produces nearly 10.4 million tons per year of wood pellets
annually. Another 7.9 million tons of capacity is under construction or in the advanced development phase. Some of the existing production and almost all of the new capacity is earmarked for export into overseas markets. If those pellets were to stay here for our heating markets, they would heat almost 2.6 million homes. The conversion from petroleum-based heating fuel to premium wood pellet fuel has many benefits, which accrue from three key pathways that have positive multiplier effects: More than 75 percent of each dollar spent on heating oil does not stay in the local economy, and jobs are exported along with that money. Locally produced pellet fuel keeps almost 100 percent of every dollar spent circulating locally; pellet fuel is about half the price of heating oil for the same heating energy, and those savings increase the income that households and businesses have to spend in the local economy; the supply chain for harvesting, manufacturing and distributing sustainable biomass creates jobs. Additionally, the conversion of 6 million homes and businesses from heating oil and propane to wood pellets would reduce net carbon emissions in the U.S. by 81.6 million tons per year. The premium wood pellet sector can deliver lower end-user heating costs, a higher degree of energy independence, needed jobs from three important pathways, and can reduce carbon dioxide emissions while doing so. Author: William Strauss President, FutureMetrics firstname.lastname@example.org 207-824-7428
APRIL 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 29
Seth Ginther U.S. Industrial Pe Pellet ellet Association
In an industry with a healthy stable of innovators and advocates, few would argue with the contributions of Chris Wiberg, Les Otten and Seth Ginther BY TIM PORTZ
30 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | APRIL 2014
eth Ginther is the biomass industry’s best example of the adage “no good deed goes unpunished.” After he thoroughly impressed a group of legal clients in the Southeast, they formed the U.S. Industrial Pellet Association, and named him executive director. That was four years ago, and today, Ginther is the voice of the fastest-growing U.S. biomass segment, charged with promoting the value proposition embodied in the production and use of industrial wood pellets. When someone needs to speak with policymakers in European Parliament to help them understand the complex nuances of the North American forest products industry, Ginther goes. When large and small news outlets publish misleading articles or opinion pieces about the growing pellet export market and its impact on forests, Ginther responds. And when it becomes clear that making the case that repowering large coal assets with pellets is a viable approach to slowing climate change will be a mammoth task, Ginther digs in. Those familiar with Ginther and his experience do not find this surprising. While attending the University of Richmond’s T.C. Williams School of Law, Ginther served as the editorin-chief of the Richmond Journal of Law and Public Interest. Throughout a career peppered with experience serving as legal counsel to combined-heat-and-power, landfill gas, wood pellet and other renewable energy companies, Ginther has found himself hand-selected to take on a new challenge. In 2003, Ginther took a leave of absence from his law practice to accept a position to represent all state boards that reported to the secretaries of both finance and commerce and trade. Soon after, he was asked to sit on Virginia Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe’s Transition Council on Agriculture and Forestry Policy. Work has a way of finding its way to people who can get things done, and Ginther is no exception. To his credit, Ginther seems to derive energy from both his schedule and the varied tasks he performs. He is quick to attribute this to the professionals he works with and for saying, “The most exciting aspect of my job is, without a doubt, the people that I get to work with on a regular basis. It starts with our members and extends to their customers, the regulators and politicians from diverse cultures that drive the policy behind this industry, those involved in the supply chain, and my counterparts at other trade associations we work with on a regular basis. Each one of these professionals is helping to blaze the trail that has enabled the industry to grow so quickly. I am constantly learning from them, and that is a real pleasure.” As Ginther looks into the remainder of 2014, he expects he’ll have to maintain his regular presence in the European policy theater. “It will be a busy year for us,” he says. “European policy remains extremely important, and we will continue to be on the ground in the U.K., Brussels, the Netherlands and Denmark.” Ginther’s steady presence in Europe is likely a reflection of his belief that despite the clarity of the benefits of using biomass as a coal replacement, those driving policy both here and abroad continue to hear from constituencies with different sentiments. Reflecting on the past year Ginther notes, “I think the biggest lesson learned from 2013 is that we cannot take for granted the fact that everybody understands what our industry does, and the positive impact that we are having. Accordingly, we need to constantly be out there educating policymakers and the general public on what we do.” It would be hard to classify the near-term outlook for industrial pellet producers in North America as anything but bright. Export figures rise with each passing quarter, and pellet offtakers in the U.K. and mainland Europe haven’t even completed all of the planned retrofits and new construction that has created current demand. Still, Ginther knows that success often stokes the fires of contempt, and he and his organization’s ability to clearly articulate their value proposition is tantamount. For now, Ginther continues to work and sharpen the industry’s message. Quoting another lawyer, he says, “Lincoln once said ‘give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will use four sharpening the axe.’ Constant, measured preparation is the key to successful initiatives. If we are going to be active on an issue on behalf of the industry, we are going to make sure that we are prepared for any surprises, and correct course as needed in order to achieve our desired objective.” APRIL 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 31
¦PELLET Chris Wiberg Chris Wiberg had been working for a fuels lab for seven years when he attended a biomass conference in 2005, and something just clicked. “The U.S. domestic pellet industry was in growth mode, but struggled with the types of issues that plague an industry that does not have well defined standards,” he says. “As a technical guy, I made it my mission to provide technical expertise to help make that happen.” But well before that watershed moment when his role within the industry crystallized, Wiberg was drawn to labs. “I was always very interested in the fancy machines that chemists get to use to quantify and qualify chemical and physical properties of things,” he says. “That interest has served me well, in that our lab now contains many of these types of instruments.” Already a seasoned laboratory professional, Wiberg has fused his laboratory prowess and passion for the industry to drive development of standards and their uptake across the pellet industry. “This work eventually led to my involvement in helping to develop the current Pellet Fuel Institute standards, solid biofuel standards through ISO TC 238 and other industry standards.” Wiberg’s contributions to standards development is widely known and appreciated throughout the industry, but he’s most intrigued by what working toward compliance with these standards can do for pellet producers. “I find the practical application of my technical knowledge as the most interesting part of what I do,” he says. “There is a lot that goes into running the various tests, but if you don’t know which tests best suit your purpose, if you don’t understand the data that is generated, or if you don’t know how to apply it to improve the quality of your
32 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | APRIL 2014
process, then the cost of testing doesn’t bring much value. What I truly enjoy is applying our laboratory services to generate information that can then solve process problems, help design a new product, or just assure the continued performance of an existing process.” As Wiberg and his colleagues developed their business, he was confident in the quality and value of the service offering they had developed. Still, he expresses Chris Wiberg Biomass Energy Lab surprise at the rapid growth within the sector and strong demand for Biomass Energy Lab’s services. “When we developed our business model, we were confident that it would well serve the needs of biomass fuel producers and users, and as such, there has been a large interest and need for our services and core competencies,” he shares. “I think our biggest surprise was the rate at which we had to grow to keep up with the influx of new work.” Wiberg and Biomass Energy Lab have themselves well positioned to serve a North American pellet industry that’s likely to double, if all of the planned and under construction plants come on line as planned.
PELLET¦ While the capacity increases are eye-popping and unbelievable to some industry observers, Wiberg ceases to be amazed. “I have learned not to underestimate the potential this industry has,” he says. “It often takes time for biomass fuel production projects to put all of the pieces in place, but there are now many projects completing that process, giving assurance that many of the proposed projects we read about will make it to the finish line. Persistence has paid off in many cases, and I think we will continue to see that in the future.” Wiberg is confident that an industry push toward quality certification will keep him busy. “There are many established fuel producers that will likely make this the year to qualify or certify their production to a quality management scheme such as PFI’s Standards program and the EN plus standard,” he adds. “We have seen significant growth in each of these programs in the past year, but expect their popularity will increase significantly in the next year or two.”
Les Otten A few career iterations ago, Les Otten, co-founder of Maine Energy Systems, looked across a table and informed the president of Rossignol he was prepared to make a bold investment for the ski properties he owned and operated at the time. “He called up his plant in either Austria or Italy and told the manager that he wanted to make 10,000 pairs of shaped skis and the guy told him he was nuts,” Otten says, “and that it was just a fad.” Otten was vindicated in just short four years, as these new, parabolic skis had entirely replaced its straight ski predecessors. For Otten, success in business has a broader definition. “I’ve always looked at business as not only having to be viable, but also being
able to make a game-altering contribution to the industry I was working in,” he says. Otten’s contributions to the ski industry didn’t start or stop with shaped skis. He began working in the industry when he was 21 years old, and just two years later, he was named ski operation manager at Sunday River ski resort in Newry, Maine. In 1980, he bought the resort, and after nine years of building a loyal customer base, he was recognized by Inc. Magazine as Entrepreneur of the Year in the turnaround category. Otten continued to build his resort business, growing it into the multiproperty American Skiing Company, which, as would become Otten’s trademark approach, focused heavily on marketing and infrastructure development. From 2002 to 2007, Otten served as vice chairman and minority partner of the Boston Red Sox, which won its first World Series since 1918 in 2004, while Otten was a part of the organization. There, he spearheaded an effort to reimagine and revitalize the team’s historic venue. “When I looked at the Boston Red Sox, it became very obvious to me that in order for them to be a great value and saleable franchise, they needed to keep Fenway Park,” he says. “Everybody wanted to tear it down and build a new one. I looked at Fenway Park as a cathedral similar to the Parthenon or some of the great Roman structures. In the lexicon of baseball, Fenway Park was an icon of a bygone era, and instead of tearing it down, I wanted to refurbish it.” After winning two World Series rings with the club, Otten parted ways with the organization and began looking for his next challenge. “I wanted to go on to the next thing, and I didn’t know what it was going
Les Otten Maine Energy Systems
to be,” he explains. “I started to look around at different industries, at anything that needed a fresh look, so I started to look at energy.” Otten makes no bones about opinions on the long-term viability of fossil-based fuels saying, “All the coal and oil that is on the planet was made in a 300- to 400-million-year period of time. And in the blink of an eye, in the timeline of the planet, we were essentially going to use all of it. It dawned on me seven or eight years ago that this was wholly illogical and that there must be an economy that can
34 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | APRIL 2014
be built in response to this, one that made capitalistic and global sense for the use of biomass.” At that point, the earliest sketches of Maine Energy Systems begin to emerge, which would focus on biomass thermal, a low technology risk and simple solution for moving the Northeast away from the entrenched heating oil solution that dominated the marketplace. “We looked at it and realized this is a segment of the [energy] industry that doesn’t need new invention, it needs marketing,” he says. “It needs awareness. It needs government support, but it doesn’t need research.” Otten is nothing if not practical. Early in the development of Maine Energy Systems, he recognized that he and his team would have to devise a thermal biomass solution that didn’t require a significant increase in homeowner attention when compared to heating oil and propane. “If this is going to be successful in the U.S., there are going to be the hobbyists that are willing to work for their heat, but the majority of folks are not going to want to work for their heat ,they are just going to want to turn on the thermostat,” he says. While Otten’s team worked to devise a solution that would be attractive to consumers, or at the very least, wouldn’t turn them away,
he turned his attention back to the business and began working to build credibility with the lending and investment communities. “I remember speaking with some senior lenders at JP Morgan Chase discussing our industry and they said ‘we’d be happy to start lending your industry money, as soon as you can show us that you’ve got a thousand customers that have borrowed money, that have paid back the loans, that the fuel has been delivered, that the trucks exist, and that you are mainstream essentially.” The challenges for biomass thermal continued to emerge, as mortgage companies and the federal banks that guaranteed those loans, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, expressed concern that homes with pellet boilers would struggle to deliver full marketplace value. Struggles like these are a significant departure from the early stage work that entrepreneurs likely favor, but arguably more vital to Maine Energy System’s long term success and Otten embraced it. “Now we can show lenders that these homes and their mortgages can be sold even when their primary heating systems are not oil and gas,” Otten says. Otten and his team moved Maine Energy Systems through the proof-of-concept stage and are now working to wrestle market share from an entrenched incumbent. On this challenge, Otten has some incredulity to share. “The propane industry brags about its 92 percent efficiency, as compared to the 87 percent
efficiency of a pellet boiler,” he says. “Those five points don’t amount to a hill of beans if you are paying 140 percent more for the fuel. How does that compute? The propane industry gets to tell American people what they want, ‘We’re more efficient,’ but meanwhile the fuel is 140 percent more expensive. Who is being fairly served? It’s advertising. They have a louder voice. They aren’t doing anything illegal, but they sure are misleading people,” he says. Therefore, Otten once again is turning to advertising to clearly articulate his message of overall reduced operational costs for pellet boilers with a regional television effort. “We are taking the argument to the consumer, and we’re just nailing it. Right now there is a $5,000 rebate and we’re using the commercial to inform people about that, but we’re also trying to say that wood pellets that are locally grown, deliver as easy as oil, and all you do is turn on thermostat and its 50 percent of the cost of oil and 40 percent of the cost of propane.” With the varied sequence of foreseen and unforeseen obstacles that Otten has grown to expect, he is quick to draw attention to the quality and longevity of his team. “I’ve had the same administrative assistant for 30 years, and my chief financial officer has been with me for 30 years. We have a really strong team, and there are about 20 of us that are concentrated on this. These guys allow me to stay at 20,000 feet so that I can identify the barriers to innovation. It is our team that allows us to identify the barriers and then we can get a little bit ahead of them.” With the pieces in place, Otten plans on continuing the push to unseat the incumbent in northeastern home heating. Or, at the very least, rattle its cage. The stakes are high. In the Northeast, 11 million homes are heated by No. 2 heating oil, and a price fluctuation of just $1 per gallon costs residents $11 billion in increased expenses. The market opportunity is not lost on Otten, but he is more apt to focus on the economic activity generated by moving toward a heating solution that relies on local fuel sources. “When money leaves the economy that costs jobs— a lot of jobs,”
Otten says. “We’ve had a number of discussions about the jobs that leave with every dollar of increase in the state of Maine, and it’s around 80,000 jobs that are either lost or not created as a result of this.” Concluding, Otten uses a Bible story to better frame up the challenge he believes he and his team are up against. “What our industry needs to do is look in our industry’s own back yard. We need to figure out how to get more appliances in customers’ homes, and get those
people to communicate with their friends and representatives in the House and the Senate at state and federal level so that our voice is heard. We are David to the heating oil’s Goliath. Our industry needs to figure out what David’s trick was, and catapult itself into the consciousness of the Northeastern part of the U.S.” Author: Tim Portz Executive Editor, Biomass Magazine email@example.com 701-738-4969
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ThermalNews Report highlights benefits of biomass heating A report released by European-based heating company Innasol and business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan takes a detailed look at the U.K. heating industry and examines the savings homes and businesses can achieve by implementing renewable heating systems. According to the report, renewable heating applications in the U.K. have been restrained by a lack of awareness and understanding of benefits. An estimated 74 percent of U.K. residents don’t know that biomass systems are a potential renewable heating solution.
However, the analysis indicates that renewable heating systems in the U.K. are already cheaper than fossil fuels. The report puts the price of wood chips at 3.3 pence (5 cents) per kilowatt hour (kWh) and the price of wood pellets at 4.5 pence per kWh, lower than both electricity and natural gas. The report also shows that the price of wood pellets has risen only 6 percent since January 2000, averaging a less than 0.5 percent increase per year.
UK retail fuel prices (January) pence per kWh Wood chips
SOURCE: FROST & SULLIVAN, INNASOL
Cold weather, high fossil fuel costs drive pellet sales The wallets of many U.S. homeowners have taken a hit this winter due to high propane and heating oil costs and unusually low temperatures. Those with cord wood or pellet heat, however, have a leg up on the frigid season. Data from the New Hampshire Office
36 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | APRIL 2014
of Energy and Planning indicates wood pellets were $25.5 cheaper per MMBtu than propane and $13.71 cheaper per MMBtu than heating oil in early February. Colder weather, however, also means increased demand for pellets. By February, several Northeastern producers reported
they’d already sold out for the winter. Mark Wilson, president of New England Wood Pellet, said that’s the case for his company, which operates three manufacturing plants in Jaffrey, N.H., and Schuyler and Deposit, N.Y., with a combined plant capacity of over 250,000 tons per year.
New York funds 16 biomass thermal projects Promptly implementing New York’s recently introduced Renewable Heat NY program, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced 18 projects that will receive program funding to help install high-efficiency, low-emission wood-fired heating equipment. The funding is being awarded through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s Energy and Environmental Performance of Biomass-fired Heating Equipment program. Besides helping cover costs of advanced
biomass heating systems, Renewable Heat NY is designed to facilitate workforce training and manufacturer support for field testing, equipment certification and early stage product development. New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is developing a Biomass Heating Roadmap for the state, which is slated for release later this year and will assess policy strategies and economic and environmental impacts. Examples of projects that received grants include Clarkson University at
Potsdam, which received $80,000 to study the presence of carbon monoxide in wood pellet storage facilities and in the laboratory due to offgassing, and Clarkson University at Saranac Lake, which received $267,500 to install two fully automatic, high-efficiency and low-emission wood pellet boilers made by Evoworld. The boilers will be installed in residential locations to evaluate the performance and emissions of these units under the cold winter conditions for two years.
Study: UK domestic biomass resources could yield up to 44 % of energy needs A new study has found the U.K. could generate up to 44 percent of its energy needs from domestic biomass sources by 2050. The study, titled “Securing a BioEnergy Future without Imports,” was completed by scientists from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester. The study explores four possible potential scenarios toward 2050 and forecasts the biomass resource availability and bioenergy potential associated with each. A food-focused scenario prioritizes U.S. food security and productivity, while an economic focus scenario assumes future
emphasis on economic development and resource competition. A conservation focus scenario prioritizes the conservation of land, biodiversity and resources. Finally, an energy focus scenario assumes the U.S. places a future emphasis on development the bioenergy sector and mobilizing biomass resources to meet energy targets. The energy scenario includes a series of subscenarios that analysis the bioenergy associated with biomass conversion to power, heat and transport fuels. According to the report, the modeling of these scenarios has determined that between 19 and 44 percent of the U.K.’s
primary energy demand could be delivered from indigenous biomass, with the food and energy-focused scenarios both allowing for the 2050 bioenergy targets to be met with domestic biomass sources. A future energy-focused scenario in which the U.K. prioritized the production of thermal energy from biomass was found to provide the highest energy generation for the resources available. Even if the U.K. prioritizes conservation or economic themes, however, the analysis found that domestic biomass could meet as much as 19 percent of U.K. energy demand
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Charlie Niebling Innovative Natural Resource Solutions
Thermal Trailblazers Charlie Niebling, Scott Nichols, Norbert Senf and John Ackerly are committed to advancing the biomass thermal industry. BY ANNA SIMET 38 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | APRIL 2014
erhaps there’s something in the water. The Northeast U.S.— New Hampshire, in particular—continues to produce some of the most dedicated and bright biomass thermal industry professionals in the country. As a direct result of their businesses, trade organizations, public education and policymaking efforts actions, biomass thermal—often referred to as “the forgotten renewable”— has made leaps and bounds over the past several years. Recognizing that the road to equivalence with other renewables is still long, however, and underutilized potential great, the following industry standouts aren’t stopping short of their biomass thermal-boosting goals. The phrase “First work, then play” isn’t applicable to Charlie Niebling. For him, work is play. Most biomass thermal industry stakeholders—veterans and newcomers alike—have likely heard of or met Niebling, whose friendly demeanor, wealth of knowledge and untouchable dedication to the industry, keep his involvement in trade associations, working groups and conferences in high demand. Niebling, who grew up, and currently resides, in New Hampshire, took an interest in forestry and conservation early on, he says, as his father owned woodlots. He achieved bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Vermont and Pennsylvania State University, respectively, and his first job out of graduate school was as a research forest biologist with the U.S. Forest Service in California. “That was in 1984,” Niebling reflects. “After a few years, I moved back to New Hampshire and got a job as executive director of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association.” After a two-year stint of self-employment at Natural Innovation Resource Solutions—a firm that he founded and would rejoin in 2013—Niebling became vice president of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, where he was in charge of managing 40,000 acres of woodlands and oversaw all policy work . He remained there through 2005. “So except for the two years as a consultant, I spent the first 21 years of my career working for government or nonprofits,” Niebling says. “I was eager to join a business, and a fantastic opportunity opened up with New England Wood Pellet in late 2005 to help the company implement an aggressive growth strategy.” Niebling retained the position of NEWP general manager until March 2013, and then rejoined INRS, which he says allows him to pursue many other biomass thermal-related opportunities. He continues to manage wood procurement for NEWP’s Jaffrey, N.H., mill, however, and represents the company in public, corporate and government affairs. While that represents half of his time, the other half is spent at INRS, which is involved in a wide range of projects working with corporate, government and nonprofit clients. He also continues to play an intricate role in building a stronger industry through multiple trade groups and other industry and public interest initiatives. On marked changes he has seen in the industry throughout the years, Niebling says the Northeast pellet industry has become much wiser about manufacturing and distribution. “The industry has done a good job of working together to build a supportive policy framework for high-efficiency biomass heating,” he says. “We are getting closer to mainstream public acceptance and critical mass in market growth.”
Niebling is especially proud of helping found BTEC, which began with eight companies and now represents nearly 150 members. “I’m also proud of some of the increased awareness and acceptance of biomass heating as a legitimate renewable energy opportunity, especially here in the Northeast,” he says. “I was pleased to play a role in getting New Hampshire to enact a comprehensive thermal carveout in its renewable portfolio standard program, and I’m hopeful that other states will follow with similar policy recognition.” Before he calls his career a wrap, Niebling says he hopes to see much more widespread adoption of pellet, chip and logwood heating across the Northeast, within the sustainable limits of the region’s biomass supply. “I would like to see our region greatly reduce its unhealthy dependence on imported oil for heat, as well as healthy, well-managed forests sustaining a strong forest industry that includes energy, pulp and paper, and solid wood products in an integrated economy.” Although Niebling does have interests outside the industry, which include four children, long-distance bicycle touring, ice hockey, bluegrass banjo and—of course—managing his woodlot, he has made his career into a full-time hobby that he is incontestably passionate about. And, he gets to do what he loves, from his stomping grounds. “My career has kept me at the intersection of forestry, renewable energy and natural resource policy, where my expertise is,” Niebling adds. “It’s also kept me in New Hampshire, the state I love.”
Scott Nichols As his signatory catch phrase suggests, Scott Nichols is feeling good about wood. In fact, his enthusiasm for the biomass thermal industry drew him thousands of miles from Anchorage, Alaska, to Lyme, N.H., the town where he grew up and currently resides. Nichols’ family owned a local hardware store and hearth shop for many years, he says, where wood-burning boiler sales had become an important part of business. That ultimately led Nichols’ father, Jim, and uncle, Lloyd, to purchase Tarm USA in 1995, and they began importing HS-Tarm wood-burning boilScott Nichols President, Tarm ers, a company that produces over 60 percent Biomass of the home boilers used in Denmark. Nichols couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to become a part of it all. “It was exciting to me,” he shares. “Growing up around the business, and many years of wood harvest, wood burning, plumbing and all that surrounds it, were formative to my upbringing. I always wanted to combine business with the environment, and knew that wood-based heating was a viable pathway.” Under the tutelage of his father and uncle, Nichols became responsible for running his family’s hearth shop, which included buying, merchandising, viewing and estimating installations, and managing an installation crew. While he seamlessly settled into his career, Nichols was soon faced with business and family challenges that he describes as “simply unimaginable. In 2006, I was thrust into a APRIL 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 39
¦THERMAL higher leadership role after my father suddenly and unexpectedly passed away,” he says. My uncle taught me some of the higher-level aspects of our business for six months before he, too, suddenly and unexpectedly died. This was a trial by fire.” Fortunately, Nichols had the support of a great staff, he says, and benefitted from sharing leadership with his uncle Lloyd’s recently hired son-in-law, John Redmond. “He was living in Colorado and had been hired to expand our business in the West,” Nichols says. “The two of us began running the business based on what we knew and what our mutual goals were because we had no other choice.” On what his work typically entails, Nichols says during the heating season, the week is spent solving customers’ technical questions. “We have a legacy of 40 years of boilers that are in the field, many of them sold directly to the end user,” he explains. “Our company is small, which means that I also have my hands in everything from payroll to opening the mail. I am the purchaser, show planner and public speaker. There is no end to the minutiea and meetings alike.” As heating season tails away, Nichols’s work hours are dedicated more substantially to planning work and industry committees. On changes he’s observed in the biomass heating sector since he was handed the reins of Tarm Biomass, Nichols says competitiveness has significantly increased. “After the meteoric rise of business in 2008, our sector has become much more [competitive],” he says. “Until 2007, we had experienced years of steady growth and relatively stable energy markets. In 2008, many companies entered the market thinking that
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there were huge opportunities that would result from $4.50 [per gallon] oil. Of course, oil prices and the health of the global economy sunk at the same time.” As a consequence, more companies began to compete for a market share experiencing what Nichols deems “very slow growth. Due in large part to the organization of trade groups, energy policy makers have favored our sector with rebates and grants,” he says. “Prior to 2008, these handouts were unheard of and unnecessary. Today, I wonder if our sector of small pellet boilers—less than 1 MMBtu per hour—could survive without public money.” Other winds of change have come in the form of regulation, Nichols adds, and a relentless community of people who are critical of burning biomass. “With publicity and organization, we have attracted more detractors than we knew were possible prior to 2007,” he says. Outside of work, Nichols spends his time attending his kids’ sporting events, and he jokes that he’s been finishing his house since 1997. His remaining hobbies compliment his career choice: maple syrup making, hunting, fishing, biking, and, of course, managing his woodlot. Summing up his passion for his career, Nichols says that besides running a third-generation, family-owned business, his drive stems from philosophical reasons, and the shear challenge of building his business through tumultuous energy and broader markets. “Running a business that is so intimately tied to global issues, my own back yard and the back yards of my customers—and the local aspect of heating with wood— keeps me informed and wanting to learn more.”
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THERMAL¦ John Ackerly John Ackerly is fighting the good fight—but peacefully, of course, as a deep admirer of the Dalai Lama. For the past five years, Ackerly has demonstrated unwavering dedication to helping residential biomass heating earn treatment parallel to other renewables, as well as recognition as the most common method of heating homes in the country. Ackerly grew up in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. His initial career aspiration didn’t mirror anything close to what he is doing John Ackerly now—he wanted to be a lawyer. “Since I was President, Alliance about 10,” he says, “I was so moved by newspafor Green Heat per articles and TV coverage of the civil rights struggle in our country. I eventually went to law school, but got so sick of law books that I went to Alaska to work on fishing boats and clear my head.” Later, Ackerly passed the bar exam, got a job as a civil rights lawyer in Mississippi, and after an eventful pro-democracy protest in Tibet in 1987, he became president of the International Campaign for Tibet, a nonprofit human rights group in Washington. “I am not a spiritual person, much less Buddhist, but I developed a deep admiration for the Dalai Lama, who is an advocate for nonviolence,” he shares. It was in 2005 that wood stoves began to spark an interest in Ackerly. “I became an armchair wood stove advocate and would write letters to the editor about the potential of wood stoves, and realized that there
weren’t many professional advocates for residential wood heating, particularly in Washington, D.C.,” he says. A few years later, Ackerly was ready for a career change. “I decided to make my hobby a career, and tried to find a nonprofit environmental or renewable energy group that wanted to start a wood heating project,” he says. “It only took me about a month to realize how uninterested established nonprofits were in residential wood heat, even though I showed them data demonstrating that it was the largest source of residential renewable energy. I decided to form my own nonprofit, and got in touch with the Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association and met some very ambitious and creative people forming the Biomass Thermal Energy Council. They had also identified the void in Washington advocacy but were more focused on larger heating systems, so I joined their board of directors and have worked closely with them ever since.” Ackerly says he’s not sure why he has always loved wood stoves, but, coincidentally, as a teenager, he would stop by Scott Nichols’s family’s hardware store to admire the offerings there. “Growing up in New Hampshire, I saw how reliant farmers and others were on wood and how effective and sustainable it was, but all the incentives were flowing to wealthy families to install solar panels. This struck me as profoundly unfair, particularly as wood pellet stoves and clean indoor boilers came on the market. I still believe that the low- and middle-income families who burn wood and pellets are the real unsung leaders of the renewable energy movement in America. We just have not had a government interested enough to fund research and development or update regulations in a timely way to get wood stoves clean enough.”
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¦THERMAL Since his segue into the industry, Ackerly says he has paradoxically seen more support and interest in wood heating, and more opposition. “In 2009, no Eastern states had any incentive programs for stoves or boilers, and today there are five,” he points out. “At the same time, groups opposing biomass have become more vocal, at first just against biomass to electricity, but now it’s more generalized. As a pro-wood heating consumer organization, we often find ourselves in between industry and environmental groups. Some weeks when we get hate mail from both sides, I try to take it as a sign that we are doing a good job.”
In his biomass thermal career stint so far, Ackerly says he’s been most gratified by the Wood Stove Design Challenge that Alliance for Green Heat hosted last year in Washington, D.C. “We wanted it to be both a showcase of new, innovative and clean technology and a real competition to see who could made the most affordable, cleanest and most efficient device,” he says. “While we did not get the level of engagement from EPA and DOE that we had hoped, it was a huge success and helped to raise the profile of wood technology in Washington.”
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Another major accomplishment of AFGH is getting Maryland’s wood stove rebate program started. “The fossil fuel industry killed the legislation for the program two years in a row, but the Maryland Energy Administration realized it was a program that they should fund anyway. There are a number of things Ackerly hopes to see happen during his time in the biomass thermal industry, one being the number of U.S. homes heated with wood and pellets to rise from 2.3 percent—some of which need equipment upgrades—to 5 percent. He hopes heating with wood and pellets becomes even cleaner, enough to be fully embraced by policymakers. “I also want to see the same incentives that solar and geothermal receive,” he adds, “a green label for wood and pellet stoves, and boilers emerge and become nationally recognized.”
Norbert Senf An expert and advocate for a lesserknown but megaefficient method of heating a home, the road to Norbert Norbert Senf Senf ’s eventual caMasonry Heater reer began when he Association learned the masonry trade from his father for a summer job. Born in Hamburg, Germany, and raised in Toronto, where he studied mechanical engineering, Senf now resides in Quebec, where he first became familiar with masonry heaters. “I’ve been fascinated with them ever since,” he says. That was in 1978, and one year later he built his first masonry heater for a neighbor, using design information from Austria (he is still able to read German). “In 1981, I learned about Finnish contraflow heaters, and have been building those ever since,” Senf says. “I originally got into prefabricating castable refractory components, to cut down the on-site labor time. That eventually led to a small manufacturing business, and now we sell a contraflow heater core kit.” While masonry heaters are indigenous to the colder parts of Europe, such as Scandinavia, Austria and Russia, they aren’t well known in North America. “North America’s cultural traditions are British and French,”
THERMAL¦ Senf says. “Both of those cultures only had open fireplaces, and basically used to freeze in the winter.” That fact is unfortunate, because not only are masonry heaters picturesque works of art, but low-emission and very efficient. “It’s similar to a site-built masonry fireplace, but the difference is that it has an airtight glass door, and a special internal flue path to exchange heat to its thermal mass,” Senf explains. “A typical North American heater will burn a 60-pound charge of wood in two to three hours and store that heat in an 8,000-pound mass, which then slowly radiates into the house for the next 24 hours. Because of that storage ability, one can burn the wood at an optimum burn rate for efficiency and low emissions.” Senf says he built his neighbor’s contraflow heater in 1981, and the chimney has never needed cleaning. “It’s the cleanest way you can burn cordwood on a domestic scale,” he says. “A reasonably good operator using seasoned wood will burn at about the same [particulate emission rate] as a pellet stove.” Additionally, wood-burning mason heaters avoid a lot of the mess and attention that a normal woodstove requires. “My woodshed is close to our heater, and it takes me about 10 minutes a day to load the firebox and light it. We then enjoy a nice fire for the next few hours. Because it is a radiant system, similar to a hydronic floor, there is a lot less dust, and also a lot less heat stratification. You don’t need a ceiling fan, and the upstairs of the house does not overheat.” Senf was a founding member and tech committee chair of the Masonry Heater Association, which formed about 30 years ago. MHAR is currently reviewing the U.S. EPA’s draft of New Source Performance Standards for residential heating appliances, Senf says, which will regulate masonry heaters for the first time. As currently written, they would have a devastating effect on the masonry heating sector. “The draft NSPS wants to force every small builder into a ‘manufacturer’ role with ‘model lines’ that need testing at an EPAaccredited lab. Then, they want us to store a sealed version of that model at our own facility. This is boilerplate taken from metal stove regulations, and does not recognize the peculiarities of our industry. As currently proposed, it will put everyone out of business.”
As a result of the recession, and due to the fact that masonry heaters are higher-end items due to the craftsmanship involved, only about 500 get built in the U.S. each year. “Total particulate emissions from those 500 heaters are about the same as five old-technology outdoor boilers,” Senf says. “We need EPA certification, however, because localities that regulate wood burning will often specify EPA-certified stoves only, and we fall through the cracks. Exemption doesn’t count, even if you are the cleanest thing on the block.” Besides achieving fair treatment of masonry heaters regulationwise, before he builds
his last one, Senf says he’d like to see domestic wood heating properly recognized as the largest component of the renewable energy sector. “Also, for many people like myself in an exurban location, it is the lowest-hanging fruit if I want to reduce my personal carbon footprint. The problem with wood heat, of course, is the emissions. We have a fix for that, and I want to get as high on that learning curve as I possibly can.” Author: Anna Simet Managing Editor, Biomass Magazine email@example.com 701-738-4961
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BiogasNews Technology produces superior biogas feedstock Rochester, N.Y.based ClearCove Systems Inc. was awarded funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to demonstrate a new wastewater treatment system at the Ithaca Area Wastewater Treatment Facility in the Finger Lakes, and the Nott Road Wastewater Treatment Facility in Guilderland. NYSERDA has provided $300,000 for the projects, and ClearCove is contributing an additional $300,000. ClearCove has invited a screening technology that enhances settling techniques that water treatment plants typically use to process sewage. The patented process reduces energy use by removing more organic matter from the waste stream before it undergoes
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aeration or secondary treatment. As an added benefit, the system creates an organic byproduct that can be used for anaerobic digestion. ClearCove studies have demonstrated that organic matter captured by its primary treatment system and used in anaerobic digestion generates three times more biogas than organic matter typically taken from secondary treatment does.
New process turns biogas into hydrogen Iogen Corp. has developed and patented a new method to make drop-in cellulosic biofuels from biogas using existing refinery assets and production operations. The company estimates enough refining capacity is already in place to produce 5 to 6 billion gallons of the fuel. The technology involves processing biogas to make renewable hydrogen, which is then incorporated into finished transportation fuels in selected refinery hydrogenating units. The company developed the biogas-tocellulosic fuels approach as it examined sending the tail end of fermentations to an anaerobic digester as a way to increase the efficiency of its cellulosic ethanol process. Iogen plans to implement the process as two large-scale cellulosic ethanol plants it is developing in the U.S., which are expected to be constructed in Kansas and North Dakota.
Taking Recycling Efforts to the Next Level BY AMANDA BILEK
Many cities across the U.S.—even large cities like New York City—are stepping up recycling efforts by offering curbside collection of source separated organics, or food scraps and nonrecyclable papers. City and county governments are looking to collect household and institutional organic waste to boost recycling efforts. As they consider what to do with these organics, they should consider the value of anaerobic digestion (AD). U.S. EPA statistics show that in 2011, Americans generated 250 million tons of trash and recycled approximately 35 percent, or 87 million tons, of the collected material. Food scraps accounted for approximately 21 percent of the remaining 164 million tons of nonrecycled materials. Current recycling rates make a strong case for why local units of government are targeting organic materials to boost recycling. As local units of government undertake these efforts, the discussions in several jurisdictions are focused on composting the collected material. As advocates for AD and biogas energy generation, it is important that we urge cities and counties to consider anaerobic digestion as an avenue to capture the energy value from household food scraps and other organic material. Composting is far preferable to landfilling organics, and has the advantage of having viable economics with small volumes of organics, but AD offers additional benefits. Although project economics might not always favor AD compared to composting, it should be considered in the planning process, and used when sufficient volumes of organics make the economics more attractive The use of AD could take organic collection programs to the next level by capturing the methane from organic materials and using it generate clean power, transportation fuel or both. If transportation fuel is the preferred energy option, trucks that are used to collect organics could be fueled by the methane captured in the AD process, which could save city and county government’s money by offsetting
diesel fuel use. And you still get the same valuable organic material out the other end, just like a compost project! Jurisdictions are taking different approaches when it comes to getting more organics out of the solid waste stream and diverting those materials to composting or anaerobic digestion facilities. Some are enacting organic disposal bans and others are implementing voluntary organics sorting and collection programs. These efforts are helping to solve a critical first step: putting the necessary infrastructure and processes in place to efficiently move organic materials from households and institutions to central collection facilities. In Massachusetts, where 25 percent of the solid waste stream is organic material, new requirements aim to drive part of the nonusable organics to AD facilities. In regulations finalized in January, facilities that have at least 1 ton of organic material per week must separate usable food from nonusable. The nonusable portion must be sent to an AD, composting or animal feed facility. In addition, Massachusetts is offering technical assistance and financing support of up to $1 million in grants to public and private facilities to implement AD projects to process on-site organic waste and be able to receive diverted organics from other locations. The requirements go into effect on Oct. 1. There are voluntary and mandatory organic collection efforts happening in communities, large and small, across the country. Advocates of increased compositing and anaerobic digestion have been and will continue to be natural partners as these efforts scale up. We must all continue to work together to ensure that we make the highest and best use of the organic material diverted from landfills or incinerators. Author: Amanda Bilek Government Affairs Manager, Great Plains Institute 612-278-7118
APRIL 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 45
Mel Kurtz President, Quasar Energy Group
Realizing the versatile and valuable qualities of biogas energy, Mel Kurtz, Joshua Rapport, Amanda Bilek and Patrick Serfass strive to spread the word. BY CHRIS HANSON
46 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | APRIL 2014
eople who emerge as exceptional business leaders have often come from seemingly unrelated and diverse backgrounds. Thomas Edison, for example, before creating some of the greatest inventions of the 20th century, sold newspapers and candy to passengers riding on the Grand Trunk Railroad, in the late 1800s. During that stint, Edison learned telegraphy, which spurred his interest in electricity and fostered his drive for invention. The biogas industry is no exception to this observation; many hail from diverse backgrounds and life experiences, be it the Peace Corps, an oceanographic institute or a farm in central Minnesota. Those experiences have all, in one way or another, helped the following individuals make notable contributions to the evolving biogas industry. Quasar energy group decided to name its company after an abundant energy source, as “quasar” refers to an extremely distant object with energy output several thousand times that of our galaxy. The company believes quasar is one word that describes the potential of the biomass waste-to-energy industry, which it entered by storm in 2006. A pioneer in bringing European anaerobic digestion technology to the U.S., Quasar Energy President Mel Kurtz’s trek into the sector began while he was working for a company that managed solid waste for the Akron, Ohio, wastewater treatment facility. The company faced chemical, air treatment and utility costs that exceeded $1 million each year, Kurtz says. “In order to gain control of the cost, we started looking for an alternative.” Kurtz’s brother, Tom, took a trip to Switzerland via a recommendation from an Ohio State engineer he knew, and was amazed at the capabilities of an anaerobic digester he visited while there. “Instead of buying energy to burn energy, now we’re going to capture energy and make energy. Long story short, that’s how anaerobic digestion became a staple for the Kurtz family,” Mel Kurtz says. Since then, using an aggregation of best available technologies from more than 30 European providers, quasar energy—previously known as Schmack Biogas—has built over a dozen U.S. digester projects, mostly in Ohio. These facilities utilize a versatile combination of feedstocks—from manure to food waste to biosolids and fats, oils and greases, to produce electricity, heat and compressed natural gas. While the technologies have been sourced from Europe, quasar’s systems run on close to 100 percent U.S.-made components, the majority of which are sourced from within Ohio. Being president of quasar energy involves meeting and managing goals not only for himself, but also for those already involved or becoming involved in the biogas industry. “The industry is so new, there’s a big learning curve for everybody involved, such as regulators, consumers, vendors and customers,” Kurtz says. “Most of the time is spent directing people toward a perspective about this huge opportunity that they didn’t have previously.” One of the bigger goals that quasar and Kurtz are working toward is spreading the word of biogas to potential markets and educating organizations. “The most important thing for the industry is that everything we’re doing with current generation digesters costs less than the alternatives in the marketplace,” Kurtz says. “In other words, it’s less expensive than incineration, chemical treatment and landfills. With the dilemma of the wastewater treatment plant, federal funding has declined 97 percent since 2009, which means rate payers are going to carry the burden on any plant or infrastructure modifications.”
Amanda Bilek At the Haubenschild dairy farm in Princeton, Minn., Minnesota Project intern Amanda Bilek was introduced to anaerobic digestion while working with a project manager in the spring of 2000. APRIL 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 47
junction with the anaerobic digestion system,” says Bilek. A political science and environmental studies graduate of the University of St. Thomas, Bilek was initially attracted to anaerobic digestion technology because of its ability to address varieties of organic waste streams and the opportunity it provided as an alternative energy resource. At the time, state universities and government organizations were researching multiple uses for the biogas, such as cleaning it up and running it through fuel cells, she says. “What has really gotten me excited about biogas over my entire career is that it has a wonderful ability to meet a variety of different uses for energy,” Bilek says. “It is a very exciting and dynamic fuel that is incredibly underutilized in the U.S.” Amanda Bilek For seven years, Bilek continued to work with Government Affairs Manager, Great Plains Institute multiple biogas projects for the Minnesota Project. Then, she joined the Great Plains Institute, which focuses on public policy and working with diverse Two years later, the central Minnesota native took a permanent job within the organization, which focuses on expanding develop- people to broker consensus agreements on energy policy in order to ment of Minnesota’s renewable energy resources. It was then that grow energy systems—such as biogas—that are both economically she became more involved in anaerobic digestion. “That is sort of and environmentally sustainable, she says. In 2011, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Bilek to how I stepped in to work more on biogas systems, by taking over the implementation of outreach and education grants we had in con- the state’s Next Generation Energy Board. One reason for her ap-
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pointment might have been due to her experience within the biogas and biomass industry, she believes. “I was incredibly honored when I got a call from the governor’s office when they were thinking of appointing me to the board.” Bilek has also provided staffing assistance to advisory groups of the Midwestern Governors Association Energy and Jobs Initiatives including Industrial Energy Productivity, Advanced Transportation Fuels, Low Carbon Fuel Policy and Bioeconomy and Transportation. When she isn’t tackling a looming deadline, Bilek usually begins and ends her day researching the growing news within the industry and managing her to-do lists. The rest of her day can encompass squeezing in meetings, additional research, writing and tackling priorities to keep projects moving forward.
Patrick Serfass In 2000, the year Bilek was beginning her excursion into the biomass world, Partick Serfass was finishing his engineering degree at Dartmouth College. After graduation, Serfass explored several industries and had the opportunity to work on multiple diverse projects. At Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, he helped design deep-water vehicles, and was also involved with a group that works with the Alvin and Jason submersibles, which are mostly recognized from Robert Ballard’s discovery of the Titanic wreck site. In addition to working
Patrick Serfass Executive Director, American Biogas Council
on the submersibles, Serfass had the chance to assist with mapping underwater volcanoes in the Pacific. Following Woods Hole, Serfass moved to a company that blended architecture and engineering to produce stainless steel structures that support artistic projects at venues such as the Kennedy Center, Museum of Natural History in New York City, San
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‛We’re just now at a point where things are really starting to change within the industry. Not just because the industry is growing on its own, but because we’re able to affect change.’ – Patrick Serfass, American Biogas Council Francisco International Airport and the Experience Music Project in Seattle. “The goal was to create a structure that was strong, to support the art, but was also aesthetically beautiful,” he says. “I think the projects we worked on were really amazing, but at the end of the day, I didn’t really get to work with
people. I knew I wanted to do a lot more, and that’s where I started moving away from the nuts and bolts kind of engineering and more towards application and business management. That’s what led me to energy.” Serfass became involved with the American Biogas Council when roughly 20
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companies came together to form an organization to formally represent the U.S. biogas industry. While working with Technology Technician Corp., the coalition approached the company to help grow the industry. Shortly after forming the ABC, Serfass was elected executive director. “It’s kind of interesting,” he says. “I wasn’t really seeking out the biogas industry, but it was something we talked about for a long time, since it is kind of one of the underappreciated resources in the renewable energy space. We had a great opportunity when we were approached to try and grow the industry. I’m really thrilled that over the last four years, we have experienced a lot of growth, and there will be much more in the years to come.” Future goals include getting people to think about recycling organic waste in the same way they might think about recycling other materials, such as glass, paper and plastics, Serfass says. The biogas industry had two major successes when both Connecticut and New York City passed laws to recycle more organic wastes. “Those took a year or more in the making to get to those states,” he says. “This year, we have four more states with legislation that has been introduced.” In addition to leading a quickly growing organization, the next accomplishments involve greater outreach and education. “We spent the first couple years trying to grow so that we would have enough influence to get something to happen,” Serfass says. “We’re just now at a point where things are really starting to change within the industry. Not just because the industry is growing on its own, but because we’re able to affect change.”
Joshua Rapport As a new biology graduate, Joshua Rapport originally planned to work in the pharmaceutical industry, but he was inspired to study biofuels and biogas during his time in the Peace Corps. He joined the organization in 2000, and Joshua Rapport worked at the island CleanWorld Partners
BIOGAS¦ nation of Vanuatu, in the South Pacific Ocean. There, the locals had a very basic lifestyle and lacked resources that could promote their standard of living, says Rapport. “One of the few things they have to generate income is coconuts.” The implications of creating a coconut oil-derived biodiesel inspired Rapport to attend the University of California-Davis to study engineering. “I was looking for a way for them to make a little money and help themselves out,” Rapport says. The possibility of running diesel generators on the coconut fuel could potentially allow the village to have electricity for the first time in its history, he adds. “Turns out that would be a little harder than anticipated, which is why I decided to pursue an engineering degree.” Because of his biology background, anaerobic digestion was a natural fit for Rapport. “So, I was interested in biofuels and engineering. I looked at several programs, and became interested in the one at UC-Davis.” During his studies, he met Dr. Ruihong Zhang, professor at UC-Davis and the current chief technology advisor at CleanWorld Partners. Zhang and Rapport began working together on anaerobic digestion (AD) research and an AD pilot plant, which became part of the basis for CleanWorld Partners’ commercialization technology. “When I was graduating, CleanWorld was just beginning to talk about putting together a team to commercialize the technology,” he says. “So the timing worked just right.” Rapport and CleanWorld have successfully brought on line its award-winning Sacramento BioDigester, the largest anaerobic digestion system of its kind in North America. The facility converts 25 tons of food waste per day into various forms of renewable energy including heat, electricity, and natural gas, in addition to producing fertilizer and soil enhancements for California farms. The facility is now under expansion to handle nearly 40,000 tons per year, a project that is expected to be complete by mid-2014. There seems to be no typical work day for Rapport. When he is not catching up on emails and attending meetings, his time
is spent designing projects, consulting customers and team members. When he goes home, he uses an iPad to monitor digesters and remotely make adjustments. The application he uses allows access to the AD systems from any point in the world, he says. “It’s sort of a 24/7 job here.” Currently, Rapport and the CleanWorld team are hoping to launch two to four new units within the next year and are diligently working to improve their latest technology. “We have already proven our system works,” he says. “I think our biggest goal
will be to expand to a much wider customer base.” In addition to launching new systems, the research and development team is investigating new additions to systems and value-added products from the digester residuals, he says. Author: Chris Hanson Staff Writer, Biomass Magazine email@example.com 701-738-4970
APRIL 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 51
AdvancedBiofuelNews EPA reveals 2013 RIN data U.S EPA data indicates nearly 2013 RINs 16.62 billion renewable identification numbers (RINs) were generD3 cellulosic biofuel 422,740 ated last year, including 442,740 D3 D4 biomass-based 2,724,275,779 cellulosic biofuel and 387,445 D7 diesel cellulosic diesel RINs, bringing the total for cellulosic RINs to about D5 advanced biofuel 556,267,369 830,185. D6 renewable fuel 13,335,259,120 More than 550.98 million D7 cellulosic diesel 395,777 D5 advanced biofuel RINs were SOURCE: U.S. EPA generated last year, including 25.90 million for biogas and 3.47 million for naptha. Approximately 70.03 year, including 15,198 for butanol and million D5 RINs were generated for 196.36 million for nonester renewable nonester renewable diesel. diesel. About 2.72 billion D4 biomassEPA data shows that nearly 15.39 based diesel RINs were also generated billion RINs were generated by domesin 2013, including approximately 408.09 tic producers, with 745.24 million genmillion for nonester renewable diesel. erated by importers and 483.24 million More than 13.31 billion D6 renew- generated by foreign entities. able fuels RINs were generated last
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Audi, Global Bioenergies partner on drop-in fuels Global Bioenergies has signed a two-year collaboration agreement with German car manufacturer Audi for development of high-performance biofuel for gasoline engines. The agreement focuses on isobutene-derived isooctane. According to Global Bioenergies, it is developing a process for the direct and cost-efficient transformation of renewable resources into light olefins. Its most advanced program is on the production of biobased isobutene, a molecule that can be transformed into isooctane, a drop-in biofuel with an octane rating of 100. â€œWe had recently announced the start of our precommercial pilot phase at the Fraunhofer [Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes] in Leuna allowing production of high-purity isobutene that can be used for different applications. One crucial point of our collaboration with Audi will consist of supplying them with isooctane derived from isobutene produced at our pilot plant. Furthermore, the collaboration with Audi will enable us to emphasize even more the usage of sustainable feedstock,â€? said Thomas Buhl, head of business development at Global Bioenergies.
ADVANCED BIOFUELS AND CHEMICALS¦
A Biomass Farm Bill BY MARGARET MCCORMICK
In early February, President Barack Obama signed a Farm Bill that provided support to a broad spectrum of biomass technologies. This bill is the result of hard negotiations among members of Congress, and as a result of the give-and-take process, the bill is not perfect. We are happy to see that elected officials are acknowledging the potential of biomass in the U.S., but as our nation grows, we will need new and sustainable sources of products from feed and food to fuels and chemicals. Biomass technologies are beginning to provide that diversity of products, as well as the environmental upside of processes like carbon dioxide sequestration. In the algae industry, several companies are optimizing technologies that will grow biomass exclusively with saltwater or wastewater, an even more important accomplishment in the face of recent droughts. Stories of these potential solutions and commercial successes are beginning to attract new congressional supporters on both sides of the aisle. The new Farm Bill was particularly interesting in that it addresses algae and other biomass from many angles: • The bill will continue to allow algae projects to be eligible for support through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program for establishment and maintenance of algae crops. This means that algae farmers will remain eligible to apply for USDA funding to establish their algae crops and also to maintain these crops on an annual basis. • Every biomass supporter should be happy to see that $881 million in mandatory funding for the energy title is included in the Farm Bill. Many in Congress had proposed excluding the mandatory funding, which would have jeopardized programs
like BCAP, the Biorefinery Assistance Program, the Biomass R&D Program, and the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels. • The bill extends the Biorefinery Assistance Program beyond biofuel refining to renewable chemicals and other biobased products. This will be welcome news for those looking to produce the full range of products derived from algae. • The bill extends the Noninsured Crop Assistance Program to energy crops. Currently, NAP only covers crops grown for food, feed and fiber. This means that producers of biofuels will now be eligible to apply for insurance coverage of their crops in the case of a natural disaster. Members of the Algae Biomass Organization supported all of these changes, as did many in the biomass community at large. The Farm Bill isn’t perfect, but Congress recognizing that biomass industries should have real support is a significant step forward for the new wave of technologies that are generating jobs, renewable products, and environmental benefits that so many in the U.S. are demanding. The final language in the new Farm Bill is evidence that keeping Congress informed about the benefits of biomass and our industry success stories has a positive impact. I’m surely not alone in thinking that additional strong policy support can only make these technologies more successful in the U.S. As we share more success, we will see more support. Author: Margaret McCormick Chair of Board of Directors, Algae Biomass Organization 877-531-5512 www.algaebiomass.org
APRIL 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 53
Michael McAdams Advanced Biofuels Association
Michael McAdams, Jason Quinn , Susan Hager and Graham Noyes work under the same advanced biofuel and chemical umbrella, but all have different motivators and visions for the future.
BY SUSANNE RETKA SCHILL 54 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | APRIL 2014
he emerging advanced biofuels and chemicals industries are full of people with dreams, people who imagine multiple means for making a biobased economy a true replacement for petroleum. Looking back at 100 years of oil development history, we focus on the titans of the industry that built the success stories that made petroleum products ubiquitous. We don’t know yet who the winners in the advanced biofuels and biochemical space will be. But regardless which companies ultimately succeed, that success will be built on the efforts of many people. Michael McAdams is well known for his advocacy work on behalf of the emerging industry as the president of the Advanced Biofuels Association. His desire to work in the policy arena goes way back, to around the dinner table as a boy where public policy was part of the daily conversation. “My father came to Washington, D.C., to work for a senator as a very young man,” he explains. “Since he was my hero, I thought that what he did for a living in public service was a great calling.” His dad helped him get a job as a page in the House of Representatives when he was 15. Working alongside him in the House mailroom was none other than Bob Dinneen. “Fast forward 35 years and here we are,” McAdams says. “Bob leading the Renewable Fuels Association and me leading the Advanced Biofuels Association.” Earlier in his career, though, McAdams was on the other side of the table, representing an oil company. He sees his 14 years of experience with BP as giving him a solid foundation for his work today. “I worked directly for the CEO Lord John Browne the last five years, I was his policy guy in the U.S.,” he says. He worked at BP on the “Beyond Petroleum” effort and during the time that BP delivered the first low-sulfur gasoline in the United States. “What I worked on for the last five years I was with BP was the cutting edge of cleaning up hydrocarbon fuels. I literally sat down and negotiated with Bob Dinneen in 2000, and BP became one of the first companies to support a mandate for ethanol.” Working in the oil industry gave McAdams an understanding of the transportation market, how fuel markets work and capital is allocated, as well as how complicated and costly transportation infrastructure is. And, it gives him a different attitude towards Big Oil. “If we’re able to develop this [advanced biofuels] industry, it’s going to be through our sweat and tears and our own innovation,” he says. “If we develop reasonable processes and deliver the goods, they will be the first people to be investing in it. At the minimum, [the oil companies] are going to be the customers we sell to.” It is a mistake to paint the companies in the oil industry with a broad brush, he says, they are highly competitive and far from monolithic. Besides working for BP, McAdams has worked on the staffs of two members of Congress as well as other advocacy groups before helping to organize the Advanced Biofuels Association and working as its lobbyist. “Anybody in this business has to have an eternal optimism. They have to wake up every morning believing
they are doing the right thing for the world,” he says. “You’ve really got to have a thick skin in this business, because you’re going to take a lot of shots and you’ve really got to do your homework. I tell all the young people who work for me that this is not easy. You will have to read and work and continue to do that throughout your career. When you line up across the line of scrimmage across from someone, whether it’s the American Petroleum Institute or someone else, you better bring your best game. This is not unlike a professional game. You’ve got to bring your A team, if you’re going to play at the big leagues of the federal policy arena.” The rewards for the effort are significant, he adds. “When you accomplish something, it lasts for a long time and you make a difference in lives. For me, I’m trying to help those innovative second generation biofuels companies. That’s my dream, before I retire, to see it become a real industry.”
Jason Quinn In his mid-30s, Jason Quinn is among the group of researchers who will shape the development of renewable energy in the decades ahead. As an assistant professor in mechanical engineerJason Quinn ing at Utah State UniUtah State University versity, he is teaching students about the principals of mechanical engineering such as fluids, energy and mass transfer as applied to a range of renewable energy systems, including wind and solar. A second class he teaches is focused on biofuels from a systems engineering angle looking at life-cycle analysis and tech economics. “I enjoy the class on the metrics,” he says. “We do what I call first-order calculations.” With his roots in the Midwest, Quinn has his students call farmers to ask how much diesel they burn when planting or combining soybeans. The farmers’ numbers are factored in with other data gathered in a similar fashion to develop a life cycle-analysis on soy-based biodiesel. “We basically start in a very grassroots style, get an answer and look at others who have done the work and compare,” Quinn says. The student calculations are within 10 percent of the experts’ results. Quinn’s research delves deeper into the world of advanced biofuels systems. He is in the first year of a three-year research project funded by the National Science Foundation to look at heavy metals and their effect on microalgae growth. “Most plants take CO2 from the atmosphere but microalgae grow at such a fast rate you have to supply CO2,” he explains. Integrating microalgae culture with coal-fired power plants could utilize flue gases, helping solve several
APRIL 2014 | BIOMASS MAGAZINE 55
Take Advantage of Economy of Scale
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issues for that industry. His research will look at the effects that the heavy metals contained in the flue-gas waste stream may have on algae growth, and whether the heavy metals are being concentrated in a final product like biodiesel. In other research projects, Quinn is broadening his examination of algae. “One project is taking a growth model we’ve developed and looking globally,” he says. There have been multiple assessments of the third-generation fuel’s potential in the U.S., he says, but not of the global potential. Another project is making a life-cycle and economic analysis for a third-generation microalgae-based biorefinery that would produce not just biodiesel, but also bioplastics and electricity. When asked about his goals, Quinn replies, “If it were easy, it would already be done.” He doesn’t expect microalgaeto-fuels to be commercialized for another decade, but its promise makes it a worthwhile endeavor. “Microalgae’s biggest strength over anything else is its productivity potential. When you look at yields of traditional crops, microalgae yields are orders of magnitude larger today,” he says, albeit the systems are not yet economically viable. Currently, algae systems are yielding between 2,500 and 5,000 gallons per acre per year, compared to first- and secondgeneration biofuel yields that number in the hundreds of gallons per acre per year. The work to be done to make such tantalizing yields economically viable will include engineers working on the systems and biologists working with the microorganisms at small scale, all generating data to be used for scale up. “We’re trying to develop experiments that enable us to scale and draw data into large-scale modeling,” Quinn says, “trying to tie everything together and bring the rubber to the road.”
Susan Hager As senior vice president for corporate communications and government affairs at Myriant Corp., Susan Hager says she has the best job in the world. “Not only do I work in the most exciting industry, but my
Susan Hager Myriant Corp.
function in the organization is the best. So much of what I do focuses on understanding what is happening internally and then leveraging that to communicate externally with customers, partners, investors or the government. It’s a very dynamic position, but one that lets me interact with everyone in the organization in everything from finance to engineering. It’s a lot of fun.” A biologist by training, Hager started her career doing benchtop research on immunology and cancer treatments. But rather than continuing on for a doctorate in immunology, she decided to pursue an MBA. “I was very interested in the business aspects of biotech,” she explains. A few years later, she was at a crossroads again when a friend became CEO at a development-stage advanced biofuels company and invited her to join his team. “I had no experience in clean energy or biomass,” she says, but after reading up on all sectors of clean energy she became enthusiastic. “The clean energy sector is probably the only other industry as altruistic as trying to cure cancer.” It was an industry she could rally around, she says. “I started to get passionate about the technologies I was reading about. The company I joined [Qteros] had this really cool bacteria—biology at the core with really slick engineering.” At Qteros, Hager cut her teeth on energy policy and was involved in getting the
Advanced Ethanol Council established to raise awareness of advanced cellulosic fuels in Congress. Shifting over to Myriant’s focus on bioproducts and biobased chemicals was not a heavy lift, she says. Similar to Qteros, Myriant’s technology harnesses the ability of a microbe, in this case to produce succinic acid, used in the manufacturing of a broad range of plastics and foams. The contrast with her earlier career, where her primary focus was on the Food and Drug Administration, was much bigger. “I really thought, what could be more challenging than working with FDA trying to get drugs approved and on the market? And then I came over to clean tech. Trying to establish consistent energy policy is actually harder than getting a cancer drug approved.” Hager hopes that within five years, biobased chemicals will be entering the mainstream, “and that the big manufacturers and packaged goods companies are seriously looking at making products more sustainability for the benefit of the environment. Sure, it’s great for all the companies trying to scale their technologies, but there is a bigger mission here—to be able to find renewable, sustainable feedstocks with lower carbon footprints, where the processes are carbon neutral or environmentally friendly and they contribute to products that are ecofriendly. I hope in five years, we’re not just talking about two to five success stories. I hope there are so many success stories it’s hard to keep track of them all,” she says, “but a lot needs to happen for that to happen.” “The biggest change is going to be when the generation that’s in elementary school now comes up and enters the workforce,” she continues. “I have a 10 year old; and I’m always amazed, happily, at how environmentally aware her generation is and the things they consider to be wasteful, that they would never consider doing, whereas our generation says ‘whatever.’ They’ve been brought up with the mindset of recycling and doing good, not wasting precious resources and mindful of petroleum as a finite resource. They understand what renewable biomass is, even at the age of 10. They get it. It will be that generation that is inquisitive enough to ask the questions about how you can do things differently. And they’ll be the generation that can affect change from a policy perspective.” Education is going to take a big role in keeping those students, and young women in particular, moving towards that future. “Schools need to focus on STEM—science, math, technology and engineering, particularly—if, as a country, we want to maintain a competitive edge and be a country that fosters innovation and IP creation.”
Graham Noyes Though today Graham Noyes is one of the most well-known attorneys in the bioenergy space, the road to the sector was long and winding. The Dixbury, Mass., native attended the University of Virginia in Charlottesville as an undergraduate, and then traveled to the University of California-Davis for law school. “While at UVA and in law school, I planned to pursue a career in politics,” Noyes says. “To explore the possibility further, I interned in WashGraham Noyes ington, D.C., after my second summer in law school.” Keyes, Fox & From that experience, Noyes realized that CapiWiedman LLP
¦ADVANCED BIOFUELS tol Hill was not for him. “My summer [in D.C.] convinced me to return immediately to the West Coast,” he says. He went on to graduate from law school and took the California bar exam, but struggled deciding what to do next. “I had never intended to be a corporate lawyer, had decided not to pursue politics, and was reluctant to enter environmental law with its maze of regulations,” Noyes reflects. “I meandered around Central America for a few months waiting on bar results and pondering my next move. Upon my return to the U.S., I decided that given my uncertainty, the best way to start my legal career would be to try cases.” Still a long way from bioenergy, Noyes worked his way into a position as an association public defender in Sacramento County, which he did for two years, then started a private practice in San Francisco, where he continued to do primarily criminal defense and expanded into civil rights litigation. “While I learned a great many interesting and disturbing things during my eight years as a public defender, I became increasingly convinced it was time to find a new line of work,” he says. “The natural progression for a criminal defense attorney is from juvenile and petty offender cases toward serious felonies and capital cases. While I have great respect for my colleagues who continue to represent the indigent accused, I grew weary of studying police reports, interviewing clients in holding cells and prisons, and trying to sort fact from fiction.” After becoming captivated by “From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank” by author Josh Tickell, who proposed biodiesel as a tool of environmental and economic change, Noyes met Tickell through mutual friends during his Veggie Van campaign. “I had always been fascinated with engines, energy and the environment, and biodiesel touched all three issues,” he says, “so I began exploring business models for a start-up biodiesel business. “ After performing a competitive analysis of the industry, Noyes decided a more financially sound plan of action was to pursue a position with World Energy Alternatives LLC, a biodiesel company that had financial backing from Gulf Oil LP, and was based in Chelsea, Mass. “I tracked down Gene Gebolys, the CEO of World Energy, when he was visiting San Francisco,” Noyes says. “It took me several months to overcome his skepticism about the sense in hiring a criminal defense attorney to introduce biodiesel to the West Coast market, but, eventually, my persistence paid off.” After working for World Energy six years, Noyes moved on run the company’s U.S. sales. “This work gave me exposure to the petroleum distribution network, feedstock supply and cost issues, quality control, federal and state policy impacts, public relation battles, and all things biodiesel,” he says. Beginning in early 2007, he began leading sales and business development for Imperium Renewables, which was building a 100 MMgy biodiesel plant on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. “Imperium was positioning itself as a “pure-play biodiesel IPO” with 58 BIOMASS MAGAZINE | APRIL 2014
ADVANCED BIOFUELS¦ plans to build three more 100 million gallon plants,” he says. “Unfortunately, before we could bring the IPO to market, the IPO window began to close, due to the onset of the recession.” When Imperium’s Board decided not to pursue the IPO, Noyes decided it was time to return to the law. Today, Noyes practice is focused almost exclusively on bioenergy. “Most of my work involves incentives like the renewable fuel standard and California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard. I counsel companies developing new feedstocks, establishing new pathways, registering new fuels, dealing with renewable identification number (RIN) contract disputes, and responding to Requests for Information and Notices of Violation from the U.S. EPA. I work on the full range of transactions from feedstock agreements, to offtakes, to joint ventures and acquisitions, and I assist advanced technology bioenergy companies who are pursuing and developing strategic business relationships.” Most of Noyes’ time is spent reviewing regulations and agency guidance, drafting contracts and letter briefs, discussing issues with clients, and negotiating with agencies and counterparties. “Now that I have joined Keyes, Fox & Wiedman LLP (from Stoel Rives LLP) I am looking forward to becoming more active in rulemakings, and in leveraging the firm’s policy tracking capabilities to supply regulatory and legislative updates to clients,” he says. While biodiesel industry has been his area of expertise, Noyes is increasingly involved in other bioenergy technologies, and says he is enthusiastic about projects that convert waste into fuels, energy and coproducts. “These projects deliver multiple benefits,” he says. “I am convinced that state and federal policies are providing value for the positive benefits that could not previously be monetized, and that longer-term the market will provide this value directly. Based on the same trends, I am observing forward-thinking corporations that integrate sustainability into their business models, become very good global corporate citizens, and succeed because of it. Some free legal advice? Complete a diligent review of fundamentals including feedstock availability, permitting issues, offtake certainty, and sufficiency of working capital. “I would also encourage developers to continue to be persistent and innovative and to maintain a long-term perspective,” Noyes adds. “The U.S. is ideally situated to lead the world in sustainable bioenergy… the world’s growing population needs developers to continue evolving the efficiency and sustainability of their projects and increasing the energy, economic and environmental contributions of bioenergy. While there will be resistance and economic setbacks, we are in the early days of advanced bioenergy, and there are many accomplishments in the industry’s future.” Author: Susanne Retka Schill Senior Editor, Biomass Magazine 701-738-4922 email@example.com
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