News | August 2015

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Madden Talks Fiber At CPA Meeting

Composite Panel Assn., which includes producers of medium density fiberboard, particleboard and hardboard, held its annual spring meeting May 31-June 2 at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort at Bonita Springs, Fla. CPA continues to address the woody biomass chain of supply and the dynamics of the new generation of wood energy pellet and biomass power plants. The composite panel industry has been very aggressive in challenging biomass proposals and policy that tend to distort the traditional raw material supply chain.

Biomass Carbon Neutrality was the subject of a panel discussion moderated by Kelly Shotbolt, president of Arauco North America. Shotbolt noted that “Circumstances are getting more intense as global governments find ways to reduce the greenhouse footprint. We’re not naive to the fact that wood will be part of the green energy solution. We’re aware of the benefits. Our products sequester carbon. As governments intervene we will advocate the expansion of biomass supply.”

The panel included Pete Madden, president/CEO of Drax Biomass; Jim Bowyer of Dovetail Partners; Dave Tenny, president/CEO of National Alliance of Forest Owners; and Laszlo Dory, outgoing chairman of the European Panel Federation.

Madden noted that the Drax power station in North Yorkshire England provides about 7-8% of UK electricity with six turbines, each generating more than 600 MW. He said the company has answered UK directives and incentive for renewable energy by converting two of those turbines from coal to biomass, and a third one is in process, which combined would enable Drax to deliver CO2 reductions of 12 million tonnes per year.

He reviewed the ongoing commissionings of the new 450,000 ton per year wood pellet plants in Gloster, Miss. and Morehouse Parish, La., along with an industrial wood pellet port facility at Baton Rouge, all of which represent a $350 million investment.

Madden said the two pellet plants will each require 1 million tons of fiber per year, 80% of which will be forest residuals (first thinnings) and 20% harvest residuals (slash). Each plant will receive 150 inbounds trucks per day delivering 3,900 tons per day of raw feedstock. The Mississippi plant will move 50 outbound trucks per day to the port, delivering 1,250 tons. The Louisiana plant will move an 80 car unit train (Union Pacific rail) per week 235 miles delivering 7,200 tons.

Why build the plants in the U.S. South? Madden asked. He pointed to the obvious abundance of fiber and also emphasized that Drax targeted areas where there has been forest products operation closures. He noted that closed pulp/paper and OSB facilities in the Southern U.S. represents more than 28 million green tons of reduced demand for roundwood and chips, while operating and announced (and likely to happen) wood pellet facility demand will be 26 million green tons.

Madden also pointed to the Drax commitment to sustainability, including forest operations auditing and performance standards with regard to carbon stock, life cycle greenhouse gas savings and biodiversity protection.

Madden said the size of the wood pellet market on a global scale has been overstated. “There’s not going to be hundreds of pellet mills in the South,” he said. He noted, according to forecasts, that EU demand for wood pellets may double by the end of the decade toward 25 million metric tons but then will most likely plateau.

Bowyer of Dovetail Partners spoke on the Forest Dynamics of Carbon. “Emissions of CO2 from fossil fuel combustion, with contributions from cement manufacture, are responsible for more than 75% of the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration since pre-industrial times,” Bowyer said.

He also said that comparable peaks in carbon dioxide concentration and temperature over the last 400,000 years means there’s a correlation. But he added, “Nobody knows for sure what the effect of increased carbon in the atmosphere is going to be,” but that it will probably be “significant and adverse.”

Oregon Gains Key FS Biomass Project Grants

Oregon gained several U.S. Forest Service (FS) grants to aid in developing wood bioenergy resources, markets and infrastructure as part of the recently announced $9 million in FS Wood Innovations grants awarded to projects in 23 states. Oregon is a major player in solid wood and paper product markets and has untapped resources with great potential for biomass utilization and wood bioenergy infrastructure development. Oregon also has a relatively large wood-based home heating market.

  • The Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council received a grant to help create an overall regional plan to increase market-based utilization of forest restoration pro­ject byproducts, including analyzing regional opportunities and barriers to biomass utilization, plus coordinating public and private biomass programs and promoting central Oregon as a biomass utilization hub.
  • Family Forest of Oregon received a grant to promote production of biochar products, which includes conducting a growth trial of biochar, developing marketing and promotional materials and evaluating the carbon offset potential of biochar.
  • Integrated Biomass Resources received funds to design, engineer and install a system to recover heat from an existing biomass boiler to increase efficiency and dry feedstock for densified energy products.
  • A grant also went to regional propane and oil distributor Ed Staub & Sons to conduct a business feasibility study on expanding an existing oil and propane distribution business into bulk wood fuel distribution, including a market assessment to examine which areas within the company’s territory hold the most promising opportunities for fossil fuel customer conversions to biomass.
  • Enviros Claim Biomass Is Worse Than Coal

    A number of environmental groups has collectively signed off on a letter to the director of the Office of Management and Budget in Washington, DC, registering their objections to the use of biomass combustion for power generation as a compliance measure in the Clean Power Plan (CPP). They say biomass-based power generation should not be included in the final CPP as a compliance measure because, at least in its proposal, EPA has not identified a rational basis for considering biomass combustion as part of the “best system of emission reduction” (BSER).

     Power plants burning wood and other forms of biomass emit about 3,000 lbs. of CO2 per megawatt hour, an emissions rate that is approximately 50% higher than that of a coal-fired power plant, according to the letter.

    “As biomass combustion does not produce contemporaneous reductions in CO2 emissions, with any reductions in net lifecycle emissions depending on carbon offsetting that occurs offsite and in the future, it cannot be considered part of the BSER envisioned in the Clean Power Plan.”

    EPA and other agencies have often treated CO2 from bioenergy differently from CO2 from fossil fuel combustion, even though CO2 from both sources has the same effect on the climate, according to the letter. “This different treatment is based on the theory that burning biomass to generate energy either results in emissions that will be recaptured as trees grow back, or avoids emissions that otherwise would have occurred if the biomass were to decompose. However, even if emissions are reduced by regrowth later in time, or if emissions that would have occurred later in time are avoided, the offsetting reductions are significantly delayed—on the order of years, decades, or more than a century, depending on the material used as fuel. The emission reductions typically attributed to power plants that burn biomass are therefore uncertain, speculative and dislocated, and cannot be relied upon for the purpose of CPP compliance.”

    The letter points out that EPA’s proposed CPP would not require biomass-burning facilities to ensure that emission reductions are contemporaneous, or even that such reductions will occur within a specified time period.

    “The forestry industry, emboldened by the possibility that EPA will discount the CO2 emitted by biomass-burning power plants, anticipates a ‘new North American wood pellet market’ under the CPP,” the letter states. “A new market would exacerbate the rapidly growing demand for U.S.-harvested trees from power companies in Europe, where bioenergy is wrongly assumed to be ‘carbon neutral.’

    “Even if bioenergy emissions are eventually offset, the process of reaching net emissions parity with coal- and natural gas-fired power plants takes decades to more than a century, depending on the feedstocks used and the combustion efficiency of the facility. As such, biomass combustion is contrary to both the policy goals and legal requirements that underpin the Clean Power Plan.”

    Organizations that signed the letter included: Center for Biological Diversity, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Clean Air Task Force, Dogwood Alliance, Earthjustice, Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Partnership for Policy Integrity, Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club, Southern Environmental Law Center and

    USDA Restarts BCAP For Renewable Energy

    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture announced that incentives are resum­ing this summer for farmers, ranchers and forest landowners in­terested in growing and harvesting biomass for renewable energy. The support comes through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. BCAP provides financial assistance to establish and maintain new crops of energy biomass, and for harvesting and delivering forest or agricultural residues to a qualifying energy facility.

    The energy facility must be approved by USDA to accept the biomass crop. Facilities can apply for, or renew, their BCAP qualification status. $11.5 million of federal funds will be allocated to support the delivery of biomass materials through December 2015. Last year, more than 200,000 tons of dead or diseased trees from national forests and Bureau of Land Management lands were removed and used to produce renewable energy, while reducing the risk of forest fire. Nineteen energy facilities in 10 states participated in the program.

    Farmers, ranchers and forest landowners can also receive financial assistance to grow biomass crops that will be converted into energy in selected BCAP project areas. New BCAP project area proposals are being solicited. This fiscal year USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will allocate up to $8 million for producer enrollment to expand and enhance existing BCAP project areas.

    Peel Ports Facility Has Drax In Mind

    A new £100m biomass terminal planned for the Port of Liverpool will handle up to 3 million tonnes of wood pellets a year as part of the decarbonization of Drax power station, according to Peel Ports. The wood pellets—to be shipped to Liverpool from North America—will provide the Selby-based power station with a low carbon fuel source.

    The new biomass terminal, which includes a new rail loading facility and storage capacity for 100,000 tonnes, will be built by Graham Construction. The new terminal is set to create 47 permanent jobs at the Port of Liverpool, while construction of the facility and the supply chain will create up to 300 jobs.

    The terminal is being built as part of Peel Ports’ ambitious growth plans for the Port of Liverpool, with the company already investing £300m to create the UK’s most centrally located deep water container terminal, known as Liverpool2.

    Liverpool2 will enable the port to handle the largest container ships in the global fleet while at the same time doubling the port’s container capacity by 1M TEU.

    Mark Whitworth, CEO of Peel Ports, comments, “Creating a deep-water container terminal in the north of England is a vitally important component of the Northern Powerhouse and will help to re-balance the economy. Currently more than 90% of deep sea con­tainers enter the UK through Southern ports but more than 60% are delivered to or originate in the northern half of the UK.”

    Andy Koss, CEO, Drax Power Limited, says, “The biomass terminal at the Port of Liverpool will enable us to further our ambitious decarbonization plans and ensure Drax continues to lead the charge when it comes to creating sustainable, affordable renewable power. It is important to us that we measure the carbon footprint of every step in our supply chain from harvesting to transportation. By shipping to Liverpool and transporting our biomass via rail, Peel Ports has provided us with a logistics solution which minimizes carbon emissions and helps us maintain our low-carbon manifesto.”

    The terminal is set to open October 2015 and will become fully operational in July 2016.

    Meanwhile Drax reports that in July it saved its 20 millionth tonne of carbon since it started burning sustainable biomass in place of coal 10 years ago. It expects to take only two and a half more years to reach the 50 million tonne mark.

    Finland Biofuel Plant Moving Ahead

    Biofuel producer St1 Biofuels is moving ahead with its biofuel refinery at Kajaani, Finland, with a recent announcement that major enzymes supplier Novozymes will provide enzymes to the plant scheduled to start up in 2016.

    Based in Helsinki, St1 Biofuels is building and operating the refinery, which is being leased to North European Oil Trade, a major regional oil and biofuel distributor and trader. The $40 million (EU) plant’s production target initially is 10 million liters (2.7 million gallons) annually. The company currently produces ethanol from bio-waste and food industry residuals at five plants in Finland. The Kajaani plant is the first using wood-based forest residuals.

    Through its exclusive Cellunolix technology, St1 Biofuels uses a steam-explosion process to open the cellulosic structures in sawdust particles, followed by enzymatic hydrolysis to extract the sugars for ethanol fermentation. Novozymes enzymes speed up production by reducing fermentation time.

    St1 Biofuels executives note that if the sawdust to biofuel plant is successful, it can be scaled up to construct plants producing as much as 100 million liters (27 million gallons) annually.

    The plant is located in a major forest industry region in central Finland with multiple mill residual sources. Large forest products manufacturer Polkky Oy has signed on as a key raw material supplier for the project.

    European Commission Gives Thumbs Up

    The European Commission has published the progress report on 2020 renewable energy targets, showing that the EU is on track to meet its 20% renewable energy targets. With a projected share of 15.3% of renewable energy in 2014 in the gross final energy consumption, the EU and the vast majority of Member States are advancing on schedule.

    The results are published in the European Commission’s 2015 report on progress made in achieving the EU’s legally binding target for a 20% share of renewable energy, the 10% target for renewable energy use in transport, and the binding national targets by 2020.

    “The report shows once again that Europe is good at renewables, and that renewables are good for Europe. We have three times more renewable power per capita in Europe than anywhere else in the rest of the world. We have more than 1 million people working in the renewable energy sector worth over 130bn euros a year. We export 35 billion euros worth of renewables every year,” says Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy.

    With a projected share of 5.7% renewable energy in transport in 2014, achieving the 10% target is challenging but remains feasible, with good progress in some Member States.

    Twenty-five Member States are expected to meet their 2013/2014 renewable energy national targets. Since the interim targets will become more ambitious over the coming years, some Member States may need to intensify their efforts to keep on track including the possible use of cooperation mechanisms with other Member States, according to the report.

    Exhibitor List Growing For Mid-Atlantic

    Powerscreen Mid-Atlantic Inc., the regional dealer for Terex and CBI chippers, grinders and screens, is the latest exhibitor to sign up for a live demo slot in the upcoming Mid-Atlantic Logging & Biomass Expo, set for September 18-19 near Selma-Smithfield, NC.

    Other exhibitors that booked space in June included Caterpillar and Peterson dealers Gregory Poole and Carolina CAT; John Deere and Morbark dealer James River Equipment; Tigercat dealer Bullock Brothers Equipment; Cutting Systems, Inc.; Vermeer Mid-Atlantic; Forestry Mutual Insurance; Quadco; Alliance Tire-Primex; CTR/CTRS, Inc.; Pinnacle Trailers; and Big John Trailers.

     “This year’s site incorporates a timberstand and open field and is more compact and convenient for all concerned,” describes Expo Manager Jack Swanner. “Most exhibits will front the walking trail and the parking area will be so close that we won’t need shuttles.” Swanner encourages decision makers with companies that intend to exhibit to move quickly while choice spaces are still available.

    More than 75 exhibitors participated in the MALB Expo in 2013, drawing some 2,500 attendees from Atlantic coast and adjacent states and beyond. Given the forest products industry’s current throbbing pace in the Mid-Atlantic region, Swanner expects the 2015 turnout to match or exceed the 2013 mark.

    Rental spaces begin at only $700.

    Contact Swanner at 828-421-8444 or visit

    Coalition Announces Biomass Campaign

    A coalition of forest owners, wood suppliers and manufacturers of pulp and paper goods announced the creation of, a clearinghouse for scientifically sound information on carbon-neutral bioenergy. Biomass101 is jointly produced by American Forest & Paper Assn., American Wood Council, Forest Resources Assn., and National Alliance of Forest Owners.

    “With biomass becoming a more prominent part of the national renewable energy discussion, Americans deserve a conversation that is honest, accurate and reliable,” says Chuck Fuqua, executive director for Strategic Communications at the American Forest & Paper Assn. will include blog posts, infographics, videos and other digital media content that corrects false or distorted information in the press. The effort will also have a robust social media presence.

     “It is essential that leading publications get the basic facts on biomass right to ensure objective analysis. As the hands-on stewards throughout the life cycle of forestry and forest products, we should be a central voice in the discussion and make sure that coverage is accurate and fair-minded,” says Neil Ward, vice president of Public Affairs at the Forest Resources Assn.

    Mayo Moves Forward On Biomass Plant

    Mayo Renewable Power Limited has closed on the finance for its 42.5 MW electricity generating station and biomass fuel processing facility to be built in Killala in County Mayo, Ireland. The project, which will be fueled by wood chip biomass, will cost €180 million and qualifies for Ireland’s Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff (REFIT) program.

    Mayo Renewable Power has received all necessary planning and permits to proceed and issued its construction commencement notice in 2014. Full construction activity will commence immediately and the plant is expected to be in commercial operation in mid 2017. John Sisk & Son Limited is erecting the plant.

    Meanwhile, Veolia, through its subsidiary in Ireland, Veolia Energy Services, has been awarded by Mayo Renewable Power the EUR 450 million contract over 15 years to operate the plant. In addition to operating and maintaining the power production plant and the adjacent fuel processing plant, Veolia will supply the total biomass fuel requirement for the facility.

    The plant will use similar technology to that applied at Veolia’s biomass facilities at Merritt and Fort St. James in British Columbia, Can.

    Enviva's Marine Terminal Takes Shape

    The $50 million export terminal being built by the Enviva family of companies at the Port of Wilmington, NC inflated the first of two 17-story domes in mid-June with the second to follow soon. The domes will store 45,000 metric tons of wood pellets once operational. The first dome took about three hours to inflate.

    The Wilmington facility is the second terminal built by Enviva. In 2011, it opened a port in Chesapeake, Virginia that includes two domes. Like Chesapeake, the Wilmington terminal will ship pellets to coal-fired electric power plants in the United Kingdom and Europe, which are converting to wood pellets as fuel to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases and toxic chemicals. Enviva expects about 30-40 ships to call at its Wilmington port when it reaches full capacity.

    Enviva’s domes have been erected by Dome Technology International of Idaho Falls, Idaho, the same firm that built the company’s domes in Chesapeake. The Wilmington domes are 175 ft. in diameter—about the same measure as their height. They are engineered to be hurricane-proof, withstanding winds of more than 300 miles an hour, and earthquake-proof, surviving shocks as high as 8 on the Richter scale. They include an array of integrated safety systems, including automated temperature controls, dust controls and fire suppression systems.

    The outer shell of the dome was formed by inflating a “balloon” made of polyester roofing material. The balloons serves as a mold for the dome’s primary structure: a layer of steel-reinforced concrete.

    Construction of the Enviva marine terminal is scheduled to be completed in February 2016.

    Enviva is building a new wood pellet plant in Sampson County, NC. It’s expected to produce 500,000 metric tons of pellets annually.

    Terex Continues Acquisition Growth

    Terex Materials Processing acquired the assets related to the Environmental Technology product lines of Neuson Ecotec GmbH (an Austrian company). This acquisition marks the further expansion of the Terex Environmental Equipment (TEE) business unit, closely following the purchase of the assets of Continental Biomass Industries (CBI) in April.

    The acquisition of the Neuson Ecotec Environmental Technology products add chipping, shredding, screening and composting products that will accelerate development of a global dealer network while adding a facility in Linz, Austria that can support production requirements in continental Europe. Terex is not acquiring the Forestry Division of Neuson Ecotec GmbH.

    The Neuson Ecotec products that Terex is acquiring will now be part of a global portfolio that will soon be rebranded as Terex Ecotec. After combining these products with existing Terex products, products in development, and some of the products recently acquired from CBI, the Terex Ecotec line will be among the most comprehensive in the industry.

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