WBIA BLOG

Madison’s Charter Street coal plant converting to biofuels

Categories: Bio Fuels,bio power

The WBIA is pleased with Madison’s Charter Street coal plant’s upcoming conversion. The plant, which powers the heating and cooling for the entire UW-Madison campus, plans to convert from coal to natural gas and biofuels.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported the details of the transition last Friday. After facing pressure from groups such as the Sierra Club, who sued UW-Madison for violating the Clean Air Act, the plant’s conversion is a step toward producing more environmentally friendly energy. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, John Harrod Jr., director of the plant, even expects the biofuel method to save money in the long run.

This appears to be a win-win situation because Wisconsin is gaining a clean-burning biofuel plant, while at the same time losing a heavy-polluting coal plant. The development of this new plant is an important step for the bio industry. It is a prime example of Wisconsin taking a lead role in renewable energy advancement. We absolutely support the decision in Madison to move away from our dependence on coal and other fossil fuels for power.

The longtime coal plant plans to be burning biofuels by December 2013. We are confident that these efforts in Madison will encourage more development of biopower throughout the state of Wisconsin and the rest of the country.

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Biofuels advancement taking place right here

Wisconsin continues to lead the way in bio industry advancement.

A University of Wisconsin-Madison research group at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center developed a strain of bacteria which could lead to more cost-effective cellulosic biofuels. The team’s findings were published online by the Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology on June 11.

The breakthrough has made it possible to perform genetic analysis on the bacteria, which has long been known to convert biomass to sugars. The team developed a way to mutate any gene with the bacteria, which should bring greater success to the difficult process of breaking down plant cell walls to extract sugar molecules for producing biofuels.

Also advancing the bio industry is Milwaukee-based Lallemand Ethanol Technology, which just introduced Thermosacc® GOLD, a new fresh-cake yeast better able to withstand fermentation. Thermosacc GOLD was designed to use sugars more efficiently and increase yield.

The WBIA is proud to see Wisconsin leading the way in the biofuels industry, and we hope this is just the beginning of Wisconsin’s contribution to the global movement toward bio power.

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Newest protester of Rothschild biomass power plant baffling

In a great Wednesday article, the Wausau Daily Herald reported that the D.C. Everest Area School District is looking to join the decision making process behind the proposed $250 million Rothschild biomass power plant.

The district wants “intervenor” status along with such groups as the Wisconsin Public Service Co., Citizens Utility Board, Wisconsin Paper Council, Memominee Tribal Enterprises, labor unions and a group opposed to the power plant called Save Our Air Resource.

The Superintendent Kristine Gilmore said the district’s involvement is crucial because it is responsible for the health and safety of all its students and staff. The district believes that the plant’s emissions could be harmful to students with asthma and other respiratory conditions and that nearby schools do not have the proper ventilation or cleaning equipment to handle the emissions.

The district’s intervenor request was filed well past the April 30 deadline, but  WE Energies spokesman Brian Manthey said PSC typically grants intervenor requests even if they are filed after deadline.

Superintendent Gilmore’s concerns are genuine and respectable, but perhaps the district is missing the bigger picture. It is precisely this younger generation that will suffer if we do not continue to strongly pursue bio power.

Also important to remember is that use of biomass as an energy source results in little net production of carbon dioxide, because the CO2 generated during combustion of plant material equals the CO2 consumed during the lifecycle of the plant. Biomass reduces air pollution by being a part of the carbon cycle, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 90 percent compared with fossil fuels.

We understand the school district’s concerns, and considering its stake in the matter, it should be granted intervenor status, but the pursuit of bio power will benefit these child in the long run.

Manthey, however, did say that WE Energies plans to have the plant operational by 2013 and that opposition by the D.C. Everest Area School District, SOAR and others should not slow the project.

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DOE Announces $5M Biomass Research Funding Opportunity

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced a new $5 million funding opportunity for research focused on sustainable production of large quantities of non-food biomass for bioenergy.  Biomass will play a significant role in our country’s renewable fuels portfolio, and can have a huge impact on Wisconsin’s economy.  Wisconsin doesn’t have coal, oil or natural gas reserves. We do have biomass, however, in the form of paper waste and woodchips.  Encouraging this industry in our state can create jobs and pump millions of dollars into Wisconsin’s economy.

For more information about the grant, visit the Grants.gov website.

To learn more about biomass, you can download fact sheets from our Bio Power page.

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RELEASE: Alliance Federated Energy Announces Renewable Energy Project in Wisconsin

MILWAUKEE, February 2, 2010 – Alliance Federated Energy (AFE) on Monday formally announced the development of “Project Apollo,” a 25MW renewable energy project located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Project Apollo plans to utilize Westinghouse Plasma Corp.’s (WPC) plasma gasification technology to process municipal and industrial wastes into renewable energy. Because there is no combustion, the waste is not burned but converted into its original elemental form, creating significant quantities of clean syngas that can be used to generate electricity, steam or bio-fuels. There are several facilities operating commercially around the world using WPC technology and several more in final design phase and or construction.

The $225 million project is expected to create more than 250 jobs during the construction process and employ 45 full time people once operational. Approximately 30% of the waste feedstock is already committed from Badger Disposal of Wisconsin, one of region’s leading industrial waste management services companies. Discussions are underway with third parties for the sale of syngas and electricity.

AFE plans to have the project operational in late 2013. The first phase of the renewable energy facility is expected to process approximately 1200 tons of municipal and industrial waste per day, generating enough clean energy to power roughly 20,000 homes in the Milwaukee area. “This commercially proven technology is the ultimate in recycling,” said Christopher Maloney, CEO of Alliance Federated Energy, “and we are pleased to be building our first project right here in Wisconsin, a state committed to promoting environmental stewardship and technological innovation.”

“We are pleased that AFE has selected Wisconsin for their first renewable energy project,” said Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle. “This technology has real potential to help us address the growing need for clean renewable power. Project Apollo will create new clean energy jobs in our state, reduce the need for continued land filling of our wastes, and reduce greenhouse gases.”

“The site AFE has chosen for this project is well suited for this facility”, said Mike Zebell P.E. of AECOM (NYSE:ACM), a Fortune 500 company serving clients in more than 100 countries and a global provider of professional technical, environmental and management support services. “We believe that this technology is not only environmentally friendly but ready for large-scale commercialization. We are excited to partner with an entrepreneurial firm like AFE, one of the industries leading developers focused on building environmentally responsible energy projects using plasma gasification technology.”

CorVal-Ryan (CorVal), a leading EPC firm in the alternative energy sector, has been selected to design and fabricate the facility, bringing their 85-year history of performance excellence to the AFE team. “We believe that plasma gasification technology has the potential to be a major player in the renewable energy market and are excited to be working with AFE on their Apollo Project” said Bob Cutshall, President at CorVal-Ryan. “We have a number of plasma gasification based renewable energy projects in design or under construction and see that number growing in the coming years” he added.

About Alliance Federated Energy
Established in 2005, Alliance Federated Energy is a developer of renewable energy and related infrastructure projects focused on environmentally sustainable technologies, with a specific focus on plasma gasification technology for electric generation and energy production. For more information, please visit http://www.afeservices.com.

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WBIA Member Miron Construction Named Contractor for $250 Million Green Diesel Plant

WBIA member Miron Construction and international engineering and project management company AMEC were recently selected to team up as EPC contractor for Flambeau River Biofuel’s $250 biorefinery.  The plant, which will be located at an existing pulp and paper mill in Park Falls, Wisconsin, will be the largest second generation “green diesel” plant in the U.S.

The press release from Miron Construction and Flambeau River Biofuels gives more details about the project:

“The Flambeau River bio-refinery will create permanent, high-skilled operating jobs in the region, long-term logging jobs, and short-term engineering and construction jobs, contributing to the economic stimulus of Park Falls, Wisconsin,” said Butch Johnson, majority owner of Flambeau River Papers and Flambeau River Biofuels.

“The AMEC-Miron team was selected for its experience and innovation in developing green energy and biofuel facilities,” said Johnson.  “When completed, Flambeau will have the first integrated pulp and paper mill in North America to run on fossil-free energy.”

Tim Gelbar, President, AMEC’s Power and Process Americas business said: “The Flambeau program has been a long-term strategic focus of AMEC’s and it will play a key role in our continued development of new bioprocesses and the expansion of clean renewable energy.”

“We have been working with Flambeau for two years developing this project” said David G. Voss, Jr., President, Miron Construction. “The Flambeau BioFuels project is key to developing “green fuel” renewable energy alternatives and will have a significant positive economic impact in Wisconsin.”

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Bio Industry Basics #9: PSC Approves Xcel Biomass Plant

Xcel Energy Corp. will move forward converting their Ashland power plant from coal to biomass after the Public Service Commission unanimously voted in favor of the project last week. Here are a few facts about the project:

• Expected to be complete in 2012, the plant will be the largest in the Midwest burning biomass.

• The project will convert a coal-fired boiler to burn wood waste.

• With two out of three boilers already burning wood, the conversion will enable the plant to run entirely on renewable sources.

“Bio Industry Basics” is a series of weekly facts from the Wisconsin Bio Industry Alliance highlighting the positive benefits of bio fuel, bio power, and bio products production and use in Wisconsin.

Bio Industry Basic 9

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