News

  • Wednesday, October 21, 2015 9:17 AM | Erika Myers

    Today is a day of learning and education for both supporters and newcomers to biomass energy. The SCBC would like to thank and recognize all of the industry representatives, utilities, educational organizations, and government entities who have tirelessly worked to promote bioenergy in South Carolina. We would also like to give a big THANK YOU to our members, corporate sponsors, and stakeholders who have helped the SCBC since our inception in 2007. It has been a great eight years and we look forward to another eight years. 


    For anyone interested in learning more about bioenergy, a series of free bioenergy webinars hosted by the WA State University Extension is available this week. Topics include: 

    Sustainable biofuel production in the Southeastern US

    Developing the US bioeconomy in a global context

    Life cycle assessment of biojet fuel

    And much more!


    It is also not too late to sign up for our biomass tour at the Savannah River Site! Check out our events page for more information. 

  • Thursday, October 01, 2015 12:38 PM | Erika Myers
    This month officially kicks off the third annual National Bioenergy Day on October 21st. Participating organizations will open their doors to communities to demonstrate the benefits of bioenergy. 


    Although there are no organized events this year in South Carolina, plenty of tours are available in North Carolina and other states around the Southeast. Alternatively, you can wait until our big bioenergy tour event at the Savannah River Site in November. If you have not signed up, but want to attend, please do so ASAP. 


    If you are interested in National Bioenergy Day activities, and would like to learn more, go to http://bioenergyday.com/. 

  • Wednesday, September 09, 2015 9:05 PM | Erika Myers
    Today, Myra Reese and Henry Porter from the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) provided presentations to an audience of approximately 40 SC Biomass Council members and guests about the implications of the proposed EPA Clean Power Plan and biomass resources in the state. Key takeaways from the presentations included:

    • Uncertainties about what types of biomass could be included as part of the state implementation plan (SIP); additional biomass definitions and eligible resources must be provided by the EPA; 
    • DHEC has limited understanding of biomass resource availability in SC and could use assistance from the biomass community to help inform SIP proposals; and
    • Clean Energy Incentives will be in place in 2020 and 2021 to encourage early investments in renewable energy, including potentially biomass energy. 
    For more information, please download a copy of the presentation slide deck from Myra Reese and Henry Porter. For additional questions, contact information for both DHEC staff are included in the links.

  • 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

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