- Author: Peter Tittmann
The Thirty-mile room at the Mclellan Wildfire Training Center in Sacramento filled to capacity on December 14th, 2012 for the Community-scale Bioenergy Conference presented by the Woody Biomass Utilization group of UCANR and the UC Berkeley Center for Forestry (jump to conference page). Attendees represented a broad range of stakeholders including community organizations, bioenergy startups, consultants, utility companies, and agency representatives. The conference focused on providing information about small scale production of electricity from woody biomass in the context of recent legislation. Senate Bill 1122, signed by Governor Brown in September 2012, was intended to increase the production of bio-electricity in the State from small scale producers (3MW or less) as a component of the States Renewables Portfolio Standard. Presentations can be viewed at http://ucanr.edu/community bioenergy
The day-long conference was kicked off by organizer and UC Berkeley biomass and forest products extension advisor John Shelly. California Energy Commission commissioner Carla Peterman gave a thoughtful keynote covering aspects of the States recently updated Bioenergy Action Plan related to small scale biomass-to-energy conversion.
The conference presentations covered the following topics:
- Impacts biomass utilization on forest health and fire risk.
- Public and private landowner perspectives on biomass utilization.
- The role of community organizations in developing small scale biomass-to-energy projects.
- Policy nexus for wood biomass project development (air quality, environmental review)
- Conversion technologies review
- Project development case studies
Several issues were identified as important in considering small scale bioenergy projects.
All speakers commented on the importance of finding uses for the woody biomass that is responsible for high wildfire hazards.
Technology to convert biomass to electricity exists but the economic viability remains a challenge.
Capturing the full value of the feedstock (heat, char, solid wood products) can make make an energy project much more attractive to investment.
While solar and other renewables have benefitted from streamlined permitting and reduced interconnection costs, interconnection costs for biomass is a major barrier to expansion.
Outreach and education early and often reduces social resistance, builds community, and can result in important strategic partnerships.
Ray Lucas at UCANR Communications Services did an excellent job creating webcasts of all presentations and speakers. Videos and presentation slides can be accessed via the UCANR Woody Biomass Utilization conference page./h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/span>
The annual Forest Service Woody Biomass Utilization grant program has been creating some confusion for people. Grants.gov has had information online for the program since November 2011 even though it has not yet officially been announced on the Federal Register. According to the program manager at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) in Madison we can treat the information on grants.gov and on the FPL website as a pre-announcement of this years program. The Federal Register announcement will be very soon.
The advertised mailing deadline is March 1 2012 so if you are planning to submit it is important you start the process soon.
UC Berkeley and the Forest Service are holding 3 information sessions next week:
Monday (February 6) – Sonora, 3pm-5pm, Stanislaus National Forest, Register Here
Tuesday (February 7) – Nevada City, 1pm-3pm, Tahoe National Forest, Register Here
Thursday (February 9) – Redding, 1pm-3pm, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Register Here
Information on the Grant Program
The program remains very similar to last year when it changed significantly compared to previous years. Main points include:
• The program is focused on biomass to energy projects
• Equipment is not eligible for funding
• Grants will fund advanced engineering studies or similar
• $250,000 maximum grant per project
• Single step application process (mailing date March 1 2012)
Full information and application materials are on the FPL website.
Who should attend?
The grant program is of most relevance to organizations that are developing biomass to energy projects. The following entities may be interested in this workshop: power plants, project developers, National Forest System staff, other Federal agencies, forest-based businesses, contractors, rural communities, landowners, tribal entities, conservation groups, rural and urban economic development councils.
• Application process
• Assistance available to help with applications
We will also include time to discuss other woody biomass utilization issues for those attendees that are interested.
There is no cost for this workshop but advance online registration is appreciated.
We are frequently asked if we have copies of previous woody biomass utilization feasibility studies available. As a result we have added a number of feasibility studies and other reports to the grants pages of the Woody Biomass Website. These were funded by the California Association of Resource Conservation & Development Councils (CARC&DC) between 2007 and 2010. Funding came from the Forest Service State & Private Forestry.
The 12 reports cover a range of topics and are a great resource for those who are interested in biomass utilization opportunities. The information can help you in the decision making process and also help in the design of requests for proposals (RFPs) for feasibility studies.
The documents include pre-feasibility and feasibility studies prepared by a number of companies and organizations including TSS Consultants, Carlson Small Power Consultants, BioEnergy Solutions and the Watershed Research & Training Center. There is an emphasis on biomass to energy particularly at smaller scale.
There are two reports on equipment installation at wood processing facilities funded by the project. We (UC) worked with the CARC&DC on a number of woody biomass utilization workshops across the state and this report is also included. Finally there is a report from the CARC&DC on their attempts to organize fast pyrolysis demonstrations in northern California.
We hope you find the reports useful.
- Author: Rebecca Snell
Over 70 people attended the Quincy Woody Biomass Utilization Workshop last week. Numerous speakers included Forest Service personnel, private forest managers, the wood processing industry, academia and regulators.
The agenda started with discussions related to the forest resource and management and then looked at existing markets. We then focused on opportunities for biomass utilization in the local area. The session on environmental considerations looked at the impacts of fuels reduction treatments and forest management on forest health, biodiversity, soils and air quality. We concluded with a look at a number of funding opportunities for projects.
The in-woods part of the field tour schedule had to be canceled due to the unseasonal rain. However, we were able to visit the Sierra Pacific Industries Quincy sawmill. The excellent tour included the large log sawmill and also the recently reopened small log mill. Finally we toured the onsite power plant.
Presentations are now available online at http://ucanr.org/biomassquincy2010. A summary presentation of the main workshop is available here.
SFGate today ran an article discussing the impacts of tighter regulations regarding the burning of wood in stoves and fireplaces in Bay area homes. Eight Spare the Air days have already been declared by the Bay Area Air Quaility Managment District (BAAQMD) this winter which means that the burning of wood in fireplaces or stoves is illegal in order to recude the amount of particulate matter in the air.
Particulate matter (PM) are very small partciles suspended in the air. PM is classified by diameter into two classes: PM 10 (10 micron diameter) and PM 2.5 (2.5 micron diameter). The particles come from a number of sources including wood burning, diesel engines, tillage of fields, construction and industry. PM is known to have many negative impacts to human health, air clarity, building materials and climate change.
California Senate Bill 656 is driving the push towards greater regulation of particulate matter to reduce the negative impacts. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) developed a list of apropriate control measures to meet SB 656. Each Air Quality Managment District (AQMD) is responsible for implementing control measures based on local conditions.
BAAQMD has a useful webpage that explains the rules and the issues associated with particulate matter.
The burn bans on Spare the Air days include all wood combustion devices including modern EPA certified pellet stoves. PM from the combustion of wood will continue to be a big issue for CARB and AQMDs across the state and is something that may restrict the growth of the domestic pellet stove market in certain areas with poor air quality.