Conference panel addresses supply chain aspects

By Lisa Gibson | October 18, 2010

Feedstock supply agreements are absolutely crucial to the operation of a biomass plant, but constructing a reliable, economical and sustainable supply chain is no easy task. Getting it Right: Designing a Sustainable Biomass Supply Chain, a discussion panel at the Southeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show November 2-4 in Atlanta, promises to delve into supply chain issues and logistics, using existing projects as reference points.

Panelist Matt Holland, chief operating officer for biomass fuel manufacturer Enviva LP, will discuss vital aspects of a successful supply chain during his presentation Cost vs. Efficiency and the Future of Biomass. He will touch on forest structures such as ownership of forest lands and its implications for harvesting, according to Enviva. He will also address the kinds of products that can come out of the forest, their specifications and how those specifications affect the supply. For developers looking to establish supply chains and agreements, Holland will also dip into the basics of contracts and how they function, according to Enviva.

Fellow speaker Eric Epner, vice president of engineering and consulting firm Fuss & O’Neill, will draw on his experience in securing feedstock supply for a large greenhouse in Connecticut when he addresses the crowd during his presentation Case Study: Real World Experience with a Large Wood Chip Biomass Energy Project. Epner delivered a presentation on the project during Biomass Power & Thermal’s Northeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show in August and hopes to hear the same positive feedback from southeast attendees. As we saw in the Northeast event, it is advantageous for smaller biomass industry suppliers and customers alike to have a more local flavor to the conference,” he said. “This regional approach allows for better regional attendance and more focused presentations/potential new relationships.” The project has more than a year’s worth of data Epner hopes it will help other developers in their own endeavors.

Also using his own experience as an example, Sam Jackson, research assistant professor of Bioenergy Programs at the University of Tennessee, will talk to attendees about the switchgrass supply chain being developed by UT and Genera Energy, a company developed by the university. His presentation, Sustainable Bioenergy Supply Chain Development: Lessons Learned in Tennessee, will detail the partnership’s farm-to-fuel business plan for cellulosic ethanol production, which includes 6,000 acres of switchgrass, one of the largest on private farms in the U.S., according to Jackson. The project will provide a viable path to a sustainable, biomass-based future for rural economies and the nation, according to Genera.

Last, Brian Baldwin, professor of specialty crops for Mississippi State University, will present updates on the current knowledge base for bioenergy crops during his presentation titled Biomass Productivity and Environmental Sustainability for Southern Bioenergy Feedstocks. He will include a comparison of available crops with advantages and disadvantages of each. If time allows, moderator David Crass, partner with Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, will lead an audience question and answer session following Baldwin’s presentation.

For more information about the Southeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show or to register, visit