Wood Recycling and Waste Respresents an Enormous Resource of Untapped Energy
The economic downturn has been particularly hard on companies dealing with forestry and wood products. Already hammered by a long-term economic depression, these companies have been scrapping for every bit of business they could find. Some of them are discovering the huge untapped resource of bioenergy.
As general manager of Vancouver’s H&H Wood Recyclers, Broberg oversaw the sale of about 40 truckloads a day of hog fuel – wood chips from forest debris – to firms such as Georgia Pacific and Longview Fiber. Then the paper industry took a downturn and the companies no longer needed his wood products.Cellulosic biomass from wood and wood products overflows landfills and waste dumps around the world. Much better to use this energy and eliminate waste at the same time.
“I’m sitting there with 40 loads a day wondering what I’m going to do now,” says Broberg, who grew up in Scappoose.
But he and H&H owner Larry Olson had an idea.
Backed by Olson, Broberg started a new business, St. Helens-based Biogreen Sustainable Energy Co. He plans to open a new biomass facility in La Pine, near Bend, where the wood chips from those 40 truckloads will be burned and converted into energy.
Although biomass plants have been operating for decades, they’ve re-emerged in recent years as a sustainable way to maintain forests and provide renewable energy.
Most of Oregon’s biomass plants were built before the 1980s, and none were added from 1985 to 2005, says Mark Kendall, senior policy analyst for the Oregon Department of Energy.
However, in the past two years, four have sprung up in Oregon, Kendall says. Now Oregon hosts 64 biomass sites, 18 of them generating electricity.
“It is a low-cost, competitive energy supply,” Kendall says. “It has recently gained a claim as a renewable resource that has good ecological and good economical favor.” _Bioenergy