Study says Peninsula has plenty of wood for biomass facilities

By Tom Callis
Peninsula Daily News

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THE PROPOSED BIOMASS ENERGY PROJECTS
on the North Olympic Peninsula and surrounding counties and the estimated megawatts of electricity each would produce are:

• Nippon Paper Industries USA (Port Angeles) -- 20 megawatts.

• Port Townsend Paper Corp. (Port Townsend) -- 25 megawatts.

• Adage (Shelton) -- 65 megawatts.

• Solomon Renewable Energy Co. (Shelton) -- 31 megawatts.

The operating biomass energy facilities are:

• Grays Harbor Paper (Hoquiam) -- 9.5 megawatts.

• Sierra Pacific Industries (Aberdeen) -- 18 megawatts.

Sources: Olympic Region Clean Air Agency, state Department of Ecology, The Daily World of Aberdeen
PORT ANGELES -- A new study on the available supply of biomass in and around the Olympic Peninsula bodes well for proposed wood-to-energy projects in Port Angeles and Port Townsend.

The study, conducted by the University of Washington's Olympic Natural Resources Center, found that about 2.1 million bone-dry tons of wood debris are produced each year at logging sites in Clallam, Jefferson, Kitsap, Grays Harbor and Mason counties.

Of that amount, between 1.44 million and 1.6 million tons are harvestable.

That appears to be enough to meet the demand of the six proposed or operating biomass energy facilities in those counties.

Jason Cross, ONRC research coordinator, said a 1-megawatt facility would consume about 8,000 bone-dry tons of wood a year.

The proposed or operating facilities in the five-county area have a combined capacity of producing 168.5 megawatts. Therefore, they would consume about 1.35 million tons of wood annually.

"To me, that's a good sign for the viability of owning timber," Cross said.

The study, which is scheduled to be released next month, did not look at sawmill waste, another source of fuel for biomass energy facilities.

Gary Holmquist, project leader for Nippon Paper Industries USA's $71 million biomass energy project, said the Port Angeles mill currently gets about 35 percent of its fuel from wood debris, or slash, at logging sites. The rest comes from sawmills, he said.

The mill burns wood to produce steam and doesn't currently generate electricity.

Nippon plans to have its 20-megawatt project online in August 2012.

Port Townsend Paper Corp.'s 25-megawatt biomass project is also scheduled to start next year.

Cross said removing more woody debris from logging sites shouldn't affect future harvests since trees get most of their valuable nutrient -- nitrogen -- from needles, not wood.

The university is also conducting a statewide biomass supply study for the state Department of Natural Resources.

Forks Middle School occasionally burns wood to produce heat. It's expected to use more than 336 tons of "green," or not dry, wood chips a year.

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Reporter Tom Callis can be reached at 360-417-3532 or at tom.callis@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 19. 2011 11:42PM
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