As EPA considers whether to exempt biomass-fueled energy projects from greenhouse gas (GHG) permit requirements, several states are warning that the so-called "tailoring" rule threatens state renewable energy programs and renewable energy development, while Massachusetts and some environmental groups warn that ignoring biomass GHG emissions would exacerbate climate change. The disagreement highlights the challenges EPA faces as it seeks to develop a more nuanced position on biomass permit requirements as part of its first-time GHG standards for large stationary sources.
Initially, the agency considered granting biomass a blanket exemption from its proposed rule to "tailor," or limit, GHG permit requirements to only the largest stationary sources. But, in its final rule issued June 3, EPA revoked the proposed exemption, making biomass GHG emissions subject to the same accounting as fossil fuels for the purposes of issuing GHG permits. That sparked a widespread backlash, including a letter in opposition signed by 62 House members and 37 senators, prompting the agency to issue a "call for information" in July on how to better account for biomass in GHG permits. The agency received nearly 800 responses to its call for information, many from industry worried that it will stifle the renewable energy development and runs counter to Obama Administration policy...Read More »
SWANA agrees with EPA revisions to the mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting rule but wants more. The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) recently submitted comments to EPA which stated agreement with allowing waste-to-energy units processing 600 tons per day or less to use Tier 2 reporting, that Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) should be removed from the definition of fossil fuel in the rule and that MSW and tires should be considered "other fuels" rather than "fossil fuel derived," and, facilities should be able to use default moisture values if they measure CO2 on a dry basis, as is consistent with requirements under the Acid Rain Program. SWANA did not agree with EPA's proposed requirement to report aggregate carbon dioxide emissions, rather than separating out biogenic emissions from anthropogenic ones, especially since the majority of emissions from WTE are biogenic in nature. The idea is that biogenic emissions are more carbon neutral in that carbon is consumed in the growing of vegetation and such. "We encourage EPA to move ahead with these changes and to issue a final rule as soon as possible so that waste-to-energy facilities know for certain what is required of them" said John H. Skinner, SWANA Executive Director and CEO. "Waste-to-energy facilities can make an important contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing renewable energy" added Skinner...Read More »
InEnTec LLC (Bend, OR) won first prize in the energy category in the Wall Street Journal's Technology Innovation Awards for 2010. InEnTec employs a plasma gasification system to produce a synthesis gas (syngas) from municipal and industrial wastes. Syngas can be converted into ethanol, methanol, clean diesel and other transportation fuels. Ash from the process is captured in molten glass, producing an obsidian-like material that is useful in construction materials. Metals are captured separately and recycled. InEnTec was formed in 1995 by researchers who had studied and improved the technology which has been around for more than a decade in a collaborative effort between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the US Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest Laboratory. In March, the company formed a joint venture with Waste Management, Inc. called S4 Energy Solutions to build and operate plasma gasification facilities using InEnTec's technology, including a renewable fuel project at the Columbia Ridge Landfill in Arlington, OR...Read More »
Labor groups have joined with industry in opposition to EPA's proposal to regulate air emissions from industrial boilers, putting more political pressure on the agency to reconsider its stringent rules. The United Steelworkers (USW) submitted comments on Aug. 23 that mirrors industry criticisms of EPA's proposed National Emission Standards For Hazardous Air Pollutants and New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) issued on June 4 saying it "leads to potentially unsustainable results" and will "imperil" tens of thousands of jobs. USW's comments will likely bolster industry opposition to the rule. The Council of Industrial Boiler Owners (CIBO), in a Sep. 14 statement, warned that the boiler MACT could put as many as 338,000 jobs at risk. The estimate comes from a new study conducted for CIBO by economic analysis firm IHS Global Insight. There is also broad bipartisan opposition in the House where 106 lawmakers have called on EPA to soften its proposal...Read More »
Renewable-energy developer Laidlaw Energy Group said it received approval from the NH Site Evaluation Committee to convert an idled paper mill into a 70-MW biomass electric generating facility in Berlin, NH. The state approved the $170 million plan on the condition Laidlaw have a 20-year agreement in place to sell the electricity to the Public Service Company of New Hampshire.
The approval also came subject to numerous other conditions, including: limits on noise, truck traffic and dust from the plant, and, require a signed wood supply agreement with Cousineau Forest Products, an operations agreement with Homeland Renewable, an Engineering, Procurement, and Construction agreement with Babcox and Wilcox, and a wood harvesting sustainability agreement negotiated with the Counsel for the Public...Read More »
WM Recycle America, a division of Waste Management (Houston, TX), said it is upgrading one of its plants in Houston to a single-stream system. Construction began in June and is expected to be operational by year-end. Single-stream technology allows users to put all of their recyclables in a single container thus increasing convenience and boosts participation, sometimes as much as 30 percent. The system will include several screens to separate mixed recyclables such as ONP (old newspapers), mixed paper, plastic containers and glass, and also includes several optical near infrared sorters to clean up and sort mixed paper, containers, PET, aseptic containers and mixed plastics. The system features two new and unique pieces of technology: a "paper magnet" for removing small fiber and recyclable residue from the container stream and a "paper spike" that mechanically removes boxboard/chipboard from newspaper. It will also include magnets and eddy currents and two large balers for the finished products. "Our commercial customers have already seen the benefits of our integrated recycling, and we believe our residential customers will, too," said Alan Stein, director of Recycling, WM South Texas...Read More »
BlueFire Renewables Inc. (Irvine, CA) has signed two significant contracts in the past week that should guarantee the company's US Energy Department (DOE) loan guarantee approval for a planned 19 MMgy cellulosic ethanol facility in Fulton, MS. On Sept. 20, the company signed a 15-year offtake agreement with Tenaska Biofuels LLC for the purchase and sale of all ethanol produced at the Fulton plant. On Sept. 27, BlueFire also secured a 15-year feedstock supply contract with Cooper Marine & Timberlands (CMT). Beginning last February, the company applied for a $215 million loan guarantee from DOE which required matching feedstock and offtake agreements. The company is hopeful that financing for the plant will be finalized by year-end. BlueFire has invested $19 million into the $293 million project so far and has obtained an $88 million federal grant, of which about $81 million remains to be used for plant construction...Read More »
Progress Energy announced signing its fourth contract to buy energy generated by landfill gas. Progress Energy Carolinas signed an agreement with Methane Power, Inc., which will build and operate a 3-megawatt (MW) landfill gas-to-energy facility at the Wayne County Landfill in Dudley, NC. The facility should begin operation by year-end and is expected to produce roughly 25,000 megawatt-hours of electricity per year or enough to power 1,800 homes. Methane Power has made a $5 million investment in Wayne County to construct the new facility. Progress Energy has three other landfill gas-to-energy projects in North Carolina: a 1-MW plant in Buncombe County, a 4-MW plant in Craven County and a 6.4-MW plant in Sampson County...Read More »
Duke Energy and Duke University, with financial assistance from state and federal agencies, are partnering on a $1 million pilot project to make electricity from hog waste. The system will be tested at a 9,000-head hog farm in Boonville, NC. Wastewater from the farm will feed a digester that will create methane gas to fuel a small turbine to generate between 512 and 639 megawatt-hours of electricity per year. The system is expected to be operational by February 2011 and is intended to serve as a model for other hog farms seeking to manage waste and develop on-farm renewable power...Read More »