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What gives a college power? Middlebury College Biomass Gasification Combined Heat and Power Plant Jack Byrne, Director Sustainability Integration Office Middlebury College October 27, 2009

Where Is It? Why Is It There?

Biomass Gasification - Fuel Supply



• Single source 3-5 yr. contract • From FSC or sustainably managed woodlands • Price in our comfort zone • From within a 50 mile radius • Supplied (almost) just-in-time

• Multiple sources - 3 yr. contract • Sustainable practices vary - collaborative relationships • Price in our comfort zone • From within a 50-75 mile radius • Supplied (almost) just-in-time

Biomass Feasibility Study by Vermont Family Forests and Biomass Energy Research Center 2005 Addison and Rutland counties woodshed: - private forest acreage best suited to producing trees – not wetland, - not steep sloped, - not shallow soil, - far enough from waterways, - not preserved or conserved for other purposes, - not high quality wood better for value added uses - 269,250 tons of low quality wood per year - demand for low quality wood in the woodshed = 109,592 tons/yr. - net availability of about 160,000 tons per year

Biomass Gasification - Fuel Supply Willow Test Plot - Partnership with SUNY ESF • Earlier test plots in upstate NY - 25 to 30 tons/ac. (45% moisture) • 10 acre test plot - 30 varieties of willows • Year 1 - clear and plant • Year 2 - cut back and grow • Year 3 - grow • Year 4 - grow and harvest (15 to 20 ft. height) • Harvest every three years thereafter - up to 21 years • Use corn harvester with modified cutting head • Three plots of 400 acres could each potentially supply 10,000 tons per year

Wood Energy in the Northeast: An Overview October 27th, 2009 6th Annual Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium Conference University of Vermont

Adam Sherman, Program Director Biomass Energy Resource Center

Biomass Energy Resource Center (BERC) BERC is a national not-for-profit organization working to promote responsible use of biomass for energy. BERC’s mission is to achieve a healthier environment, strengthen local economies, and increase energy security across the United States by developing sustainable biomass systems at the community level.

US Energy Consumption by Source 1850 - 2000

Graph Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

US Energy Consumption by Energy Sector




Source: US Energy Information Administration

U.S. Dependence on Foreign Oil Use Oil U.S. Japan China Germany Russia S. Korea France Italy Mexico Brazil Canada India

Have Oil 26% 7% 6% 4% 3% 3% 3% 3% 3% 3% 3% 3%

Saudi Arabia Iraq Kuwait Iran UAE Venezuela Russia Mexico Libya China Nigeria U.S.

Updated August 2002 Source: International Energy Annual 1999 (EIA), Tables 1.2 and 8.1.

26% 11% 10% 9% 8% 6% 5% 3% 3% 3% 2% 2%

Renewable Energy Use Matrix Energy End-Use Needs




 

Hydro Biomass

Fuel Liquids

Wind Geothermal

Fuel Gas

Wood Energy Content

1 Ton Wood (dry)

* Does not account for conversion efficiency

118 gallons of Oil

Biomass Energy Pathways Thermal

Excess air Combustion


Partial air Gasification


No Air Pyrolysis

Fuel Gases Liquids (CO + H2)






Anaerobic Digestion



(heat & pressure)




ria lP

ro ce s Bu s H e ild in at CH g H ea P T t Di he r m st r ic al t H W o o ea t d S 20 CH tov e P 0 50 MW Po w M W Co - e r 20 P o Fi r M we ing W r Po Pl we ant rP la nt

In du st


Conversion Efficiency Wood to Energy (available technology) 100% 90%




50% Electric

40% Thermal






Wood to Energy Pathways Activity

Wood Fuel



Quality Forestry




Land Clearing




Energy Crop Plantations



Clean Wood Waste Recycling

Hydrolysis & Fermentation


Traditional Wood Fuels Chunkwood


Residential Heating

Commercial and institutional heating Utility-scale power production


Residential Heating Small Commercial and Institutional Heating

Comparative Cost of Heat Various Fuels




Average Efficiency

$/MMBtu Delivered

Heating Oil










Natural Gas















Wood Pellets





Vermont Woodchip Price History

Wood Energy in VermontHow much wood is currently used? • Two power plants – 600,000 tons/yr • 42 public schools – 22,000 tons/yr • Two colleges – 25,000 tons/yr • Numerous state facilities15,000 tons/yr • Residential heating – 700,000 tons/yr(?)*

*Just firewood heating – does not include imported pellet use

Vermont’s Forest Resource

• • • • • •

78% forested 4.6 million acres 86% private ownership 581 million green tons of standing biomass inventory* 13 million green tons of annual growth of new wood Current growth to removal ratio of 2 to 1

* Excludes stumps, roots, foliage, standing dead trees, and seedlings and saplings

How much more wood can we sustainably harvest?

So, how far will a million tons go? HEAT • About 3,300 schools • 400 smaller colleges • 80,000 homes with wood stoves POWER • 2 new 50 MWe power plants (each could supply power to a city of 50,000) • 4 new 20 MWe power plants (each could supply power to a city of 20,000) OTHER • 5 wood pellet plants for local, regional, and international market distribution • 65 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol • 600,000 barrels of crude oil at the refinery

Prescribed Forest Management, Harvest Intensity, and Biomass Retention Whole-tree Harvest

Stemwood Only Harvest

Atmospheric Carbon Impacts of Biomass Energy

Final Remarks If … • Energy conservation and efficiency measures are a first priority • Manage the forest resource sustainably


• Utilize the harvested wood locally • Use the wood fuel efficiently and employ the best available technologies

Then biomass energy can present new positive opportunity for sustaining the working farm and forest landscape in the Northeast while making real progress toward the goals of reducing dependence on fossil fuels, increasing local energy self-sufficiency, and mitigation of climate change.

Contact Information Adam Sherman, Program Director Biomass Energy Resource Center 43 State Street Montpelier, VT 05601 802-223-7770 X 128

Biomass Energy and Carbon Cycling Is Biomass Energy “Carbon Neutral”? Yes, but it really depends on many factors… • What where the pre-harvest forest conditions? • What was harvested? How much? • How was it harvested? • How much carbon was emitted in harvesting and transporting the wood? • What was the post harvest condition? • How is neutrality measured?

Community-Scale Biomass Energy as a Climate Change Strategy The two most important questions are: • What will the harvested wood displace? • Will the harvesting of the wood used to displace fossil fuels enhance or diminish the forest’s capacity to sequester carbon into the future?

Air Emissions Particulate Matter from Various Wood Combustion Systems 3

lbs/million Btus Input






0 R er ld

nt la gP in at er en rs ile lG ei Bo le rs i cN ed iz Bo M -s d ol oo ho W Sc al i str e e du ov In ov t St tS d ve lle to fie Pe erti lS ia C nt A de EP esi


PM 10 (lbs/mmbtu)

• Particulates (PM 10) • SOx • NOx • VOC’s

Sources of Biomass in Vermont:



Residue from lumber manufacturing.



Sustainable Forestry – Timber Harvest.


Land conversion

Land cleared for development.

Competing markets for biomass:

Power Plants

Pulp & Paper

Pellet Mills


McNeil Station (VT)

450,000 tons annually (chips)

Ryegate Station (VT)

300,000 tons annually (chips)

I.P. Ticonderoga (NY)

1,000,000 tons annually (pulp, chips)

Finch Paper

1,000,000 tons annually (pulp, chips)


VT Wood Pellet (VT)

20,000 tons annually (pulp)

NE Wood Pellet (NH)

80,000 tons annually (pulp, chips)


40+ and growing, 30,000+ tons


Cousineau Forest Products:

500,000 tons annually handled by our company. Broker & Aggregator of supply from various producers around New England. Sell to most pulp mills and energy plants in New England. Wood Procurement

Indeck Energy

Alexandria, NH

200,000 tons

NE Wood Pellet

Jaffrey, NH

60,000 tons

Middlebury College

Middlebury, VT

20,000 tons

VT Wood Pellet

N Clarendon, VT 20,000 tons

Health of competing markets

Pulp & Paper:

In decline due to lower global prices and competition. Several pulp mills have closed in last 5 years. More pulp mill closures expected in next 5 years.

Power Plants:

Struggling with low energy prices but expected to make it through. USDA Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) may help.

Pellet Mills:

Emerging opportunity that has people excited. Volume not enough to replace other industries closing.

Schools District: Schools & Colleges using wood are another emerging opportunity. Good market, low volume, high maintenance for suppliers.

Looking to the loggers for supply:

As sawmill chips dwindle away more and more of the biomass will have to come from sustainable forestry. The health of our logging workforce is a concern. Most loggers make their living on the income generated from timber. Forest residue such as pulpwood, firewood and chips are secondary income. As sawmills close and there are less markets for logs, can the emerging opportunities in biomass and pellet manufacturing pay loggers enough to make up the difference? Can the emerging markets in biomass and pellet manufacturing provide enough volume to make up for the opportunities lost elsewhere?

Health of our logging workforce:

The average age of a logger today is approaching 50. Insurance premiums keep rising because logging is a dangerous profession. It could cost $2,000,000 for someone to get into the business with modern mechanized equipment. This is a barrier to entry into the business. Most logging companies are family owned businesses and cannot offer employees the kind of pay, insurance and other benefits that other industries can. An extremely small amount of wood comes from public land. The vast majority of wood comes from private land and timber value is constantly measured against the lure of development. Many landowners do not wish to have their land harvested.

Comparing small markets to large markets

Large markets for chips, such as power plants, have truck scales on-site and truck dumps for quick unloading. These plants are also open at least 5 days per week, usually 10 hours per day, and suppliers can come at their convenience whenever the loads are ready to ship.

Comparing small markets to large markets continued: When delivering to public schools and colleges there are no scales on-site and trucks have to use trailers with hydraulic moving floors in order to self-unload. Schools take chips by appointment due to storage space limitations and suppliers can only deliver when the school is able to receive them. Most schools can only hold 2-4 trailer loads of chips in their bins. Depending on size, wood power plants can hold between 10,000 and 30,000 tons on site (350-1,000 loads).

Seasonal considerations

There are certain times of the year when in-woods chips are unavailable due to poor operating conditions in the woods, inclement weather and because it is against the principles of good forestry to operate. Woods operations are generally closed from the 15th of March until the 1st of May during the spring thaw when conditions are to soft in the woods to operate and local roads are posted with weight limits that prohibit truck traffic. Woods operations may often be curtailed if there are heavy fall rains or during the holiday season. During these periods it is essential to have an off-site stockpile of wood that can be drawn off of until conditions in the woods improve and road bans come off.

Multi-Source Supply versus Single Source Supply For smaller sized clients, such as colleges, public schools and pellet mills, it is important to be able to purchase wood from multiple sources. As an aggregator of supply from various producers, Cousineau provides this service to its clients. Last heating season Cousineau supplied 10 public schools in Vermont and New Hampshire with chips for winter heating. These public schools used between 500 tons and 1,300 tons during the heating season. For each school we drew chips from an average of 6-7 individual suppliers in order to make sure no school ran out of wood. It is also important for smaller sized clients with no on-site storage space to have off-site fuel storage to get through spring mud season. Last winter Cousineau stored 6 weeks of wood off-site for Middlebury College to get them through the mud season.

NECSC-Future of Biomass  
NECSC-Future of Biomass  

Tiptoe Through the Forest, or Stomping Down the Woods- Using Biomass as a Renewable, Carbon Neutral Source of Fuel This panel will explore...