Building Impressive Momentum

By Tim Portz | April 02, 2013

Last month, while touring the site of the nearly complete American Renewables-owned Gainesville (Fla.) Renewable Energy Center I had to make a conscious effort to say “wow” less often. I was concerned that my hosts from project builder Fagen Inc. would learn that I had never before seen anything quite like what I was taking in right then. In hindsight, I realize I had no reason for concern, as this facility, which is now racing toward substantial completion, is unique unto the world in its size, scope and technological complexity. This $500 million project joins a sister facility in Nagodoches, Texas, as one of two 100-MW woody biomass-fired power plants to come online in the past two years. As the sun comes up in Gainesville, Fla., a steady stream of trucks fills first one parking lot, and then another, as hundreds of workers file onto the site to lift, weld and will this massive facility into being.

As our spring Biomass Construction Update (page16) clearly points out, this scene is not unique to Gainesville. The biomass industry is on the move, and construction projects in every sector of the biomass-to-energy space are well-underway.  In many cases, these projects are months away from coming online and delivering clean power, pellets, thermal energy or liquid fuels to a waiting energy marketplace.  Each time a project is completed, the promise of biomass-derived energy is fulfilled and likely expanded.

While job creation is often touted as one of the great benefits of the expansion of biomass-derived energy, when delivered in aggregate, job numbers run the danger of becoming abstract. Once on a real construction site, however, the interconnected web of economic activity created by that one project becomes readily apparent, and its varied material input strands unfold to all corners of the global economy.

We’re all incredibly proud of this issue of Biomass Magazine. This pride does not stem primarily from the great reporting, data collection and photography that carry the message of this growing industry in this month’s issue, however. Rather, this pride comes from the realization that all of you who continue to innovate, advocate, and invent, have built impressive momentum in the continual battle for energy market share, and every day firmly cement the role of biomass in our energy future.