(If you can't read those numbers, just click on what is called a spaghetti graph.) I'll continue this series with ocean energy, hydroelectricity, nuclear power, hydrogen and more exotic options first thing next year.
Two months after commissioning, the largest of those biomass fed electricity facilities suffered a terrible fire, losing two of the three production units. That's not all, unfortunately. Belgium's 590 MW coal-to-biomass plant experienced a major fire, the 810 MW biomass facility in Denmark was stricken by one in the conveyor system, and closed down. Plus this happened to a green pellet operation near London (right).
Are you getting an impression that anytime you try to burn biomass, you can't control it? There are various reasons, but when I worked in the sugar industry, we were plagued by something called spontaneous combustion. The combination of moist bagasse and the natural oxidative self-heating of this material resulted in a lot of fires during the offseason. Our worst nightmare was trying to restart a sugar factory with no bagasse.
Want more bad news? The state of Massachusetts released standards requiring biomass plants to generate power at at least 50% efficiency for only half the renewable energy credit (REC), and 60%+ for the full REC. Massachusetts is the grinch, but the only state so far.
In Hawaii, Aina Kono Pono, for example, proposed a biomass to electricity and biofuels project in Kau, specifically at the factory site of my first job after graduating from college. The Public Utilities Commission turned it down because it was too expensive. The company said their fuel would only add a third of a cent per kilowatt hour to rates, but, the reality is that this first effort will not be able to produce a liquid biofuel for under $2/gallon. I think $4/gallon would be difficult. The company filed a second attempt in August of this year, and the "people" remain against it! I think the main reason is that they fear their electricity bill will further increase. At some point the consumer will need to want to sacrifice for a greener environment, but the day is not yet here, especially when the current residents of the Big Island ALREADY PAY 250% the national average. However, if the focus is changed to ONLY biofuels, then the market will decide the fate. But to repeat, what worries me about this process is that Microwave Catalytic Depolymerization sounds awfully energy intensive, and therefore expensive. But they should know what they're doing, so the PUC should wish them well.
The next of this renewable energy series will be on ocean energy, early next year.
There is a looming cyclone forming south of the Solomons, but there should be no danger to populated islands.