Trump Pledge To Save Coal Plants Could Benefit Wood Pellet Industry

President Donald Trump could make good on his promise to rescue America’s dying coal industry, with a little help from wood pellets, a Maine-based global expert on pellet fuels is suggesting. Burning a mix of 10 percent wood pellets in coal-fired power plants is common now in Europe. Doing that in the United States could […]

President Donald Trump could make good on his promise to rescue America’s dying coal industry, with a little help from wood pellets, a Maine-based global expert on pellet fuels is suggesting.

Burning a mix of 10 percent wood pellets in coal-fired power plants is common now in Europe. Doing that in the United States could save tens of thousands of mining jobs, create a similar number of new jobs in the forestry and pellet-making sectors, spur billions of dollars in investment and improve air quality, according to William Strauss, president of FutureMetrics in Bethel.

Overseas, the costs of co-firing wood fuel in coal plants are subsidized by governments, to meet strict European Union rules aimed at cutting air emissions linked to climate change. In the United States, Strauss said, the Trump administration would need to conclude that a small government subsidy is worthwhile to preserve a power sector that’s being replaced by natural gas-fired generation.

“If the market is left on its own,” Strauss said, “coal plants will continue to retire and natural gas will take its place.”

That outlook was underlined last week by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in a report on coal production during 2016. Politicians including Trump frequently blame the Obama administration’s “war on coal” for the closing of power plants and associated jobs. But government data collectors cited low natural gas prices, warmer-than-normal temperatures last winter, the retirements of some coal-fired generators, and lower international coal demand as the leading factors.

From the Portland Press Herald: http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/17/eu-demand-for-pellets-holds-opportunities-for-maine/

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