INSIDE: HOW ANHEUSER-BUSCH BREWS UP BIOENERGY
ABCs of C&D Standards Will Increase Marketability of Wood Debris Page 26
Plus: Why Europe Leads U.S. in Energy-from-Waste Generation Page 32
New Jersey Aims to Get More Watts from Wastewater Page 38
Lawmakers Create First Congressional Biomass Caucus Page 44
U.K. Bets on Biomass to Meet Renewable Targets Page 50 www.biomassmagazine.com
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OCTOBER 2011 | VOLUME 5 | ISSUE 10
FEATURES 26 FEEDSTOCK Maximizing the Burn Two U.S. associations create a uniform standard for wood construction and demolition debris to increase its marketability. By Matt Soberg
32 PROCESS Separation Anxiety The U.S. could learn about source separation of waste from Europe, where some areas separate the organic portion for anaerobic digestion. By Lisa Gibson
38 STATE Watts from Wastewater
40 DEPARTMENTS 04 EDITOR’S NOTE
New Jersey is a leader in utilizing biogas from wastewater treatment plants, and is drafting incentives to increase those efforts. By Lisa Gibson
44 POLITICS A Caucus of its Own A couple of U.S. representatives narrow the renewable focus in Washington by organizing the first Congressional Biomass Caucus. By Matt Soberg
50 POLITICS Betting on Biomass The U.K. looks to biomass to help meet the European Union’s goal of producing 20 percent of energy from renewables by 2020. By Peter Taberner
Fall 2011 U.S. Biomass Power Map in Production By Rona Johnson
06 INDUSTRY EVENTS 08 POWER PLATFORM Biomass Industry Must Stress Job Growth By Bob Cleaves
10 THERMAL DYNAMICS A Salute to Biomass Combined Heat and Power By Joseph Seymour and Natasha Wad
CONTRIBUTIONS 56 BIOGAS Anheuser-Busch Brews Up Biogas with High-Rate Anaerobic Treatment Anheuser-Busch has added anaerobic digestion systems to its breweries to reduce emissions, and energy and water use. By Bradley Smith and Denise Johnston
12 ENERGY REVIEW Utilization of Fly Ash from Biomass and Biomass-Coal By Loreal V. Heebink
14 LEGAL PERSPECTIVE Today’s Legal Regime for Biomass ‘Qualifying Facilities’ Under PURPA By Daniel R. Simon
16 BUSINESS BRIEFS 18 FIRED UP 60 MARKETPLACE 61 ADVERTISER INDEX
OCTOBER 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 3
Fall 2011 U.S. Biomass Power Map in Production
RONA JOHNSON Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
The biomass power and thermal industries have their work cut out for them trying to divert the federal government’s attention away from biomass-based transportation fuels. On the heels of a $510 million investment announcement on Aug. 16 by the U.S. DOE for the development of drop-in biofuels for military and commercial transportation over the next three years, the DOE announced another award on Aug. 31 of $12 million that is designed to support three biofuel and biochemical conversion facilities. The biofuels industry also got a boost from the Biomass Crop Assistance Program in its latest announcements, which included project areas for Beaver Biodiesel LLC, AltAir Fuels LLC, ZeaChem and Abengoa Biofuels. I don’t begrudge the biofuels industry, and I understand how important it is for the U.S. to move away from using imported crude oil for our transportation purposes, but I’m starting to get a little frustrated. Fortunately developers and investors aren’t waiting for the government to open up its pocketbook. I have had quite a few inquiries lately from people wanting more information about biomass power and thermal projects. Most of them say they are first-time investors in biomass projects, and they have questions about everything from the feedstock situation to how the biobased power makes its way to the grid. We at Biomass Power & Thermal will learn more about the biomass power project development situation as we start making phone calls for the Fall 2011 U.S. Biomass Power Map, which have just begun. The spring 2011 map listed 49 proposed plants, whereas we had 41 plants listed on the fall 2010 list. That may not seem like a huge leap, but keep in mind that a couple of the proposed plants dropped off the fall list and some were transferred to the under construction category. Also, we only list those plants that we can confirm either by phone or email so it is by no means a comprehensive list. The map includes only plants that use solid biomass fuel and that supply all or a portion of their power to the grid. All plants must have at least 1 megawatt of installed capacity. I encourage anyone who wants their plant to be included on the list to give me a call at (701) 738-4940 or send me an email at email@example.com.
For more news, information and perspective, visit www.biomassmagazine.com Contributors
DANIEL R. SIMON
Daniel R. Simon, an attorney with Ballard Spahr LLP, writes in the Legal Perspective column about the challenging regulatory regime for biomass qualifying facilities due to changes in federal regulations and legal issues. The good news is that state legislatures and utility commissions can adopt tiered avoided cost structures that allow for the cost-effective use of biomass power.
4 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | OCTOBER 2011
LOREAL V. HEEBINK
In this month’s Energy Review column, Loreal V. Heebink, research chemist at the Energy & Environmental Research Center, writes about how cofiring biomass with coal can affect characteristics of the fly ash, which is a coproduct of coal processing and is used to make concrete. She suggests that in order for utilities and power companies to use more biomass, a standard be developed for coal-biomass fly ash.
EDITORIAL EDITOR Rona Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org ASSOCIATE EDITORS Anna Austin email@example.com Lisa Gibson firstname.lastname@example.org Matt Soberg email@example.com COPY EDITOR Jan Tellmann firstname.lastname@example.org
ART ART DIRECTOR Jaci Satterlund email@example.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Elizabeth Burslie firstname.lastname@example.org
PUBLISHING & SALES CHAIRMAN Mike Bryan email@example.com CEO Joe Bryan firstname.lastname@example.org VICE PRESIDENT Tom Bryan email@example.com VICE PRESIDENT, SALES & MARKETING Matthew Spoor firstname.lastname@example.org EXECUTIVE ACCOUNT MANAGER Howard Brockhouse email@example.com SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER Jeremy Hanson firstname.lastname@example.org ACCOUNT MANAGERS Marty Steen email@example.com Chip Shereck firstname.lastname@example.org Bob Brown email@example.com Andrea Anderson firstname.lastname@example.org Dave Austin email@example.com CIRCULATION MANAGER Jessica Beaudry firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Marla DeFoe email@example.com SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER John Nelson firstname.lastname@example.org
Subscriptions Biomass Power & Thermal is free of charge to everyone with the exception of a shipping and handling charge of $49.95 for any country outside of the United States, Canada and Mexico. To subscribe, visit www.BiomassMagazine.com or you can send your mailing address and payment (checks made out to BBI International) to Biomass Power & Thermal Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You can also fax a subscription form to (701) 746-5367. Back Issues & Reprints Select back issues are available for $3.95 each, plus shipping. Article reprints are also available for a fee. For more information, contact us at (701) 746-8385 or email@example.com. Advertising Biomass Power & Thermal provides a specific topic delivered to a highly targeted audience. We are committed to editorial excellence and high-quality print production. To find out more about Biomass Power & Thermal advertising opportunities, please contact us at (701) 746-8385 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters to the Editor We welcome letters to the editor. Send to Biomass Power & Thermal Letters to the Editor, 308 2nd Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203 or e-mail to email@example.com. Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space.
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OCTOBER 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 5
¦INDUSTRY EVENTS Bioheat Northeast Conference October 11, 2011 Westin Convention Center Hotel Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Presented by the National Biodiesel Board and Biodiesel Magazine, Bioheat Northeast will include an agenda focusing on federal, state and local biodiesel oilheat mandates, ASTM specs, technical issues and solutions, biodiesel storing, blending, transporting, marketing and branding, reducing our carbon footprint, as well as an evening networking event and reception. (866) 746-8385 www.biomassconference.com/northeast
Northeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show
Biomass Event Hotspot: Atlanta in November go to one event in the Southeast this year, make it 11/01 IfBBIyouInternational’s Southeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show, produced jointly by Biomass Power & Thermal and Biorefining Magazine. The Southeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show returns to Atlanta this year and will be held Nov. 1-3 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. The conference, one of three distinct regional offshoots of BBI’s International Biomass Conference & Expo, will feature more than 60 speakers in four tracks: • Feedstocks • Biomass power and thermal • Biorefining • Biomass project development and finance The Southeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show will connect the area’s current and future producers of biomass-derived electricity, industrial heat and power, and advanced biofuels, with: • Waste generators • Aggregators • Growers • Municipal leaders • Utility executives • Technology providers • Equipment manufacturers • Investors • Policymakers The Southeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show is designed to assist biomass industry stakeholders to identify and evaluate solutions that fit their operations. It’s time to improve your operational efficiencies and tap into the revenue generating potential of sustainable biomass resources in the region. Register today at www.biomassconference.com/southeast.
6 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | OCTOBER 2011
October 11-13, 2011 Westin Convention Center Hotel Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania With an exclusive focus on biomass utilization in the Northeast—from Maryland to Maine—the Northeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show will connect current and future producers of biomass-derived electricity, industrial heat and power, and advanced biofuels, with waste generators, aggregators, growers, municipal leaders, utilities, technology providers, equipment manufacturers, investors and policymakers. (866) 746-8385 www.biomassconference.com/northeast
Algae Biomass Summit October 24-27, 2011 Hyatt Regency Minneapolis Minneapolis, Minnesota Organized by the Algal Biomass Organization and coproduced by BBI International, this event brings current and future producers of biobased products and energy together with algae crop growers, municipal leaders, technology providers, equipment manufacturers, project developers, investors and policymakers. It’s a true one-stop shop—the world’s premier educational and networking junction for all algae industries. (866) 746-8385 www.algaebiomasssummit.org
Southeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show November 1-3, 2011 Hyatt Regency Atlanta Atlanta, Georgia With an exclusive focus on biomass utilization in the Southeast—from the Virginias to the Gulf Coast—the Southeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show will connect the area’s current and future producers of biomass-derived electricity, industrial heat and power, and advanced biofuels, with waste generators, aggregators, growers, municipal leaders, utility executives, technology providers, equipment manufacturers, investors and policy makers. (866) 746-8385 www.biomassconference.com/southeast
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Biomass Industry Must Stress Job Growth BY BOB CLEAVES
Recent months have seen an increased focus on jobs in the context of a continually struggling economy. As our leaders consider ways to close the gap and get job growth back in the black, we need to keep reminding them about the need to maintain support for renewable energy—not just for clean energy but for job growth. Luckily, there are still some strong supporters of biomass and clean energy on both sides of the aisle who are championing our cause. In an encouraging move in early September, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., sent a letter to President Obama to express support for the president’s clean energy plan as a jobs creator, reminding the president that we cannot let this issue slip to the side. Around the same time, New York State Sen. Patty Ritchie, R-Oswegatchie, came out in strong support of biomass, estimating that supporting our industry could create as many as 140,000 jobs in upstate New York. In a statement, Sen. Ritchie said, “[New York’s Commission on Rural Resources] was told we could create 140,000 new jobs by harnessing this emerging local energy resource. But state laws that favor renewable energy sources like wind and solar are written to specifically exclude wood, grasses and other biomass sources. If New York wants to create more private-sector jobs and investment, we need to capitalize on the rural resources we already have available on our farms and commercial forests."
8 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | OCTOBER 2011
We still have our work cut out for us. President Obama’s jobs address, while forward-looking and powerful, included not one word on energy, renewable or otherwise. In August, the Green Scissors group, an unusual alliance between conservative and environmental groups, published a report recommending drastic cuts for the industry, specifically calling out biomass. With the simultaneous need to address the nation’s debt and deficit issues in the background, we must redouble our efforts to ensure that our elected officials are aware of the jobs that we provide to thousands of Americans. The biomass industry has its challenges—but U.S. Sen. Heller and State Sen. Ritchie have the right idea. We are creating jobs in rural areas where they are most needed. One-hundred-megawatt facilities under construction in Gainesville, Fla., and Nagadoches, Texas, are both employing hundreds during the construction phase. A new 75-megawatt facility is planned for New Hampshire, which will also employ hundreds. When completed, these facilities will provide steady employment in their areas through direct and indirect jobs. There’s no end to the potential job growth in the biomass sector—and clean energy to boot. Author: Bob Cleaves President and CEO, Biomass Power Association www.USABiomass.org
NOVEMBER 1-3, 2011
Hyatt Regency Atlanta | Atlanta, Georgia www.biomassconference.com/southeast
Network with Biomass Professionals in the Southeast U.S. The Southeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show program will include more than 60 speakers, including technical presentations on topics ranging from anaerobic digestion and gasification to combined heat and power and large-scale biomass combustion, within the structured framework of general session panels and four customized tracks: TRACK 1: Feedstock TRACK 2: Biomass Power & Thermal TRACK 3: Biorefining TRACK 4: Project Development & Finance
View Agenda Online
Biomass Networking Opportunities Exhibitors Build Long-Lasting Relationships and Revenue
When you purchase a booth, you are setting yourself up to shake hands with hundreds of biomass professionals in the Southeast Region of the U.S. In addition to booth space, all exhibitors receive complimentary marketing through promotional e-mails and brochures, onsite program guide, conference web site and online exhibitor list. Reserve your booth space today! For more information, contact us at 866-746-8385 or e-ma e-mail email@example.com. FFollow o Us: twitter.com/#!/biomassmagazine
A Salute to Biomass Combined Heat and Power BY JOSEPH SEYMOUR AND NATASHA WAD
It is well known that the USDA’s Forest Service and Rural Development agencies have started to recognize and promote biomass thermal installations and fuel production. Additionally, in 2009, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs set off on its mission to reduce its energy footprint, and in the process became yet another government advocate for biomass thermal. A combination of comprehensive energy legislation, executive order, and internal agency mandates requires the VA to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 30 percent by fiscal year 2020. With the bulk of its emissions originating from on-site energy production and purchased electricity, the VA sought a blend of aggressive energy efficiency improvements and increased renewably fueled combined heat and power (CHP) production to reach its goal. High thermal loads and a requirement for baseload energy made biomassfueled CHP an ideal candidate to help the VA surpass its sustainability goals. CHP systems produce two types of energy, thermal and electric, from one fuel source and typically boast energy efficiency profiles north of 70 percent (greater than approximately 30 percent for standalone electric). Throughout 2010 and into 2011, the VA’s Green Management Program approved the implementation of up to 17 biomass CHP facilities and 38 feasibility studies at its health care centers nationwide. The VA places modern veterans’ care atop its operating priorities, and by embracing biomass CHP challenges those who equate biomass thermal with images of antiquated, smoky wood combustion units. In the VA’s perspective, biomass CHP not only supports energy-intensive cutting-edge health care, but also complements the VA’s responsibility to minimize its environmental and energyrelated impacts. From Maine to Michigan, biomass CHP facilities are strategically positioning the VA’s reduction and reliance on conventional fossil fuels and increased utilization of locally sourced biomass fuels. For example, at the Chillicothe VA Medical Center in Chillicothe, Ohio, the under-construction 450-kilowatt, biomass-fueled capacity CHP system is projected to power all of the electricity and steam (heat) requirements for the facility.
10 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | OCTOBER 2011
The biomass project, seen as the first of its kind for the VA, has an expected annual savings of $896,000. Another biomass CHP project, the Veterans Affairs Medical Hospital in Canandaigua, N.Y., expects to reduce its facility’s heating and cooling bills by 50 percent. Numerous other VA sites have explored the feasibility of similar installations, and, pending final contract and design partners, will add to the nation’s 500-plus biomass operational CHP plants. The significance of another major federal agency validating biomass thermal technologies cannot be understated. The VA’s sustainability goals and longterm operation’s investments underscore the value of efficient, biomass-fueled thermal and CHP applications. Even more so is the espoused use from a health care provider. Flagship projects, whether at the county, state or federal level, can inspire confidence in these proven advanced thermal technologies and help leverage additional installations. To borrow from Christiane Egger, deputy director of the Upper Austrian Renewable Energy Agency, the VA’s leadership on renewable thermal will hopefully serve as an added “tambourine” to the growing biomass band, leading other adopters, private and public alike, toward biomass heating. Promising VA movement on renewable biomass thermal alone won’t advance the market for biomass thermal technologies and fuels, although it is certainly a welcome sign. If our industry desires to contribute to sustainability, clean energy and economic development goals, it must work to tailor incentives that level the energy playing field and reduce high initial capital costs. Making these investments in a strained fiscal environment demands careful consideration. The VA weighed these concerns, and it took the smart step toward biomass thermal. And it will not be the last. For more information on the VA’s Green Management Program, visit www.green.va.gov. Author: Joseph Seymour Acting Executive Director, Biomass Thermal Energy Council Natasha Wad Clean Energy Fellow, Biomass Thermal Energy Council www.biomassthermal.org
Utilization of Fly Ash from Biomass and Biomass-Coal BY LOREAL V. HEEBINK
Biomass fuel is being incorporated by some coalbased power plants as an alternative to cocombustion or cogasification with coal. This cofiring strategy has demonstrated reduced sulfur and nitrogen emissions and could be used as a strategy to reduce the net carbon dioxide (CO2) emission impact of a power plant. Some consider the combustion of biomass to be essentially CO2-neutral because although the biomass produces CO2 on combustion, CO2 is taken up by the plant during its growth. One question that we hear a lot at the Energy & Environmental Research Center regarding cocombustion of biomass with coal is in regard to the utilization of the fly ash. Many power plants burning coal sell their fly ash particularly to the cement market. The fly ash resulting from the combustion or gasification of biomass fuels, either alone or with coal, has the potential for different characteristics than fly ash from coal alone. This can affect the salability of the ash. The elevated alkaline content in fly ash from biomass cocombustion, most notably sodium and potassium, tends to make these ashes undesirable for use in applications identified as beneficial use applications for conventional coal combustion fly ash. According to the American Coal Ash Association, the largest utilization application of coal combustion fly ash is in concrete, concrete products and grout. ASTM International C618 “Standard Specification for Coal Fly Ash and Raw or Calcined Natural Pozzolan for Use in Concrete” is the standard used to determine whether a specific fly ash is suitable for use in concrete. Some coal-biomass fly ashes have been shown to meet the ASTM C618 standard specifications. However, currently ASTM C618 does not specifically address cocombustion fly ash. Alternatively, the European standard EN 450 “Fly Ash for Concrete— Definition, Specifications, and Quality control” allows for the use of fly ash derived from burning of pulverized coal and cocombustion materials at high enough temperature to facilitate glass formation in the fly ash. Further details are provided within the standard. Both laboratory data and experience with fly ash from full-scale systems burning low percentages of bio-
12 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | OCTOBER 2011
mass (less than 10 percent) indicate that fly ash from the coal-biomass blends has qualities similar to that produced with the coal alone. However, if the combustion fuel feed contains greater than approximately 10 percent biomass, the fly ash quality impact can be significant enough to affect utilization in cementitious applications. It is not anticipated that coal-based facilities that currently produce fly ash for the concrete market will use more than a small percentage of biomass fuels in the future. Many biomass and cocombustion fly ashes may not meet the ASTM C618 standards or be allowed for use in concrete. This does not preclude the materials from use in other applications. These fly ashes may be suitable for use in markets such as structural fill, soil stabilization for construction, and other high-volume applications. A potential application of fly ash from biomass or coal-biomass is as a fertilizer substitute since the ash often retains the nutrients of the biomass such as potassium and phosphorus. As with other coal combustion products, getting a good chemical, physical and/or mineralogical analysis of the biomass or coal-biomass fly ash can help determine the suitability of the specific material in various utilization applications. The EERC and other laboratories routinely provide these types of analyses. In summary, the suitability of biomass-derived fly ash for use in cement or other salable products is a question often asked by utilities or power providers. Since there is no standard for coal-biomass fly ash yet, most combustion systems are relegated to burning low percentages of biomass. A few states have developed rules, regulations, standards, policies or guidelines regarding coal fly ash use, and perhaps if biomass becomes more prevalent as a cocombustion fuel, similar rules will be developed for biomass. For now, applications for permission to use biomass-derived ash are handled on a case-by-case basis. Author: Loreal V. Heebink Research Chemist, Energy & Environmental Research Center (701) 777-5116 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Today’s Legal Regime for Biomass ‘Qualifying Facilities’ Under PURPA BY DANIEL R. SIMON
Today’s regulatory regime for a biomass qualifying facility (QF) is challenging. Long gone are the days when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission required a host utility to purchase a biomass QF’s energy output and exempted the facility from most regulatory requirements under the Federal Power Act. Meanwhile, even a utility’s mandatory purchase requirement may not provide a rate high enough to ensure profitability. Awareness of the current regulatory regime is critical to ensuring a biomass QF’s success. The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, enacted to combat the 1970s energy crisis, created the concept of QFs as a new class of generating facilities, receiving special rate and regulatory treatment. Most biomass plants typically satisfy the size and fuel requirements for QF status. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 initiated a trimming of QF rate and regulatory benefits. PURPA originally required a host utility to buy capacity and energy generated by the QF at the utility’s avoided cost. However, EPAct 2005 granted FERC the authority to terminate the mandatory purchase requirement if it determined that a QF had nondiscriminatory access to Independent System Operators/ Regional Transmission Organizations-administered energy and capacity markets, or access to competitive wholesale markets that provided the opportunity to sell energy and capacity to buyers other than the host utility. When FERC first wielded this authority in 2006, it made such a determination for the ISO-New England, New York ISO, PJM Interconnection and Midwest ISO balancing areas. Consequently, FERC typically waives the mandatory purchase requirement for host utilities in those regions for QFs larger than 20 megawatts (MW), while providing individual QFs the opportunity to demonstrate that they have operational characteristics that prevent them from participating in a market or that their facilities lack access to markets because of transmission constraints. In June, FERC expanded its waiver of the purchase requirement to California’s big three utilities for QFs with a net capacity in excess of 20 MW. FERC granted the request based on a combination of factors, the most prominent being a settlement of an agreement (awaiting final regulatory
14 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | OCTOBER 2011
approval at press time) that establishes a new QF program for California. EPAct 2005 also resulted in FERC expanding the regulatory requirements QFs must now satisfy—requirements FERC previously waived for QFs. For example, although traditional PURPA contracts remain exempt from FERC regulation, as well as sales from power production facilities (including biomass) that are smaller than 20 MW, FERC now requires QFs to obtain “market-based rate authority” to sell energy outside these scenarios. Mandatory certification also was part of the 2006 changes. Previously, a generator merely needed to meet the QF criteria in FERC regulations to sell power to the host utility. Today, FERC can order a QF to make certain refunds if it fails first to certify its QF status with FERC. That’s exactly what happened in May to several geothermal QFs. On top of this and other, similar legal challenges, many states set avoided cost rates too low for biomass facilities to succeed, often because such rates are based on the typically lower, estimated cost of constructing a new natural gas generator. One bright spot in recent FERC precedent for biomass QFs was the agency’s explanation last October that a state may take into account its own procurement obligations—particularly any requirements to utilize renewable power in general or biomass specifically—when determining the avoided cost. This could open the door for states to develop “feed-in tariff ” rates that set higher avoided cost rates for biomass (or other renewable resources) to recognize the true cost of placing such facilities into service. In conclusion, FERC has signaled that tougher enforcement and a lower tolerance for noncompliance are the way of the future. However, QFs have the opportunity to encourage their state legislatures or utility commissions to adopt tiered avoided cost rate structures that reflect the financial realities and environmental benefits of biomass power. Author: Daniel R. Simon Partner, Energy and Project Finance Group, Ballard Spahr LLP SimonD@ballardspahr.com
Business Briefs PEOPLE, PRODUCTS & PARTNERSHIPS
Metso to supply biomass boilers to US power producer Metso will supply a 100-megawatt (MW) biomass boiler island and plant automation system to the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center in Gainesville, Fla. GREC has successfully raised nearly $500 million in construction financing of which Metso’s delivery represents more than 25 percent. The biomass boiler will utilize bubbling fluidized bed technology and use waste wood from logging and mill activity as well as urban wood waste from clearing, tree trimming and pallets as the main fuel. Metso’s complete delivery scope includes the entire boiler island and flue gas cleaning system. Metso will also supply the entire power plant automation system. Commercial operation of the plant is scheduled for 2013, and once operational, this 100-MW boiler will be one of the largest biomass boilers in the world.
CPM appoints AW Process as industrial markets sales team CPM Roskcamp Champion announced a manufacturers’ sales representative agreement with AW Process LLC of Lakewood Ranch, Fla., to cover the industrial markets in Florida. Andy Woodford of AW Process will be the industrial market sales representative for CPM for all of Florida, except for the Panhandle. Woodford has more than 20 years of process equipment and systems experience, including size reduction, material handling and general powder-processing applications. He will be selling CPM’s particle size reduction equipment, including hammermills, roll crushers and lump breakers, to industrial companies. AW Process is a bulk-material-handling equipment manufacturers’ representative company that specializes in size reduction equipment, pneumatic and mechanical conveying, valves, bagging and palletizing systems, load out spouts and more.
Hillenbrand taps Kohler to lead K-Tron’s size reduction group Hillenbrand Inc. named Mark L. Kohler president of the size reduction group, a division of the company’s K-Tron subsidiary. Kohler’s primary responsibility is to oversee Mark L. Kohler will the strategy and global head up K-Tron's size reduction growth of the size reduction group’s three group, which includes Gundlach, brands: Gundlach, Pennsylvania Crusher and Jeffrey which manufactures Rader. crushing equipment used at mining sites for coal and other minerals; Pennsylvania Crusher, which makes crushing and sizing equipment used at utilities and other industrial processors; and Jeffrey Rader, which manufactures equipment used for processing bark and wood chips for the pulp, paper, forest products and biomass industries.
16 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | OCTOBER 2011
A 35-year veteran in the industry, Kohler began his career as a designer at Gundlach in Belleville, Ill., working his way up through positions of increasing responsibility, including vice president of manufacturing. WSM introduces new biomass Super Shredders
PHOTO: WEST SALEM MACHINERY
Komptech USA hires CEO Komptech USA has appointed Marcel Vallen as its CEO. Vallen has more than 25 years of experience in the waste handling industry; starting as a machine operator and Marcel Vallen will rising to plant manage- use his expertise in ment and then execu- the waste handling industry in Europe tive positions. A native and the U.S. in his of the Netherlands, he new role as CEO of has long worked closely Komptech. with European and American machine manufacturers and has a thorough knowledge of all aspects of the market, on the technical, business and operational levels. Prior to joining Komptech, Vallen was CEO of CBI Europe, importing U.S.-made grinders and shredders for the European market.
SUPERSIZED: WSM's Super Shredders can grind massive amounts of biomass material at a high rate of speed.
West Salem Machinery has introduced a new line of biomass Super Shredders that combine the efficiency of a high-speed mill with the durability of a heavy-duty grinder. Available with rotor widths from 60 to 88 inches, the machines deliver higher tip speed for smaller, consistent fiber sizing; increased screen area for more throughput; and flexible/interchangeable tooling. The largest WSM biomass Super Shredder—the Model 4888S—operates with 400 to 800 horsepower to convert high volumes of preprocessed biomass materials. The Super Shredders have production rates of up to 100 tons per hour eliminating the need for multiple machines. Morbark continues to expand dealer network Morbark continues to expand its dealer network, adding six since late 2010, and expanding the territories of several existing dealers. The Morbark dealer network, which has grown to more than 65 dealers and 150 locations throughout North America, strives to improve customer service, equipment service and
Wisconsin hospital selects Hurst Boiler to help meet its green goals
St. Elizabeth Hospital, part of Affinity Health System in Appleton, Wis., is one of the few hospitals in the U.S. to achieve an energy performance rating in the top 25 percent of facilities nationwide—earning it the Energy Star designation from the U.S. EPA. Working closely with Affiliated Engineers, Boldt Construction and Tweet/ Garot Mechanical to design and install the energy efficient central utility plant, St. Elizabeth’s selected the Hurst Boiler Scotch Marine Series 500 system to help meet its green healthcare initiative goals. The hospital’s old boiler system used to cycle constantly, even in warm weather. “Now, with outside air temperatures nearing 100 degrees Fahrenheit, our 700 HP Hurst Boilers don’t even cycle,” says Ron Piotrowski, plant operations for St. Elizabeth Hospital.
ACORE’s Weirich appointed to WCRE committee of chairpersons The American Council On Renewable Energy announced that Tom Weirich, vice president membership and corporate relations, has been appointed to the World Council for Renewable Energy’s committee of chairpersons as the 2012 chairperson for the U.S. Weirich has been with ACORE for more than seven years. He was appointed by Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, to be vice chair of the Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee in 2010. He has established a leadership role within the U.S. renewable energy industry, focusing specifically on the development of programs to expand the competitiveness of the U.S. renewable energy industry, including programs and policies to expand exports of goods and services of hundreds of U.S. companies. Through ACORE, he maintains international relationships with the Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Partnership, Renewable Energy Network for the 21st Century, and the International Renewable Energy Agency. Weirich will continue in his role at ACORE. His WCRE committee of chairpersons’ appointment began on Aug. 8. Nations Energy secures site for Kamloops biomass power project Nations Energy Corp. through its wholly owned subsidiary, Cedarhurst Forestry Products Inc., has entered into a 15-year lease agreement with Biosource Power Ltd. concurrent to their purchase of the lands, buildings and pellet manufacturing facilities in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, from Farm Credit Canada. Under the agreement, Cedarhurst will lease a portion of the property as the permanent site for its planned biomass power project pursuant to Nations Energy's selection by BC Hydro under its Community-Based Biomass Power program for Kamloops. Both Biosource and Cedarhurst plan to cooperate with
respect to the use of the facilities including potential arrangements on fiber supply, for pellet production and distribution, including shared use of rail transport facilities. New sonic horn improves operating efficiency, consistency PHOTO: MARTIN ENGINEERING
support. Morbark dealers signed in the past year include: Columbus Equipment Co., Ohio; Bartlett Manufacturing, eastern Michigan; White Star Machinery, Oklahoma; Fabick Caterpillar, eastern Missouri and southern Illinois; Schmidt Equipment, Massachusetts and Rhode Island; and Elliott and Frantz, Maryland and Delaware. Current full-line dealer, Doggett Machinery Services, expanded its territory to include Texas (except Bowie and Cass counties). The expansion added Texas to an already established territory of Louisiana. In addition, Newtown Power, a dealer in certain Connecticut counties, expanded its territory to cover all of Connecticut.
SOUND SCIENCE: Martin Engineering's Sonic Horn uses sonic energy to clean inaccessible equipment parts.
Martin Engineering has introduced the Martin Sonic Horn, an acoustic cleaner that reduces system downtime, maintenance and operating costs, while improving performance and prolonging equipment life. In addition to the low cost of ownership, acoustic cleaning helps avoid structural fatigue or damage, prevents dry particulate build-up and increases system efficiency. Especially effective around pipes and behind obstacles, sonic energy de-bonds particulates with a 360-degree sweep, cleaning inaccessible parts. Sonic horns produce low-frequency, high-pressure sound waves, which are created when compressed air flexes a titanium diaphragm in the sound generator. This sound wave is then magnified as it is emitted through the cleaner’s bell. The sound pressure causes dry particulate deposits to resonate and become fluidized, allowing them to be removed by constant gas flow or gravity.
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OCTOBER 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 17
FiredUp Mega Midwest Biomass Potential A UCS report displays the tremendous potential for bioenergy development in the Midwest.
A Union of Concerned Scientists report, “A Bright Future for the Heartland: Powering the Midwest Economy with Clean Energy,” analyzes the potential of the U.S. Midwest to utilize renewable energy with lofty goals through 2030. The report, published in July, predicts that, with careful management, biomass could play a significant role in the Midwest’s future power needs. “The study viewed the Midwest as having significant economic opportunities by greatly expanding the renewable resources in its own backyard,” says Jeff Deyette, co-author of the report and senior energy analyst and assistant director of energy research and analysis with UCS. This region carries the most diverse renewable resources including biomass, wind and solar. Combining an abundance of natural resources with the region’s skilled workforce, manufacturing industry, transportation and infrastrucMIDWEST MOMENTUM: A UCS report determined that of the 367 million tons of biomass available in the ture, “it all falls together for the U.S., 47 percent of that could come from the Midwest, mostly in the form of crop residue. Midwest to be an engine driven to SOURCE: UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS a clean energy economy,” Deyette says. Although the region has already initiated a clean energy capacity in the Midwest in 2009, which produced 0.9 percent of policy, the UCS report studied the effect of an expanded effort. the region’s electricity, according to the report. The UCS stresses The UCS based its analysis on the energy goals of the Midthat, “the growth of biopower will depend on the availability of western Governors Association, a nonprofit that includes 10 state biomass resources; land use and harvesting practices; and the governors, who promote agricultural, economic and energy policy. amount of biomass used to make fuel for transportation and other The MGA set policy recommendations for transitioning to a clean uses.” energy economy in 2009, referred to as the Energy Roadmap, The UCS used a modified version of the U.S. DOE’s National calling for 30 percent of the Midwest’s electricity supply to come Energy Modeling System to model the future effect of renewable from renewables by 2030 (2 percent per year starting in 2015). energy initiatives in the region. To discover the possibilities of the With significant biomass resources in the Midwest, the states renewable energy targets set by the Energy Roadmap, USC modcould rely less on coal, most of which is imported to the region, eled two scenarios labeled the core policy case and the alternative resulting in major cost savings. “Biomass is the oldest renewable technology pathway. energy: humans have been burning it to make heat ever since we The core policy case relied on more pessimistic assumpfirst learned how to build a fire. Until recently, biomass has also tions regarding biopower to reflect the alleged uncertainties and supplied far more renewable electricity—or biopower—than wind constraints that affect biomass facility development, including little and solar combined,” according to the report. available data for actual biomass costs, sufficient supply issues and The report examined numerous biomass sources, including government permitting, Deyette says. The alternative technology forest, crop and mill residues and planned/dedicated crops. The pathway assumed that some of the constraints could be overcome UCS analyzed various technologies including plants run solely on leading to lower costs and better biopower performance. biomass, cofiring with coal, and combined heat and power. The report assumed that 367 million tons of biomass would Biomass supplied more than 1,500 megawatts of generating be available nationally for both power and biofuel industries with 18 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | OCTOBER 2011
renewable energy, including the creation of 85,700 new jobs and nearly $41 billion in new capital investments. By following the Energy Roadmap, the region’s occupants would save $42 billion on their electric and natural gas bills by 2030. Midwest farmers and landowners could earn $1 billion in new income, in part, by biomass production. Large facilities could be situated in rural areas close to feedstocks. Greenhouse gas emissions from power plants would be reduced by 130 metric tons annually by 2030 if MGA initiatives are followed. To take advantage of the biomass opportunities in the Midwest, the UCS recommends the region promote a sustainable biomass supply system. The solution would arise from developing sustainability guidelines, best management practices, funding biomass research MIDWEST MODELS: The UCS used two different scenarios to model the future and regional strategies to develop technology. Deyette effect of renewable energy initiatives in the Midwest. says that each state benefits individually from expanding SOURCE: UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS the renewable energy industry, but the region as a whole 47 percent of the biomass coming from the Midwest. Of that, would benefit even more through collaboration. —Matt Soberg nearly three-quarters of Midwestern biomass would be from agricultural residues. The report stressed other important benefits of expanding Technology Paths
Expanding Energy, Contracting Waste The Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County, Fla., plans to build a $670 million waste-to-energy facility.
The Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County, a governmental solid waste management agency in Florida, plans to begin construction in April on a $670 million waste-to-energy (WtE) facility intended to produce bioenergy and reduce landfill capacity. The plant is designed to be visually impressive, energy efficient and environmentally friendly, according to the SWA. The facility will be built north of the SWA’s existing renewable energy facility in West Palm Beach. The existing WtE plant is operating at capacity, and with the availability of excess municipal solid waste filling landfills, there was a need to build an additional facility to reduce the amount of waste being landfilled, according to Marc Bruner SWA’s chief administrative officer. “The most important aspect of the new plant is that it extends the life of existing landfills until 2045 and beyond,” he says. The new plant will reduce the amount of waste currently being landfilled by up to 85 percent, according to the SWA. The agency intends to increase capacity from 2,500 tons per day with the existing facility to more than 5,500 tons per day once the new plant is operational in 2015, which results in total processing of well over 1 million tons per year. The SWA’s combined WtE operation will produce enough energy to power approximately 80,000 homes. Bruner notes that total energy output will be 90 to 110 megawatts, with 70 megawatts contracted to utility companies.
In addition to landfill reduction and power generation, the plant will include advanced control technology to reduce emissions, which are intended to be the lowest of any renewable energy facility combusting municipal waste in the U.S., according to the SWA. The agency selected SCS Engineers to develop a greenhouse gas reduction plan, as well as carbon credit and Renewable Energy Credit management systems. The project is in the design phase and operating under three different intended notices to proceed, according to Bruner. The first notice was the selection in April of Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group Inc., a subsidiary of The Babcock & Wilcox Co., and its consortium partner BE&K Construction Co., a subsidiary of KBR Inc., to design the plant. The second notice to proceed to procure equipment and technology will occur in October, according to Bruner. The third notice to proceed to construction is planned for April with plant operations estimated to start in 2015. The SWA is a governmental agency responsible for providing an economical and environmentally conscious integrated solid waste management system for Palm Beach County. The agency has approximately 400 employees and provides waste disposal services to 1.4 million county residents. —Matt Soberg
OCTOBER 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 19
Biomass-Powered Data Centers U.S. companies plan to develop biopowered computer data centers to reap the benefits of local supply and competitive power pricing.
U.S. companies are researching and developing biopowered computer data centers due to the availability of local feedstocks and the resulting competitive power pricing for consumers. Vineyards LLC has developed a shovel-ready data center campus in Colorado Springs, Colo., and intends to use local municipal waste and mountain pine beetle-killed timber as fuel. HP Labs, an advanced research group for Hewlett Packard, has released research on data center facilities powered by dairy farm waste. The Vineyards Data Center Park will utilize a 50-megawatt plant that will be built on a 100-acre development south of downtown Colorado Springs. Developers are in the process of selecting a capital partner, and expect data center units will be available for occupancy by the spring of 2012. The local utility, Colorado Springs Utilities, is designing, planning and constructing the plant, with an estimated completion date of 2014. The biomass plant is a joint venture, providing electricity to the Vineyards and the city of Colorado Springs. The use of biomass for energy is attractive to the Vineyards for various reasons including feedstock availability and bioenergy’s competitive power pricing, which should be enticing to data center occupants. The plant will utilize municipal waste and locally derived woody biomass, particularly mountain pine beetle-killed timber from the nearby mountain region, COW POWER: A study by the research arm of HP showed that a 10,000 head dairy farm which provides an excellent use of woody biomass could supply enough power for a 1-megawatt data center and supply the farm's electrical from an unfortunate forestry problem. needs. Greg Vernon, vice president of Wired Real Estate SOURCE: HEWLETT PACKARD Group, says the Vineyards is compatible with the city’s anaerobic digestion is used to produce electricity for the center. initiative to promote renewable energy resources, and the overall cost “The idea of using animal waste to generate energy has been of the power within the utility power structure, including bioenergy, is around for centuries, with manure being used every day in remote attractive to businesses. According to Vernon, the competitive power villages to generate heat for cooking,” says Tom Christian, principal pricing results in approximately 4.5 cents per kilowatt hour. Wired Real Estate Group is the data center brokerage and advisory firm that research scientist at the Sustainable IT Ecosystem Lab. “The new idea that we are presenting in this research is to create a symbiotic relationrepresents Vineyards. ship between farms and the IT ecosystem that can benefit the farm, The development will include 800,000 square feet of building the data center and the environment.” space with approximately 400,000 square feet used directly for data The study found that one cow can produce 120 pounds of centers. Public and private investment in the development to complemanure a day, which is enough to power television usage in three U.S. tion, including the biomass plant, is estimated at $1 billion. The exploratory research arm of computer giant Hewlett Packard, households per day through 3 kilowatt-hours of electricity, and that 10,000 cows could produce 200,000 metric tons of manure per year, released a study in the spring of 2010 showing scientific justification creating significant amounts of bioenergy. The study projected that for powering data centers with cow manure. The resulting research showed how a 10,000-head dairy farm could supply enough bioenergy farmers would break even from costs within the first two years and to power a 1-megawatt data center along with satisfying additional farm then could earn nearly $2 million annually from selling bioenergy to data center consumers. electrical needs. The methane produced from the dairy waste through
20 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | OCTOBER 2011
Chandrakant Patel, HP fellow and director of the Sustainable IT Ecosystem Lab, says the research took a supply and demand perspective looking directly at renewable resource availability. Patel stresses that data centers should exploit local resources, including biomass in the form of manure. The goal was to develop a template whereby data centers would be energy self-sufficient.
The research conducted by the Sustainable IT Ecosystem Lab is focused on creating fully sustainable ecosystems over the long term utilizing biomass, wind and solar power. Utilizing biomass power transforms a computer data center from being a utility power consumer to being energy neutral. —Matt Soberg
What’s Waste? New EPA document does little to clear up concerns about MACT’s ‘solid waste’ definition.
Concerned about the adverse impact they will have on its members and the wood products industry in general, the American Wood Council is pushing against the U.S. EPA’s Maximum Achievable Control Technology rules. Of utmost concern is the rules’ “solid waste” classification of certain waste wood products currently burned for energy at many sawmills. The mills contend that the materials should be considered as traditional biomass fuel. Many wood products mills draw energy from wood scraps that have coatings integral to the wood products industry, such as resins and other glue-type products. Instead of being considered biomass boilers, they would be designated as solid waste incinerators and subject to the Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incinerator rule instead of boiler rules that govern major and area source commercial, industrial and institutional boilers and process heaters. Solid waste incinerators must adhere to emission limits about three times more stringent than those required WRANGLING RESIDUE: The "solid waste" definition in the EPA's MACT rules is still a concern for the wood products industry, despite a recent document designed to clear up the of boilers and process heaters, burdening facilities confusion. that burn their resonated wood for energy with billions of dollars in control equipment investments. “But the EPA can’t use guidance to change a regulation,” Hunt But during this fragile time in a slumping wood products industry, that says. “They need to go back and alter the regulation.” The AWC is one amount of money would put many operations over the edge and force of many industry organizations that are urging EPA to modify the closures, according to Timothy Hunt, the AWC's senior director for air MACT rules, but Hunt says he hasn’t seen the agency moving in that quality programs. direction. He says the groups have one main message for EPA: “We “Because CISWI is so much more difficult to meet, our wood seem to agree that our goal was to make sure these materials were fuels, product mills will face a dilemma,” he says. Those operations will be but you didn’t follow through in your regulatory language to make that forced to either continue burning their wood scraps and spend the happen. Please modify the rule to make it line up with the preamble money to comply with CISWI, or pay to landfill their wood, while paying additional money for different biomass resources or even fossil fuels and your intent.” If EPA is unwilling to make regulatory changes, new legislation is to make up for the energy their own wood residue previously provided. the only option. Both the U.S. House and Senate have existing bills that “You’re throwing away your fuel to buy fuel,” Hunt says. would do just that. The preamble of the MACT rules does specify that resonated Even complying with the existing boiler MACT rules would cost wood will be considered a fuel, but the rules themselves do not adhere the wood products industry about $1 billion, but is better than the $3 to that concept, Hunt explains. The regulatory language is what mills billion it would cost if the solid fuels regulatory language isn’t adjusted, and their lawyers must comply with, he continues, and that specifies a Hunt says. legitimacy test that leaves resonated wood in the solid fuels category. In “There’s a lot economically at stake, and obviously, then there’s the an attempt to clear up that uncertainty, the U.S. EPA issued a paper sayjob implications,” he says. —Lisa Gibson ing it will soon issue guidance documents to determine which alternative materials might qualify as fuels.
OCTOBER 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 21
Distinguished Sustainability Taylor Biomass Energy satisfies Greenopia’s rigorous review to distinguish it as a sustainable business.
Taylor Biomass Energy has been recognized as a Greenopia Distinguished Business, substantiating the company’s level of commitment to the environment. Taylor Biomass is the first business bestowed with the honor from Orange County, N.Y. Taylor Biomass is a family-owned business specializing in technology that transforms waste into energy. President and CEO James W. Taylor Jr. is well-known for developing innovative green renewable energy solutions and maintaining a high environmental integrity. “I am honored to have earned this designation for being ‘green’ and aimed at sustainability in all aspects of conducting business,” Taylor says. “You are never done. It is something that is extremely fluid and you are constantly moving forward to make your business a better neighbor.” Greenopia is the green seal of sustainability for the business community, and is one of the highest sustainability designations for any business to pursue and receive, Taylor adds. With the energy industry being under a public perception microscope, Greenopia is a tool that can support businesses that are good neighbors in their communities. Greenopia is a California-based company that provides reviews of business and industry to determine organizations that maintain high ecofriendly standards. The company strives to be the most comprehensive resource for those who want to live green every day. The directory and review include everything from restaurants and transportation to alternative energy companies such as Taylor Biomass. A business does not become Greenopia distinguished just by saying it is “green.” The review system is a selective, multileveled
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qualification process and environmental criteria are unique for every type of business. The process includes weighted questions and algorithm-driven mathematics to develop a computed score of ecofriendliness. Greenopia conducts lengthy investigation, due diligence and oftentimes field research to determine sustainability. W. Taylor “Taylor Biomass Energy is so innovative James Jr.'s Taylor and detail-oriented, it is certainly qualified for Biomass Energy the Greenopia distinction,” according to Doug was recognized as an ecofriendly Mazeffa, Greenopia’s research director. business by Taylor Biomass Energy is in the process California-based of building a 20-megawatt plant in Montgom- Greenopia. ery, N.Y., that will transform waste into energy through biomass gasification. The company has developed the Taylor Gasification Process, which is a new technology to convert biomass energy for commercial use. This process can provide overall power generation efficiency of more than 40 percent, which is double the increase in power when compared to current recognized combustion technologies. There is no one thing the business did to become sustainable, Taylor says. “Our biomass gasification technology for transforming organic wastes into renewable electricity will add even more points to our sustainability scorecard,” he adds. “Taylor Biomass Energy is head and shoulders above others in its attempt to utilize biomass as an alternative fuel while also encouraging recycling to protect the environment,” Mazeffa says. —Matt Soberg
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22 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | OCTOBER 2011
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Trying Trial Following disappointing trial crop yields, NRG Energy shelves its biomass project.
TESTING GROUND: NRG's switchgrass and sorghum tests didn't produce the yields they were anticipating, so the utility has shelved its biomass cofiring plans for now.
In a multifaceted experiment, NRG Energy set out in 2009 to not only cofire dedicated biomass in its Big Cajun II boilers in Louisiana, but also grow the biomass on-site. Unfortunately, the test crops yielded discouraging results and the power company has shelved its biomass cofiring project for the 1,495-megawatt generating station. “It was a combination of things that led us to basically shelving the effort for right now,” says David Knox, NRG spokesman. For the crop trial, a 20-acre plot was seeded with warm-weather and coldweather switchgrass and sorghum. The warm-weather variant didn’t grow at all and the cold-weather crops produced just 60 percent of NRG’s expectations, according to Knox. “It wasn’t what we had expected and in today’s environment, we decided, let’s move on.” NRG, as well as seed supplier Ceres Inc., is evaluating what factors led to the disappointing yields. Equally important are two assumptions Knox says were made at the onset of the project that proved incorrect: the fact that a mandatory carbon tax was expected but not implemented; and gas prices then were
$15 per million Btu and expected to remain high, but today are $4 per million Btu. Still, while the trial didn’t yield the anticipated results, NRG set out to determine whether the crops could grow successfully in Louisiana’s climate and did just that, he adds. “It’s not the right time,” he says. “We’re still very interested in any effort that would allow us to reduce our carbon profile and our carbon intensity, and biomass is definitely a part of that.” Moving on, NRG will work on compliance with the Maximum Achievable Control Technology rules, tweaking backend controls instead of incorporating biomass into the mix. The MACT rules set emission limits for a range of boilers and process heaters. Knox says NRG currently has no plans to replant or plant other types of biomass crops for similar testing and possible use at Big Cajun II. “[The test] did exactly what we wanted,” he says. “We wanted to test the crops, and the focus right now is to take care of some other things while we’re evaluating the potential for biomass to be an economically viable way to reduce carbon intensity.” —Lisa Gibson
OCTOBER 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 23
Setting the Record Straight A forester and biomass supplier attempts to quash misinformation about Florida’s biomass availability.
While he understands the concerns and doesn’t place blame for the lack of understanding, Richard Schroeder, forester and president of biomass supplier BioResource Management Inc., wants to dispel misinformation regarding the biomass supply for the proposed Gainesville Renewable Energy Center in Gainesville, Fla. Worries about an increase in wood fiber pricing and insufficient biomass supply to feed the plant have circulated in the region, even among foresters. Schroeder coolly explains in a letter to the editor of the Gainesville Sun that there is indeed an adequate supply for the 100-megawatt facility, and that it will bring extensive benefits to landowners, timber producers and mills currently using other forest products. Gainesville-based BioResource Management will be the biomass supplier for the GREC, securing about 580,000 dry tons of woody biomass per year, sourcing more than 40 percent from the urban landscape including tree canopy material, Schroeder explains. A number of in-depth studies to which Schroeder refers have found that there is plenty of unused biomass generated annually to sustain the facility. “This biomass use is not reducing existing inventory,” he writes. “It is harvesting more of what is being grown each year.” The plant will use stunted, low-grade and otherwise
nonmerchantable wood that needs to be thinned to prevent forest fires, but lacks a market. The material is fuel for devastating wildfires, common where population is encroaching into wild areas, he says. “The logical way to mitigate that is to remove the fuel,” he says. Schroeder further assures worried parties by referring to the due diligence process, including extensive research into sustainability and impacts to related industries, every biomass plant developer must complete in order to secure that all-important and often difficult aspect of a project: money. “In order to get a plant financed, you have to go through a mountain of due diligence,” he says. “Ask the loaners and the bankers.” GREC will be the fifth start-up project in BioResource Management’s portfolio, Schroeder points out, adding that his experience tells him this one will be a success. “This project is a reality and will begin receiving biomass material in about 20 months.” Schroeder says his hope is that the GREC will be good for all landowners, and with his letter to the editor, set out to clear away unfounded and unnecessary worry, specifically addressing a previous letter sent by a fellow forester that outlines concerns with wood price increases. “All I wanted to tell him was there’s a lot of good reasons that shouldn’t happen,” Schroeder says. —Lisa Gibson
BioBeer PurposeEnergy Inc.’s Biphase Orbicular Biodigester, or BOB for short, is ideally suited to process waste streams with more solids than traditional anaerobic digesters. With that capability in mind, the company is focusing on the brewery market, and its waste streams such as spent grains. “The system we’ve developed is specifically designed for highsolids waste,” says Eric Fitch, PurposeEnergy founder. The novel system combines three types of digesters into one process, Fitch says, declining to divulge details of those three components. The first digester breaks down the waste stream into soluble elements, which then are sent through the second two reactors. The first commercial system is currently operating at Magic Hat Brewery in Burlington, Vt., processing 500,000 gallons, Fitch says. It began in July of 2010, shutdown when the brewery shut down over the holiday season, and started up again in June. During that shut-down period, PurposeEnergy made upgrades to BOB from what operators had learned, including replacing a pump that would frequently get plugged up from the spent grains, according to Fitch. He adds that the cleaning process was time consuming and messy. “These things happen when you build a plant like this,” he says. “There’s probably a million pieces involved. You kind of throw things at the wall and see what sticks.”
The system produces 330 kilowatts of power for the brewery, as well as steam for its boilers, or to control the temperature of the bioreactor during cold Vermont winters, Fitch says. “The brewery process is very steam-intensive,” he says, adding that the biogas replaces the need to purchase natural gas. BREWERY BIOGAS: PurposeEnergy has BOB was designed a novel AD system that is ideal for brewery with breweries in mind and waste. Fitch says PurposeEnergy has a few projects in the pipeline, declining to release a timeline or location for startup of the next installation. “We have a competitive advantage when it comes to solids, and breweries have the same solids problem around the world.” He adds, though, that a number of other industries have inquired about BOB, presenting additional interesting applications. —Lisa Gibson
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gVT`a]R_]]TT`^ OCTOBER 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 25
PHOTO: PURPOSEENERGY INC.
PurposeEnergy is eyeing the brewery industry for its novel AD cogen system.
26 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | OCTOBER 2011
M the Burn
aximizing CMRA and NSWMA have crafted standards for grading C&D wood so it can be utilized in combustion systems. BY MATT SOBERG
OCTOBER 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 27
s construction and demolition (C&D) wood debris considered waste? Do standardized specifications like those for the paper and metal markets exist for C&D wood? How should industry streamline the C&D wood market? Answers to these and other questions can now be found in Construction and Demolition Wood-Derived Product Specifications, the result of a recent collaboration of the Construction Materials Recycling Association and the National Solid Wastes Management Association. Issued in May after a year of research and investigation, the specifications are a uniform standard for grading C&D wood product to ensure suitable fuel burn in combustion systems. Through the formation of stakeholder groups and task forces that included C&D processing, hauling and boiler companies, the organizations had the advantage of obtaining practical industry knowledge and experiences. The standards were derived from actual specifications currently used by C&D processors and boilers in the marketplace along with various government permitting regulations. “It was a challenging task in the sense of standardizing numerous other specifications, rules and permitting practices,” says Chaz Miller, NSWMA director, state programs. The organizations intend to promote marketability by standardizing the C&D wood industry. High-quality product will maximize the burn for potential purchasers.
Necessary Uniform Standard The CMRA and NSWMA believed it was necessary to create grading specifications to streamline processors and William Turley of purchasers to foster the Chaz Miller of the CMRA says the C&D wood fuel market. the NSWMA says the C&D wood standards will help Members of the orga- standards are expand markets for nizations who process necessary to aid the the wood biomass portion of C&D. C&D debris communi- transfer and sale of the material for cated the need for a uni- boilers. form specification to help them negotiate with the boiler market. The new standards are designed to make C&D wood a commodity to be purchased and to connect processers with boiler operators to facilitate the market. “The intent was to make the wood a commodity or a product similar to that of the metal market,” says CMRA Executive Director William Turley. “Wood has value. It is not waste.” Wood is a primary material generated at demolition sites, and makes up sometimes 30 percent of C&D debris, notes Dan Costello, chair of CMRA’s Material Standards Committee and president of Costello Dismantling.
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FEEDSTOCK¦ Compared to other debris, recyclables and waste, C&D wood seemed to be getting left behind in the industry. Established uniformity existed for the paper and metal markets, while variable practices were inhibiting the wood market, creating a significant need to align C&D wood with other forms of fuel. “No specific process regulated C&D companies aiding the transfer and sale of their product for boilers,” says Miller, who is involved with numerous environmental and recycling related projects nationwide including many related specifically to wood debris from construction and demolition activities. The necessity for standards arose from the need to bridge the gap between sellers and buyers. If companies process material in a different fashion than how boilers intend to burn it as fuel, the two sides cannot connect. This makes the marketplace unpredictable, unreliable and uncertain. “There must be a meeting of the minds, and hopefully the uniform specifications can aid in this negotiation,” Miller says. “The specifications will help standardize wood chips processed at C&D processing facilities and expand markets for this valuable biomass fuel,” Costello says.
Grading C&D Wood Product The Construction and Demolition Wood-Derived Product Specifications provide a range of specific grades and sizing of C&D wood debris. Certain grades are acceptable in the C&D marketplace. Variable C&D product inhibits the ability for reliable negotiations and sales.
About the CMRA: The Construction Materials Recycling Association represents companies from many C&D materials recycling industries internationally. CMRA provides support and representation to the industry and CMRA members in legislative and rule making venues that impact the recycling business. CMRA acts as an advocate to promote C&D recycling and the recycling business in every manner possible that benefits CMRA members. The CMRA promotes the safe and economically feasible recycling of more than 325 million tons of C&D materials generated in the U.S. annually. For more information, go to www.cdrecycling.org. About the NSWMA: The National Solid Waste Management Association is a trade association representing for-profit companies in North America that provide waste recycling and disposal services, and companies that provide professional and consulting services to the waste services industry. The association promotes the management of waste in a manner that is environmentally responsible, efficient, profitable and ethical, while benefiting the public and protecting employees. It accomplishes this mission by providing its members with education and training opportunities, research, and federal and state advocacy capability. For more information, go to www. environmentalistseveryday.org.
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The specifications define C&D woodderived product as, “a renewable, biomass product prepared from wood materials generated at construction and demolition sites that is processed to create a commodity that can be used as fuel for a boiler and/ or other energy generation technology (e.g. gasification). This product can also include biomass materials such as boxes, crates, pallets and other wood products from industrial and post-consumer sources.” The product grading system categorizes C&D product on two essential levels: grade and size. According to the specifications, the grade defines the acceptable amount of undesirable materials (those that pollute or inhibit efficient burn). Sizing defines the range of sizes acceptable to purchasers for burning purposes. The specifications define three grades of the product, which is based upon the percentage of restricted materials included in the product. Restricted materials include lead-based painted wood, CCA (chromated copper arsenate)-treated wood, plastic, plaster, and all non-combustibles such as rocks, concrete and aggregate. The highest grade, Grade 1, is defined as having 1 percent or less restricted material. Any C&D product with 5 percent or greater restricted material receives a Grade 3 rating. The specifications divide sizes into four categories ranging from very fine material up to 10 inches in any dimension. The smallest, size A, provides that the product must be 3 inches or less in any dimension. Size D is the largest and requires that a minimum of 90 percent of the product must be 6 inches or greater in any dimension. Also, to qualify for size D, all material must be 10 inches or less in any dimension. In addition, the specifications stress other dynamics that affect burning. Factors such as moisture content and ash qualities hinder combustion. Suppliers are encouraged to minimize rain exposure during dismantling and processing. Proper combustion is achieved with smaller (size A) C&D product, while the
better grade (Grade 1) provides more efficient and clean burning. The CMRA and NSWMA encourage all C&D processors to follow the specifications to provide the highest quality product.
Relationship with EPA The purpose of grading is to improve product reliability and characteristics of the wood fuel. C&D waste is considered hazardous when it includes lead-based painted woods, treated woods and asbestos materials, therefore the specifications strongly discourage the processing of unwanted materials. The removal of unwanted materials is also aimed at aligning the specifications with U.S. EPA regulations. The specifications provide an initial baseline for preparing proper C&D product. They are mindful of EPA rules, and stress to the market the need to independently address all regulations and other laws. The goal is to provide the highest quality C&D product in accordance with all legal regulations. Nearly simultaneous to the launch of the specifications, the EPA set definitions and regulations specific to C&D debris. According to Miller, the EPA’s regulatory definition of C&D wood and its application to the practical C&D market is not clear and creates some uncertainty. In response, the CMRA and NSWMA specifically reminded those in the C&D industry to address independently the “identification of non-hazardous secondary materials that are solid waste” 40 CFR Part 241, and the EPA Commercial, Industrial, Solid Waste Incinerator rule when applying the specifications. Turley strongly stresses that the CMRA is not combative with the EPA but is working diligently to cooperate in the regulatory process. If the specifications can mesh with the EPA regulations, it can only standardize the market for the betterment of the C&D businesses and the environment. Turley notes his desire to see C&D regulated the same as any other traditional fuel. Although uncertainty exists, it ap-
Detroit Stoker Company pears the EPA regulations may be a step in the right direction in the attempt to define C&D wood product as a fuel.
Practical Application In a February report supporting its rule making on C&D materials, the EPA determined that C&D wood residues are commonly used for boiler fuel where the biomass can either be combusted directly or converted through gasification. In comparison to the incineration and ash process, gasification limits conversion so biomass is converted into intermediate products and further used for energy recovery. The EPA estimated that 164 million tons of building-related C&D debris was generated in 2003. Construction activities produced approximately 47 percent, while demolition activities produced 52 percent. Of the 164 million tons, between 33 million and 49 million tons was C&D wood. The EPA found that approximately 50 percent of the C&D wood debris is of acceptable size, quality and condition to be considered available for recovery with limiting factors being contamination. The EPA reported that dry woody materials with 0 percent moisture produces between 15.5 million and 16.4 million Btu per ton. Although it is too early to tell the ultimate success of the standards, the organizations have received positive feedback from the initial application of the specifications. Along with the consensus that they were necessary, there has been a common understanding that, “it is really about standardizing the process for the marketplace by directing the specifications to companies as producers and boilers as consumers,” Miller says. All states are encouraged to use the specifications to aid the market. Although they are not laws and were not intended to be promoted directly to state governments, the most interesting result from its launch was the requests and interest from government agencies, according to Turley. It appears that regulatory bodies are attempting to get an idea of what is accepted in the marketplace so that they can properly derive laws and regulations that are applicable to the practical market. In the future, Turley sees the specifications as a living document that is modified and refined as necessary for the benefit of the C&D industry. He would like to see them have practical and broad applications for making wood a fuel commodity and not a waste. “The best thing about C&D wood-derived product is its Btu value,” Turley says. “The other option is the landfill. Which one would you like to take?” His comment epitomizes the need to maximize the burn. Author: Matt Soberg Associate Editor, Biomass Power & Thermal (701) 746-8385 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Separation Anxiety Utilization of municipal solid waste sorting technologies could speed up the development of anaerobic digestion in the U.S. BY LISA GIBSON
orthern Spain’s 321,000-person province of La Rioja produces 2.13 megawatts of electricity for the grid, using the organic portion of its own municipal solid waste (MSW). The operation has been a point of pride for the region for years, but recently increased its efficiency with the installation of a separation technology that decreases the amount of organics lost, while increasing the amount of inerts ejected from the process. The anaerobic digestor at the MSW facility processes about 130,000 metric tons (143,300 tons) per year and is one of nine biomethanization operations in Spain. After trying a number of sorting technologies, the plant became the premier organic separation installation for an X-raybased sorting technology previously known only for its work in other sectors. “We’ve now entered this organics segment,” says Alexander Wolf, sales engineer for TITECH Group, a global developer of the X-ray sorter, dubbed TITECH x-tract, along with other sorting technologies. Ecoembes S.A., which owns and operates the La Rioja anaerobic digester, needed a better solution for separating organics at the facility, so TITECH stepped up to the plate with its existing x-tract technology, Wolf explains. While Spain’s developing waste-to-energy market has stalled, the U.S. still lags behind it and other European markets, attributed in part to a lack of source-separated waste. Although separation is still required in Spanish facilities, recycling sorting in Spain seems to have set the stage for its organic waste-to-energy development. OCTOBER 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 33
“There’s a lot of MSW processing going on for many years in Spain,” Wolf says. When the country joined the European Union, it had to work to achieve recycling goals set for EU member countries, he explains. So Spain implemented a source collection system for recyclables, he continues. Unfortunately, the country still couldn’t meet those goals so it had to recover recyclables out of MSW, which then put it far above the EU regulations. “They basically sorted their own residential waste and that has a lot of organics in it, so they said, ‘OK, we’ve got to do something with these organics.’” One of the solutions was wet anaerobic digestion (AD), which made the country a perfect market for TITECH’s sorting technologies. In fact, TITECH has spread its target market to areas within Portugal as well, with three projects in the pipeline waiting for commissioning, according to Judit Jansana, head of TITECH technical sales in Spain, Portugal and Latin America. Still, Jansana says the Spanish organics market has experienced problems at existing
PHOTO TITECH GROUP
Source Separated Superiority
X-TRACTING EXTRAS: TITECHS's x-tract X-ray system separates organic portions of waste at this installation in La Rioja, Spain.
PROCESS¦ facilities, leaving it behind Germany’s, due partially to much more sophisticated source separation. “The Spanish market is not so [advanced] in technology as the German country,” she says. “Their recycling quota is higher than the Spanish quota.” Subsequently, Germany has a better market and, in fact, is a primary target for BIOFerm Energy Systems’ dry anaerobic fermentation digestion technology, according to Caroline Chappell, BIOFerm application engineer. The system uses concrete chambers to digest a more solid and dry feedstock than traditional AD can handle. Germany-based BIOFerm has a few applications in Germany using the organic portions of MSW, all source separated and delivered ready to process. Anaerobic digestion is much more attractive to customers who don’t have to worry about separating out the organic portions of waste before feeding it into the digesters, Chappell says, adding that BIOFerm is working to install systems in North America, the U.K., Italy and Japan, as well. “We know it’s not going to be perfect, but it’s definitely better if it’s separated to the best extent pos-
sible,” she says. The first U.S. application of the system is set to begin operating this fall at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, running on a mix of feedstock that will include unsalable food products from supermarkets, delivered unpackaged and ready for the digesters. But when using organics from MSW, that ideal AD feedstock suitability is uncommon in the U.S., both Wolf and Chappell agree. San Fransisco is the lone U.S. city they cite where waste is source separated. “The challenge is, when you look at the U.S., there are very [few] areas that have source-separated organics,” Wolf says. “Everything that doesn’t go into the recycling bin goes into the garbage bin, and so do the organics.” The organic content in residential waste is generally around 30 to 40 percent, but can be as high as 50 percent, he adds. “The way to recover organics from residential garbage sounds quite simple: you basically screen that out.” Traditional screening, however, can leave behind objects such as glass, batteries and plastic in the concentrated organics. “There are a lot of foreign materials that, of
course, are not desirable with the organics,” Wolf says. But not to worry: The U.S. can still develop an organic-waste-to-energy sector sans source separation, using instead a plethora of more advanced technologies than screening that allow a more refined separation from the remaining fractions of MSW.
Separation Technologies Without the proper extraction of inerts from the organic AD feedstock, glass and other intruders can bake together and form a concrete-like material that requires frequent cleaning, rapidly decreasing efficiency, Wolf explains. X-tract, however, uses a sensor to measure silicone density, which is not present in organic material. “That is how we can recognize inerts,” he says. “They have higher density.” The material is fed into the system on a high-speed vibrating conveyor, and inorganic materials the system detects are ejected to another conveyor through air jets. “The ejects still have organics in it because it’s not possible to singulate all the organics on the x-tract conveyor,” Wolf says. “It’s all mingled together and organics are very
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stringy so you can never make a perfect singulation on it. There will always be some organic losses, but you do recover a good portion of those organics.” Before Ecoembes adopted the x-tract system, it used traditional ballistic separation, which takes advantage of both density and elasticity differences to separate organics from waste streams. Material is dropped on a rotating drum or spinning cone and the resulting trajectory differences bounce out glass, metal and stones. “It’s not very efficient, but it’s what we did in the plant before x-ray technology,” Jansana says. But of the 3,000 TITECH units installed worldwide, 2,500 are not x-tract, but instead TITECH autosort, Jansana says. The technology uses a near-infrared spectroscopy detector to remove polymers, as well as ferrous and nonferrous metals. “Our main, main, main market is the near-infrared,” she says. The system is not just used to separate organics, but also paper and cardboard in other industries. Another possible route is air separation, which has been used in the combustion industry for years. Material is inserted into an air column that blows light materials up and out, while heavier ones fall directly out of the column. Air separation will likely require more sorting in order to achieve the proper organic concentration. Green Power Technologies Inc. has combined a few different options into its separation
PHOTO: UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN OSHKOSH
WASTE NOT: The North American debut of BIOFerm's dry anaerobic fermentation digester is set to begin operating this fall on the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh campus.
system, which is more suitable for autoclave processing than for AD, but could be used for both, according to Steve Gilchrist, vice president of the company’s U.S. branch. The use of autoclaves on organic MSW to produce a dryer, densified biomass energy product is com-
mon in Britain, he says, but Green Power has reversed and improved the traditional process. “We’ve taken an opposite strategy,” he says. In Britain, the material goes through an autoclave first, where injection of high pressure and high temperature steam sterilizes it and
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PROCESS¦ also shrinks the volume by about 60 percent. Next, the plastics, metals and glass are separated from the organics. That separation is made more difficult, though, by the fact that the autoclave Steve Gilchrist is vice president of deforms plastics, trapthe U.S. branch ping some organic maof Green Power terials within them. Technologies, which has reversed So, Green Power’s and improved a process first shreds all common British the material, thereby inwaste processing practice. creasing the efficiency of the magnets in the next step that extract ferrous metals. Then, eddy current separation, an electromagnetic process, goes to work removing nonferrous metals, followed by lasers that work similarly to the X-ray technology, detecting density to extract plastics. “It not only pulls out the plastic,” Gilchrist explains. “It separates type 1 and type 2 plastics from all the rest, which significantly increases the profitability.” Glass can be removed manually or through an automated system, he continues, leaving only organics behind. If the organic material is destined for an autoclave, this is the point it will enter. Afterwards, the material passes through yet another magnet to remove small metal pieces, such as staples, Gilchrist says. Green Power is focused on autoclaving uses for its technology, but the organic material could be a great candidate for AD, as well. “It’s a function of time,” Gilchrist says. “An anaerobic digester takes a lot longer than autoclaving, and so depending on the volume you’re dealing with, you might have a throughput issue.” Organic autoclaving results in a product perfectly suited for cofiring with coal, representing an enormous market in the U.S. for Green Power’s specific organic separation technology. “There’s a tremendous potential in the U.S.,” Gilchrist says, citing the U.S. EPA’s new emissions regulations and the cessation in production of thousands of megawatts at shuttered coal plants. Green Power will have its first autoclave facility running in Hamtramck, Mich., in late 2012 or early 2013. The company has financing in place, as well as waste supply contracts with Detroit suburbs.
Available Everywhere Whether using an anaerobic digester to produce biogas, or using an autoclave to manufacture a densified biomass fuel, organic MSW represents an always-available and viable source. It presents otherwise nonexistent opportunities in areas that don’t have a steady, sustainable supply of woody biomass or other renewables. “Every state has municipal solid waste,” Gilchrist says. “The only thing I can guarantee you’ll find in any market that has a demand for electricity is people producing solid waste. It is Biomass (Outlines).ai 1 9/7/2011 10:27:36 AM the only potential form of biomass where you
can have an almost perfect correlation between population, availability of the fuel and the demand for the energy.” With innovative technologies in place to help advance the separation of organics from that ever-ready waste stream, the U.S. and the rest of the world can create a solid power-producing sector from its own trash. Author: Lisa Gibson Associate Editor, Biomass Power & Thermal firstname.lastname@example.org (701) 738-4952
OCTOBER 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 37
38 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | OCTOBER 2011
Watts from Wastewater New Jersey is already a top-ranked state in on-site utilization of biogas produced by wastewater treatment plants, but ongoing research could help craft incentives to push it even higher. BY LISA GIBSON
f New Jersey’s 28 wastewater treatment plants employing anaerobic digestion (AD) systems, at least 10 have infrastructure in place to utilize the resulting biogas, many producing heat and/or power. It may not seem like an overwhelmingly high count, but the number is more impressive when also considering the fact that the entire country has a total of 1,500 wastewater treatment facility AD systems. With only 250 of those wastewater treatment plants using their biogas, New Jersey’s position is suddenly much more progressive. “It’s certainly in the upper-middle third of all states,” says Patrick Serfass, executive director of the American Biogas Council. New Jersey is close behind its fellow northeastern state of New York, which has 16 wastewater treatment AD systems that use their biogas, and behind Connecticut, at 21. Oregon has 22 that use the methane they produce, and California tips the scale at 50, with several others having one or two, Serfass cites. The remaining plants with AD systems that choose not to use their methane for energy, simply employ the process because it reduces the volume of the waste, much like a cow’s stomach digests food, Serfass says. In addition, it improves the quality of the waste on the backend. “The active digestion upgrades the product that you’re digesting,” he says. Typically, without an anaerobic digester, the material is classified as a Class B biosolid, which is a hazardous material. “If you take that sludge and put it through a digester, you make heat, you make biogas, and then you make digestate, which is both in a liquid and solid form.” The solid that comes out of the digester, in comparison to the solid that comes out of the primary wastewater treatment, is a Class A biosolid and nonhazardous. It can be sold as compost or fertilizer, in addition to occupying a much lower volume. “Therefore, depending upon how much biogas they’re making and what the will is of the municipality, they may or may not even want to use the biogas, which we think is a total waste,” Serfass says. “But that’s their own business decision, and we’re trying to encourage folks to use that biogas.”
Exploring Options The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities agrees that unused biogas is a waste and is tasking the state’s newly formed Renewable Natural Gas Work Group with three assignments: identify the number of locations currently producing biogas through AD, identify plants without digesters that would OCTOBER 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 39
¦STATE be good candidates for them, and determine how much unused biogas is currently available. The group is divided into subgroups that focus on three potential areas: wastewater treatment plants, landfills, and freestanding locations such as farms or food processors. “These three scenarios are all at different stages of development,” says group co-chair Dave Specca, who is also the assistant director for bioenergy technologies at the Rutgers EcoComplex. Besides the recognition of the potential for increased use of existing biogas, the research is also being conducted based on the understanding that New Jersey could produce much more usable biogas than it currently does, he says. “We also see that there are new technologies being developed on a smaller scale for things like compressed natural gas.” The work group’s study might even show that more than 10 of the 28 facilities that currently employ AD use their biogas, according to Richard Kunze, member of the wastewater treatment branch of the group, and director of technical services for Ocean County Utilities Authority. Kunze speculates that the study will show biogas use by 60 percent or more. The study is ongoing, but landfills are likely the furthest along in AD development potential, as most already have gas collection motors to produce electricity, Specca says. But second in line are wastewater treatment plants. In fact, that enormous potential prompted the League of Women Voters of New Jersey to dedicate an entire track to the hot topic at its April 2010 conference. The league produced a report and presented its findings at the event, spurring a slew of follow-up inquiries
from several wastewater officials in the state. “What prompted it was our local sewerage facility recently bought a special digester to speed up the process of sludge digestion,” says Eleanor Gruber, who led the team dedicated to researching the sewage sludge-to-energy industry for the conference. “We looked online to find out that we were not alone in the state in doing this.” “Wastewater treatment plants are good candidate sites for a lot of this work,” Specca says. “They already have the infrastructure and a way to handle the digestate.” Many have laboratories and crucial on-site expertise, as well. The work group will come up with models to illustrate how the systems would work at each of the three scenario locations, using what the operations already have on-site, as well as additional potential sources such as food waste. Food scraps, fats, oils and grease produce the most biogas of any digestible feedstock, Serfass says. “If you happen to have a good supply of food scraps or fats, oils, or greases that your wastewater facility is set up to process, you might produce a lot more biogas, and you might get a tipping fee from whoever is giving you their waste because it’s cheaper for them to give the waste to a wastewater facility than it is to put it in a landfill.” Such opportunities pile on even more potential for AD systems in New Jersey’s wastewater treatment sector, especially for smaller plants that might not have enough input on their own for biogasproduction components to be advantageous. The general rule of thumb for the minimum size of a facility to benefit from an anaerobic digester is between 1 million and 5 million gallons per day (mgd)
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STATE¦ of wastewater input, Serfass says. “So if you’re over that, there’s a very high likelihood that you will significantly benefit from having a digester at your facility.” The benefits to facilities between 1 million and 5 mgd will depend on a number of factors, including electricity and gas prices paid by the plant, as well as access to additional feedstocks. Any facility below 1 mgd, however, likely would not realize meaningful benefits. The majority of the 10 New Jersey plants Serfass cites that currently use their biogas have inputs of below 5 mgd, but the group also includes facilities that process 75 million, 23 million, and 17 mgd.
Ramping Up Ridgewood The Ridgewood wastewater treatment plant processes only 3 mgd of raw sewage sludge, but still uses its biogas to heat its own digesters, according to Robert Gillow, the facility’s superintendent. The plant is the only wastewater operation in the northeastern New Jersey village of Ridgewood, and its anaerobic digester has been running for more than 40 years, but now more options are being evaluated for its biogas. “We have more methane than we can use,” Gillow says. So Ridgewood will explore the potential to further the use of that resource instead of wasting it, looking into an electricity-production component. “It’s been put out for bids just to see what it would cost and how much it could benefit the town.” Gillow says research into state tax incentives is ongoing and Kunze adds that the state does offer grants for biogas projects through its clean energy program.
Even with an added power-production component, however, the Ridgewood treatment plant would still not be capable of producing excess power for the grid. “We’re probably not big enough to produce enough to sell,” Gillow says. “Basically just enough to run this facility, and maybe not even 100 percent.” Kunze says that’s not an unusual position for New Jersey’s wastewater treatment operations. “Generally speaking, a wastewater treatment plant will not produce more energy than it needs,” he says. Ridgewood is also the focal point of Gruber’s team report, as it illustrates perfectly the progression toward fulfillment of the statewide desire to increase the use of biogas produced from readilyavailable wastewater. The Renewable Natural Gas Work Group set a deadline of the end of September for its preliminary report on the topic. A final report will be distributed to state legislators and state departments, Specca says, setting the stage for educational seminars on the findings. Specca, along with the rest of the group and the state’s wastewater treatment plant industry, hopes the results will prompt policy development to help New Jersey take advantage of its existing potential to increase both biogas production and use, fostering a robust wastewater-to-energy industry. “After all,” Gruber points out, “We never run out of sewage, do we?” Author: Lisa Gibson Associate Editor, Biomass Power & Thermal email@example.com (701) 738-4952
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44 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | OCTOBER 2011
A of its
Two U.S. lawmakers create the first Congressional Biomass Caucus to put the industry on the front burner of energy policy. BY MATT SOBERG
OCTOBER 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 45
PHOTO: OFFICE OF REP. BASS
enewable energy is on the radar of every nation in the world as they all try to find the best sustainable solutions. Various political leaders support renewable energy and are advancing different legislative solutions that include everything from clean coal to solar and wind power, and geothermal. With the perceived difficulty of deciding on which energy stream to focus, the political net appears to be cast rather wide. In March, President Obama expressed the need for sustainability by introducing the Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future. “We cannot keep going from shock to trance on the issue of energy security,” he said. The blueprint outlined a three-part strategy to develop and secure America’s energy supplies, to provide consum- BIOMASS BACKER: Rep. Bass, right, supports clean, alternative energy like this outdoor wood pellet furnace at New England Outdoor Furnaces in New Port, N.H. ers with choices to reduce costs and save energy, Biomass-based energy benefits provide needed solutions to and to innovate our way to a clean energy future. the blueprint’s three-part strategy because it uses local renewable Although the biomass industry shares Obama’s sentiment, bioresources, it has been proven to reduce costs and it is certainly ecofmass seemed to be left out of the energy security equation. It was only briefly mentioned and generally linked with wind, solar and geothermal riendly. With the inherent need to promote and educate the masses on energy. To narrow the focus, U.S. Reps. Charles Bass, R-N.H., and Peter Capitol Hill, Bass and Welch hope the first Congressional Biomass Welch, D-Vt., have taken their support a step further by co-chairing the Caucus can put the industry on the front burner of policy and legislative change. first caucus focused directly on biomass. COMPLETE PLANTS AND MACHINES FOR THE RECYCLING INDUSTRY
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Co-Chairs at a Glance
Along with being co-chair of the biomass caucus, Bass is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and numerous other environment- and economy-related subcommittees. Bass was elected to represent New Hampshire in 2010, after having served the state from 1995 to 2007. He has a history of promoting clean, alternative energies that help lessen the nation’s dependence on foreign sources of oil. His experience with the bioenergy industry includes an appointment to the board of managers at New England Wood Pellet, a wood pellet manufacturer in Jaffrey, N.H. The company produces pellet fuel from clean sustainable biomass to reduce the demand for fossil-based heating fuels. The congressman also served as a senior adviser to Laidlaw Energy Group, a company that manages a portfolio of renewable energy facilities through development, acquisition and conversion. The group promotes biomass power initiatives nationwide. Bass regularly communicates the importance of sustainability to his constituents, and the biomass caucus provides the avenue to promote bionergy to Congress for policy purposes. Welch is a member of the House Agriculture Committee and various subcommittees dealing with biotechnology, rural development and www.intersystems.
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While numerous renewable energy-driven caucuses meet on Capitol Hill, including liquid transportation fuel initiatives and others, no caucus has existed specific to biomass power and thermal. Likewise, there are tax credits and mandates for other renewable resources, but few supRep. Welch, D-Vt., port the biomass industry. says Vermont Joseph Seymour, acting executive director with its biomass of the Biomass Thermal Energy Council, notes resources is a model for producing that biomass as an alternative energy was relaefficient energy tively absent in congressional discussions at the through biomass. time of BTEC’s inaugural year 2009. Policymakers need to understand that thermal energy is approximately one-third of the nation’s energy portfolio, Seymour says. “The first Congressional Biomass Caucus is long overdue,” says Patrick Rita, legislative representative for BTEC. Rita credits Bass, and his long history of renewable energy experience, with spearheading the caucus. “When Rep. Bass came back to Congress in 2010, he made biomass a priority,” he says. BTEC and other allied groups worked with Bass to initiate the caucus. Welch agreed to co-chair and to help seek the involvement of other members. The original idea was to include a diverse membership from each region, and to do it in a bipartisan way. The intent was to create a member-led government affairs group that would spread bioenergy initiatives. BTEC plans to help build the
caucus from the ground up. “The biomass caucus needs to be active, and BTEC intends to visit Congress regularly to keep the initiative alive.” Rita says.
OCTOBER 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 47
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GASIFICATION 101: Rep. Welch often refers to Middlebury College and its biomass gasification system as a perfect example of how to use locally sourced fuel to save on energy bills. The gasification system saves the college about $1 million a year.
agriculture. He has served Vermont, which is in the biomass-rich northeast region of the U.S., since 2007. Vermont has an existing bioenergy industry and a solid base of constituents interested in renewable energy. According to Welch, Vermont is a good source state for harvesting biomass and it’s a model for producing efficient energy through biomass. The representative specifically mentions Middlebury College’s biomass system in Middelbury, Vt., as a good example of how biomass-derived energy is beneficial to the community. The college strives to be a sustainability leader and considers its biomass gasification plant to be a milestone in carbon neutrality. The gasification system uses locally obtained woody biomass as a fuel source, and provides power and thermal energy to the campus. Twenty percent of the college’s electricity needs are provided through the high-pressure steam produced by biomass gasification. The institution previously used fuel oil, however, with the gasification system it has reduced its dependence on oil by half, saving roughly $1 million per year. Welch stressed that Vermont has been an example of how renewable energy initiatives help the local economy. Middlebury reports that its system cuts carbon dioxide output by
40 percent while simultaneously stimulating the local, renewable energy economy.
Call for Members Through their personal and business experiences, Bass and Welch determined there was a need to focus on biomass at the legislative level. Earlier this year, the congressmen issued a joint call for members, to elevate awareness and involve other legislators with similar bioenergy interests. In a joint press release, the representatives emphasized that biomass “is part of the key to breaking America’s dependence on foreign fuels for transportation, electricity and heating,” as America deals with the rising cost of foreign fuels and the decrease of conventional energy sources. The release also stressed that biomass is a homegrown resource available to every community in the nation. The term biomass was first introduced by Congress in 1978 as an alternative fuel that can be produced from many sources including crops, crop residues, plants, algae, wood and wastes such as animal, food and yard wastes. “Green energy is the next step towards American energy independence, and biomass represents a viable and economical option,” the representatives stated. Providing several unique benefits of biomass production,
POLITICS¦ including local economic development and environmental sustainability, the congressmen invited members to join the bipartisan caucus. The interest has been steady and positive, according to Welch. To date, the caucus includes Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, RWash., Aaron Schock, R-Ill., William Owens, D-N.Y., Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., Bill Cassidy, R-La., Russ Carnahan, D-Miss., Wally Herger, R-Calif., Mike Michaud, D-Maine, Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Paul Tonko, D-N.Y. The caucus is diverse with nearly all U.S. regions represented. Diversity is key, because how biomass is used in Oregon will vary from how it is used in Vermont, Welch notes. The type of feedstock and the industry itself will differ from one region to the next and it is important to get viewpoints and input from legislators across the nation.
Although the industry includes complexities, questions and even some disagreement, Rita notes that the importance of the caucus is to be an educative platform to answer questions and ease any biomass-related concerns. Similarly, Welch acknowledges that not all biomass is the same, and questions exist that need to be answered. Members hope the caucus will answer how the nation meets its energy goals and how biomass affects the energy industry in a sustainable fashion. Bioenergy is straightforward and noncontroversial, according to Welch, not an issue such as global warming or cap and trade. “It simply is a sustainable technology, the benefits of which go directly to rural or local economies,” Welch says. Potential biomass legislation should not result in Congress being hopelessly deadlocked. All members should have the common goal of developing alternative energy. Importance of Bipartisanship Welch expects an active caucus with memAs Seymour and Rita note, the initial bers starting immediately to educate, answer intent of the caucus was to be regionally diverse and bipartisan. As co-chair, Welch also believes the caucus must be active in a bipartisan way. “Being a bipartisan caucus is crucial,” Welch says. With Congress deadlocked and struggling to get things done, the caucus must be able to get out a message that the legislative branch can work together with a common goal. The representative sees the biomass caucus as an opportunity to set an example that opposite positions can work together. “We think biomass is important to the environment and the economy,” Welch says. “Bipartisanship is fundamental to a strong American economy. Partisan politics and division hurt America. We want the biomass caucus to be a good example of how to create solutions and make America stronger.” An active bipartisan caucus may be well on its way to making good policy.
questions and develop policy ideas. The caucus is intended to be constructive where the members think of ideas, questions and answers to how biomass affects their constituencies. The intent is to “roll up the sleeves and be proactive with this caucus,” Rita says. The hope is to see the caucus host in-depth briefings on biomass issues that provide information and education to spur on policy and legislation. According to Rita, there is a need for an active and creative group whose mission is to create biomass-based law. Welch concurs, saying that once policymakers understand bioenergy’s benefits, the goal with the first Congressional Biomass Caucus is to make biomass policy and legislation. Author: Matt Soberg Associate Editor, Biomass Power & Thermal (701) 746-8385 email@example.com
Energy Solutions for a Sustainable World
Caucus Objectives According to Welch, the first Congressional Biomass Caucus has two goals: promote biomass initiatives and address specific biomass concerns through education. Members must understand and recognize the significant local benefits of biomass.
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50 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | OCTOBER 2011
Biomass Ambitious EU renewable energy goals prompt the U.K. to support biomass-based energy development. BY PETER TABERNER
he U.K., along with all members of the European Union, is evolving its energy base to meet the ambitious target of 20 percent of fuel originating from renewable sources by 2020. The Conservative-Liberal coalition government believes that the biomass market is worth taking a bet on. New biomass plants could be sprouting up all over the U.K. with planned developments from Forth Energy’s projects in Scotland in Dundee, Leith and Grangemouth, to Peel Energy’s plant in Manchester, all the way down to the southern coast with Helius Energy’s wood fuel plant in Southampton.
Incentivizing Biomass Despite endorsing more severe spending cuts compared to other comparable economies, the coalition government has supported the biomass market with generous subsidies, mainly because of the cost of biomass in relation to other renewable energy sources.
“Biomass heat is the lowest-cost renewable in terms of the [metric tons] of CO2 saved per pound invested, usually by some margin,” says Jim Birse, commercial director of Econergy Ltd., a U.K.-based provider of biomass solutions. “The Renewable Heat Initiative, that will provide financial assistance to the generators of renewable energy including long-term tariff support to big heat users, will cost a lot less per metric ton of CO2 than the feed-in tariffs for PV (photovoltaic).” “Heating and heating fuels account for 45 percent of the U.K.'s CO2 emissions, and heating accounts for 70 percent plus of a typical home's energy use—any energy policy aiming to reduce CO2 must tackle this sector,” Birse says. “Biomass boilers are directly compatible with standard heating and hot water systems, and can be used to raise MPHW (medium pressure hot water) and steam for industry applications.”
OCTOBER 2011 | BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL 51
¦INTERNATIONAL An official report produced for the Department for Energy and Climate Change by AEA, a provider of analysis, advice and data on economically sustainable solutions for energy and environmental issues, concludes that U.K. feedstocks are projected to provide one-third of bioenergy by 2020, producing about 1,800 petajoules of bioenergy supply, equivalent to 20 percent of current primary energy demand in the U.K. There will be exponential increases in imports, however, as the forecast is for the proliferation of energy crops being planted globally. The EU, Eurasia and non-EU countries could provide 70 percent of potential imports by 2030, and there remains the juicier prospect of China becoming a big export market if it also increases its crop. This is also why many of the U.K.’s new biomass plants are being built in coastal areas in ports.
Feedstock Supplies Even though a reliance on import markets has been anticipated, the U.K. still possesses a substantial market supply of its own. Wood waste fuels that are being consumed for combinedheat-and-power (CHP) boilers are increasingly being used by local authorities in residential and industrial properties. That is despite the much remarked upon initial steep outlay for biomass boilers, which are priced at about £11,000 ($18,000) compared to £4,800 for installing solar power. Agricultural waste including dry residues from straw, corn stover and poultry litter can be burned by medium-scale biomass power plants and CHP sectors to produce between 10 and 50 megawatts of electricity. Food waste is also there for the taking, with huge amounts of organic waste material being created from manufactured foods and drinks, including beer, whiskey and wine, and cheese. It has been estimated that 92 percent of brewing ingredients end up as waste, mostly spent grains, and that dairy products produce 40 million
cubic meters annually, mainly for cleaning, which produces effluent containing high levels of organic residues. Additionally, energy crop growth has potential, and projections may ensure plans are made for increased planting. For example, 700,000 hectares (1.7 million acres) is 3.7 percent of U.K. agricultural land and is the area that used to be “set-aside” under EU agricultural policy. “If this area were to be planted with woody energy crops, we'd expect an annual yield of something like 9 million tonnes (9.9 million tons) per year,” Birse says. “The U.K. possesses considerable untapped biomass resources,” says Keiran Allen, technology acceleration manager at the Carbon Trust. “Up to 4 million tonnes exists in under-managed private forestry alone, and the Forestry Commission estimates that up to 2 million tonnes could be sustainably extracted in England for fuel use every year. Beyond this, large volumes of waste wood are still currently going into landfills and between 3 million and 5 million tonnes per annum could instead be used for fuel. Marginal land could also be used for energy crop planting.” “In the U.K. we are starting from a low base with lower levels of affinity with biomass and wood as a fuel,” Allen says. “We also face lower absolute availability of materials relative to our total annual heat demand and there is a shortage of forestry-specific skills which must be developed to enable the industry to grow.” Other constraints may be affected by finance and confidence in the supply chain, and for markets to become successful may depend on the regulatory framework that any nation implements. As the report produced for the DECC states, there is extensive room to grow energy crops in the international marketplace including in the U.K.
Opposing Forces While biomass may be a much-vaunted renewable energy source in certain quarters, it is not without its detractors, who question the carbon neutrality of burning wood plus the aftereffects of any deforContinued on page 54
52 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | OCTOBER 2011
INTERNATIONALÂŚ Carbon Emissions of Different Fuels These figures represent the carbon or carbon dioxide emitted by full combustion of each fuel, per unit of energy. Note that life-cycle CO2 emissions depend strongly upon details of supply chains, production techniques, forestry or agricultural practice, transport distances, etc.
Approx. life-cycle CO2 emissions Annual total CO2 emissions to heat a Net calorific Carbon value (MJ/kg) content (%) (including production) See note 1 typical house (20,000 kWh/yr) kg saved kg saved kg/GJ kg/MWh kg compared with oil compared with gas -2680 -4,280 9,680 29 75 134 484
Electricity (UK grid)
Electricity (large-scale wood chip combustion)
Electricity (large-scale wood chip gasification)
Wood chips (25% MC) Fuel only 14
Wood chips (25% MC) Including 14 boiler
Wood pellets (10% MC starting 17 from dry wood waste)
Wood pellets (10% MC) Including boiler
Grasses/straw (15% MC)
1.5 to 4
5.4 to 15
108 to 300
6,892 to 6,700
5,292 to 5,100
Notes: 1. Life cycle analysis data from: Carbon and energy balances for a range of biofuels options, Elsayed, MA, Matthews, R, Mortimer, ND. Study for DTI URN 03/836 and: Comparison of energy systems using life-cycle assessment: A special report for the World Energy Council July 2004 2. www.electricity-guide.org.uk/fuel-mix.html SOURCE: BIOMASS ENERGY CENTRE
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¦INTERNATIONAL Continued from page 52
estation, and whether this will outweigh the emission savings in the long run. Taking into account capital and largely populated cities, whether more greenhouse gases released in the air is appropriate is dubious. This view is supported by Biofuel Watch, which keeps an eye on the negatives of bioenergy. “I suspect that they are concerned about 'keeping the lights on' when nuclear plants are due to be decommisioned combined with public fears about safety; then there are concerns about energy security from Middle Eastern oil and Russian gas,” says a spokesperson for the organization. “The negative effects of biomass in comparison to other renewable energies are numerous and include rainforest destruction and other habitat loss leading to a reduction in biodiversity, land evictions and other human rights abuses, water and soil degradation, genetically engineered plantations with increased fire risk and water use, loss of carbon sinks, food sovereignty and food security issues and lastly but by no means least, air pollution and black soot.” The debate about biomass rages in the U.K. as the prospect of reliance on it increases, however the watchdog’s view is forcefully dismissed by Geoff Hogan of the government-funded Biomass Energy Centre. “There are all sorts of rubbish published about the carbon impact of biomass, often along the lines of ‘cutting down trees to burn is bad,’” Hogan says. “If managed properly
Biomass Facts and Figures • During 2009 in the U.K., a total of 10,636 gigwatt hours (GWh) was generated from biomass, of which 4,952 GWh was from landfill gas, 1,806 GWh from cofiring with fossil fuels, 1,511 GWh from municipal solid waste combustion, 1,109 GWh from plant biomass, 638 GWh from sewage sludge digestion and 620 GWh from animal biomass. (Source: Department of Energy & Climate Change, Digest of U.K. Energy Statistics, 2010) • Of the total 25,222 GWh generated from renewable electricity in the U.K. during 2009, 20 percent came from landfill gas, 7 percent from cofiring and 15 percent from other biomass. (Source: Digest of U.K. Energy Statistics, 2010) • In 2009, the U.K. had 1,932.4 megawatts (MWe) installed capacity of biomass and wastes, the largest proportion of which was in landfill gas. (Source: Digest of U.K. Energy Statistics, 2010) • In 2007, 15.6 percent of gross electricity consumption was produced from renewable sources in the EU’s 27 member states, of which 3 percent came from biomass. The EU 2010 objective requires that 21 percent of gross electricity consumption in the EU should come from renewable sources by 2010. (Source: European Commission, EU energy and transport in figures: Statistical pocketbook 2010) • In 2007, 101,808 GWh was generated from biomass in the EU’s 27 member states, 19.4 percent of the total electricity generated by renewables. The largest share of the renewable electricity generated came from hydropower (59 percent). (Source: EU energy and transport in figures: Statistical pocketbook 2010) • In the U.S. during 2009, 8 percent of total U.S. energy consumption was derived from renewables, of which biomass contributed 50 percent. (Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration) SOURCE: ENERGY INSTITUTE
INTERNATIONAL¦ biomass for fuel is sourced as a byproduct of existing good forestry practice and is poor quality material removed as a part of thinning operations and trimming of side branches, slab wood, chips and sawdust from the processing of the high-quality timber in sawmills for use in construction and joinery. Trees are essentially grown for timber; biomass for fuel is a byproduct of the industry.” “However, it can also be done unsustainably and inappropriately giving unacceptable direct and indirect land-use impacts, poor carbon savings and negative social impacts,” he adds. “Legally harvested timber in the U.K. is subject to the U.K. Forestry Standard, imposed via felling licenses and is therefore sustainably sourced. Illegally obtained wood in any country is unlikely to be sustainable.” Advocates of biomass should also be wary of ‘not in my backyard’ groups—or as the colloquial term would have it NIMBYs— who are against biomass construction. This has erupted more conspicuously against Helius Energy’s plans for a 100-megawatt wood fuel plant in Southampton, even though they announced they would not source fuel from protected areas in an attempt to bat off local protests. Vociferous opposition from local residents criticized the £300 million building, which included a 100-meter-long chimney stack, in the docks area of the city as an eyesore and possessing no positive environmental impact. Developers are now being forced into retreat by the protests with a delay on fresh consultations for the plants’ designs to extend community consultation, and this comes after it was announced that the original designs are being downsized. The significance of this should not be dismissed when taking wind energy into account. There is thought to be more than 230 localized campaigns against wind energy, and they have campaigned to great effect as existing council laws defer to the concerns of local residents’ priority over turbine building. As a result, approval rates for turbines have dropped by 50 percent, say Renewables Energy U.K., who believe local developers are alarmed at the consistency of negative decision making on wind farm building. According to figures from law firm McGrigors LLP,
who have six offices across the U.K., 48 percent of onshore farms are being refused planning permission. Alison Jones, community relations manager of the U.K. and Ireland development at the RES Group, who have a biomass project in the planning stage in North Blyth, and about to begin the pre-planning public consultation on an Alexandra Dock project in Liverpool says “RES is experienced in renewable energy project development and we take community consultation seriously. A comprehensive process of consultation that engages with local
people and stakeholders from an early stage allows an informed debate to take place. This helps us to identify issues of concern, negotiate solutions and design a low-impact project that will be welcomed as a positive asset by the local community.” The coalition government and developers will be hoping that progressive steps such as these will work—making that bet worth taking after all. Author: Peter Taberner Freelance Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
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Anheuser-Busch Brews Up Biogas with High-Rate Anaerobic Treatment By adding high-rate anaerobic reactors to the wastewater pretreatment system at its Merrimack, N.H., brewery, the plant has reduced air emissions and fossil fuel purchases, and shut down labor-intensive, energy-inefficient equipment. BY BRADLEY SMITH AND DENISE JOHNSTON
nvironmental stewardship has been a core philosophy for Anheuser-Busch Inc. since the company’s inception in the late 1800s. Back then, the company recycled surplus grain from its brewing process as cattle feed, among other sustainable measures. That practice continues today along with the implementation of new technological processes, including advanced wastewater
pretreatment and treatment systems, which keep the 12 U.S. A-B breweries running at optimum efficiency while successfully establishing the company as a responsible citizen within the communities where they are based. A-B produces more than 100 different beers, and alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. Not only must each in-house treatment system meet all state and federal
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56 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | OCTOBER 2011
regulatory standards, it must also meet AB’s own high aesthetic standards, including a zero-odor tolerance policy. Several of the A-B breweries serve as tourist destinations, so the brewer places particular emphasis on plant cleanliness and an odor-free environment. For wastewater treatment, the company uses anaerobic digestion systems, Bio-Energy Recovery Systems, or BERS in company nomenclature, at 10 of its breweries.
Although Biothane faced a number of challenges during construction, such as a brutal New England winter during which building construction wrapped up, and a 100-year storm that caused the adjacent Merrimack River to flood the job site, the plant was commissioned in August 2006—three weeks ahead of schedule. In fact, A-B is the largest operator of anaerobic digesters in the world. Anaerobic digestion is a natural fit for breweries and has become a proven and energy-efficient way to clean brewery wastewater. Low energy use, a small reactor surface area, lower chemical usage and minimal sludge handling costs are advantages of this technology over aerobic alternatives. The technology does not require blowers and mixers like an aerobic system, and the anaerobic reactor produces biogas (methBiobed EGSB
ane) that can be used within breweries to fuel boilers or combined-heat-and-power units. In addition, anaerobic reactors are sealed, so no odor escapes. This is a special advantage for A-B facilities that provide daily tours, such as the company’s brewery in Merrimack, N.H.
The Merrimack Brewery The A-B Merrimack Brewery, built in 1969-1970, is set on 294 acres in the scenic Merrimack Valley and is contained within
a 1-million-square-foot plant. The brewery is the New England home to the Budweiser brand. It hosts tours daily as well as a number of special events each year and is home to the world-famous A-B icons, the Budweiser Clydesdale horses. When A-B elected to upgrade its existing pretreatment system at its Merrimack brewery in 2004, it contracted Biothane, a Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies Co., to design and install the upgrades. Biothane had worked with A-B on seven previous brewery projects, and the Merrimack project merged the best technologies from prior BERS plants with design improvements based on experience to provide an extremely efficient BERS plant for the brewery. Typical brewery wastewater chemical oxygen demand (COD) consists mainly of easily biodegradable organic compounds such as sugars, ethanol and soluble starch. As each brewery has different production practices, a study was conducted to determine the characteristics of A-B Merrimack’s effluent as well as the stringent site requirements in order to select the most appropriate system. Based on this study, the final design for the upgrades included the installation of the Biobed Expanded Granular Sludge Blanket (EGSB) technology, a high-rate anaerobic digestion process. Groundbreaking for the project commenced in May 2005 with the laying of foundation piles and construction of the BERS began the following September. Although Biothane faced a number of challenges during construction, such as a brutal New England winter during which building construction wrapped up, and a 100year storm that caused the adjacent Merrimack River to flood the job site, the plant was commissioned in August 2006—three weeks ahead of schedule.
System Overview The site for the upgrade was tight, which was one of the reasons for the
¦BIOGAS The award-winning environmental improvement project carried out at the brewery has reduced emissions by 178 metric tons, energy consumption by 1.02 million kilowatt-hours and has resulted in a net savings of 91,000 MMBtu. EGSB reactor selection. The system features significantly smaller reactor volume, compared to other anaerobic technologies, due to its ability to handle high COD volumetric loading rates. The system’s smaller footprint and fewer material requirements
provide for compact installation and lower investment cost. Each day, the system treats 500,000750,000 gallons of wastewater from the Merrimack Brewery. The treatment system modifications take up the waste stream
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58 BIOMASS POWER & THERMAL | OCTOBER 2011
and direct it to an influent well prior to entering a 320,000-gallon equalization tank, where pH is adjusted. After equalization, the wastewater is pumped into a 250,000-gallon Biobed EGSB reactor through an influent system that evenly distributes the wastewater into the reactor base and biomass bed. The biomass/wastewater mixture subsequently flows upwards through the tank. As wastewater contacts the biomass (anaerobic organisms, which ball together to form granular particles), contaminants contained in the wastewater are converted into biogas in an oxygen-free medium. The biomass, or self-creating black granules, are 2-4 millimeters in diameter, with a high-settling velocity of greater than 50 meters per hour and a density of 40-80 kilograms of dry solids per cubic meter. No mechanical agitation of the reactor contents is required because the biomass mixing effect inside the reactor is essentially brought about by the feed distribution system, which maximizes the contact of the biomass with the influent. Production of biogas occurs during the natural upward current that begins in the lower reactor section. A three-phase settler at the top of the reactor separates treated water, biomass and the produced biogas. A portion of the treated effluent water flows back to the equalization tank where it is mixed with raw influent wastewater for another pass through the reactor. The biogas produced in the reactors flows through a gas holder, which buffers flow gradients, and is then compressed for use as a supplementary fuel source for the brewery’s boilers. Recirculation of the treated water and removal of degassing carbon dioxide within the equalization tank helps control alkalinity in the system. Biomass build-up in the Biobed EGSB is sold as seed for new anaerobic plants, thereby avoiding the biomass storage and disposal issues encountered with aerobic systems. Following anaerobic treatment, the effluent may be flash aerated to remove odor through sulfide oxidation before it is discharged into its own sewer system at the brewery’s previous treatment plant’s discharge point.
BIOGAS¦ The Results
An Award-Winning Approach
The EGSB reactor complies with AB’s zero tolerance policy regarding odors. The reactors form a closed, gas-tight unit, which positively prevents biogas from escaping into the atmosphere. All other odor-producing components of the BERS, including the equalization tanks, are connected to the BERS off-gas scrubber system that pulls out and oxidizes the odorous compounds before releasing the air into the atmosphere. The plant upgrades have led to immediate cost savings. A-B has achieved energy savings by idling energy-intensive brewery residuals processing units and by generating biogas to help offset costs for fueling its boilers. A-B Merrimack’s BERS provides approximately 10 percent of the fuel used in its steam boilers. An average 70 percent of total COD and 88 percent of soluble COD is removed in the BERS anaerobic step. The town of Merrimack has benefited from these upgrades by avoiding costly upgrades to its own treatment plant due to reduced loadings. By working together with the town to resolve environmental and financial issues related to wastewater treatment, rather than relying on the town’s facility to treat all of its wastewater, A-B has developed a process that works to the benefit of everyone. A-B holds itself to stringent standards, and is an industry leader in finding and implementing efficient and environmentally friendly technologies to optimize brewery processes. In addition to adopting anaerobic treatment at its breweries, other pollution prevention approaches have led to A-B facilities recycling 99 percent of their solid waste. In addition, at A-B’s Fairfield, Calif., brewery, a 1.18-megawatt photovoltaic system constructed in 2008 generates about 3 percent of the brewery’s electricity needs. The company’s Newark, N.J., brewery has also recently added a 1.1-megawatt photovoltaic system. A-B’s Houston, Texas, brewery has started using biogas recovered from a local landfill. When combined with the biogas recovered from the brewery’s BERS installation, biogas provides approximately 70 percent of the Houston brewery’s energy needs.
In 2008, the A-B Merrimack Brewery received the New Hampshire Governor’s Award for Pollution Prevention, in recognition of the energy-efficient measures installed at the brewery. The award-winning environmental improvement project carried out at the brewery has reduced emissions by 178 metric tons, energy consumption by 1.02 million kilowatt-hours and has resulted in a net savings of 91,000 MMBtu. These comprehensive measures, which
have resulted in significant reductions in energy and water usage, also qualified the A-B Merrimack brewery for an Association of Energy Engineers Energy Award in 2009. Authors: Bradley Smith Engineering Manager, Biothane LLC email@example.com Denise Johnston Vice President Marketing and Sales, Biothane LLC firstname.lastname@example.org
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