Whole trees as biomass?

Previously I promised to come back to the subject of whole trees. Allan Ricketts asserted in the VLCIA meeting with concerned citizens on 10 June 2010 that the biomass plant Wiregrass LLC proposed for Valdosta will never burn whole trees because it would be economically unfeasible for it to do so. While I have no doubt that Col. Ricketts is acting on the best information given to him, there are reasons to be sceptical about what will happen in the future.
  1. The document VLCIA supplied as their best reference on CO2 and biomass, Biomass carbon neutrality in the context of forest-based fuels and products, by Reid Miner, NCASI, Al Lucier, NCASI, appears to depend for its analysis on harvesting whole trees for biomass.
  2. At least one other proposed biomass operator in Georgia, Oglethorpe Power, asserts in a press release of May 7, 2009 regarding its purchase of land in Warren County, referring also to its site in Appling County and an alternative site in Echols County:
    The biomass plants will generate electricity by burning a woody biomass mixture expected to consist primarily of whole tree chips and chipped pulpwood, along with wood waste from saw mills and wood remaining in the forest after clearing.
    Why is it economical for Oglethorpe Power to burn whole trees but not for Wiregrass, LLC?
  3. Meanwhile, in North Carolina, several organizations are petitioning the NC state PUC:
    NCFB and NCFA respectfully request that the Commission issue an Order finding that wood fuel, including wood chips from whole ttreees, whqualifies as a “renewable energy resource under N.C. Gen. Stat….
    (More on that here.) If burning whole trees is so economically feasible in North Carolina that the NC Farm Bureau Federation and North Carolina Forestry Association are petitioning the NC PUC to permit it, why isn’t it economically feasible for Wiregrass LLC in south Georgia?
Now burning whole trees in itself isn’t in my mind a lot different from using them for pulpwood. (Although both of those uses have other issues, which I’ll come to in later posts.) That’s not the point. The point is that it’s a little hard to believe that it’s not economical for Wiregrass LLC to burn whole trees as biomass for electricity when a variety of other organizations think it is economically feasible and are basing business plans and PUC petitions on it being profitable.

-jsq

1 thought on “Whole trees as biomass?

  1. Dr. Angela S. Manning

    I am Pastor Angela Manning and I am totally against the Biomass plant. Allen Ricketts wants us to believe that the plant will not be harmful to our health, but I disagree. There is no way that they can gaurantee that it won’t be harmful. I believe that the emissions from the plant will slowly kill us. Those of us who already suffer from asthma, bronchitis, allergies etc. will only get worse. We must take a stand against the Wiregrass Biomass. Plant

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