Biobytes: Biomass News Briefs

By Biomass Power & Thermal Staff | October 07, 2010

1. Sierra Pacific shuts down Loyalton plant
Sierra Pacific Industries has shut down its Loyalton, Calif., biomass power plant because of reduced timber sale offerings making it impossible to operate, along with decreased electricity rates.

Numerous government actions, including decisions not to implement laws passed by Congress, have cut off the company from feasible fuel supplies, it said. In addition, Nevada Energy recently lowered the rates it pays to SPI for electricity generated from the Loyalton plant. The combination of the two factors made the facility uneconomic to run, according to the company.

Those events, notwithstanding, SPI is exploring opportunities that might allow it to reopen the facility, it said.

2. MSU launches farmer network
Kentucky’s Murray State University, with the help of Memphis AgBioworks, has launched its West Kentucky AgBioworks initiative to implement the results of a five-state, 98-county study by Batelle Technology Partnership Practice. The study concluded there is significant opportunity for the Mississippi Delta to join the global bioeconomy.

The initiative will aim to educate farmers on growing and testing alternative crops; to start an MSU demonstration crop; and to survey businesses in the region with a goal of determining who can use biomass and build processing plants. The program has received tens of thousands in funding already, including $50,000 from state agencies and $12,000 from participating counties, according to MSU.

3. Detroit Edison gets approval for power projects
The Michigan Public Service Commission has approved two contracts totaling 20 megawatts (MW) of capacity, enough to power about 14,000 homes, to be sold to power utility Detroit Edison.

Through the contracts, Waste Management Renewable Energy will provide 3 MW of power from a landfill gas project, and L’Anse Warden Electric Co. will provide 17 MW from a wood waste biomass plant in Baraga County, Mich.
Detroit Edison serves about 2.1 million customers in southeastern Michigan and expects to add 1,200 MW of renewable power to its capacity.

4. Enviva expands through acquisition
Enviva LP, a manufacturer of wood pellets and processed biomass fuel, has acquired Amory, Miss.-based wood pellet manufacturer CKS Energy.

CKS provides pellets for industrial, commercial and residential customers, mainly in Europe where wood pellets are well-integrated into the energy sector. In the coming months, Enviva plans to hire additional staff for the CKS facility, which will be known as Enviva Pellets Amory. The company will also expand its production from current capacity of 50,000 tons per year to more than 100,000 tons per year, according to Enviva.

Raw biomass material will be sourced locally and the facility will primarily serve Enviva’s long-term European customers. Enviva Chairman and CEO John Keppler called the acquisition a perfect fit as the company moves to increase its manufacturing footprint.

5. White Technology, partners receive biomass project grant
Indiana-based White Technology LLC has been selected along with its partners at West Virginia University to receive one of six renewable energy grants awarded by the West Virginia Division of Energy. The grant will fund a project that will demonstrate the environmental and economic benefits of reclaiming former mine land properties with sustainable and viable agricultural biomass for future renewable energy production.

White Technology has an exclusive license for a Miscanthus giganteus and Arundo donax (giant reed) micropropagation technology developed by University of South Carolina plant geneticists.

6. Helius Energy secures site for new biomass plant
Biomass energy developer Helius Energy plc announced it has signed an option to lease a 20-acre site at the Port of South Hampton, U.K., for the construction of a 100-megawatt biomass power plant.

The option to lease the site from Associated British Ports is subject to the securing of a Development Consent Order, which Helius intends to submit an application for in the near future, and the company will soon enter into consultation with the local community and relevant statutory authorities.

Helius anticipates that the plant will require about 700,000 metric tons (771,000 tons) of biomass per year, a significant proportion of which will come through the Port of South Hampton.

7. Washington DNR requests proposalsfor forest biomass study
The Washington Department of Natural Resources has released a request for proposals to assess forest biomass availability and sustainability harvest thresholds on forested land throughout the state for biofuel, heat and power generation purposes.

The study is required by House Bill 2165, which was enacted into law in 2009 and allows the DNR to implement biomass energy projects using forest biomass in eastern and western Washington through the authorization of long-term supply agreements. The deadline for the request for proposals was Sept. 13. The DNR anticipates beginning the study in early November.

8. Aspen secures funding for plant
Aspen Power LLC has acquired the necessary funding to complete construction of its 57-megawatt (MW) biomass power plant in Lufkin, Texas, which began in late 2008.

Akeida Capital Management LLC provided Aspen with a $14.1 million junior loan to complete the waste wood-fired plant, the first biomass plant to be built in Texas, according to Akeida. Aspen Power’s sister company, Angelina Fuels, will provide the plant with about 1,500 tons of biomass per day from timber harvesting, sawmill and municipal cleanup activities in and around Lufkin.

The facility will create 50 new jobs for locals and contribute to Texas’ renewable portfolio standard of 10,000 MW by 2020 with at least 500 MW generated from nonwind resources. Aspen Power will interconnect to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.