Lignetics: Manufacturer of Premium Wood Pellets, Pres-to-Logs® Fire Logs, and Fire Starters

Welcome to Lignetics' blog where we will be posting current information about the wood pellet, fire log, and fire starter industry. We welcome your comments and additions as we develop what we hope will be an up-to-date information center on all developments concerning wood pellets and fire logs.
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By Wood Resources International LLC | December 16, 2014

Total shipments of wood pellets from North America to Europe plateaued in 2014 after almost four years of continuous increases. During the first two quarters of 2014, exportation from Canada and the U.S. were just over 1.3 million tons in each of the two quarters. This was down from the all-time-high of almost 1.4 million tons in the 4Q/13, according to the latest issue of the North American Wood Fiber Review.


Pellet volumes shipped out of Canada to Europe have actually fallen by almost 25 percent from the 4Q/13 to the 2Q/14, while volumes leaving the ports in the U.S. South did go up 10 percent during the same time period. (Note. Due to irregularities with Customs data, NAWFR collects trade data from a number of sources including Canadian and U.S. customs export data, European import data and from quarterly conversations with both pellet exporters and port contacts.)


Practically all wood pellets produced in British Columbia since the first major pellet plant was built over 15 years ago have been consumed by energy companies in Europe. However, since late last year, there has been a shift in direction for some of the pellets manufactured in the province; rather than being sent on the 16,000 kilometer long journey to the United Kingdom or the Netherlands, they are being shipped to markets in Asia, a trip that is only about half as far.
South Korea and Japan together imported about 100,000 tons of pellets from British Columbia in the 2Q/14, which accounted for 17 percent of the total exports from the province that quarter, reported the NAWFR (www.woodprices.com). This can be compared to a quarterly average of only 30,000 tons during the period 2010-2012. This shift to markets in Asia is likely to continue because demand for biomass is rising in this region. The reduced shipments to Europe from Western Canada can be expected to benefit other supplying regions to Europe, including the U.S. South, Eastern Canada and Northwestern Russia.


There are multiple factors which are likely to increase pellet shipments from the U.S. South to Europe in the second half of 2014. These factors include continued interest from governments in Europe in shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, the approaching winter, with its increased demands for fuel to heat homes, and the soaring tensions between Ukraine and Russia, which have implications for energy security for Europe.

Read the original story here.

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By Erin Voegele from Biomass Magazine

On Nov. 19, the U.S. EPA released a revised framework for assessing biogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from stationary sources. According to a notice published by the EPA, the second draft of the framework will undergo further review. The agency has also issued a memo providing regulatory guidance on how the updated framework will impact the Clean Power Plan and Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program.


A notice published by EPA explains that in order to continue advancing technical understanding of the role biomass can play in reducing overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the EPA has developed a second draft of its “Framework for Assessing Biogenic Carbon Dioxide for Stationary Sources” report, which will subject to additional review. “The revised report takes into account the latest information from the scientific community and other stakeholders. As a next step forward, EPA will continue to refine its technical assessment by initiating a second round of targeted peer review with the Science Advisory Board,” said the agency in a notice posted to its Climate Change website. The notice also indicates Acting Administrator Janet McCabe has issued a memorandum to the EPA’s Regional Air Division Directors describing the EPA’s current thinking pertaining to biogenic CO2 emissions in the context of the CPP and PSD program.


The revised 69-page framework describes the factors that are to be considered when assessing biogenic CO2 emissions. It also presents an equation that could be used to calculate the extent to which use of biogenic materials at stationary sources results in a net atmospheric contribution of biogenic CO2 emissions.


The EPA released the first draft of its biogenic emissions framework in September 2011. That report was reviewed by member of a Biogenic Carbon Emissions Panel appointed by the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board. In its review, the SAB Panel said “Carbon neutrality cannot be assumed for all biomass energy a priori. There are circumstances in which biomass is grown, harvested and combusted in a carbon neutral fashion but carbon neutrality is not an appropriate a priori assumption; it is a conclusion that should be reached only after considering a particular feedstock’s production and consumption cycle. There is considerable heterogeneity in feedstock types, sources and production methods and thus net biogenic carbon emissions will vary considerably. Carbon neutrality cannot be assumed for all biomass energy a priori.” According to the EPA, the majority of the panel also said it is not appropriate to use Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change national accounting methodologies to evaluate biogenic CO2 emissions from individual stationary sources. The EPA also indicated that although the SAB Panel did agree with some basic tenets of the first draft of the framework, they also indicated it lacked some technical elements. The panel recommended more consideration of different spatial and temporal scales, different baselines, broader discussions on leakage and soil carbon implications, and the concept of regional feedstock-specific calculations and default assessment factor values.


The updated framework addresses the SAB Panel recommendations and those made by stakeholders. According to the EPA, the updated draft includes more comprehensive discussion and analysis of baseline approaches, spatial and temporal scale decisions and implications, inclusion of alternative fate analysis for certain feedstocks and methane, leakage, and illustrative regional feedstock-specific calculations using existing data sources and models and resulting example regional biogenic assessment factor values.


The memo issued by McCabe notes that the EPA expects many states and stakeholders to look to the updated framework draft for indications of how biogenic CO2 emissions will be treated under the CPP and PSD program going forward. As such, the memo describes the EPA’s current thinking with respect to those programs and their treatment of biogenic emissions.
Within the memo, McCabe said that information considered by the EPA in preparing the second draft of the framework supports the finding that the use of waste-derived feedstocks and certain forest-derived industrial byproducts are likely to have minimal or no net atmospheric contributions of biogenic CO2 emissions. Rather, the use of those materials may even reduce such impacts when compared to the alternate fate of disposal. “The EPA intends to apply this preliminary finding further with the policy contexts and regulatory actions described below,” wrote McCabe.


 “While we continue the development of the Framework to reflect ongoing technical and scientific work, we believe that our approach to the treatment of biomass in the CPP and PSD program should be determined by policy and programmatic objectives, goals and considerations, based on and supported by technical information - an outlook that the SAB peer reviewers acknowledged in their review of the initial draft Framework,” McCabe wrote. “In light of those considerations, we believe that it is appropriate for the EPA to take additional actions to implement the policies described below in the CPP and the PSD program in parallel with our intended further work on the Framework.”


“In the implementation of the CPP, the EPA anticipates that some states will wish to include the use of biogenic feedstocks in their compliance plans. When considering state compliance plans, the Agency expects to recognize the biogenic C02 emissions and climate policy benefits of waste-derived and certain forest-derived industrial byproduct feedstocks, based on the conclusions supported by a variety of technical studies, including the revised Framework,” McCabe continued. “In addition, given the importance of sustainable land management in achieving the carbon reduction goals of the President's Climate Action Plan, the EPA expects that states' reliance specifically on sustainably-derived agricultural- and forest-derived feedstocks may also be an approvable element of their compliance plans. This approach is consistent with the EPA's recognition in the proposal that every state has different energy systems and available fuel mixes. Many states already recognize the importance of forests and other lands for climate resilience and mitigation, and have developed a variety of sustainable forestry and land use management policies and programs to address these concerns. Some states also encourage participation in sustainable forest management programs developed by third-party forestry and/or environmental entities.”


According to McCabe, the EPA will evaluate the biogenic components of proposed state plans as part of the compliance plan review and approval process, and will provide clarification as needed on the basis on which it will make such biomass-related evaluations.
McCabe also indicated the EPA plans to propose revisions to the PSD rules to include an exemption from the best available control technology (BACT) requirement for GHGs from waste-derived feedstocks and from non-waste biogenic feedstocks derived from sustainable forest or agricultural practices. For waste-derived feedstocks, McCabe said the EPA intends to propose exempting biogenic CO2 emissions from GHG BACT analyses based on the rationale that those emissions are likely to have minimal or no net atmospheric contributions of biogenic CO2 emissions when compared with an alternate fate of disposal. For sustainable non-waste feedstocks, McCabe said the EPA intends to propose exempting biogenic emissions from GHG BACT analyses if the applicant can demonstrate that these feedstocks come from sustainably managed lands. For all other biogenic feedstsocks, the memo indicates the EPA intends to propose biogenic CO2 emissions would remain subject to the GHG BACT requirement at this time. According to McCabe, the EPA also anticipates providing additional guidance to sources undergoing BACT analyses involving biogenic feedstocks.


Within the memo, McCabe also noted the EPA is working through the legal process to respond to the Supreme Court’s decision in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA and the current proceedings in appeals court. “When developing the PSD regulations described above, the EPA intends to consider the outcome of this process and coordinate its PSD regulations specific to biogenic C02 emissions with other rule revisions that may be necessary to address application of PSD permitting requirements to GHGs. Our goal would also be to enable permitting authorities and sources to implement the permitting requirements in a practical manner that is consistent with the policy objectives articulated above for the CPP,” McCabe wrote.


The memo also specifies that a second round of targeted peer review through the SAB will begin this month. That review will include public comment.


Full copies of the revised framework and McCabe memo can be downloaded from the EPA’s Climate Change website.

Read the original here.

 

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By Katie Fletcher from Biomass Magazine

On Oct. 21, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to adopt a Roadmap to a Sustainable Waste Management Future. This roadmap has been developed by the L.A. County Department of Public Works in coordination with several other entities since April. The roadmap lays out a general framework for strategies and initiatives aimed at decreasing reliance on landfills in the Los Angeles County region.
“We are currently drafting implementation plans for those initiatives identified as our first priorities in the roadmap, including an Organics Management Plan,” said Bob Spencer, chief of public affairs at L.A. County Department of Public Works.
The four strategies set forth in the roadmap are programs and services, measuring results, facilities and infrastructure, and outreach and education. Currently about 2.8 million tons of trash is generated annually in the unincorporated communities of the county, approximately 70 percent of which is diverted from disposal through a number of existing waste reduction, reuse and recycling programs.
Landmark environmental laws have significantly impacted this waste management system. These include, Assembly Bill 32, California’s landmark greenhouse gas reduction law, and AB 341, which requires 75 percent of waste generated in California to be source reduced, recycled or composted by 2020. By 2025 the county has the long-term disposal reduction target of 80 percent, and by 2045 the goal is 95 percent or more, which is equivalent to disposing of no more than 0.75 pounds of waste per person per day.
Another piece of impactful legislation is AB 1826, which requires a business that generates a certain threshold of organic waste per week to separate the organic waste to divert it from landfills by processing it another way.
One of these processing options is anaerobic digestion. There are currently no AD facilities in L.A. County that are open to the public. One of the challenges is siting, primarily due to permitting regulations and ensuring favorable economics, but legislation like AB 1826 can help overcome these challenges.
Two other pieces of related California Legislation the Governor signed into law this year, include Senate Bill 498, which provides equity for biomass conversion projects that use noncombustion technologies to make energy or fuel from biomass waste, and AB 1594, which phases out the diversion credit for green waste used as alternative daily cover at landfills in California.
According to the California Energy Commission, there are 22 digesters and 27 thermal biomass facilities in the state. “For materials that are not reduced, reused or recycled, conversion technologies, including anaerobic digestion, are important options for recovering energy, fuels, chemicals and other useful products from materials that might otherwise be disposed,” Spencer said. “The roadmap includes program and policy options that can help promote these environmentally preferable alternatives for reducing landfill disposal.”
An initial assessment was conducted by the working group that prepared the roadmap that showed the county as a whole will need as many as 35 facilities the size of the digester in San Jose, a 250 ton-per-day facility, in order to manage the organic waste in L.A. County currently being sent to landfills.
Locations of 16 proposed conversion technologies sites are identified for L.A. County. One project is proposed to be located in the City of Carson at the Joint Water Pollution Control Plant owned by the County Sanitation District. CSD and Waste Management have partnered on the proposed project to roll out a food waste digestion project at the plant. The project began as a pilot project utilizing CSD’s existing wastewater treatment digesters and 84 tons per day of preconsumer food waste supplied by WM. After two to three years of demonstration, CSD and WM will determine if continued partnership will be pursued. Another potential AD opportunity for organic waste management is being explored at the City of Avalon’s Pebbly Beach Landfill on Catalina Island. The City of Avalon is currently pursuing a major renovation of their wastewater treatment system and secondary water supply system. AD could be part of this new system. The city has yet to make a decision regarding the development of a Request for Proposal for a small conversion technology facility at the landfill.
“The roadmap provides a lot of advantages in organizing an approach to shifting our waste management system towards a sustainable future,” Spencer said. “We have made many great strides in advancing waste reduction, recycling and other diversion practices, and this roadmap will build on those successes. The key challenges are effectively communicating the roadmap strategies, ensuring buy in as the roadmap is implemented and directing the right resources to make the effort a success.”
The “Roadmap to a Sustainable Waste Management Future” can be found here

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By John Ackerly | November 01, 2014

From Biomass Magazine

As winter approaches, the groundwork is being laid for a perfect storm of unprecedented firewood shortages in the Northeast and Great Lake states.

As winter approaches, the groundwork is being laid for a perfect storm of unprecedented firewood shortages in the Northeast and Great Lake states.  This may result in the impression that biomass is taxing our forests too heavily, when it’s almost entirely due to other factors.


Like last year’s pellet “shortage,” this year’s shortages are mostly a supply chain issue.  Industry has been waiting for the consumers, and now that they're here, is playing catch-up. As far south as Maryland, people couldn’t even find pellets in late September.


So far, coverage of the firewood shortage has been good, and scores of articles typically cite the causes as: last year’s cold winter, a wet spring and summer kept loggers out of the woods, a declining number of loggers, competition with other biomass users, new restrictions from transporting wood over state lines to combat invasive species, and more people heating with wood and and pellets.


There is one thing none of the articles mention: the shortage is likely to result in far more smoke because more people will be using unseasoned wood. The shortage began as a shortage of seasoned wood.  Now it’s a shortage of any wood.


Also, coverage rarely mentions that about half of American homes that heat with cordwood—5 million—obtain their own wood and will not be affected by this shortage.


The real seasoned wood heaters have a two-year supply of wood in storage, because even wood purchased in the spring is not necessarily ready in the late fall.  It’s many of the people new to heating with wood who are the least prepared this winter and don’t have enough seasoned wood.


If we have another cold winter like last year, this shortage will be far worse than it’s already shaping up to be. And if there is also another pellet shortage, it may shake the confidence of potential wood and pellet stove customers and lead to more concern over how the U.S. can sell millions of tons of pellets to heat European homes instead of serving the American market.  Generous European subsidies, particularly in the U.K., make pellets an economical choice to make electricity at only 30 percent efficiency, instead of using this resource at 70 to 80 percent efficiency for heat.


The market is definitely giving signals that higher demand for both pellets and cordwood is not just short-term. More pellet mills are being built, and hopefully, more customers will learn to order early in the year. Pellet mills are making sure to first take care of their bulk customers: residential, commercial and institutional.  What’s left over gets bagged.


The cordwood industry is, for better or worse, incredibly decentralized and unregulated.  Each state has hundreds of retailers who source wood from a variety of ways, some buying it and others cutting it themselves.  This shortage could help expand operations that kiln-dry wood and sell by the cord, not just in small, shrink-wrapped bundles. Operations with robust kilns that can get green wood one week and deliver it seasoned the next week command $400 and higher, instead of the normal $225 to $275 per cord.  Regardless, this winter, normal prices will move moving upwards of $300 for any cord of wood.
 Unlike most cordwood, kiln-dried wood can cross state lines or be transported further than 50 miles, as long as it’s dried to federal specifications that assure all bugs are killed.  Kiln drying operations are much more common in Europe. Expansion in the U.S. would be a great way to ensure more of our firewood supply is properly split and seasoned, resulting in higher efficiency and lower emissions.


While Maryland is already experiencing a pellet shortage, there is no firewood shortage here, or in many major suburban areas outside of the northern Snow Belt. In fact, there is still a slew of free, precut firewood from tree cutting companies, some that will deliver it for free. One company just posted a big, permanent sign advertising “free firewood” on a major thoroughfare, and several local tree trimmers drop cords of unsplit, 18-inch pieces there every month.  I often drive by and am tempted to grab it, but my wife reminds me that we already have two years of seasoned wood out back.

Read the original here.

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