News

  • Tuesday, September 08, 2015 1:59 PM | Erika Myers

    The SC Biomass Council just released a new fact sheet and report on Combined Heat and Power opportunities for South Carolina. The report, developed for the SCBC by the DOE Southeast CHP Technical Assistance Partnership, documents nearly 4,000 MW of possible additional CHP resources in SC, much of which could be accomplished through renewable resources, such as biomass energy. Check out the resources section to download a copy of the report and fact sheet today!

  • Tuesday, August 25, 2015 11:36 AM | Erika Myers

    A number of scientists and bioenergy industry advocates have recently voiced concerns around controversial carbon accounting methodologies for the forest biomass sector. Politics seem to be undermining existing EPA policies, numerous technical studies, states, and other stakeholders on the definition of biogenic carbon dioxide. Forest2Markets recently published a blog titled "The Carbon Neutrality of Forest Biomass" that is worth a read.

  • Tuesday, June 02, 2015 5:03 PM | Erika Myers

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $11.5 million in federal incentives will be available beginning this summer for farmers and forest landowners growing and harvesting biomass for renewable energy. The funding provided through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) provides assistance to establish and maintain energy crops or those who harvest and deliver forest or agricultural residues to a qualified energy facility. For more information, see the USDA announcement and the Biomass Magazine article.

  • Tuesday, June 02, 2015 4:55 PM | Erika Myers

     

    In May 2015, Ameresco broke ground on Phase II of the existing biomass-cogeneration facility at the Savannah River Site, which will make it the largest plant of its kind in the nation. Phase II will increase steam production and green electricity - approximately 3-4 megawatts (MW) for a total of 23-24 MW. Construction is expected to begin in June 2014 and the plant commissioned in spring 2016. Additional information may be found in the Aiken Standard.
  • Monday, February 23, 2015 12:49 PM | Anonymous

    Frederick: Fuel for thought: Why ethanol should help power South Carolina

    Guest ColumnistFebruary 20, 2015

     — There are no oil wells in South Carolina. Nor are there any coal mines. So if we don’t want to reduce our energy dependence, we have to rely on hydroelectricity and wind and solar power and — imagine this — growing our own energy.

    Biofuels can be an important piece of South Carolina’s energy future. But that won’t happen as long as critics obscure the facts to undermine public support. Bad information about the costs and worth of biofuels leads to bad decision-making that can impact the lives of South Carolinians who buy fuel to power their cars, their homes and their businesses. It’s also bad for our farmers, the environment and, in the long run, our food security.

    Biofuels are made from plants grown for fuel, such as those raised for making ethanol, or else they are leftovers from crop and timber harvests. Yet even as technology advances are bringing down the costs and streamlining the process of converting plants into energy, biofuel is being downplayed, even dismissed, by critics. Recently, the World Resources Institute issued a report that says federal and state governments are misguided in their support for biofuels as an alternative energy source. As evidence, it reports that ethanol has replaced less than 10 percent of the gasoline consumed in the United States and says that the ethanol production has removed a food source for humans and livestock. Both claims are misleading.

    By law, ethanol can be mixed with gasoline only up to a 10 percent blend (soon to be increased to 15 percent for newer cars). And there are no laws mandating that gasoline must be mixed with ethanol. Thus, it stands to reason that the maximum amount of gasoline that could be replaced with ethanol would be less than 10 percent. This is a good first step.

    As for blaming high food prices on ethanol, while about 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop is grown to produce biofuels, only about a third of that amount is actually converted to ethanol. The rest ends up as a high-value feed for livestock and as carbon dioxide, which can be used for industrial purposes, such as carbonation for soft drinks. Clearly, a much smaller portion of the nation’s corn crop is converted to biofuels than critics would have us believe.

    Critics also say using corn for ethanol increases the price of corn and thus the cost of food. In fact, the corn itself accounts for less than a fifth of the cost of food sold at grocery stores and restaurants. Most of the cost is due to the processing, packaging, transportation, distribution, retailing and marketing of the food product. Increasing biofuel production actually has the potential to lower food costs by providing less expensive energy for processing and distributing food.

    Without the biofuel market for corn, there would be an oversupply that would drive corn prices down. The price that farmers are receiving for corn — about $3.60 per bushel as of this writing — is about half what it was two years ago and below the level the federal government has determined needed by farmers to profitably produce the crop.

    Almost all professionals in the biofuel industry realize that using more corn to make biofuels will not be sustainable. Most agree making ethanol from vegetative material makes more economic and environmental sense than using corn grain. If done correctly, growing biofuel crops can also be better for the environment than producing many of our traditional crops.

    Potential plant material for making biofuels includes leaves and stalks left on the ground after harvesting grain crops, waste wood from harvesting trees or from the lumber mills, or special trees and native grasses grown on marginal soils not suitable for food-crop production. Hence, there will not be widespread production of biofuel crops on fertile food-crop land, as critics contend. There are a lot of opportunities on the horizon with new biofuel technologies and production systems.

    South Carolina’s future energy portfolio should be diverse to include all the opportunities associated with solar, biomass, offshore wind, water and nuclear energies. Diversity is a good strategy for spreading out risks by not depending on a single solution. Becoming an energy-wise state begins with having the facts that will guide — not misguide — us.

    Dr. Frederick is a Clemson profession who has been researching food crop production for more than two decades and studying how to sustainably produce biofuel crops since 2007. He is stationed at Clemson’s Pee Dee Research and Education Center in Florence; contact him at jfrdrck@clemson.edu.


    Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2015/02/20/3998175_frederick-fuel-for-thought-why.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy


  • Thursday, August 07, 2014 10:48 AM | Anonymous

    EDF Renewable Energy's Pinelands and Council Energy among 36 biomass facilities in the U.S. to participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP).


    SCCEBA would like to recognize EDF Renewable Energy's Pinelands facilities in Dorchester and Allendale Counties and Orangeburg-based Council Energy for participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP)

    "BCAP is an essential program which will continue the growth of the biomass industry in South Carolina and across the United States" said Jim Poch, executive director of SCCEBA. "Companies such as EDF Renewable Energy and Council Energy are great assets to the counties in the I-95 Corridor of South Carolina. I hold the belief the I-95 Corridor could be a significant biomass and biofuel production hub and employer" he added.

    A US Department of Agriculture new release stated, "Of the total $25 million per year authorized for BCAP, up to 50 percent ($12.5 million) is available each year to assist biomass owners with the cost of delivery of agricultural or forest residues for energy generation. Some BCAP payments will target the removal of dead or diseased trees from National Forests and Bureau of Land Management public lands for renewable energy, which reduces the risk of forest fire."


    Click here to read the full article

    EDF Renewable Energy's Pinelands and Council Energy among 36 biomass facilities in the U.S. to participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP).
    EDF Renewable Energy's Pinelands and Council Energy among 36 biomass facilities in the U.S. to participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP).
  • Monday, July 21, 2014 10:34 AM | Anonymous

    Thanks to some low airfares, I recently attended AgSTAR's 2014 National Workshop in San Diego, and also spent a day at BioCycle's related conference called REFOR14 West. AgSTAR is the Environmental Protection Agency's voluntary outreach and educational program that encourages the recovery and use of biogas (e.g. methane) collected from animal manure and other agricultural waste. The REFOR14 West conference focused on renewable energy from organics recycling.

    Organics recycling has expanded to include recovering food scraps. This is often part of an effort where a city or business decides to attain zero-waste status. Some states, like Massachusetts, are running out of landfill space and have to find new ways to get rid of waste.

    My friends look askance at the composting container on my sink, but I learned to do this from my grandma and mom, who had farming in their families and always recycled nutrients for the soil. Now, the hot trend in organics recycling is to build an anaerobic digester and collect food scraps on a large scale. This technology is well-developed in Europe, where Germany has over 6,800 large scale digesters. Austria is next with 551, France has 468, Switzerland 459, and the Netherlands and Sweden each have over 200. The U.S. is early in implementing the technology, with around 1,700 digesters located at wastewater treatment plants and farms, only a fraction of which uses the gas to power production. This is where a utility can be a useful consumer of the gas by using it to drive an electric generator and produce renewable energy.

    Santee Cooper already uses biogas at six landfills to produce electricity and has three anaerobic digester projects under contract. One of these, the GenEarth facility in Berkeley County, produces gas and 1.6-megawatts of electricity from wastewater sludge, grease-trap waste, and poultry processing-plant waste. It's roughly enough electricity to power 800 average-sized homes.

    Additionally, there are many other benefits to digesters. The methane that is burned is an extremely potent greenhouse gas and accounts for 9 percent of the greenhouse gases the U.S. emits. Also, the digester byproducts are a high-quality mulch or animal bedding that is free of any pathogens. The process returns nutrients to the soil and removes odors from lagoons at animal farms.

    Building digesters and using the methane is a proactive strategy for helping our country protect its lands and agricultural industry. Santee Cooper is doing its part to understand and use this new tool in our toolkit.

    By Elizabeth Kress, Santee Cooper

  • Tuesday, March 18, 2014 11:57 AM | Anonymous
    By Elizabeth Kress in Green Power
    Working in renewables involves searching for new, sustainable ways of producing electricity that use sources that are replenished by nature. Wind or solar are more straightforward choices for renewables, but biomass sometimes gets a little harder to define or explain. Is a landfill a sustainable source? Considering what's in a municipal solid waste landfill will generate methane gas for 40-odd years, it is a long term generating source from natural decomposition. Is it sustainable to combust wood to make electricity? If the wood can be re-grown or obtained as a byproduct of other processes, then it fits a sustainable model, especially for carbon-emission concerns. And it is especially helpful if transportation of the wood fuel is minimized by using local sources.

    Our contracts with EDF-Renewable Energy to buy electricity generated from wood waste are creating some new supplier channels in the wood markets. The EDF-RE plants in Dorchester and Allendale counties are smaller-sized operations (as woody biomass plants go), designed specifically for producing electricity. Having these on the smaller side makes it harder to achieve economies of scale, however the flip side is that there is less impact on the local forestry markets that already exist.

    Our foremost South Carolina Forestry Commission statistician, Tim Adams, says, "Biomass plants like the EDF-Renewable Energy plants near Harleyville and Allendale are easier to locate within a typical South Carolina woodbasket. Logging residues, understory thinnings and urban wood waste can be sourced from a 2-3 county area for one of these EDF-sized plants. It's conceivable that there could be a biomass plant in every county in South Carolina in a fully-developed biomass market."

    In the case of the EDF-RE plants, we are able to observe new suppliers and sources that are being created to meet a new local need. People start to figure out that there is a facility that uses wood waste or residues. At Santee Cooper, for example, our investment recovery department has been looking to reduce our waste streams, and realizes now there may be a use for scrap wood. Also, our tree trimming crews need a way to get rid of their wood; if there was just a way to efficiently collect it and make sure it is chopped or ground to the size EDF needs.

    The word "efficiently" covers a lot of details. Collecting, hauling and grinding or chipping take time and work, which costs money. Finding people who devise ways to do this efficiently is where a new industry is created.

    In the world of economics theory, everything is pretty straightforward. The supply price rises or drops to meet the demand and voilà – the market is in perfect balance. In the real world, this can involve new businesses opening, or old businesses changing what they do. Watching new business come out of the woodwork (pun intended) is fun to see!

  • Monday, March 10, 2014 11:14 AM | Anonymous
    By Erin Voegele | February 28, 2014

    A new study led by a researcher from the University of Georgia has determined that the greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity of a unit of electricity generated in the U.K. using imported wood pellets is at least 50 percent lower than the GHG intensity of grid electricity derived from fossil fuels. The work was led by Puneet Dwivedi, an assistant professor of sustainability sciences in the UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. Madhu Khanna of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Energy Biosciences Institute and Robert Bailis and Adrian Ghilardi with Yale University’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies also contributed to the study.

    According to the study, the researchers determined relative GHG emissions savings for electricity generated in the U.K. using imported wood pellets under 930 different scenarios. The analysis considered three types of woody feedstocks, two forest management choices, 31 plantation rotation ages and five power plant capacities. Depending on the power plant capacity and the rotation age, the results found relative per unit GHG savings in the range of 50 percent to 68 percent.

    The researchers note that existing studies have shown that GHG intensity of a unit of energy generated in Europe using pellets from the U.S. or Canada is roughly 65 percent to 80 percent lower than the GHG intensity of a unit grid of electricity. However, they point out that those studies have typically assumed the feedstocks for pellet production were sourced from either nearby forest for from a wood processing facility located at a fixed distance to the pellet plant. The researchers also stressed that existing studies have considered only one harvest cycle when determining GHG savings, which has raised concerns among environmentalists and others.

    The new considers GHG emissions associated with seven supply chain steps, including feestock production, transportation of feedstock to the pellet plant, the manufacture of wood pellets, transportation to a U.S. seaport via rail, transatlantic shipment to Europe, transport to the European power plant via rail, and the burning of the pellets. According to the researchers, the GHG emissions associated with each step were summed up and divided by the total electricity generated at the power plant.

    The results of the analysis determined that the relative GHG emission saves were only 2 percent higher for wood pellets manufactured from feedstock sourced from non-intensive rather than intensively managed forests. In addition, GHG emissions savings were almost similar no matter what the feedstock type was used. According to the information published in the study, the results of the analysis contradict the general belief that the use of wood pellets from 10 to 15 year old pine plantations in the southern U.S. do not provide GHG savings in Europe. Rather, GHG savings were found to be at least 50 percent, even at lower rotation ages.

    The authors suggest that future research be directed to the impacts of additional forest management practices, changing climate, and solar carbon on GHG emissions savings. The study, titled “Potential greenhouse gas benefits of transatlantic wood pellet trade,” was published in the research journal Environmental Research Letters. A full copy of the study is available on the journal’s website.

  • Tuesday, February 11, 2014 1:12 PM | Anonymous
    SC Biomass Council recognized by Biomass Power Association for leadership in growing biomass energy generation industry.

    Over the past year, South Carolina has made a name for itself in the biomass industry. What previously was a small biomass presence has become a thriving industry, providing power for tens of thousands of South Carolina homes and businesses.

    The most recent development is the opening of global packaging company Sonoco’s $75 million biomass boiler. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley attended the dedication ceremony for the new boiler, which replaces two aging coal boilers. “South Carolina is being called the fastest growing economy in the Southeast,” Haley said. “One of the reasons is because of innovative projects like Sonoco’s biomass boiler. Advancements like this help businesses grow and succeed, attract new customers and bring talent and high-paying jobs to the state.”

    This follows the November 2013 opening of two 17.8-megawatt facilities by BPA member EDF. Located in Allendale and Dorchester Counties, the new facilities, also known as the Pinelands biomass project, created 250 construction jobs and 38 full-time positions. They will supply power for 15,000 homes through a 30-year power purchasing agreement with Santee Cooper, the local utility.

    The new South Carolina biomass growth is due in part to the influence of South Carolina Biomass Council. With 250 members representing various aspects of biomass, the SCBC works cooperatively with state legislators, biomass producers and users, and other stakeholders to increase awareness and use of biomass energy. SCBC aims to help South Carolina use homegrown energy sources rather than importing the majority of its power.

    Article courtesy of the Biomass Power Association
© South Carolina Biomass Council
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software