– by Frank Jossi, April 2, 2018, Energy News Network
Photo: Energy News Network
At a research lab in the northwoods of Minnesota, scientists are roasting tree waste until it turns into something that looks and burns like coal — without the heavy metal pollution. The finished product is called “biocoal” or “torrefied biomass,” and a team of University of Minnesota-Duluth researchers hope it might someday displace coal to fuel power plants, reinvigorating the region’s forestry economy and reducing carbon emissions at the same time.
The work at the Natural Resources Research Institute lab, about 200 miles north of the Twin Cities, appears to be the latest technical advance for woody biomass. The team’s facility is able to produce as much as 6 tons per day of the biocoal, which has energy values similar to coal. It’s been successfully tested in a Milwaukee tourist train and a large, coal-fired power plant owned by Minnesota Power, the investor-owned utility in the area.
– by Erin Voegele, February 13, 2018, Biomass Magazine
U.K.-based Active Energy Group plc has announced its CoalSwitch plant in Utah officially became operational the week of Feb. 5 and is producing the company’s high-calorific, high-bulk-density biomass pellet. Active Energy said biomass fuel produced at the facility will be prepared for delivery under offtake agreements that are already in place.
According to the company, CoalSwitch is produced primarily from forestry waste and other industrial cellulose waste products. The product can be fired with coal in existing coal-fired power plants at any ratio, up to 100 percent.
– by Jacqueline Froelich, January 1, 2017, NPR
The wood pellet fuel industry is growing in the United States. The largest chip mills across the South are gobbling up hardwood forests to meet demand for overseas customers.
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
Wood Pellets are big business. U.S. companies send almost a billion dollars worth of wood pellets to the European Union, which uses them to power energy plants. But the appetite overseas for wood pellets has conservationists in the U.S. worried about our forests. Arkansas Public Media’s Jacqueline Froelich reports.
– October 23, 2017, Global Construction Review
A commission set up by British medical journal The Lancet has published a report on the global impact of pollution on the health of populations and the output of their economies. This finds that pollution was responsible for 9 million premature deaths in 2015, and 16% of all deaths worldwide.
Overall, pollution was responsible for three times as many deaths as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined, and 15 times more deaths than war and other forms of violence. In economic terms, it reduced GDP in low and middle-income countries by up to 2% a year and accounted for 1.7% of annual health spending in high-income countries. Welfare losses due to pollution are estimated to amount to $4.6 trillion per year, or 6.2% of global economic output.
– by William Strauss, March 15, 2017, Biomass Magazine
The use of U.S.-produced wood pellet fuel blended with coal in large utility power stations could sustain coal mining jobs, create tens of thousands of new jobs in another sector that is experiencing significant job losses—the forest products sector—and stimulate billions of dollars of new investment in new U.S. manufacturing plants.
By supporting the blending of industrial wood pellet fuel with coal in pulverized coal (PC) power plants, policy will lock in the need for PC power plants, therefore guaranteeing significant demand for coal. This well-proven strategy, which is already in place in many other countries, can provide certainty for the need for U.S.-produced coal for decades, and certainty for U.S. coal mining jobs.
– by Matt McGrath, February 23, 2017, BBC News
Using wood pellets to generate low-carbon electricity is a flawed policy that is speeding up not slowing down climate warming.
That’s according to a new study which says wood is not carbon neutral and emissions from pellets are higher than coal.
Subsidies for biomass should be immediately reviewed, the author says.
But the industry rejected the report saying that wood energy cuts carbon significantly compared to fossil fuels.
– by Jess Shankleman, January 31, 2017, Bloomberg
Rocky Mountain Power, a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., will test a new biomass fuel that may reduce the amount of coal being burned by power plants.
The U.S. utility, which is part of Pacificorp, will use a plant in Utah to test a biomass fuel made by Active Energy Group Plc, Paul Murphy, a spokesman for RMP, said by phone. Active Energy’s fuel, called CoalSwitch, is processed from low-grade forestry residue.