DISMAL ECONOMICS AND INCREASED CO2 OF MONTPELIER WOOD-CHIP DISTRICT HEATING PLANT

The Montpelier District Heating Plant is a joint project of the City of Montpelier and the State of Vermont to provide local renewable energy to downtown Montpelier. With the rebuilding of the State’s existing central heating plant, modern wood-fired boilers will heat the Capitol Complex and connections will be put in place to expand its service area to City and School buildings as well as connect to private buildings in downtown Montpelier.

 

Before renovation, the heating plant was fired with only No. 2 fuel oil to produce steam to heat state office buildings. After renovation, the heating plant is fired with about 85% wood chips and about 15% No. 2 fuel oil, and a hot water distribution loop was added to heat other buildings. The claimed benefits of the renovated plant include:

 

- Reduced health threatening air emissions from fuel combustion in downtown Montpelier by as much as 11 tons per year.

NOTE: As will be shown, that claim is invalid.

- Replacement of approximately 300,000 gallons of oil per year between the State and downtown buildings as a prime fuel source with locally/regionally produced wood chips keeping that economic activity in the northeast.

NOTE: As will be shown, that claim is only partially valid, as about 15% of the plant heat input from fuel oil continues to be required.

- Fuel cost stabilization for city government and the school department allowing tax dollars to potentially be redirected toward services or infrastructure rather than to pay rising oil prices.

NOTE: As will be shown, those savings will not occur, because of significant undercharging for the heating services, i.e., the plant is operating at a loss, if all costs are allocated.

- An economic development opportunity in downtown Montpelier by providing a cleaner and potentially cheaper source of heat for private building owners.

NOTE: Whenever one group of people get a benefit, another group has to pay for it, i.e., contrary to claims, there is no free lunch.

- The removal of many private oil furnaces and underground fuel oil storage tanks from potential flood areas.

NOTE: A minor side benefit from a $20 million project.

 

SUMMARY

 

An analysis of the operating costs and emissions of the plant shows:

 

- The rates at which heat is charged to building owners are much too low, i.e., the plant is operated at a significant loss of $400,000 - $450,000/y. This excludes any financing and depreciation costs. 

 

- Emissions of CO2 and various pollutants, before and after renovation, are shown in the below table.

 

 100% fuel oil

 

85% wood/15% fuel oil

 

 CO2

 Other*

CO2

Other*

 ton/y

 ton/y

 ton/y

ton/y

3,699

5.72

4,446

11.92

Increase

 

447

6.2

*Other includes PM, NOX, SO2, VOC, CO

 

- The particulate matter, PM, increased from about 121.8 lb/y (100% fuel oil) to about 910.8 lb/y (15% fuel oil/85% wood chips), an increase of 7.5 times. Most of that PM is less than 2.5 micron, which is difficult to collect with electrostatic precipitators.

NOTE: “According to a news release issued by the city Friday, May 1, 2015, the system is credited with reducing emissions from fuel combustion by as much as 11 tons a year.” It is not possible to reduce 5.72 ton/y by 11 ton/y.

 

ANALYSIS OF HEATING PLANT AND DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS

 

The renovated heating plant is wood chip-fired, has a capacity of about 40.21 million Btu/hr. The air quality control system includes a multi-cyclone, fly-ash collector to collect the larger particulate matter, PM, followed by an electrostatic precipitator to collect the smaller PM.

http://www.afsenergy.com/?p=2870

 

The plant heats a total area of 411,000 sq ft with a steam loop and a hot water loop. The building area has an average heating demand of about 24.66 million Btu/hr, or about 61% of the plant capacity, based on an assumed building heating energy intensity of 60 Btu/sq ft/hr; energy hog level, see NOTE.

 

The state has contracted for a demand of 9.71 million Btu/hr for 20 years to heat 19 state buildings with a steam loop. The building area is about 161,833 sq ft, and the energy entering the buildings is about 11,576 million Btu/y, based on an assumed overall annual average efficiency of the plant and distribution loops of 70%.

 

An assortment of City and other buildings have a demand of about 14.95 million Btu/hr are heated with a hot water loop. The building area is about 249,167 sq ft, and the energy entering the buildings is about 17,824 million/Btu/y.

 

The billable energy = 11,576 + 17,824 = 29,400 million Btu/y.

 

Before renovation, the heating of these buildings required about 300,000 gallon/y of fuel oil at a cost of about $900,000/y, which provided about 42,000 million Btu/y to the various boilers, and about 29,400 million Btu/y entering the buildings, based on an assumed $3.00/gal @ 140,000 Btu/gal.

 

After renovation, the plant would require about 4,697 ton/y of wood chips, based on an assumed 7.6 million Btu/ton @ 45% moisture, plus about 31,500 gal/y of fuel oil. The assumed fuel split is 85% wood chips and 15% fuel oil.

 

NOTE:

 

Annual Energy Use for Heating, Cooling and Electricity of Inefficient Government Buildings 

 

- NY State Office Building Campus/SUNY-Albany Campus; average 186,000 Btu/sq ft/y. Source: a study I did in the 80s. 

- Vermont State Government buildings; average 107,000 Btu/sq ft/y.

http://www.publicassets.org/PAI-IB0806.pdf

 

Annual Energy Use for Heating, Cooling and Electricity of Efficient Corporate Buildings 

 

Building energy demand management using smart metering, smart buildings (including increased insulation and sealing, efficient windows and doors, entries with airlocks, variable speed motors, automatic shades on the outside of windows, Hitachi high efficiency absorption chillers, plate heat exchangers, task lighting, passive solar, etc.) were used in the Xerox Headquarters Building, Stamford, CT, designed in 1975 by Syska & Hennessey, a leading US engineering firm.

 

Result: The energy intensity, based on 3 years of building operating data, was 28,400 Btu/sq ft/y for heating, cooling and electricity, which compares with about 50,000 Btu/sq ft/y, or greater, for nearby, NEW, standard headquarters buildings. Source: a study I did in the 80s

 

Fuel Mix Cost: The cost of the fuel mix, wood chips and fuel oil, is as follows:

 

 

 

 

$/million Btu

%

$/million Btu

Wood chips

 $55/ton

 7.6 million Btu/ton

7.24

0.85

6.15

Fuel oil

 $3/gal

140,000 Btu/gal

21.43

0.15

3.21

Fuel mix cost

 

 

 

 

9.37

 

Project Cost and Financing: The renovation cost was $15 million for the plant and $5 million for the hot water loop. The $20 million was financed as follows:

 

- $8 million donation from the USDOE

- $250,000 City bond in 2003

- $11.75 million from the state, City, CEDF, etc.

 

If this were a private, unsubsidized project, servicing a loan of $20,000,000, at 3% interest/y for 40 years, the annual payments would be $865,247.56/y for 40 years. See URL.

http://www.calculatorsoup.com/calculators/financial/amortization-sc...

 

Service charges paid by building owners for energy delivered to buildings:

 

Capacity is billed at $4.84/1000 Btu/hr.

Energy is billed at at $8.82/million Btu.

 

CO2 Emissions Increased: Below are some calculations showing an INCREASE in annual CO2 emissions compared with fuel oil, based on the above fuel quantities.

 

Wood Chips: The estimated CO2 emissions would be as follows:

 

 

lb/million Btu

 million Btu/y

lb/y

 ton/y

Combustion

195

42,000 x 0.85

6,961,500

 

Harvest, Process, Transport

 

 

219,755

 

Total

 

 

7,181,255

3591

 

Fuel Oil: The estimated CO2 emissions would be as follows:

 

 

lb/million Btu

million Btu/y

lb/y

ton/y

Combustion

163.00

42,000 x 0.15

1,026,900

 

Production

12.50

42,000 x 0.15

78,750

 

Transport

0.63

42,000 x 0.15

3969

 

Total

176.13

 

1,109,619

555

 

Total CO2 emissions

 555 + 3591

4,146

100% fuel oil*

 

3,699

Increase in CO2 emission from wood burning

 

447

*Before renovation, the CO2 emissions of 300,000 gallon of fuel oil would have been 176.13 x 42,000/2,000 = 3,699 ton/y. The CO2 increase could be even greater, because NEW oil-fired boilers typically have higher efficiencies (thermal energy out/sum of electrical and thermal energy in) than NEW wood chip-fired boilers.

 

Emissions Other than CO2, lb/million Btu: Press releases by operating personnel (see below) about such and such emission reductions of harmful pollutants due to fuel switching have no validity, unless backed up by monitoring results of boiler flue gases before and after renovation.

 

Before renovation: Fuel oil was used and air quality control systems were not required. The uncontrolled emissions of fuel oil due to combustion, per EPA, are as listed below. Natural gas, a much cleaner fuel, is listed for comparison.

 

lb/million Btu

PM

NOX

SO2

VOC

CO

Natural gas

0.0019

0.0921

0.0006

0.0054

0.0392

Fuel oil*

0.0029

0.1285

0.1013

0.0040

0.0357

* Contains 2,000 ppm sulfur. See page 9 of URL 

http://www.edf.org/sites/default/files/10071_EDF_BottomBarrel_Ch3.pdf

 

The estimated emissions of the plant were calculated, based on the above data.

 

100% fuel Oil

 Heat input

Emissions

 

 

 

 million Btu/y

million Btu/y

lb/y

ton/y

PM

42,000

0.0029

121.8

 

NOx

42,000

0.1285

5397.0

 

SO2

42,000

0.1013

4254.6

 

VOC

42,000

0.0040

168.0

 

CO

42,000

0.0357

1499.4

 

Total

 

 

11440.8

5.72

 

After renovation: Wood chips are used and air quality control systems are required. Below are the measured PM values of the controlled emissions of three, recently built, institutional, wood chip-fired boilers. With the Montpelier district heating plant’s air quality control systems, the PM likely would be about the levels of those three. 

 

 

 

PM

CO

 

 

lb/million Btu

lb/million Btu

Colby Coll., Maine

 cyclone/EP

 0.010

<0.1

Middlebury Coll., Vermont

 

0.017

63 ppm

East Ill. Univ., Illinois

 fabric filter

 0.030

<50 ppm

 

http://www.districtenergy.org/assets/pdfs/2014-Annual-Seattle/Wedne...

http://www.chiptec.com/linked/eiu case study final.pdf

http://media.freeola.com/other/17221/futherdetailsoncolleges.pdf

 

Here is another example of controlled emissions of a wood chip-fired boiler; lb/million Btu

 

.......................................PM...............NOx..............SO2............VOC..................CO

Wood chips..................0.025.............0.25................0.12..........0.0246...............0.20; see page 10 of URL

http://yosemite.epa.gov/R9/air/EPSS.NSF/6924c72e5ea10d5e882561b1006...

 

Fuel

100%

85% Wood chips

 

15% fuel oil

 

Total

Heat input

million Btu/y

million Btu/y

lb/y

million Btu/y

lb/y

lb/y

 

42,000

35,700

 

6,300

 

 

 

 

lb/million Btu

 

lb/million Btu

 

 

PM

 

0.0250

892.5

0.0029

18.3

910.8

NOx

 

0.2500

8925.0

0.1285

809.6

9734.6

SO2

 

0.1200

4284.0

0.1013

638.2

4922.2

VOC

 

0.0246

878.2

0.0040

25.2

903.4

CO

 

0.2000

7140.0

0.0357

224.9

7364.9

Total

 

 

22119.7

 

1716.1

23835.8

Ton/y

 

 

11.06

 

0.86

11.92

 

NOTE: Based on the above-indicated emissions data, the PM increased from about 121.8 lb/y (100% fuel oil) to about 910.8 lb/y (15% fuel oil/85% wood chips), an increase of about 7.5 times; most of that PM is harmful PM2.5, which is difficult to collect with electrostatic precipitators.

 

NOTE: Due to the renovation, the estimated health threatening air emissions increased from about 5.72 ton/y to about 11.92 ton/y, and increase of about 108.4%. Instead of the above-stated decrease of 11 ton/y, there would be an increase of about 11.92 – 5.72 = 6.2 ton/y.

 

NOTE: If the after-renovation emissions of about 11.92 ton/y were 11 ton/y less, then the before-renovation emissions would have to be about 23 ton/y, which appears highly unlikely!!!

 

NOTE: Low quality wood chips, with bark and dirt, have an ash content of 5%–8%, and have a higher concentration of inorganic ash-forming elements, than high quality woodchips, without bark and dirt, which have an ash content of 0.8% - 1.4%.

 

http://ces.williams.edu/files/2011/02/Mary-Booth-Wiliams-Talk.pdf

http://www.epa.gov/pmdesignations/faq.htm

http://www.wflccenter.org/news_pdf/361_pdf.pdf

 

Combinations of Air Quality Control Systems: PM contains various-size particles. PM 2.5 micron and smaller, a significant by-weight part of the total PM emitted by wood chip-fired boilers, is most damaging to health, because those smaller particles penetrate deepest into lungs. They are the most difficult to collect with electrostatic precipitators. Fabric filter systems are much more efficient. See below table. Only continuous stack gas monitoring, according to EPA methods, could determine the quantities and sizes of such PM.

 

Collection efficiency

PM10

PM2.5

 

Multi-clone

75%

10%

 

Electrostatic precipitator

95%

90%

 

Multi-Clone w/EP

98.75%

91%

 Montpelier Plant AQCS

Cyclone w/fabric filter*

99%

99%

 

* For removal of PM2.5, fabric filters are superior to EPs http://www.biomasscenter.org/images/stories/PM_Emissions_electronic...

After the above analysis was completed, the City issued actual operating results for the 2014 - 2015 heating season. It appeared, the assumptions made in the above analysis regarding the 85% wood/15% fuel oil use, and the building energy consumption were very close to actual conditions. The below analysis, is based on the actual results.

 

ACTUAL OPERATING RESULTS OF THE 2014 - 2015 HEATING SEASON

 

According to the City, from October 1, 2014 – February 28, 2015 (not a full heating season), the heating plant consumed 4,820 tons of wood chips, plus 27,500 gallons of fuel oil. The energy to the plant was 40,482 million Btu, and entering the buildings was 28,337 million Btu. 

 

Fuel Oil Use: Fuel oil use was greater than anticipated, as stated by operating personnel, but actually it was not; see below CO2 Emissions section. Fuel oil is used during periods when the biomass boilers cannot be operated effectively. The rest of the heating season likely will be on fuel oil, because of:

 

- Insufficient heating demand for stable wood chip operation

- Not having moist wood chips exposed to summer heat, which likely would cause odors.

 

Land Area and Wood Chip Transport: It takes about 2.5 ton of wood chips to make a cord. The above 4,820 ton of wood chips would be 1,928 cords, which would need to be harvested from 3,856 acres to be “sustainable”, by some people’s definition. Typically, trucks have to drive 20 – 50 miles to get the wood chips to the plant, and then drive back to get some more.

http://www.timesargus.com/article/20150502/NEWS01/705029909/1003

 

Forests Sequester CO2: Tufts University Climate Initiative reports that Northeast, maple-beech-birch forests sequester CO2 according to the age of the stand as follows:

 

25-year old forest: 12,000 lbs of carbon/25 = 480 lbs of C per acre per year x 44/12 = 1,760 lbs of CO2 per acre per year.

120-year old forest: 128,000 lbs of carbon/120 = 1,066 lbs of C per year per acre x 44/12 = 3,909 lbs of CO2 per acre per year.

By taking wood from the forest, its sequestering of CO2 is reduced.

http://burningissues.org/car-www/science/Climate/woodchip-merkel06.htm

 

Plant Revenue and Cost: October 1, 2014 - February 28, 2015 period; not a full heating season!!

 

Estimated revenue

Capacity

Energy

Total

State

$46,996

$98,414

$145,410

City and others

$72,358

$151,522

223,880

Total

 

 

$369,290

 

Plant revenue per billable million Btu to buildings  = 369,290/28,337 = $13.03

Owner heating cost per sq ft = 369,290/411,000 = $0.90

 

Estimated fuel cost

 

Wood chips, partial heating season

$265,100

Fuel oil, partial heating season

$82,500

Total

$347,600

 

Fuel mix cost per million Btu to plant = 347,600/40,482 = $8.59; this cost will increase due to about 100% fuel oil use after February 28, 2015.

 

Fuel mix cost per billable million Btu to buildings = 347,600/28,337 = $12.27

 

Available for O&M, staffing, utilities, etc. = 369290 - 347600 = $21,690; see below NOTE.

 

Costs Other Than Fuel Not Charged to Buildings Owners:

 

- The cost of financing the project appears to be completely ignored.

 

- The costs of operating and maintenance, staffing, electricity and other utilities, etc., appear to be mostly ignored as well.

 

Service Charges Much Too Low: As a result of ignoring various costs, the above service charges were set much too low. Building owners are getting a very good deal at the expense of other Vermonters.

 

No wonder building owners are happy. Had all O&M costs and financing costs been included in the service charges, their bills would have been about 2 - 3 times higher. Right now, everyone else is paying that difference. There is NO free lunch.

 

http://vtdigger.org/2015/05/01/montpelier-declares-first-district-h...

http://www.districtenergy.org/blog/2014/08/05/city-of-montpelier-vt...

 

NOTE:

- The payroll cost, including benefits, of staffing (one supervisor, plus about 4 - 5 operators; about one operator is required at night) is about $350,000/y, including FICA charges and benefits.

- A wood chip-fired plant requires significantly more O&M and electricity than an oil-fired plant.

- The annual operating cost, other than fuel, is at least $400,000 - $450,000.

- Unless the present service rates, at which energy is sold to building owners, are significantly increased, i.e., doubled, the plant will continue to operate at a loss, which would be even greater, if above financing costs also were included.

 

CO2 Emissions for the PARTIAL Heating Season: “According to a news release issued by the city Friday, May 1, 2015, the system is credited with reducing emissions from fuel combustion by as much as 11 tons a year.”

http://vtdigger.org/2015/05/01/montpelier-declares-first-district-h...

 

CO2 emissions of the actual fuel quantities gives the following CO2 emissions for the partial heating season:

 

CO2 emissions

million Btu

 lb

ton

Wood chips

36,632

7,143,240

3,684

Fuel oil

3,850

678,101

339

Total

40,482

 

4,023

 

 

 

 

100% fuel oil*

 

 

3,565

Increase in CO2

 

 

458

* If only fuel oil had been used to supply that quantity of heat, the CO2 emissions would have been 176.13 x 40,482/2000 = 3,565 ton. 

 

The fuel mix heat is about 9.5% fuel oil and 90.5% wood chips. As mostly fuel oil will be used during the rest of the heating season, the above-indicated 339 ton and 458 ton would increase, and the fuel mix heat would become closer to 15% fuel oil and 85% wood chips, i.e., similar to the above assumed fuel mix heat.

 

NOTE: The fuel heat input of 42,000 million Btu/y for a full heating season, based on an assumed overall system efficiency of 70% and assumed building heating energy intensity of 60 Btu/sq ft/hr, as calculated at the beginning of the article, is only slightly greater than the actual heat input of 40,482 million Btu for the partial heating season. That means the overall system efficiency likely is slightly less than 70%, and/or the buildings consume slightly more than 60 Btu/sq ft/hr, or is was a colder than normal heating season!!

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

The economics of this project are dismal, AND the plant emits significantly more CO2 and particulate matter, PM, than heating with fuel oil; a perfect example of:

 

- The state’s wasteful meddling that is making less efficient Vermont's energy sector, thereby adversely affecting Vermont's future economic growth, job creation and standards of living. Montpelier’s prolific spenders of other people’s money likely will dream up other government programs to “remedy” that fallout!

 

- Politicians and various RE interests banding together to increase their re-election prospects, and to feather their RE nests at the expense of the rest of Vermonters, who get taxed extra by these same politicians to pay for it all.

 

- More such politics-inspired, uneconomic wood chip plants in Vermont would be another, multi-decade headwind for Vermont’s fragile, near-zero-growth economy.

 

- Despite press releases crowing of “success”, there is nothing to celebrate having such wood chip plants. District heating systems are based on bygone technology, which has been surpassed by modern building envelope and building system design since about 1973, more than 40 years ago. Many people in power are very slow learners.

 

- This is not “leading”. This is going backwards, AND IN A WASTEFUL MANNER!!! Only ignorant, backward-thinking legislators, government bureaucrats, et al., would call such a heavily subsidized project a “success”. It is not THEIR money they are wasting over and over.

 

A MUCH BETTER APPROACH

 

It would have been less costly, in the long run, if the $20 million had been used for:

 

- Energy efficiency improvements of the building envelopes and systems, which would have reduced energy costs and CO2 emissions, and would have lasted for many decades. It would have been much better to retrofit these buildings with solar panels, high R-value doors and windows, much more sealing and insulation, and heat pumps.

 

- 800 NEW, near zero-energy houses by providing $25,000 subsidies to 800 lower-income households, so they could finally move out of their aging, substandard, drafty, energy-guzzling mobile homes.

 

- Getting more clean, near-CO2-free, hydro energy from Hydro-Quebec at about 5 – 7 c/kWh under 20-year contracts.

 

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/71771/energy-efficiency-...

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/332911/high-renewable-en...

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/2219181/increased-wind-e...

CO2 EMISSIONS DATA FROM COMBUSTION ONLY 

Fuel

 CO2 emissions

Plant

CO2 emissions

 

 lb/million Btu

Eff

gram/kWh

Wood, bone dry

213.0

0.26

1362

Peat

247.0

0.30

1274

Coal, anthracite

228.6

0.35

1101

Coal, bituminous

205.7

0.35

910

Coal, sub-bituminous

214.3

0.35

948

Coal, lignite

 215.4

0.35

953

No. 2 fuel oil

161.3

0.38

658

Diesel

154.7

 

 

Crude oil

153.1

 

 

Kerosene.

149.3

 

 

Gasoline

144.7

 

 

Refinery gas

139.3

 

 

Liquid pet gas

131.8

 

 

Natural gas

117.0

0.45

403

NOTE: A forest grows to sustain and perpetuate itself. Taking wood from forests for energy or other uses interferes with the purposes of the forest, is not sustainable without augmenting reforestation, including fertilizing the soil, as it would deprive the forest of proper nutrition. Power plant efficiencies are average values.

 

https://ces.williams.edu/files/2011/02/Mary-Booth-Wiliams-Talk.pdf

http://geospatial.blogs.com/geospatial/2010/01/energy-efficiency-of...

SOME COMMENTS ON CO2 EMISSIONS OF WOOD-BURNING PLANTS

 

Wood-burning power plants would require cutting trees and burning them, which emits just as much CO2/kWh as coal, which may have an immediate, adverse global warming impact, plus emits at least as much air-borne, health-damaging particulate matter as coal.

 

Wood-burning proponents and governments claim burning wood is “CO2-neutral”. They purposely forget to add: “over a period of about 50 to 100 years.” Global warming is a problem now. Wood burning is near-CO2-free on about a 50 to 100-year basis, as it takes about 50 to 100 years for the forest to restore itself to before-harvesting conditions. Wood-burning plants are an inappropriate 50 to 100 year “solution”! See URLs for additional information.

 

Pro-RE officials purposely ignore the research of independent foresters, simply DECLARE wood-burning "CO2-neutral", which creates political “feel-good”, because it increases logging jobs and conjures up the APPEARANCE of meeting CO2 targets, etc. However, it perpetuates uninformed thinking by lay people and others.

 

Loggers SAY they take only sick, near-dead trees and other "waste" wood, but, in almost all cases, that appears to be not even close to the truth.

 

http://www.pfpi.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/PFPI-biomass-carbon-...

http://ces.williams.edu/files/2011/02/Mary-Booth-Wiliams-Talk.pdf

http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange2/current/lectures/de...

 

CO2 Emissions of Wood Pellets and Wood Chips Worse Than Coal: In order for wood pellets to burn “carbon free”, the carbon emitted into the atmosphere must be recaptured by regenerated forests, which take several decades to grow. If these emissions aren’t offset, then burning wood pellets releases as much, or more, CO2/Btu than coal.

 

Biomass Other Than Wood: Other biomass, such as corncobs, cornstalks, various grasses, bamboo, etc., can be harvested each year, or every few years, but those would require much land area. Such biomass can be claimed to be renewable, although the soil would likely become too depleted for future food-growing purposes.

 

In Vermont, most of that land area would need to be created by shifting land from other uses, i.e., from open spaces, meadows, etc., to ensure biomass would be available in the required quantities.

 

Taking, taking, taking from the land, without giving back is not a long-term, sustainable option. Even taking 0.5 cord/acre, considered “sustainable” by government and other foresters would merely slow the soil depletion rate. In practice, the 0.5 cord/acre is often greatly exceeded for expediency reasons, and due to a lack of oversight during logging. 

 

THE TRAVESTY OF US SOUTHEAST WOOD PELLET EXPORTS TO EUROPE

 

The EU and US have declared, “Burning wood is CO2-neutral”. East Europe and the US Southeast still have significant areas with forests. Starting about 2005, major parts of these forests have been harvested by means of clear-cutting. In 2016, about 6.5 million metric ton of wood pellets will be shipped from the US Southeast to Europe for co-firing in coal-fired power plants. The EU authorities in Brussels have declared these coal plants in compliance with EU CO2/kWh standards, because biomass is renewable and the CO2 of wood burning is not counted.

 

http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=20912

https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/wood-pellet-biomass-pollut...

 

A wood chip power plant or heating plant adds CO2 to the atmosphere through:

 

- Logging, which adds CO2 due to soil disturbance; vehicle transport, equipment use, refurbishments and replacements; and diesel burning

- Building the plant, which adds CO2

- Plant O & M and refurbishments and replacements, which adds CO2

- Burning wood, which adds CO2 at much higher rates/energy unit than other fuels. See table.

- Decommissioning the plant, which adds CO2

 

The total CO2 of above 5 items would add about 15% to the combustion CO2, and thus would require about 15% more forest area than the harvested area to reabsorb that CO2 over at least 50 years. If wood pellets were used, about 30% more forest area would be needed, as about 115 units of energy are required to produce pellets with 100 units of energy. If those wood pellets were exported to Europe, about 40% more forest area would be needed. Burning wood to produce electricity, or heat, yields more CO2/energy unit and more pollution/energy unit than any other fuel. The below table indicates only the combustion CO2.

 

Fuel

 lb CO2/million Btu

 Plant efficiency, %

 CO2/MWh

CO2 Ratio

Wood chip

 213.0

30

 2423 

3.6

Bituminous coal

 205.7

 41

1712

2.6

No. 2 fuel oil

161.3

35

1572

2.4

Natural gas

 117.0

 60

665

1.0

 

Actual CO2 emissions = 213 x 1.15, if wood chips (harvesting, chipping, transport)

Actual CO2 emissions = 213 x 1.30, if wood pellets (harvesting, sawdust, transport)

Actual CO2 emissions = 213 x 1.40, if wood pellets (harvesting, sawdust, transport to Europe)

 

Manufacturing pellets requires input energy of about 115 units, and shipping pellets to European coal plants requires about 10 units, for a total of 125 units to obtain 100 units of pellet energy; the CO2 emissions of pellet burning is declared CO2-neutral, and the other 25% of CO2 emissions is not mentioned.

 

See URL, with photos, regarding the unsustainable clear cutting of US Southeast forests to enable Germany, UK, etc., to meet the EU CO2 emissions standards, because the EU declared biomass emissions to be CO2-free!! Germany, the UK, etc., are co-firing the pellets in their coal-fired power plants!!

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/04/16/3644889/woody-biomass-i...;

 

In the US Southeast many forests are managed. In Georgia, with a flat topography, fast-growing fir trees are planted in rows on many square miles of land. Trees have trunks of about 1.5 foot when harvested. It takes about 20 - 25 years from harvest to harvest; in Maine about 35 - 40 years. One may wonder how long it would take to deplete the soil to significantly affect crop yields. If 3,250,000 ton of wood pellets were exported in 2013 (a lot more was produced, but not exported), at 7.2 ton/acre/y, about 450,000 acres of intensively managed forest would be required.

 

SHIFTING AWAY FROM LOW-COST FOSSILS TO EXPENSIVE RE

 

The more we shift from low-cost fossils to expensive RE, the more we shift the US and world wholesale price of the energy mix on the grid from the current 5 c/kWh* to about 10 – 15 c/kWh.

 

* Kept low in the US, because of an abundance of inexpensive, domestic natural gas, and worldwide, because of the use of low-cost coal.

 

That trend of increasing wholesale prices would be more visible, if many of the RE changeover costs were actually charged to the US and worldwide energy system.

 

Instead, they are “socialized” by POLITICIANS by means of taxes, fees, surcharges, feed-in tariffs, bond issues, grants, etc., because they do not want to be blamed for raising the cost of electricity and harm their re-election chances.

NOTE: A perfect example of such deceptive follies is the wood chip-fired, Montpelier District Heating Plant in Vermont, a money-losing project made possible by politicians taking $20 million of scarce government funds to provide a benefit to a favored urban area in Montpelier, VT, at the long-term expense of all other Vermonters.

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/2225851/economics-and-co...

 

Those various costs, due to increasing RE in the US and the world, will have a MAJOR impact on making much more expensive ALL goods and services, not just energy, as is already happening in Germany, although many of its RE proponents and politicians blame it on other factors; somewhat like Miss Piggy: MOI?

 

In fact, rich Germany, THE economic engine of the EU, has experienced slowing economic growth, due to the growing expense of its ENERGIEWENDE, during the past five years. The economies of poorer EU countries are significantly affected by the German economic slowdown.

 

Germany and other EU countries losing part of the very lucrative Russian market and throwing billions each year into a black hole, a.k.a., Ukraine, is an additional headwind.

 

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/338781/high-renewable-en...

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/368081/russian-gas-expor...

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

https://pinetreewatch.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/

 

Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power

 

Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT

******** IF LINKS BELOW DON'T WORK, GOOGLE THEM*********

(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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