Tag Archives: oregon

[NEWS] Forest Biofuel Facility Gets Go-Ahead in Oregon

– by Kurt Liedteke, April 15, 2018, Herald and News

red rockAfter countless meetings, hearings, discussions and planning, all hurdles have been cleared for construction of a new renewable energy biofuels plant in Lake County.

Red Rock Biofuels, a Colorado-based company established in 2011, has had its sights set on Lakeview since 2013 as a target location to build its first operational facility; identifying the location for its proximity to rail, highways, the Ruby natural gas pipeline and an abundance of forest bi-products to be collected and converted to jet fuel.

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[NEWS] Two New Biomass Processing Facilities Planned for Eastern Oregon

– by Rylan Boggs, May 30, 2017, Blue Mountain Eagle

johnday_orTwo biomass processing facilities are expected to be up and running in Grant County this summer.

Utilizing low-value vegetation from the Malheur National Forest, the Iron Triangle plants in Seneca and John Day will initially produce posts, poles and chips and could move into torrefied products, if the market is available. Torrefaction is the process of baking biomass into a coal-like fuel that can be burned.

The market for torrefied material depends on the Portland General Electric power plant in Boardman converting from burning coal to torrefied material, according to King Williams of Iron Triangle. PGE planned to convert the plant to biomass or shut it down entirely by 2020.

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[NEWS] Planned Biomass Facilities Still Simmering for Oregon

– by Hilary Corrigan, November 8, 2016, Bend Bulletin

la_pine_biomass_oregon

Proposed biomass facility for La Pine, Oregon

While two firms continue to develop plans for new biomass facilities in Central Oregon that would produce power and fuel, a utility continues researching whether biomass could run its coal-fired power plant in the region.

Biogreen Sustainable Energy Co., based in Vancouver, Washington, still plans to build a 25 megawatt facility — first suggested in 2009 — on a nearly 20-acre site in La Pine’s industrial park.

“We’re just on hold,” said Rob Broberg, president of the firm.

Building the $75 million project depends on securing a contract to sell the power, likely to a utility in Oregon or California trying to meet requirements for renewable energy.

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[NEWS] Juniper to Biomass Facility Proposed for Oregon

– by Eric Mortenson, October 24, 2016, Capital Press

juniper_wikipedia

(Photo: Wikipedia)

Morihara’s company announced it has refined a process for turning logging slash or other biomass into briquettes that can be burned in coal-fired electrical plants such as the one in Boardman, Ore. His company, HM3 Energy Inc., has built a $4 million demonstration plant in Troutdale, Ore., just east of Portland. It plans to license the technology and sell it worldwide. A Japanese firm, New Energy Development Co., has invested $2 million in HM3 and said it will build a production plant at an undisclosed location in Oregon.

The fuel is produced through a method called torrefaction, in which woody debris, crop residue or other plant material is essentially roasted in the absence of oxygen. The end product is a brittle, briquette-looking material that can be crushed and burned.

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[NEWS] Wood-Fired Electricity Sparks Ambitious Plans, Controversy in Oregon

– by Ted Sickinger, October 23, 2016, The Oregonian

boardman_oregon_coal_plant_pano1By year’s end, Portland General Electric will fire up its 550-megawatt power plant in Boardman for a daylong test burn, feeding 8,000 tons of pulverized, roasted wood into its boilers instead of the usual diet of coal.

The exercise is meant to gauge whether the aging fossil fuel plant could reliably generate electricity using renewable feedstock such as “torrefied” wood after its scheduled closure in 2020. If it works — technically, economically and environmentally — Oregon’s only coal-fired power plant could one day become the country’s largest biomass power plant.

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Biomass Energy Generating Controversy

– by Josh Schlossberg, September 1, 2016, Earth Island Journal

Kevin Bundy has tramped through his share of forests in California’s Sierra Nevada. Where he sees a diverse ecosystem of ponderosa pine, incense cedar, and white fir, prime wildlife habitats, and one of the world’s best buffers against climate change, many public and private land managers see something different. Of course, they too observe living forests, but they also see tinder for future wildfires, as well as an opportunity to procure home-grown, renewable biomass energy.

A senior attorney with the conservation group Center for Biological Diversity, Bundy works at the national level to ensure strict accounting of carbon emissions from the burning of biomass, and on the local level to limit the type of fuels burned by biomass facilities. He’s convinced that the nation needs to “get away from fossil fuels and shift to 100 percent renewable energy as quickly as possible,” given the threat of climate change. But while he acknowledges biomass might be renewable “in some sense,” he sees it as “something of a false solution to our climate and energy challenges” compared to other renewable sources like solar and wind.

Yet biomass is big business in the United States. In 2014, half of “renewable” energy in the US came from bioenergy – that is, from burning trees, crop residues (most often from corn and soybean harvests), manure, and even trash to produce electricity and heat, or to manufacture liquid transportation fuels like ethanol or biodiesel. Meanwhile, hydropower accounted for 26 percent, wind made up 18 percent, and solar accounted for a mere 4.4 percent. A significant increase in biomass energy production is likely as the US tries to ramp up its renewables output.

There remains considerable debate about just how prominently biomass should feature in energy planning, what with disagreements about the impact it has on forests and agricultural land, how clean it is, and its contributions to climate change. Much of the public is also confused about how biomass compares to other forms of renewable energy. This confusion reflects the conflicting scientific opinions and government policies regarding biomass energy.

READ MORE at Earth Island Journal

[NEWS] Baker City, Oregon to Discuss Biomass Opportunities

– August 17, 2016, My Eastern Oregon

baker-city

Baker City, Oregon

A meeting has been arranged by Economic Development Director Greg Smith with PGE for next week in order for Baker County Commissioners as well as Baker City Representatives to discuss the opportunity to utilize Baker County bio mass in their generation for electricity.

According to Commissioner Mark Bennett with the recent fires and the upcoming “Face of the Elkhorns Project” Baker County is well situated to provide a significant source for the green power requirements of PGE.

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[NEWS] Oregon State University Eyes Biomass Energy

– July 13, 2016, KTVZ

OSU-Cascades-logoA grant from the U.S Department of Agriculture could enable planners at Oregon State University–Cascades to move closer to achieving net zero energy usage across the future campus by studying the potential of integrating a woody biomass thermal energy system and campus-wide biomass district energy to provide heat to campus buildings.

The $193,910 grant was awarded by the USDA Forest Service’s Wood Innovations grant program and will be used to determine the technology and space requirements of a campus-scale biomass thermal energy system.

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[OPINION] Wildfire: Dead Trees Vital to Forests

[Read the opposing view to this opinion piece, “Wildfire: Thinning Forests for Biomass Energy Can Reduce Fire Severity,” by John Buckley, Executive Director, Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center]

– by George Wuerthner, Ecologist

Dead. Most of us have negative associations with the word. So it’s not surprising that most of us tend to view dead things as undesirable, unless we are talking about mosquitoes and rattlesnakes.

We impose this cultural bias about dead things to our forests as well. Public land management agencies spend billions annually trying to contain wildfire and insect outbreaks based upon the presumption that these natural processes are destroying the forest by killing trees.

And this bias feeds the biomass industry. After all if dead trees are a “wasted” resource, why not burn them to make “clean” energy? That is the prevailing idea behind many biomass proposals.

For example, throughout much of the West, advocates of biomass burning suggest that forest thinning projects, particularly removal of bark beetle-killed trees or the aftermath of a wildfire, could be used to accomplish two goals: making the forest “healthy” and producing power.

But the idea that removal of dead trees or reducing tree density to preclude wildfire and/or beetle outbreaks is based upon flawed ecological knowledge.

A new perspective is slowly taking root among forest managers, based on growing evidence that forest ecosystems have no waste or harvestable surplus. Rather, it seems that forests reinvest their biological capital back into the ecosystem, and removal of wood—whether dead or alive—can lead to biological impoverishment.

Large stand-replacement blazes and major insect outbreaks may be the ecological analogue to the forest ecosystem as the hundred-year flood is to a river. Scientists are discovering that dead trees and downed wood play an important role in ecosystems by providing wildlife habitat, cycling nutrients, aiding plant regeneration, decreasing erosion and influencing drainage and soil moisture and carbon storage.

Dead trees are important to wildlife. Think woodpeckers. But a lot more species than just woodpeckers depend on dead trees and downed wood for food and shelter.

But it’s not just the use of snags for nesting, or even feeding as with woodpeckers, that attracts birds and other wildlife to recently killed forests. Burned forests also are used extensively by seed-eating species that are attracted by the abundance of new seeds shed by cones and colonizing plants.

Some two-thirds of all wildlife species use dead trees or downed wood during some portion of their life cycle. Among Pacific Northwest vertebrates, sixty-nine species depend upon cavities for shelter or nesting, while forty-seven other species are strongly associated with downed wood.

It’s easy to identify an ecosystem for its most photogenic species, but there are dozens of small cogs that are of equal importance.

One of those is ants, and downed logs are their preferred home. Ants are among the most common invertebrate in forest ecosystems and, not surprisingly given their abundance, are critical elements in forest ecosystems. The most obvious value of ants is as food—from birds such as flickers to much larger animals like bears.

Dead logs and snags are also home to pollinating insects.

Healthy forest soils also require decomposing material. Below the litter layer in the soil is yet another layer of life that depends on dead wood.

People commonly assume that wildfire destroys trees and leaves a smoldering pile of ashes. In truth, some live trees and a lot of dead wood physically survive blazes. Beyond the value of dead trees as feeding, hiding and resting habitat for wildlife, downed logs play an important role in forest regeneration.

Snags and downed logs modify micro-sites that can affect seedling establishment. For instance, snags provide some shade and reduction of drying winds, creating more favorable conditions for tree seedling survival.

Trees heated and killed by fire create sapwood that resists rotting and lasts longer in the ecosystem. Trees dead prior to the fire tend to become blackened and charred. Charred trees are also resistant to decay. Thus, wildfire creates long-lasting biological legacies that can survive for a century or more.

Wildfires and/or insect outbreaks create downed logs that fall into streams and across slopes. Downed logs, by slowing the velocity of the water, allow sediment to settle out and help return sediment flows to pre-burn levels.

The loss of salmonids in many parts of the west can be attributed to the absence of wood in streams.

The criteria for healthy ecosystems can’t be easily defined or exhaustively listed. But healthy ecosystems have a full array of processes operating unimpaired, including hydrologic function, soil productivity, carbon sequestering, provision of wildlife habitats, and keystone disturbances such as fires, floods, storms and insect outbreaks.

One crucial element present in unmanaged, healthy systems is a significant amount of dead trees and downed wood.

George Wuerthner is an ecologist and publisher of 38 books on environmental subjects, including Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy.

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