A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Coal to Wood, a good idea?

What follows is some extract from an article in The Globe & Mail

On Dec. 1, 2006, Public Service Co. of New Hampshire (PSNH) replaced a coal-fired plant with a wood-fired plant in the Atlantic seacoast city of Portsmouth. The first such conversion in North America, this plant generates 50 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 50,000 homes……..

Designated formally as Northern Wood Power at Schiller Station, the wood-fired plant gets its fuel from its own heavily forested neighbourhood. Most of the loggers who supply the plant with low-grade wood are family operations - and most of the 400,000 tons of wood chips they produce each year come from stumps, brush, small branches and tops of trees that would otherwise be discarded. The company has documented an impressive environmental record. The wood chips replace 130,000 tons of coal a year - or 400,000 tons since the plant went into operation. It has eliminated 6,500 tons of sulphur dioxide emissions and one million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. PSNH says the use of wood releases 70 per cent less nitrogen oxide than coal, 90 per cent less mercury, 95 per cent less sulphur dioxide and, further, produces only insignificant amounts of particulate matter……………….

The environmental superiority of wood-fired electricity, by the way, was confirmed for Ontario last week when a team of eight scientists associated with a University of Toronto research program reported its findings: Using wood pellets instead of natural gas , they calculated, reduces greenhouse-gas emissions by 78 per cent. Using wood pellets instead of coal reduces GHG emissions by 91 per cent.……………..

"In contrast to many other renewable generation options," they said, "biomass firing does not have the drawback of being intermittent and is applicable in areas without significant wind, solar or hydropower resources ... [It] requires low capital expenditures ... [It can be used] with virtually all types of coal boilers ... There are no major technological obstacles." Oh, yes. Ontario could revive its forest industry at the same time, essentially for free - transforming the money it now uses to import coal (and to fund "stimulus programs") into reliable, productive incomes for loggers and pellet makers.

The documentary proof is in New Hampshire. "We are producing the same amount of power [with wood as with coal]," Northern Wood Power Plant manager Dick Despins said in celebration of his company's wood-fired one billion kwh. "We are using a local, renewable fuel source. Our emissions are lower. The dollars we spend stay close to home."

More at Coal to wood: A powerful plan for Ontario - The Globe and Mail

For a more technical overview go to http://www.power-technology.com/projects/wood-schiller/

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