What is the invitation to invest in? Mix woodchips with coal powder, add air and, skipping futher capital investment, feed directly to coal fired generators; what comes out is electricity with fewer mercury and greenhouse gas emissions, and satisfaction of any state imposed renewable energy targets. Plus, carbon credit sales, and, in a painful twist of irony, export sales of US-grown wood to Europe so they can meet their failing renewables use targets. [Ouch!] And there's more."Green Energy Resources has unlimited growth potential in 5 divisions; exports of 100% Kyoto compliant biomass, a US biomass energy market, Eco-Green Coal, an environmental certification, consulting and software section (UTCS), and its new international franchise and licensing option".
Also from the press release: -- "Wood biomass has potential application in over 60% of global power markets, and is the 4th largest energy source after gas, coal and oil. Other renewable energy's, have a combined maximum market potential under 5%. Wood biomass is the most diverse of the Renewable Energys, having application in co-firing, direct burn, gasification, ethanol and biodiesel, supported by President Bush. Wood biomass is the only energy application that can immediately and radically cap green house emissions with little or no capital investment cost required by industry. All other renewables and clean coal technologies, are 20-30 year strategies for reducing greenhouse emissions".
There are three key points for TreeHuggers to consider about this "co-firing" idea. Foremost is that Wall Street types have figured out, as have several major US corporations, that climate change is real and that invesment strategies are in order to "capture value". Hence, the attraction to "fast return" from co-firing investments, as described above. It's the mirror opposite of Hollywood celebs arriving at an award ceremony in a fleet of Prius hybrids. Trees are the celebs in this drama, and they're not lining up on their own. A nice transition to point two.
Thanks to the "Healthy Skies" initiative and many other advocacy efforts, the nation's coal plants...keep in mind here that coal plants provide over half of all electricity in the US...have kept old, inefficient boilers and turbines humming without having to meet proposed new pollution control standards. In business parlance its called "milking the investment". Feeding wood chips into the boiler will keep the same old coal plants running long after we have stopped pretending that climate science has "no consensus". That's the bad news.
There's possible good news too. Several firms are pushing the idea that co-firing coal and wood somehow captures a great deal of the mercury found in coal combustion gases and partitions it into the fly ash. Very little in the way of scientifically sensible explanation for the mercury capture mechanism so far has been posited: 'wood in and less mercury out: good'. Add the angle presented by GER, that "co-firing" cuts C02 emissions immediately and you have what sounds like a really great idea. Well, it does without having looked into the hard numbers anyway.
Putting GER's cap on it: "Green Energy Resources has been working with one of the UK's largest power providers for over a year to develop co-firing. Co-firing is an environmentally friendly application of mixing wood biomass with coal to reduce green house emissions".
As with all good things, there can be unexpected tradeoffs. Lets call it the "TreeHuggers Dilemma". Whom do you hug when its your forest being co-fired? Don't think its serious yet? THis is from the GER website: "Renewable energy firm to fire up in Baltimore, sell to Europe" by SOFIA KOSMETATOS, HUNTINGTON - Green Energy Resources, a supplier of wood fiber fuels, has established a new port in Baltimore, where the company will export the city's waste wood to wood-fired power plants in Europe. The new port is the renewable energy company's fifth, with other locations in Savannah, Ga., Chesapeake, Va., Houston and Lake Charles, Texas.
The new operations will allow the company to ship as much as 3 million tons annually, compared with the 1 million tons shipped last year. And those amounts are limited only by the number of ships that Green Energy CEO Joe Murray can get, not by the amount of product that's available".
This is the big time TreeHuggers. Complaining about it in general won't eliminate any bad tradeoffs; but it could cancel some real benefits, such as the diversion of Baltimore's wood waste from landfills to accomplish some climate protection.
Could be its a good time to negotiate. 'In return for our support, we expect a "Plan B" that replaces the abandoned Kyoto Convention, stop whining about pollution control expenditures, and contribute to forest conservation at the state level. Oh, and at the Federal level there's this thing called the "Roadless Initative'...
See ya at the Waldorf!
by: John Laumer