1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)

Wood Burning Electic Generation Plant - NIMBY

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by webbie, Feb 17, 2006.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,100
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    Our paper here in Western Ma. has a story today about a 50 megawatt wood burning plant that is proposed for a site about 10 miles from here. It will be built from Scratch and will burn 500,000 tons/year, all cut from a 75 mile radius of here.

    This is fine with me! I like the idea of a renewable and honegrown fuel. However, the story mentions opposition to the plant, from those who oppose the increased truck traffic and the additional pollution.

    As we've discussed before, if we want energy we have to pay the price. In my opinion, this plant is needed and is much better than our other local generator, the "dirty coal" Mt. Tom power plant.

    We have to be willing to tolerate certain things in our backyard if we want the power to stay on.

    BTW, the plant is located on part of a 70 acre complex that is a former paper mill, so it's not like they are going to develop new land for it.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. Homefire

    Homefire New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Messages:
    275
    How many tons of wood are in that 75 radius?
    It seems that would be work for a new generation of woodsmen.
  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,100
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    There is a LOT of wood in western ma, and it has been "farmed" for hundreds of years, so we really don't have to worry much about clear cutting, virgin forest, etc. - We do have some nice tree stands, though...I'll post a pic of some biggies that are back behind my house. I hope they leave those really big ones! (Note; biggies all appear to be hemlock)

    In fact, there is not much OTHER THAN WOOD in western ma, at least from the Ct. River to the NY Border. Too much rock to be good for farming....although they do get some nice stone (Goshen Stone) out of it.

    There was a Pellet Plant out here - Catamount - but I think it went out of business...don't know why. They are probably sorry now.

    I just read that one parcel due to be selectively logged in our little township will yield 500,000 board feet of lumber.

    50 Megawatts? I like those numbers! This is exactly the type of operation that can make a real difference in our oil, gas and coal use.
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,100
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    Maybe one of the loggers here can tell us how many tons a good size tree is.....A sequoia can weigh 1300 tons! Yes, one tree....

    I suppose these trees around here could easily weigh 50 tons or more?

    "At 275 feet tall and 83 feet 2 inches in circumference, the behemoth General Sherman is estimated to weigh 6,167 tons"

    Wow, we could fuel the plant for a year with only about 80 of those!
  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    49,794
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    I'd be for this if they did a good job of extracting every btu that is practically possible. How efficient a system are they talking about? Is this a multi-chambered wood-furnace system? Have they published emissions figures? Will they be developing any cogenerative uses for the waste heat?

    Here's an example of the Danish approach (sans cartoons):
    http://www.dbdh.dk/dkmap/caracteristics.html
  6. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Wood to electric plants are not new, there are a couple in NH and Maine. In my area roads and entire subdivisions are leveled clear cut by huge machinery. Very little is done with chainsaws the whole 24" tree is sheared cut and brought over to the huge mobarker, which is a chipper. The 100 foot tree branches and all, is reduced into chips in about 1.5 minutes. The Chips are blown into 80 yard trailers and transported to NH dumped off at the wood burning Electric plant. ( woodchip burning plants) In the North East there is still a huge potential for hydro power left un tapped. I do not know why this is not being researched But I guess it is the cost to construct a dam.
  7. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,100
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    You are right. I have trees behind me that are over 4 feet thick and probably 80+ feet high - but of course, they taper somewhat - looks like one of these has about 5 cords (softwood), so 6-7 tons or so. I suspect some might weigh more or be taller, but we'll see if any real loggers are here - they probably know because of truck capacity.

    Since the plant has to be built, I would assume they are using the latest and greatest technology - I doubt anything else would be allowed. Also, the fuel is mostly softwood, so it will not be competing too much with the local wood burners.

    Let me do some very rough calcs.....

    let's say it pulls from a 50 mile square area - 2500 square miles. Cut that down to 1,000 square miles of open forested land, which equals 640,000 acres. At over a cord/acre per year of growth, you could easily fuel the sucker with less than 1,000 square miles.....or about 30 miles square. This does not include waste wood from other sources. Nor does it include any "over forested" land that needs to be thinned or harvested.

    50 Megawatts is enough for about 50,000 houses! Or 200,000 people! As a for instance, our county has 150,000 residents, and is one of the most populated in Western Ma.

    No doubt this will use some wood - but I think it was wood that was formerly going to paper and other such uses. Our area was the paper capital of the USA for many years (Holyoke is Paper City) due to the wood supply as well as the River to float it in (from VT and NH) and the power generated by the 60 ft drop of the river at Holyoke. They still generate electric there with the river, but they surely could get a lot more. For instance the river is fed through a bunch of canals and under buildings that formerly used the power - most don't now.

    Nothing is pefect, but it beats cutting off mountaintops and burning it dirty at the Mt. Tom plant.
  8. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,736
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    The biggest potential nuisance and cause for local concern with a wood-fired power plant is the amount of truck traffic that's required to keep the yard full of chips. But it's typically vans full of chips rather than loads of roundwood. There are no emissions problems to speak of, at least not where the local community is concerned. It's all CO2 and NOx--no particulates and no smoke. "If you smell smoke" the general manager of a plant near where I live told me once, "it's somebody's wood stove."

    The impact on the local forest resource depends on the procurement policies of whoever is buying wood for the plant. If they don't care about where the fuel comes from or how it's harvested, then you can get into some problems with clearcutting and people shoving more valuable wood through the chipper in order to meet their supply quota. The buyer has to have some clearly-stated procurement standards and the discipline to enforce them without exception. Under the right conditions, a vast market like this for low-grade wood can finance some really good forest management, since it makes it possible (and even profitable) to thin a lot of crap out of thousands of acres of woodlands that might either be neglected or highgraded. Bottom line: the plant has to be willing to pay more for its fuel if it wants it harvested responsibly.

    Another big source of fuel for these plants is sawmills and other wood processing plants. Since paper mills compete for sawmill chips (produced from debarked slabwood), it pays to locate wood-fired power plants away from pulp mills. If you're out of a pulpmill's procurement radius (most parts of Mass are), then sawmill chips, sawdust and bark are another potential source of fuel.

    The main problem for modern wood-fired power plants (other than issues involving trying to get a consistent, clean burn out of an inconsistent fuel) is that they still can't compete on an equal basis with the alternatives. Nuclear, gas, coal and oil-fired plants still produce a killowatt hour of electricity for much less than any wood-fired plant can. But wood is renewable and relatively clean burning, so there are incentives (green grids, PURPA legislation, etc.) that make it worthwhile.

    Anyone who thinks that wood-fired power plants are incompatible with yuppie/environmentalist/urban sensibilities ought to go to Burlington, Vermont, where a 50-megawatt wood-fired power plant sits right in the middle of town. Burlington Electric has run the plant successfully for the past several decades and they have it pretty much figured out. Like anything else, there's a right way to do it. When it works, it works well.
  9. martel

    martel Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2006
    Messages:
    207
    Craig, is that paper online? I would love to read the article if there is a link to it. I'm in Western PA so I imagine with all the coal around there is little chance of something like this happening here. Unfortunately we also live approximately 20 miles form a nuclear plant.
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    49,794
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    We had a ~120 ft high douglas fir tree taken down. The fir was on our property line and our neighbors had been worked into a froth by a local "arborist" who had convinced them it was diseased and might topple on their house. I hated doing it, but eventually conceded to maintain good relations. His wife is pretty nervous and couldn't sleep on windy nights. They paid for everything. The tree was about 36" across at the base and yielded about 3 cords of wood. The woodcutter, it turned out, was 10% knowledge and 90% BS. The tree was sound and healthy at over 200 yrs old.
  11. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,100
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    http://tinyurl.com/cy4vf

    is a google search - read the cached version of the first article that comes up - also the 3rd or 4th item down the page (masslive).

    You have to read the cached version since the regular site requires registration.
  12. richg

    richg Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Messages:
    888
    A lot of those NIMBY worms probably have mammoth SUV's that only go off-road when they accidentally back off their driveway. ME ME ME.
  13. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2005
    Messages:
    824
    A buddy of mine lives near a wood burning electricity plant. You know where they get their wood? From everyone's property.

    Where he lives the power company goes around to each neighborhood and if they see a tree that is even close to a power line, they cut it back or down and stick it in the chipper, which feeds the wood burning plant. They take anything that's near a powerline down, if you give permission for them to take it down but they must leave the wood, not in their interest and they'll skip you. That's where some of the wood comes from where he lives. There's always a big white plume coming out the stack that's mostly steam. No "blue/grey" smoke to be seen or smelled even right next to the plant.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page