Changing (Improving) with the Times

Anna Simet, editor of Biomass Magazine, discusses innovation and the recent International Biomass Conference & Expo.
By Anna Simet | April 28, 2021

Let’s talk innovation. At the top of my mind is the International Biomass Conference & Expo, which our team at Biomass Magazine and BBI International held via a virtual platform in mid-March. While I was involved in the program development and live execution of our general session and panels, I simply wasn’t expecting the innovation deployed by our tech and conference team at the event. These components include the live general session and Q&As with all speakers joining us from their homes or offices, virtually visiting exhibitor booths and chatting on live video, the overall production quality—I could go on, but you get the idea.

I am continually amazed at what technology is making possible, which brings me to our first feature article, “Improving Plant Performance with Technological Innovation,” on page 16. Particularly in North America, biomass power and waste-to-energy plants are commonly thought of as “old guys,” as many of them were built decades ago. While that’s largely true, advances in controls and automation (i.e., plant operations from a handheld device), boiler imaging, cleaning and inspection technologies, etcetera, are allowing these facilities to adapt, modernize and compete. Many newer plants in Europe and elsewhere have been constructed with or utilize the latest technologies, and these state-of-the-art facilities set a high bar when it comes to cleanliness, efficiency and reliability.

In a subsequent feature, “From EPC to O&M,” I had a conversation with pellet plant operations expert Forcus Martinez of Prodesa. In this Q&A-style story, we discuss common operator errors, the benefits of O&M contracts that Prodesa offers, and how crucial personnel training is, particularly its influence on an operations profitability—for example, recognizing when to replace a wear part.  Says Martinez, “Trying to save money by expanding the lifetime of a component longer than you should, especially dies and rollers, goes against your plant performance. At first it seems like a savings, but in the long run, it’s not.”

This issue of Biomass Magazine also includes a variety of expert contributions, on topics including peanut shells as a biomass power plant fuel, landfill gas emission modeling, how a minimum federal wage hike might affect the logging industry and delivered fiber prices, and much more—something for everyone. On that note, I am actively accepting contribution abstracts for upcoming issues, so if this might be in your wheelhouse, please reach out to me any time with an article proposal.

Anna Simet
Editor, Biomass Magazine
[email protected]