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  • 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
  • Tuesday, October 29, 2013 9:57 AM | Anonymous
    The SC Biomass Council is seeking nominations from its members to fill three Board of Directors positions. 

    Nominations for the three Board positions are due to Larry Boyleston (, no later than November 22, 2013. Please submit all nominations to Larry via email. All nominations will be considered. Nominees are not required to be current SC Biomass Council members, but are required to become members if elected.

    Elections will take place shortly after November 22nd.

    Elected SC Biomass Council Board members are required to serve three year terms.
  • Monday, June 17, 2013 5:15 PM | Anonymous
    Officials from two South Carolina-based biomass firms, Arborgen and Encompass Biotech, will join representatives from Santee Cooper and SCRA for a panel discussion on biomass-the use of material such as wood chips, sorghum, or municipal waste as a renewable energy source.

    The panel discussion is part of the 2013 SC Clean Energy Summit, taking place July 11, 2013, in Columbia. Clean energy-related companies, service providers, investors, and entrepreneurs, along with representatives of government and academia, will gather at the summit to explore a variety of clean energy topics.

    The panel will be moderated by Larry Boyleston of SCRA and is being sponsored by Santee Cooper.

    The following officials will serve as panelists:

    Jeff Wright, Arborgen
    Jeff Wright will discuss Arborgen's work developing purpose-grown trees for use as a source of biomass. Wright is recognized as a world leader in developing forest plantations for products such as pulp, paper, lumber, and bio-energy. He has managed such efforts in South Africa, Swaziland, Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico and has consulted on plantations in more than 20 other countries.

    Bob Kodrzycki, Encompass Biotech
    Kodrzycki will discuss different models for biomass harvesting, energy production, and the potential effect of the political environment in the United States and European Union on the growth of the industry. Kodrzycki has 24 years of biotechnology experience, ranging from developing products to tailoring R&D strategies to address market and regulatory environments.

    Liz Kress, Santee Cooper
    Kress will discuss the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities of anaerobic digesters (which involve electricity generation using the methane gas that results when organic materials decompose in an environment that lacks oxygen). Santee Cooper has an anaerobic digestion facility at its Berkeley County landfill. Kress has been instrumental in increasing Santee Cooper's renewable generation, and has also been involved in feasibility work on offshore wind for South Carolina.

    About the 2013 SC Clean Energy Summit
    Registration is now open for the 2013 SC Clean Energy Summit, which is being hosted by the South Carolina Clean Energy Business Alliance (SCCEBA). The summit will take place July 11, 2013, at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. This year's theme: Fueling Innovation and Creating Jobs.

    The summit will bring together clean energy business leaders and representatives from across the Southeast to explore topics including solar, wind, biomass, hydrogen and fuel cells, energy efficiency, clean energy project finance, clean transportation and recycling. Session panelists represent industry, academia, and government institutions, including the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research, Santee Cooper, Sonoco, SPARC, SCRA, and others.

    Online registration and more details about the summit are available online, by clicking here.
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