mother nature network discusses a power plant that will generate electricity from waste wood with no burning involved.  The facility, in Birmingham, England, will use gasification to convert wood-based waste from a landfill to syngas, a cleaner burning fuel that will be used to create steam to drive turbines and generate 10 megawatts of electricity. The plant expects to be operational by 2016.

Wood pellet exports from North America to Europe more than doubled over the past two years reports 4-traders. Over this time volumes exported to Europe grew from just over 500,000 tons in late 2011 to over 1.1 million tons in the second quarter of this year. Wood pellets are being used by electrical utilities in Europe, and primarily the UK, to replace the use of coal which is being phased out by the European Union to meet carbon emission standards. North American exports have been primarily from the US South and the Canadian province of British Columbia.  However, new pellet facilities are being built in the provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia as well as in the northern US state of Maine which should lead to an increase in pellet exports in future years.

The US Energy Information Administration projects the increased use of wood and waste biomass in 2014 we learn from BIOMASS Magazine. Wood biomass is expected to be used to generate 111,000 megawatt hours (MWh) per day of energy across all sectors in the US next year, up from 103,000 MWh per day in 2012. Waste biomass will be used to generate 56,000 MWh per day of electricity in 2014, up from 54,000 MWh per day in both 2012 and 2013. The use wood as a primary heating fuel is expected to increase in the Northeast, West and South regions of the country.

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology has found a way to convert wood chips to biofuel in a few hours. Until now, it has taken weeks to make biofuel (eg. ethanol) from wood chips and sawdust. The Almagest tells us how a a new super enzyme is speeding up the process dramatically. This super enzyme was discovered by researchers at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB) and in 2011, the world’s largest enzyme producer, Novozymes, bought the enzyme technology patent from UMB. Making biofuel out of trees offers new profitability opportunities for the Norwegian forestry and woodprocessing industries, now that the demand for paper is on the decline.

BIOMASS Magazine tells about a recent study that identifies the best woody and grass plants in the US Midwest for making cellulosic ethanol. Researchers at the Energy Biosciences Institute at the University of Illinois evaluated twenty-one species of short-rotation woody biomass and found black locust, northern catalpa, flameleaf sumac, silver maple and sycamore to be the best performing species. For the grasses, the best were switchgrass and Scout Indiangrass. The study is expected to benefit both cellulosic ethanol producers and farmers.

The same source reports the US has 15.5 gigawatts (GW) of installed operating biomass electricity generating capacity. This equates to approximately 1.34% of total US generating capacity.

Pakistan is hoping that biomass projects will help solve its energy shortage crisis reports The International News. The Punjab government believes 10 million tons of biomass from agriculture waste in the province could generate some 1.3 GW of much needed electricity to counter recurring energy shortages. The crops include paddy straw, wheat straw, cotton sticks, and dry leaves. India has offered to assist Pakistan in tapping into its biomass resources to meet this goal.  The first planned projects will generate 62 MW of electricity from wheat, cotton, maize and rice crops. See also The New Indian Express, Punjab Offers to Help Pakistan Set up Biomass Plants, The Nation, MoU inked for 15MW biomass plant, and The Express Tribune, Alternative energy: ‘1,300 MW can be made from crop waste’.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. (HELCO) will pay 25.3 cents a kilowatt hour over 20 years for electricity generated from locally grown eucalyptus trees. renewables biz says the power will be created by Hu Honua Bioenergy LLC  which, through its  21.5 MW facility, will feed electricity into the HELCO grid. The plant is expected to provide 10% of the island of Hawaii’s electricity requirements. Previously this former sugar mill generated electricity by burning sugar cane waste called bagasse.

The price being paid by HELCO is slightly higher than what developers of wind and solar project have charged under recent agreements negotiated with Hawaii utilities. However, unlike the intermittent nature of wind and solar energy the renewable power produced by the Hu Honua plant will be will be firm and available on demand.

See also, Honolulu Civil Beat, Hawaii Regulators Approve Big Island Biomass Plant.

PR-BG provides us with a glimpse of the global bioenergy market out to 2020. The global market for bioenergy is rapidly growing owing to the shift away from conventional energy sources and the movement towards renewable energy. Government support mainly in major developed nations has also been boosting the market for bio-energy. Bioenergy refers to both biomass and biofuel technologies that are used for the generation of electricity and heat as well as for transportation applications. The feedstocks for biomass electricity include waste wood, woodchips and wood pellets, manure, agricultural wastes, energy crops and sewage sludge. Europe is a leading market in the development of bioenergy driven by the continent’s stringent greenhouse gas regulations. For example, bio-energy is expected to account for half of the total renewable energy produced in the UK by 2020.

Ethanol Producer Magazine says sugarcane bagasse and straw will produce cellulosic ethanol in Brazil. Brazilian ethanol producer Raízen Energia Participacoes S/A, has started construction of a commercial biomass-to-ethanol facility that will use advanced cellulosic biofuel technology. The plant, to be located adjacent to Raízen’s Costa Pinto sugar cane mill in Piracicaba, São Paulo, will produce 40 million liters of ethanol a year. The facility is expected to open later this year.






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