Not Only, But Also

The team at Biomass Magazine is closing out the year with an issue dedicated to installations that produce and use biomass energy on-site. We’ve included this theme for many years, and we’re always struck by the way that biomass scales so easily.
By Tim Portz | November 10, 2017

The team at Biomass Magazine is closing out the year with an issue dedicated to installations that produce and use biomass energy on-site. We’ve included this theme for at least five years, and we’re always struck by the way that biomass scales so easily. But reading this year’s iteration, I’m struck by something else. Our three features look at biomass energy at commercial greenhouses, a county administrative building and an egg-laying facility in Turkey. While all of them deliver the necessary heat and/or power those facilities require, in each case, the operation is playing at least one other important role.

Anna Simet’s page-27 feature, “Solving a Heatload Hardship,” details  the construction of a small-scale, biomass combined-heat-and-power system at Plumas County’s Health and Human Service Center. In the story, the energy-generating aspect of the system nearly gets lost amongst the other benefits it may deliver. Plumas County has watched helplessly as forest product manufacturing has withered to nearly nothing, and with it, the demand for local wood. As a result, fuel loading has become an issue, and frequent wildfires are a reality, including a fire this summer that charred over 4,000 acres. While the demand created by the new system at the Health and Human Services Center won’t single-handedly solve this problem, it is unique when compared to the center’s other options, in that it can be a part of a solution to a very real local problem.

Ron Kotrba’s page-20 feature, “Protein and Power: Turkey’s Chicken Gambit,” is a continuation of our ongoing coverage of the conversion of waste’s associated with milk, meat and poultry operations into useable energy. The facility featured in Kotrba’s story produces a billion eggs a year, with chicken manure, produced by the layer, whisked away on conveyors. In his story, Kotrba explains how this waste is converted into useable energy via an Organic Rankine Cycle turbogenerator.  Previously, it was converted into fertilizer that would be stored on-site until fertilizing season came around, creating a very real biohazard. These materials are now consumed as they are generated.

In my page-14 story, “A Growing Advantage,”  on its surface, the “but also” seems to be the regular disposal of urban wood waste in a Twin Cities suburb. Len Busch Roses plays that important role, but the hands down “but also” of the story is owner Patrick Busch, who without hesitation, stated that if it were not for his biomass heating solution, he would have ceased the production of cut flowers at his Minnesota greenhouse years ago.


Author: Tim Portz
Vice President of Content  & Executive Editor
tportz@bbiinternational.com