News | February 2013

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Pellet Plant Planned For Thunder Bay

Resolute Forest Products plans to build a wood pellet plant adjacent the company’s sawmill in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Construction is expected to begin soon and is scheduled for completion in 2014. The company has signed a 10-year agreement to supply Ontario Power Generation with 45,000 metric tons of pellets annually.

Resolute will invest C$10 million in the construction of the plant, adding to investments of approximately C$120 million the company has announced for its Ontario operations since 2011.

Biomass Power Plant Project Gains Footing

Green Power Solutions will build a biomass power plant in Dublin, Laurens County, Georgia, creating 35 permanent jobs with an initial capital investment of $95 million. The project is the culmination of more than 18 months of collaboration between Beasley Forestry Products and Land Care Services. Having already received approval from the Georgia Public Service Commission, the GPS plant is expected to be the largest renewable energy qualifying facility developed to date in Georgia.

The GPS power plant will be located just outside East Dublin off Ga. 199 at an existing paper mill in Laurens County that was recently purchased by SP Fiber Technologies, LLC. The planned capital expenditures will allow GPS to provide the steam required for the paper mill’s daily operations and to generate 56 MW of electricity that will be provided to the electrical grid. GPS will provide base load power, which will be sold to Georgia Power Co. under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

GPS will also construct a new wood yard in connection with the project and expects to utilize in excess of 1 million tons of roundwood, bark and other woody biomass annually from the local area.

The Georgia Dept. of Economic Development collaborated with the Dublin-Laurens County Development Authority to manage this project. GDEcD Regional Project Manager Ryan Waldrep assisted Green Power Solutions on behalf of Georgia.

Construction at the plant is scheduled to begin in May 2013, with commercial power plant operations beginning in 2015.

Beasley Forest Products LLC, located in Hazlehurst, operates the largest production hardwood sawmill in the U.S., producing more than 90MMBF annually.

Land Care Services LLC, based in Dublin, is a grading and specialty services contractor.

Most of the fuel for the new plant will come from north of Appling County, and may include some hardwood waste from ­Beasley Forest Products.

Enviva Secures Funds For Plant Construction

Enviva LP has closed on a $120 million Senior Secured Credit Facility, the company’s first corporate borrowing.

“This substantial commitment by the Joint Lead Arrangers and the other financing banks is an important step in right-sizing Enviva’s balance sheet,” says Steve Reeves, the company’s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. “As one of the first credit underwritings of its kind in the emerging biomass renewable energy sector, we’re delighted by the strong show of confidence from leaders in the banking industry.”

The proceeds of the debt offering will be used to complete the construction of two new 500,000 metric ton per year pellet mills, one each in Virginia and North Carolina, and to increase the storage capacity of Enviva’s deep-water port terminal in Chesapeake, Virginia to approximately 100,000 metric tons.

Biomass Is Focus Of Seminars In Indiana

Woody Biomass in Indiana was the title of a series of seminars and field tour held September 26-28 in Madison, Ind. The meeting was sponsored by the Dept. of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, the Indiana Society of American Foresters (ISAF) and the Indiana Chapter of the Wildlife Society (IWS).

Indiana and adjacent states are noted for high valued and high quality species such as walnut and white oak and relatively small tracts of timber interspersed within dominate agricultural lands. Therefore the area has not been targeted for biomass production but some opportunities exist and biomass harvesting is occurring. Purdue University is conducting a biomass harvest of 100 acres which was the basis for the field tour and future demonstrations.

Both ISAF and IWS held technical sessions for their memberships. At the ISAF session, Best Management Practices for Harvesting Biomass (Jeff Settle, Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources) and the Impact of Biomass Harvesting at Different Levels of Intensity (Deahn Donner, U.S. Forest Service) were discussed. Leibering and Sons, Inc. discussed how their harvesting operation could be used to thin high valued hardwood stands to improve future growth and quality.

The IWS session focused on the impact of biomass harvesting. Ecological Sustainability of Woody Biomass Harvesting (Chris Webster, Michigan Tech. University), Coarse Woody Debris in Managed and Unmanaged Hardwood Forest (Mike Jenkins, Purdue University), Maintaining Wildlife Populations in Intensively Managed Forests (Tracy Rittenhouse, University of Connecticut), and Public Perceptions of Woody Biomass Harvesting in the Midwest (Lana Narine, University of Missouri) were all part of the program.

The second day morning session subjects included Why Use Woody Biomass and Developments in the Central States (Daniel Cassens, Purdue University), Economics and Policy Issues Related to Cellulosic Biofuels (Farzad Taheripour, Purdue University), Technology for Harvesting and Processing Woody Biomass (Ed Meadows, Consultant), and Urban Trees for Mulch and Energy (Lindsey Purcell, Purdue University). The afternoon session included presentations of Biodiversity Impacts of Biomass Harvesting (Deahn Donner, U.S. Forest Service) and Poplar Plantations as Woody Biomass—Indiana Experience (Rick Meilan, Purdue University).

A panel discussion to address current and future uses of woody biomass was composed of David James, Domtar Paper Co., LLC; Nathan Smith, Koetter and Smith; Randy Brewster, Tri State Forestry Services; Mark Harrison, Recast Energy; and Rob Horton, Hoosier Energy. Recast Energy is nearly ready to accept wood for use to generate electricity and power while Hoosier Energy is looking at native wood and poplar plantations as a future green fuel source.

A field tour of a whole tree harvesting site took place on the third morning. The site is a 100 acre tract on the Southeast Purdue Agriculture Center at Butlerville, Ind. The harvesting was done by Werner Logging of Jasper, Ind. Equipment on site included an 800 HP Morbark chipper with grapple feeder.

For additional information, contact: Daniel Cassens, Professor Purdue University, 765-412-6844.

EPA Finalizes Regs For Industrial Boilers

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized changes to Clean Air Act standards for boilers and certain incinerators, increasing the rule’s flexibility and dramatically reducing costs. As a result, 99% of the approximately 1.5 million boilers in the U.S. can meet the new standards by conducting periodic maintenance or regular tune-ups or don’t even come under the jurisdiction of the rules. The final rule cuts the cost of implementation by individual boilers that EPA had proposed in 2010.

The rules set numerical emission limits for less than 1% of boilers—those that emit the majority of pollution from this sector. For these high emitting boilers and incinerators, typically operating at refineries, chemical plants and other industrial facilities, EPA says it is establishing more targeted emissions limits that protect public health and provide industry with practical, cost-effective options to meet the standards.

Researchers Eye Poplar As Bioenergy Stock

Researchers at Clemson University’s Pee Dee Research and Education Center and Ridgeville-based ArborGen Inc. have collaborated to plant thousands of poplars at the Pee Dee center to determine if certain varieties of the tree are suitable for bioenergy stock.

Last year, ArborGen planted four species of poplars at the Pee Dee center. Some of those trees already have grown taller than 20 ft. and show great promise for emerging bioenergy markets worldwide, says ArborGen’s David Brown.

In November, Brown and his collaborator at Clemson, crop physiologist Jim Frederick, planted 690 varieties of Populus nigra (“black poplar”) to learn which are best suited as bioenergy stock and as “parents” for making hybrids with P. deltoides, the local eastern cottonwood that grows healthily in the U.S.

Brown and Frederick planted more than 3,000 trees, which they will monitor and evaluate during the next few years. The approximate rotation length is five to six years, by which time some may be more than 50 ft. tall. The trees will sprout again and grow from the cut stumps, thus they need to be planted just once.

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