Vt. willow harvest promises cheap bio...

Vt. willow harvest promises cheap biomass fuel

There are 40 comments on the Brattleboro Reformer story from Oct 19, 2009, titled Vt. willow harvest promises cheap biomass fuel. In it, Brattleboro Reformer reports that:

Middlebury College used to heat its buildings with oil, then switched to wood chips.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Brattleboro Reformer.

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mike mulligan

Roslindale, MA

#21 Oct 19, 2009
I'd like to go over their books with how they come up with wood chip cost...they already cooked the books and falsified the cost of fuel oil.
EcoLaw Massachusetts

Bennington, VT

#22 Oct 20, 2009
I have written to the Middlebury College president for an answer to one simple question: how much carbon dioxide is emitted by the Middlebury biomass burner?
Per megawatt hour, burning biomass emits more CO2 than coal. It is not "carbon neutral" because the trees can grow back fast enough to absorb the CO2 emitted by the burning. We are in a climate crisis now, and the atmosphere doesn't care if the CO2 comes from burning coal or willow trees.
I also let MIddlebury know that burning woody biomass emits toxic air pollutants. Check out the testimony of the Oregon Toxics Alliance on the public health impacts of woody biomass burning.
Middlebury, the community needs some answers on your air pollution.
mike mulligan

Roslindale, MA

#23 Oct 20, 2009
It is like the stability of a national currency....one day $5 would buy you could buy 2 loaves of the bread, the next day $5 only buys you two slices of bread. Our nation just hasn’t developed a standard energy language...there is no requirement for truth telling.

From the media’s perspective, the public is just longing to hear positive environmental stories...telling the truth is just not a paper seller.

They are all doing it.
mike mulligan

Roslindale, MA

#24 Oct 20, 2009
The more altruistic a problem, especially if it is self interested...the less truth ands accuracy we demand and expect from the problem.

Altruism is rife with danger!
mike mulligan

Roslindale, MA

#25 Oct 20, 2009
The more altruistic a problem, especially if it is self interested...the less truth and accuracy we demand and expect from the problem.

Altruism is rife with danger!
mike mulligan

Roslindale, MA

#26 Oct 20, 2009
mike mulligan wrote:
Yep, we already seen how biofuels ethanol displaced corn and other crops just months ago, that boosted up food prices across and board and led to increasing poverty and starvation on a world wide bases. Didn’t the UN warn us that biofuels was a direct threat to starvation?
You know they will be trucking it in from the Midwest because it will be drastically cheaper...cloging up our road and railroad?
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/05/business/05...
Rise in Ethanol Raises Concerns About Corn as a Food
CHICAGO, Jan. 4 — Renewing concerns about whether there will be enough corn to support the demand for both fuel and food, a new study has found that ethanol plants could use as much as half of America’s corn crop next year.
Dozens of new ethanol plants are being built by farmers and investors in a furious gold rush, spurred by a call last year from the Bush administration and politicians from farm states to produce more renewable fuels to curb America’s reliance on oil. But the new study by the Earth Policy Institute, an environmental group, found that the number of ethanol plants coming on line has been underreported by more than 25 percent by both the Agriculture Department and the Renewable Fuels Association, the ethanol industry’s main lobbying group.
UN Find Food Shortages Created by Ethanol a “Catastrophe”
Written on November 27, 2007
HelenaIR.com reports a United Nations representative says biofuel production is a growing “catastrophe” for poor people as it has created food shortages and raised the cost of food exponentially. In one year the cost of wheat has doubled in price, and maize, quadrupled. These prices have left countries, such as Africa, unable to afford importing their food. 232 kilograms of maize creates 50 liters of ethanol, but it could also feed a child in a poor country for an entire year. They are looking for a five-year moratorium on ethanol production until technology can improve to use wastes of crops
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/science/ear...

Fossil Fuels’ Hidden Cost Is in Billions, Study Says

The study was not kind to ethanol. A mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent unleaded gasoline, or E85, showed slightly higher damages to environment and health than ordinary gasoline, because of the energy required to raise the corn and make ethanol from it.
mike mulligan

Roslindale, MA

#27 Oct 22, 2009
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/...

Carbon advantage of biofuels may be overstated


By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 23, 2009

The world's policymakers and scientists have made a critical error in how they count biofuels' contribution to human-generated greenhouse-gas emissions, according to a new paper published Thursday in the journal Science.

While the article addresses a wonkish subject -- how to measure the environmental impact of energy sources such as ethanol and wood chips, which absorb carbon as they grow but release it back into the atmosphere when they're burned -- it has broad implications. The current method undercounts the global-warming contribution of some bioenergy crops, the team of 13 researchers wrote, because it doesn't factor in what sort of land-use changes might occur to produce them.

"We made an honest mistake within the scientific framing of the debate, and we've got to correct it to make it right," said Steven P. Hamburg, chief scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund and one of the paper's authors.
mike mulligan

Roslindale, MA

#28 Oct 22, 2009
See, the Middlebury collage wood chip plant is a complete waste of money? It is phony green symbolism...what about all those tax incentives and all sorts of grants for increasing greenhouse gas?

http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S2...

However, if bioenergy use results from burning wood chips from existing forests for electricity, or clearing rain forests to grow palm oil and other crops for biofuels, bioenergy does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and instead may increase them. Thus, the accounting rules in these legal measures mistakenly exempt the CO2 emitted by bioenergy regardless of the source, according to the authors.

This is what the nukes are really good at, they tell us they made a mistake or had a error, but the never tell us honestly why it occurred. The green guys are exactly doing what the nuke guys are famous for.

I think it was a secret political accommodation that gains interest a advange...and the player knew what they were do was non scientific. I just don’t buy these smart guys making this kind mistake.
mike mulligan

Roslindale, MA

#29 Oct 23, 2009
“Hamburg said his organization is beginning to set up a process where an array of interest groups, including farmers, forest owners and scientists can meet to try to craft a solution to the problem.”

Science is what science is...more political accommodation to craft a solution...this places on the line the whole scientific process with global warming. Just what part of global warming is scientifically valid.

We have to go behind more close doors to come up with the magnitude of the problem, how much money we wasted and how far off is the error.

This is massive scientific fraud! This green and global warming fraud is equivalent to a nuclear reactor core melting down and off site releases.

If you know anything about group behavior...engrained and systemic cultural dysfunction...this fraud is just the tip of the iceberg.
Tamarac

Lewiston, ME

#30 Oct 23, 2009
EcoLaw Massachusetts wrote:
I have written to the Middlebury College president for an answer to one simple question: how much carbon dioxide is emitted by the Middlebury biomass burner?
Per megawatt hour, burning biomass emits more CO2 than coal. It is not "carbon neutral" because the trees can grow back fast enough to absorb the CO2 emitted by the burning. We are in a climate crisis now, and the atmosphere doesn't care if the CO2 comes from burning coal or willow trees.
I also let MIddlebury know that burning woody biomass emits toxic air pollutants. Check out the testimony of the Oregon Toxics Alliance on the public health impacts of woody biomass burning.
Middlebury, the community needs some answers on your air pollution.
Your psot reminds me of a High School science question. Is Organic better for you than non-organic? Most students will answer yes. Then the teacher explains that rocks, soil, trees, coal, bear poop...are all organic. The lesson is in the details. Students assumptions about what was being asked were based on their experiences with the term organic. C02 is C02, is C02 no matter if it comes from harvested plants or exaust pipes, and organic is not always better for you.
mike mulligan

Roslindale, MA

#31 Oct 23, 2009
You got to know Middlebury college seen the corruption of Biofuels coming...so they are talking about shifting over to willows. This is what we call a cascade of distortions and corruptions. Middlebury went along with the wood chip corruption, they put their credibility on the line with the science they had to use in order to justify the project, in order to justify the pleasing environmental symbolism to young adults...now they got create additional distortions and corruptions...the Willows program...it wasn’t because it was a less expensive program....it was because it was discovered that the wood chip program didn’t align up to reducing global warming and CO2.
mike mulligan

Roslindale, MA

#32 Oct 23, 2009
Doesn’t this sound like the beginning of the Bernard Madoff scandal with accounting irregularity:
NYT:“The accounting irregularity even gives the impression that clearing the world’s forests, which absorb and thereby diminish heat-trapping carbon dioxide, is good for the climate, the scientists write in an article published Friday in the journal Science.

Middlebury college:
• 40% reduction in net emissions of carbon or 12,500 metric tons
• eliminates 1 million gallons of Number 6 fuel oil

“The biomass plant will cut the college's use of number six fuel oil in half, from about two million gallons to one million gallons a year.”

See, they don’t show their work in how they come up with a 40% reduction or saving 12,500 tons of CO2. Already the Environmental Defense Fund is saying the 12,500 is bogus. They are teaching their elite students how to cheat, teaching them to develop a cascade of deception and lying in order to cover-up the first lie.

Did they use these bogus savings to get grants and loans?

Hey, was the number 6 fuel oil sulfur free...are they still using extremely dirty fuel oil to heat their buildings...are they using 1 million gallons of sulfur fuel oil?
mike mulligan

Roslindale, MA

#33 Oct 23, 2009
“The highest tuition in the country for the 2009-2010 school year is $43,690 at Middlebury College in Middlebury, VT, according to the site.”

You get a lot of lying for the high college tuition in the country?
mike mulligan

Roslindale, MA

#34 Oct 23, 2009
You get a lot of lying for the highest college tuition in the country?
Mike Mulligan

Roslindale, MA

#35 Oct 23, 2009
mike mulligan wrote:
Christopher Recchia, executive director at the Montpelier-based Biomass Energy Research Project, a nonprofit that promotes biofuels, said the best estimates now are that willow would cost more than twice as much as wood chips, currently about $8 per million Btu. Willow would be competitive with wood pellets, which are about $23 per million Btu
and oil, about $32 per million Btu.
What a joke, they are talking about the price of oil up there at $4.25 per gal at $32 per million btu, while we got fuel oil this year at $2.25 per gallon, that get us down to about $17.25 per million btu’s...
So you are off by a little less than half.
Correction: Willow Power story
(AP)– 1 hour ago

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.— In an Oct. 18 story about Middlebury College experimenting with willow as a biomass fuel, The Associated Press erroneously reported the name of a nonprofit that promotes biofuels. It is the Biomass Energy Resource Center, not the Biomass Energy Research Project. Also, the AP, relying on information from the center, erroneously reported prices for heating oil and wood pellets. Oil heat cost $21.70 per million Btu in September, not $32 per million Btu, according to a monthly fuel price survey from the Vermont Public Service Department. Wood pellets cost $19.59 per million Btu, not $23 per million Btu, according to the survey.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Mike Mulligan

Roslindale, MA

#36 Oct 23, 2009
I was closer than them and didn’t waste any money on college...actually my biggest regret is I didn’t go to collage.

We got fuel oil in Aug...I knew there was a fudge factor between #6 fuel oil and #2...# 6 has more btu per unit.
Mike Mulligan

Roslindale, MA

#37 Oct 24, 2009
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/gree...

Who says it's green to burn woodchips?
Woodchip power stations are set for a boom. But conservationists are increasingly challenging their green credentials.

Special report by Graham Mole

Sunday, 25 October 2009
A plantation of fast-growing blue gum trees, a type of eucalyptus. Critics warn that monoculture forests grown to feed power plants are destroying old-growth habitats

One of the most cherished articles of faith of the green movement – that wood-fuelled power stations can help save the planet – is being increasingly challenged by campaigners and conservationists around the world.

Electricity generated by burning woodchips is on the verge of a global boom. America is planning 102 power stations fuelled by woodchips in the next few years. Europe is reported to be planning a similar, if yet unquantified, expansion. And in Britain, the next three years will see wood-fuelled power station capacity increase sevenfold, requiring, according to the campaign group Biofuelwatch, so much timber that it would need an area 12 times the size of Liechtenstein to grow it.

The power companies say the source will be "sustainable forests", but campaigners and ecologists claim that untold damage will be caused by the burgeoning market for wood. They say that, although traders in the developing world are being tempted to grub up and sell native forests, the chief danger is in the creation of monoculture plantations, where single species of trees are grown in straight rows and little wildlife can establish a home for itself.

They also challenge the "green" assumptions behind woodchip power, claiming that, far from fighting climate change, transporting large amounts of bulk wood across oceans and then burning it will increase carbon discharges by 50 per cent more than would have been caused by burning a fossil fuel like coal.

The power companies dispute the campaigners' science, and most also insist the wood will come from "sustainable sources", as approved and certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council. This non-government body said: "The FSC does not support the conversion of natural forests into plantations." But it added: "Certification may be granted if the forest manager... can demonstrate that they were not responsible for the conversion."

Such flexibility is now drawing fire. A recent article in The Ecologist, headlined "Can we trust the FSC?", read: "The World Rainforest Movement reports that by 2008 the FSC had certified 8.6 million hectares of industrial tree plantations 'despite ample evidence regarding the social and environmental unsustainability of large-scale monoculture tree plantations'... Jutta Kill, climate campaigner at the Forests and European Union Resource Network, says,'There is a long continuum between an intact forest and short rotation monoculture tree plantation on the other end. It is preposterous to claim these are the same.'"
Mike Mulligan

Roslindale, MA

#38 Oct 24, 2009
Continued
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/gree...

Who says it's green to burn woodchips?

The FSC claims, however, that "properly managed plantations are essential to stop the destruction of natural forests".

The issue may yet prove just to be a panicky reaction to a radical expansion of wood energy, or it may be a portent of a deep problem. If so, it will echo the evolution of biofuels, initially embraced as a universal blessing before it was realised that native forests were being grubbed up to grow palm oil, and that US farmers would switch from food cereals to fuel cereals, thus causing a world food shortage.

Some campaigners are in no doubt. Almuth Ernsting from Biofuelwatch said: "It's almost unbelievable that we're creating vast areas of monoculture, mile after mile, just to be cut down as fast as they grow, to be shipped thousands of miles to be burned just for people's electricity. It just doesn't make sense. What about all the habitat that gets destroyed along the way?"

Simone Lovera, of the Global Forest Coalition in Paraguay, said: "Europe is going to cook the world's tropical forests to fight climate change; it's crazy." She said her group had obtained a report stating that Brazil is gearing up to meet the European woodchip demand, not by cutting down forests, but by expanding tree plantations by 27 million hectares, mostly of exotic species such as eucalyptus.

Last week, at the UN-sponsored World Forestry Congress in Buenos Aires, the agronomist engineer Hector Ginzo, an adviser to the Kyoto Protocol, stressed that plantations could not be classified as sustainable. He said UN rules "would never allow a plantation of eucalyptus or other fast-growing trees for use as pulp or wood to be considered a sustainable forestry project, because that kind of production favours monoculture forests and the carbon capture is lost when the trees are cut down".

The Global Forest Coalition said that, in South America, tree plantations have had devastating effects on people and the environment, and have nothing like the biodiversity or ecological function of natural forests, whether they are first or even second growth. These plantations, it said, are "green deserts" because of the amount of water they consume, and because of the lack of native wildlife.

Isaac Rojas, co-ordinator of the forest and biodiversity programme at Friends of the Earth International, said: "All over the world, plantations destroy the lands and livelihoods of local communities and indigenous peoples, as well as biodiversity and water resources. They also store less carbon than natural forests."

FoE International and the coalition now want the UN's Committee on Forestry to stop promoting plantations and to urge governments immediately to halt the conversion of forests into biofuel plantations. A UN report issued in March noted that the expansion of large-scale monocultures of oil palm, soy and other crops for agrofuel production has been a major factor in the failure to halt deforestation. It added: "The potential for large-scale commercial production of cellulosic biofuel will have unprecedented impacts on the forest sector."

Janet Larsen, director of research at the Earth Policy Institute, said: "Shipping chips like this is just not the answer. We have been warning about this for some time now. Wind turbines and solar power make much more sense. You need to source biomass from relatively small areas around power plants. Here in the US you can drive for an hour and never see more than one species of tree. We used to have far more natural forest than we have now."
Mike Mulligan

Roslindale, MA

#39 Oct 24, 2009
Continued
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/gree...

Who says it's green to burn woodchips?

She said the institute had now discovered land in Laos being bought by China to turn into plantations.

The Global Forest Coalition said an examination of international trading companies has revealed a new and growing global industry in wood for energy. UK campaigners at Biofuelwatch said that wood chips and pellets are now being imported from South America, the US, Canada, Portugal, South Africa and Russia, among others. It has also discovered that MagForest, a Canadian company operating in Congo, is starting to ship 500,000 tons of woodchips annually to Europe. The Independent on Sunday was offered 100,000 tons of tropical hardwood and softwood a month by a firm in Ghana, and a British firm is negotiating over supplies from Indonesia, home to some of the world's richest rainforests.

In Europe, small-scale woodchip power plants make use of locally harvested timber and wood waste. In the UK, a government strategy paper on waste said that recovering energy from the two million tonnes of the waste wood available could both generate electricity and save over a million tonnes of CO2 emissions. But such sources will not be able to feed the industry's huge need for wood in convenient bulk deliveries over the next few years. Worldwide, production of wood pellets is set to double in the next five years from the present 10 million tonnes to 20 million.

In recent months, British power companies have said they will build at least six new generation plants to produce 1,200 megawatts of energy, most by burning woodchips. The country's demand for wood will increase more than sevenfold. MGT Power, which is creating a new waste-to-energy plant at Ince in Cheshire and a new woodchip-fired power plant at Teesport near Middlesbrough, then another in North Shields, will be using chips from North and South America. It said it will use crops planted specifically for use as fuel, examples being eucalyptus, pine, willow and poplar. A company statement insisted that it "will never procure fuels that contribute to the loss of areas of protected habitat or areas of high ecological value".

One of the new plants – the world's largest – is now being built at Port Talbot in South Wales, and by 2012 it will supply over half Wales's one million homes, and, claim its owners, Prenergy, displace 3.5 million tons of CO2 emissions a year that would have been produced by older power stations.
Mike Mulligan

Roslindale, MA

#40 Oct 24, 2009
The fuel will arrive by sea, largely but not exclusively from America. A company statement said: "Prenergy is committed to obtaining its feedstock from a range of overseas sources." This, it added, would "take advantage of a variety of species with rapid growth rates, and lower delivered moisture content due to rapid post-harvesting drying achievable in more southerly latitudes". The company said its studies had shown that the carbon emitted during shipping of the woodchip represents only about 2 per cent of the total carbon being transported. Other plants are planned for Drax, Anglesey and Teesside, which together will burn 20-30 million tons of wood a year.

Biofuelwatch said: "The land area needed to grow the biomass to power a station the size of Port Talbot ranges from 130,000 to half a million hectares of productive land – an area three times the size of Liechtenstein."

The power firms claim that generating electricity by burning wood emits an equal or lesser amount of CO2 than the quantity absorbed by the trees through photosynthesis in forests.

The claim, however, has been robustly denied by Rachel Smolker, a research scientist who works with the Global Justice Ecology Project in the US. She said: "Burning wood is called carbon-neutral, but it's not."

She says that research by the Massachusetts Environmental Energy Alliance, a US environmental group, indicates that burning trees for energy produces 1.5 times as much carbon as coal and three to four times more than natural gas. She added: "Climate change is a huge problem, but some of the plans for fighting it are even more dangerous."

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