Pushing for Projects That Make Sense

In her editor's note from the May/June 2019 print issue of Biomass Magazine, editor Anna Simet discusses the contents of the issue, recognizing that after oversaturation in the pellet market 10 years ago, the industry has finally found a balance.
By Anna Simet | April 30, 2019

Slow and steady wins the race—or does a fast pace earn a place? As a runner myself, being honest, slow doesn’t usually earn a medal. When it comes to project development, however, the winning projects usually aren’t the ones speeding to the finish line. In the biomass industry, we’ve seen how rushing projects has fared, particularly in the domestic wood pellet market. It became oversaturated for a short stint about a decade ago, but is finally balancing out after some hard lessons.

F.E. Wood Energy in Sanford, Maine, is the newest domestic market-focused wood pellet plant to come online in the U.S. in a quite a while. The concept was on the table for years, as the father and son team knew that doing its homework on feedstock markets and availability, design, technology and end markets meant taking the long road, but it would lead the company to a place that made sense. “We were itching to get back into it in a way that we could have a sustainable, long-term future,” Wood says. In our page-32 feature, “Building Globally, Impacting Locally,” by Staff Writer Patrick Miller, Tony Wood discusses long-term relationships with sawmills, loggers and landowners in the area, the thorough design evaluation done prior to selecting equipment, and how independent retailers are the backbone of the company’s plans. In the same story—drawing a comparison of sorts to the domestic and industrial markets and their driving forces—Enviva Partners shares details of its ongoing expansion and new construction projects, which will enable the company to meet growing demand from overseas customers.

Continuing that note of new development, be sure to check out our page-24 feature, “The Twin Biomass Sisters of Franklin and Madison Counties,” by Senior Editor Ron Kotrba. In it, Kotrba digs into the development and construction of Georgia Renewable Power’s 58-MW biomass power plants, which are currently undergoing commissioning.

Also in this issue, you’ll find an extensive review of utility-scale cofiring tests performed in Alaska, and a photo review of the International Biomass Conference & Expo, where market expansion and project development was a key theme. And, of course, the positive messages our industry should  convey to the public and policymakers, because without their support, it’s a lot more difficult to get a shovel in the ground.

Author: Anna Simet