Posts Tagged ‘biomass’

News from DNR: Biomass Initiative Report and new firewood cutting permit process

December 23, 2010

State trust land

A clump of retained Douglas-fir and western hemlock in a variable retention harvest unit on state trust land in Clark County. Photo: Florian Deisenhofer/DNR. CLICK ON PHOTO to see larger image.

DNR yesterday released a Biomass Initiative Report to the Legislature.

Removing biomass feedstock in ecologically sustainable ways to produce energy (liquid fuels or heat and electricity) can:

  • Provide income for forest landowners while improving forest health; 
  • Create rural jobs; 
  • Reduce wildfires and greenhouse gas emissions; and  
  • Aid in the production of renewable energy

It does not include treated wood, municipal solid waste, wood from old growth forests, or wood required to be left on site under the state forest practices act and implementing rules.  Learn more about forest biomass.

Firewood cutting permit process changes for State Trust forests in southwest Washington, January 1, 2011.

Permits will be offered online on first-come basis starting January 1 for forested state trust lands in Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor (south), Lewis, Pacific, Skamania, Thurston, and Wahkiakum counties.

DNR offices and work centers closed December 24. We will reopen on Monday, December 27. Happy holidays!

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Goldmark to detail DNR’s Forest Biomass Initiative at January conference in Seattle

December 20, 2010
after-harvest slash

A study by the University of Washington in 2011 will assess the volume of forest biomass available ecologically and economically throughout Washington State. Photo: Aaron Toso/DNR

Generating renewable energy, creating green jobs and generating new revenue for state trusts that support education and other services are goals of DNR’s Forest Biomass Initiative.

Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark will explain the initiative, its relevance, and its urgency in his keynote address at the Pacific West Biomass Conference and Trade Show this January. Goldmark also will outline to attendees DNR’s rapid progress incubating a sustainable forest biomass industry. Several test pilots with private firms are underway, as is a University of Washington study to examine the sustainable supply of forest biomass, such as slash, a residue of forest management practices previously considered ‘waste.’

A DNR factsheet explains that emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gasses from combusting forest biomass for energy are considered “carbon neutral.” The emissions contribute to the already cycling stock of carbon being exchanged between the biosphere and the atmosphere as part of the earth’s carbon cycle. In other words, trees and other vegetation emit carbon one way or another and forest biomass-to-energy projects (unlike oil, coal and other fossil fuels) do not add more carbon to this natural cycle.

The new industry would not use traditional timber sources or whole trees. It also would not rely on downed logs, stumps  and other material that the state’s forest practices regulations require loggers to leave on a site after a harvest.

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DNR weekend reading: Loss of forestland affects birds; plus articles about renewable energy

December 18, 2010
Natural Resources Building

This noble fir (Abies procera), native to the Cascade Range, was donated by a private citizen. It graces the rotunda of the Natural Resources Building in Olympia during December 2010. Photo: Bob Redling/DNR.

Here are recent articles about science and the environment that you may not have seen yet. Happy weekend reading from DNR:

Science Daily: Free as a Bird? Human Development Affects Bird Flight Patterns and Populations
Non-migrating resident birds tend to travel over forest “corridors” — areas protected by trees and used by wildlife to travel. University of Missouri researchers found that when contiguous forests are removed, bird populations become isolated and disconnected, which can lead to inbreeding and weaker, more disease-prone birds.

New York Times: A National Lab Develops Grid Controls to Handle Renewable Energy
The advanced monitors like those in the Energy Department’s experimental Electricity Infrastructure Operations Center in Richland could have averted or at least minimized the massive 2003 Northeast blackout or the 1996 Western power blackout.

Scientific American: Waste to Energy: A mountain of trash, or a pile of energy?
In Europe, more than 400 facilities generate electricity by burning municipal solid waste while fewer than 90 such plants operate here in the United States. Is Waste to Energy technology a viable and clean source of power or a costly polluter?

Also New York Times: Using Waste, Swedish City Cuts Its Fossil Fuel Use
Kristianstad, with a population of 80,000, essentially uses no oil, natural gas or coal to heat homes and businesses, even during the long, frigid Swedish winters — all by burning municipal solid waste.

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State DNR selects UW researchers to assess forest biomass supply statewide

December 9, 2010

Forest biomass can include slash left after forest treatments that thin out fire-prone overstocked tree stands. Photo: DNR

Woody biomass is great in that it grows — that is, it’s renewable — but much remains to be learned about how and where it could become a viable way to produce cleaner energy on a large scale. We have millions of acres of trees in Washington but to get down to figuring out where and how that might turn into a source for a biomass industry will require research. DNR today announced that the University of Washington, School of Forest Resources was selected as part of the research team to study the supply prospects of Washington’s working forests. It will be the first study of its type in the nation to examine the economic and environmental aspects of a state’s biomass supply potential.

Today’s research project announcement is part of DNR’s efforts to ensure that the harvest of biomass for use in clean energy products is done  in a manner that does not harm clean water, forest habitat or species.

Forest biomass can be converted to energy and energy products in a number of ways in addition to direct combustion. These include: (more…)

Science behind the choices: Forest culprits fuel the fire

October 29, 2010
pine beetle killed

Trees with bare branches or yellowed needles were killed by pine beetles in this aerial view of a site in eastern Washington State. Photo: DNR

In Washington’s nearly 22 million acres of forests, how in the world do you keep track of the culprits that kill trees? The culprits in this case are disease and insects. Dead trees can lower the value of timber products, affect important habitats and change the ecology of forests. When trees are dead or dying, they can be easy fuel for spreading wildfire and may increase potential for catastrophic wildfire impacts.

 Forest health aerial survey and analysis
DNR and U.S. Forest Service scientists have just completed an aerial survey of the forests throughout Washington to find any new tree mortality that has occurred during the last year. The goal is to document annually the number and location of dead or defoliated trees and what caused their decline. Study of the survey, in turn, helps forest health scientists identify why problems are occurring. DNR’s Forest Health Program scientists look for patterns of damage in the crowns and roots of individual trees and across stands of several trees. (more…)

Science behind the choices: Learning together about how to produce our clean energy future

October 20, 2010
switch grass

Bioenergy: Switch grass, a high-yielding native grass adapted to much of the U.S., is one of many being considered for cellulosic ethanol. Photo: USDA

Washington State is a national leader in clean energy policy and development. Through pilot projects, incentive programs and research, the State has demonstrated that although there will not be a ‘quick-fix’ to the energy crisis we currently face, there can be local, clean energy solutions developed and employed in our state. These solutions will come from myriad technologies (including wind, solar, and biomass) and will require governments, non-government organizations, and private businesses to collaborate to ensure on-the-ground success.

Science, and government convene 1st annual conference
In Spring 2010, a number of state agencies working on clean energy issues convened a group to discuss hosting a state-wide Bioenergy Symposium and Clean Energy Conference. These sessions would provide the most current science and business elements of clean energy deployment, and provide an opportunity for parties to come together and identify opportunities to collaborate.

This effort has resulted in the Bioenergy Research Symposium and the Washington Future Energy Conference, scheduled to take place November 8 to10 in Seattle at the Convention Center. The events will bring together regional and national leaders in the abundance of energy topics currently being examined in Washington State. (more…)

Science behind the choices: How DNR and partners’ use science to support clean renewable energy on state lands

October 19, 2010
Slash piles, previously burned on site, will now be put to a higher use—energy production. Photo: Aaron Toso/DNR

Slash piles, previously burned on site, will now be put to a higher use—energy production. Photo: Aaron Toso/DNR

You may know that state trust lands are part of wind energy projects across Washington, helping utilities meet clean energy goals. Last week, we talked about geothermal research to find the best places in the state to build facilities with geothermal turbines to generate clean energy. Today we look at the energy in our forests.

A changing climate will cause challenges for Washington’s forests: increased incidence of forest fires and forest fire severity, heightened pest and disease pressures. When our forests are not being actively managed, the impacts of these stressors are magnified. This is especially true in eastern Washington where significant declines in the forest products sector have been coupled with significant fire prevention activities.  

West of the Cascades, where forest activities are still abundant, we face the challenge of what to do with the slash—the branches and leaves left after a timber harvest. Traditionally, this material is put into a pile—a slash pile—and burned. The burning of slash piles releases greenhouse gases and other particulates.

The potential solution—a forest biomass-to-energy industry—is being studied carefully by public and private scientists and forest managers.


Bio-char, urban sprawl & obesity, subways generating power… weekend reading from DNR

September 11, 2010
Forest thinning

Photo: Aaron Toso/DNR.

Here is some informative and diverse reading about science, environment and other issues published recently:

New York Times: Once-lowly charcoal (bio-char) emerges as ‘major tool’ for curbing carbon
Scientists are probing the limits of how high-grade charcoal, dubbed biochar, can be formed from plant and animal waste to squirrel away the atmosphere’s carbon for centuries, or even millennia. (Bio-char production is one of the four projects involved in DNR’s forest biomass initiative.)

New York Times: Study links sprawl, obesity
Based on a study of Charlotte, N.C., after it installed a light-rail transit system, a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, indicates that riding the rails can leave users an average of 6.5 pounds lighter than others, and 81 percent less likely to become obese over time.

Technology Review: Subway trains to generate power for the grid
The transit authority in metropolitan Philadelphia is launching a pilot project in which the energy created by braking subway trains will be transferred to a large battery that can then either use the electricity to help power the transit system or sell the power to the region’s electricity grid.

Reuters: Protect corals with reef networks, U.N. study says.
A United Nations report says that the most effective way to protect fisheries and coral reefs is to establish networks of small marine protected areas around the globe, rather than large reserves where fishing bans are often ignored.

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DNR’s Forest Biomass Initiative showing results; Nippon Paper announces $71 million project in Port Angeles

August 9, 2010
Forest thinning

Thinings removed from over-stocked forests to reduce fire dangers are part of the supply of forest biomass available for clean energy. Photo: DNR

Like This!

Nippon Paper Industries USA’s plan to produce “green energy” from foresty biomass at its paper mill in Port Angeles is welcome news to the local economy… and to DNR. Nippon Paper’s $71 million project, announced Friday, will include a steam boiler and turbine generator capable of producing 20 megawatts of energy at the plant using residue from local timber operations. In addition to the construction jobs, it is expected to create 20 or more permanent jobs, the Peninsula News reports.

Nippon Paper Industries USA was one of four private sector partners selected earlier this year by state Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark for DNR’s Forest Biomass Initiative. Through the initiative DNR seeks to assure local green energy producers of a sustainable supply of woody (forest) biomass for new projects.

The other partners with DNR in the initiative are: (more…)

Weekend reading: 6 articles on science and the environment

June 5, 2010
Woody biomass

Woody biomass can be moved from forests to mills by container truck, but converting it to liquid (such as bio-oil) onsite can reduce transportation costs. Photo: Michael Westbrook/University of Georgia

Here are six articles for weekend reading… maybe you’ll enjoy relaxing with these this afternoon after you’ve put in a few hours at one of the National Trails Day events Saturday morning across Washington State.

U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities, Inc.
Wood2Energy: A state of the science and technology report

National Renewable Energies Laboratory
Study Shows Power Grid can Accommodate Large Increase in Wind and Solar Generation

Green (NY Times blog)
A Bullish View of Wind Power Out West

New York Times
Going Solar Is Harder Than It Looks, a Valley Finds

Nature: Naturenews
Risk of giant quake off American west coast goes up

St. Louis
Trees, farms do mix

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