News | April 2013

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Thermogen Plans Second Torrefied Plant

Thermogen Industries, a subsidiary of Cate Street Capital, has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with the Eastport Port Authority to build a torrefied wood pellet manufacturing facility on land adjacent the port’s Estes Head Terminal. The Port Authority Board discussed and signed the LOI at its regular board meeting February 19.

The Port Authority has acquired land adjoining the port facility that meets Thermogen’s needs for a facility capable of producing 200,000–300,000 tons of torrefied wood pellets annually. The recently purchased parcel, of which Thermogen will lease a portion, is part of an industrial site adjacent cargo port operations. The LOI proposes that Eastport would enter a 20-year lease with Thermogen, with an option to extend for another 20 years. Depending on the size of Thermogen’s facility, it would create approximately 75 jobs in Eastport and over 300 jobs in the woods. The facility at full capacity is expected to cost $120 million.

“This site is ideal for both Thermogen and Eastport,” says Cate Street Capital President/CEO, John Hallé, who says the plant’s torrefied wood pellets will be shipped overseas as an alternative fuel for coal-fired power plants. “Locating next to the Port of Eastport would greatly reduce our shipping costs while providing new, incremental business for the port.”

Following completion of engineering and site design, Thermogen will formally begin the permitting process with a goal of starting construction as early as possible in 2014. The company has already begun site preparations for a production facility in Millinocket. Construction there is expected to begin later this spring, and by the end of this year, the Millinocket site is expected to start producing torrefied wood products, reaching commercial operations in early 2014. Thermogen states it has secured the exclusive North American rights for proprietary microwave technology to produce its torrefied wood product, named Aurora Black.

New Southern Power Plant In Ready Mode

When Southern Power announced the building of a state-of-the art biomass-powered energy generating facility in Sacul, Texas, the public gave mixed reviews. But, the $460 million project—named the Nacogdoches Generating Facility, with a net capacity of 105 MW—was seemingly the answer to the prayers of people like Phillip Cadman.

Cadman, Vice President of Carrizo Wood Products in Nacogdoches, Tex., told a local Texas TV station, “We ended up stockpiling probably 300 semi loads [of pallet wood waste product] prior to the plant opening. We were able to move probably two-thirds of that to the plant once it opened, and then they cut everyone off.”

Cadman estimates that the plant has been offline for several months, with no real plans to come back online. “We were told they might run for about a month this summer. Somebody’s paying for it to just sit there,” he says.

He’s right. Austin Energy as part of a 20-year $2.3 billion contract pays Southern Power a capacity fee.

Austin Energy has an ambitious goal: 35% renewable energy for its customers by 2020. The company appears to be investing heavily in wind and solar technologies. Purchasing biomass power just isn’t economical at this time.

A spokesperson for Austin Energy told Texas Watchdog, “Roger Duncan [former head of Austin Energy] and Austin Energy couldn’t at the time of contract signing in 2008 have anticipated the explosion of hydraulic fracturing that created a buyer’s market for a seemingly endless supply of cheap natural gas.”

However, the official was quick to point out that Austin Energy was attracted to biomass power because of its versatility. “Unlike solar pow­er and wind power, wood or biomass is a source of energy that could be called on in the dead calm of night.” Southern Power has kept the Nacogdoches facility staffed, ready to go online at a moment’s notice.

RWE Innogy Sells Two German Plants

Koehler Renewable Energy GmbH, a subsidiary of Koehler Holding GmbH & Co. KG, Oberkirch, has acquired 80% of the shares in GBE (Gocher Bioenergie GmbH) at Goch, and 51% of the shares in B E B Bio Energie Baden GmbH, Kehl, from Germany-based RWE Innogy GmbH. RWE is the parent of the large Georgia Biomass LLC pellet plant in Waycross, Ga.

GBE operates a biomass combined heat and power plant at Goch, which was launched in late October 2012 and which produces steam and electricity from renewable energy sources. The Goch plant was designed to generate 28 MW of heat and 7.6 MW of electricity. It supplies up to 130,000 tons of process steam to the Nähr-Engel factory where it is used for the production of potato products. Nähr-Engel and the Goch municipal utilities jointly hold the remaining shares in GBE.

B E B operates two biomass combined heat and power plants at Kehl that produce steam and electricity from renewable energy sources. Koehler Group already holds the remaining shares in B E B so that Koehler Group is now the sole shareholder of B E B.

The Kehl biomass combined heat and power plants together deliver 68 MW of heat and 11.5 MW of electricity. Koehler Group uses the process steam at its Kehl site to dry special papers.

German Pellets Goes Electric In Italy

German Pellets Holding Italia, the Italian holding company of the Wismar-based German Pellets Group, has acquired a majority interest in the Italian Ely S.p.A. Group, a medium-sized energy company based in Milan that develops, builds and operates plants in Northern Italy for the production of electricity and heat from renewable energy sources. With Ely S.p.A., German Pellets plans in Italy to continue promoting the construction of small wood-pellet-fired power plants and expects to see a significant increase in pellet consumption in the future.

Peter Leibold, managing partner of German Pellets GmbH, notes that Ely S.p.A. operates plants with capacities of 0.2 to 1 MW and also runs a research center in Cremona.

The new venture plans to build new decentralized plants in Northern Italian municipalities. The electricity will be fed into the public grid, and the heat energy sold to regional buyers. The feed-in tariffs for green electricity from CHP plants in Italy are particularly economic. Potential customers for the heat energy produced from the wood pellets will include municipal heating networks, schools, retirement homes, supermarkets, hospitals and swimming pools.

As a partner for Ely, German Pellets is able to supply large quantities of wood pellets. For example, the new plant coming on stream at the end of the last year in the small town of Gorizia in northeastern Italy required 27,000 metric tons of pellets per year.

For the German Pellets Group, Italy represents an important sales market, where annual pellet consumption is expected to exceed 2 million metric tons for the first time. Roughly two-thirds of this total is imported.

Pellet Plant Possible For North Florida

The Escambia County Commission approved a $53 million industrial development bond for a new wood pellet manufacturing facility to be constructed just outside of Century, Fla. John Colquitt, who organized Fram Renewable Fuels and has extensive experience in woody biomass energy, says his company North Florida Biomass Fuels, LLC wants to build the facility on a 25 acre site near Century Correctional Institution.

The project will create 34 jobs in the mill itself, plus 13 trucking jobs. Pellet production is expected to be marketed to Europe.

Urania Is Site For Pellet Mill

Louisiana Public Facilities Authority Board of Trustees approved financing for a wood pellets facility in LaSalle Parish, Urania, that will be built by Louisiana Pellets, Inc., an affiliate of German Pellets GmbH, which is also in the process of building a 578,000 metric tons wood pellet mill in Woodville, Texas north of Port Arthur.

The Louisiana Pellets, Inc. facility would create 80 direct jobs and 250 indirect jobs, with an annual payroll of $4.5 million. The LFPA approved the issuance of revenue bonds, not to exceed $300 million. Meanwhile, the Louisiana Bond Commission approved $35 million in bonds to construct and equip solid-waste disposal facilities at the plant. Apparently, Louisiana Pellets, Inc. considered a location near Colfax on the Red River and the old Pineville Kraft facility before settling on the Urania location.

Beaver Wood Plans Biomass Energy Center

Beaver Wood Energy announced it is proposing to build the Fair Haven Biomass Energy Center, including a 30 MW woody biomass power plant and wood pellet plant, while Vermont Hydroponic Produce will build a 10 acre greenhouse complex that uses waste heat from the biomass power plant near the Vermont-New York State Line.

The pellet plant is expected to produce 110,000 tons annually.

Beaver Wood Energy’s partners include Thomas Emergo, who was director of Renewable Energy Development for GenPower Services, and Bill Bousquet, who was senior vice president of engineering at GenPower Services.

Arauco Contributed231 MW To Grid

Arauco reports it contributed a biomass based energy surplus of 231 MW to Chile’s national energy grid (SIC). This amount served the electric energy market and generated $150 million dollars of income.

The company’s installed capacity in Chile is 606 MW, which provides enough supply for its own industrial processes and an energy surplus of up to 231 MW for SIC energy requirements.

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