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Maine pellet manufacturers eye European market

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by mepellet, Jun 4, 2013.

  1. mepellet

    mepellet Minister of Fire

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    Central ME

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  2. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    Its a global market for pellets.

    As for Maine being a major player in the global pellet market, that is rather boastful. When it comes to pellet production, Maine is small compared to the PNW, the PNW is small compared to the Southern US. Then there is Canada, the largest pellet exporter in the North America (they export 80% of their pellets). The PNW (in the US and Canada) also has the premium pellets made from Doug Fir. Lowest amount of ash with very high heat. Cannot be beat. Also the industry is gaining momentum here, and is already huge in a forest product industry that can simply shift gears to adapt to the global market. Pellets are also mainly made here from saw log and plywood trimmings, so the cost is really low. There is basically an endless supply of them here.

    There is also a sleeping giant in the industry, that being Brazil. If they get interested in pellet production, they could completely snow the global market with pellets if they decide to.
  3. EastMtn

    EastMtn Member

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    That article says, "some major utility companies are converting from burning coal to burning wood pellets." Being in the utility industry I'd like to know which utilities are burning pellets and how competitive their market prices are. Coal is a cash cow for NM and the EPA is coming down so hard on us in the Four Corners area that companies like mine are phasing out coal production and coal power plants rather than constantly refitting to meet the increasingly stringent standards. I find it ironic that some of the same groups that don't want coal or nuclear in their backyard are also the ones to object when the utility appeals to the local Public Utility Commission (PUC) for a customer rate increase. But I digress.

    I do agree with mepellet that utilizing local sources is a benefit but I'm also come from a historical standpoint that producing goods and services through interstate and global commerce is a huge benefit to the exporter. The global model and exploration was built on the coat tails of trade. Spice routes to and from India increased India's economic position just as I'm sure that Canada's export of pellets strengthened Canada's own position. By selling Maine's pellets overseas this brings overseas dollars home, lining the pockets of the employees who developed and marketed that product in Maine. But then again, if one doesn't want to compromise quality for market share I can certainly understand and admire that.
  4. mepellet

    mepellet Minister of Fire

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    Yes. Scotl noted that quality of pellets (industrial grade) had to do with his decision not to export mwp at the moment.
  5. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    We are getting the same pressure here with coal, which is about 1/3 of Oregon electric production. We have a substantial pellet and wood industry in Oregon, but no new electric pellet or wood fired plants are coming online here either. The reason is the same reason that coal is coming under pressure: the EPA. Oregonians also decided to ban nuclear energy, and tore down the Trojan Nuke plant on the Columbia River. It would seem that Americans in general would rather export all the coal to China to be burned there rather than burn it ourselves. This area is targeted to be a huge hub for coal export to Asia through the Columba River Gorge.

    We also have massive solar capacity in eastern Oregon where there is ample sunlight. However, no utility service company here will guarantee buying solar power, so no plants are being built. That is because during heavy rain years like the past several here, they feed the grid with cheap hydropower and make a killing. They even rip off the people that volunteer to pay higher energy rates here to buy wind, and they sell then hydro when it is cheaper. It comes down to a lot of politics and people getting rich off of monopolized resources, or in the case of a lot of the US, wasted resources.
  6. smwilliamson

    smwilliamson Minister of Fire

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    Maine has a very distinct advantage though...deep water ports attached to the land mass that supplies the feedstock. Maine could be a leader, time will tell.
  7. hoverfly

    hoverfly Minister of Fire

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    Southern NH
    Ha! Time will tell for sure, there has been a great resistance in New England in getting any thing done that has been involved with energy. The environmentalists declared victory over preventing an oil pipe line from being reversed to import Canadian tar sands oil to Portland. The Irony is that that oil is being delivered through Maine by rail instead. So it was easy for the oil industry to deny that they had any interests in reversing that line. They knew reversing the line was a hot potato and saw this coming from a long shot. But still yet the environmentalists cried victory even though it was pointed out to them it was a hollow one. As the saying goes you can't stop a train!
  8. Lake Girl

    Lake Girl Moderator Staff Member

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    NW Ontario
    The discussion had me curious ... lists all the power installations in Ontario - except the solar arrays. Ontario passed legislation to close or retrofit coal fired plants.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_power_stations_in_Ontario
    The Atikokan GS that is currently coal fired is being converted to biomass. Good news for Thunder Bay folks as Resolute is switching to industrial pellet production since the paper market is disappearing. (had hopes that the pellet could be used in my stove but industrial :()
    Nanticoke GS is purportedly being switched to biomass and/or natural gas.
    Thunder Bay GS is being switched to natural gas.

    Found this info on emissions ... gas, coal, biomass - Coal figures from Oregon; Massachusetts for remainder
    http://www.energyjustice.net/files/biomass/biomassvscoal.pdf
    I can understand switching from coal to gas since emissions are reduced but biomass produces greater emissions per MW .... Is it just the philosophy that the biomass emissions would be the same if left to rot so might as well harness the power generation? Less cost per MW because of close material access ? Confused:confused:

    EPA info...
    http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-and-you/affect/air-emissions.html
  9. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    Well, from my viewpoint we are just playing 3 card monty with energy. We are switching from coal to NG in North America, and we will likely just export the coal to Asia. How that helps the planet in the long run is beyond me. They want to build 3 huge coal export terminals here along the Columbia River, and there is a huge political debate going on about it now. Not so much about the burning of coal in China (which in my view is the bigger issue), but from all the toxic coal dust from the rail cars that will be laid down on the rail lines in the Columbia River Basin. The Columbia River is already highly toxic from leaking nuclear waste from Hanford, from PCBs leaking from transformers dumped into the river around the hydroelectric dams, and from the Boardman coal fired plant emissions (mostly mercury, but also nitrogen dioxide, which is 300x the potency of CO2 as a greenhouse gas).

    As for the biomass, two aspects. One is that it is 'renewable'. So politically/environmentally it gets energy users off the FF hook. It still produces CO2 though (and methane of it is not burned right). The other aspect is that it is better to burn biomass because if it rots, it produces mostly methane. Methane is 23x the potency of CO2 as a greenhouse gas. Burning biomass also produces methane, but with secondary burners (or CATs) that is burned with the wood gasses. A reducing factor with methane is that it only stays in the atmosphere for about 8 years, whereas CO2 remains in the atmosphere for over 100 years. So over time, methane is reduced to about 2x the potency of CO2, so it is still better to burn than rot biomass (unless you burn the methane produced from the biomass digester, which is done at some landfills).

    It would be interesting to see the mercury comparisons from Boardman and the MA bio burning plants.

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