Simon Fraser University Hates Air Quality in Vancouver

Imagine a giant wood stove at the top of Burnaby Mountain (where my alma mater SFU is situated).

Imagine all the CO2. Imagine all the smoke.

It appears the idiots running SFU hate air quality in Vancouver and the lower mainland.

“The district energy system will produce energy using locally sourced biomass that would otherwise be destined for local landfills. It could include urban wood waste (from tree cuttings and trimmings), uncontaminated wood waste (such as wood chips from sawmills and shavings), and clean construction wood waste.”

If we know anything about wood waste we know:

  1. They will run out of wood waste and start burning whole trees
  2. There will be more CO2 produced than if they were burning coal (let alone natural gas)
  3. There will be more particulate matter than if they are burning clean natural gas.

SFU

 

 

Green Plans to Burn Wood in Alberta Instead of Coal

The green lobbyists have big plans for some of the coal power plants Rachel Notley and the NDP plant to close down.

The are going to convert them to burn trees. And quadruple the price of electricity.

There is more than enough fibre both in Alberta and Canada to fuel a major expansion in pellet production to feed one or two large Alberta coal-fired plants without much of an impact in overall fibre availability. Presenter Jamie Stephen of Torchlight Bioresources estimates a gap between AAC and actual harvest of over 39 million bone dry tonnes (BDT) across Canada, as well as the availability of residues topping 30 million BDT.

AAC is Annual Allowable Cut.

The technology and processes are proven and expertise widely available to convert coal-fired plants to biomass. Presentations by Bill Strauss of FutureMetrics, Brent Boyko of OPG and Brian Moran of U.K. bioenergy giant Drax made that abundantly clear.

Burning trees instead of coal is the future because government lobbyists can make people do stupid things.

The execution gap is economic, something outlined with some precision all day, but driven home by Mark Mackay of Transalta, Corp. Transalta is one of the three major power generators in Alberta with coal fired assets on hand. “If we say the current power market in Alberta is paying roughly $22/Mwh, and biomass is looking like $85/Mwh, somehow we have to think that equation through. I think government policy will be a big part of getting this started.”

More lobbying to take an abundant resource (coal) and replace it with forests and charge consumers 4 times as much.

The bulk of available biomass in Alberta and neighbouring B.C. is controlled by the major forest tenure holders, and so any solution will have to include them. Several speakers and attendees suggest the provinces could adopt a ‘use it or lose it” approach like Ontario.

Burn trees or else.

The next step is to build off the momentum created by this gathering of varied interests in Edmonton. In the closing chat, both WPAC executive director Gord Murray and Transalta’s Mark Mackay agreed that parties should work together to get this viable peak option in front of policy makers in Alberta. “It’s clear to me from this meeting that biomass is an option worth looking into, and that the will is there in this group to make it work,” Mackay concluded. “But time is of the essence. We have to get in front of government with this, and soon.”

Lobby politicians with huge amounts of money and be quick about it! Or those idiots building windmills will get all the government subsidies.

CO2: Wood versus Coal

How much CO2 does wood produce versus coal?

The results of our analysis shows that wood is generally about the same 
or slightly lower in CO2 emissions on a dry basis, 
but both wood and coal do not naturally have zero moisture content (MC).

The typical moisture content of coal is:
  • Anthracite Coal : 2.8% - 16.3% by weight
  • Bituminous Coal : 2.2% - 15.9% by weight
  • Lignite Coal : 39% or more by weight
It is the water that causes CO2 emissions to increase over the dry weight. 
The underlying cause that drives this is “the enthalpy of vaporization.” 
In simple terms, it takes energy to evaporate the water in wood or coal 
and convert it to vapor, and all of that energy is sent out the chimney 
and into the atmosphere in the form of water vapor, unless a condensing 
boiler is used which may claim part of the escaping energy. 
To get a million BTUs of useful energy from the fuel, 
a larger mass of wood or coal is necessary to compensate for the losses 
from vaporizing all that water. And more wood/coal burned means more CO2 produced. 

With coal, the higher water content grades also have lower carbon content 
and higher volatiles. The net effect of this is that, on average, CO2 
outputs are relatively consistent across grades (see Table 2). 

At 45 percent, the combustion of wood yields about 9.0 percent 
more CO2 per unit of useful energy than an average of the coal 
grades’ outputs. 

Ontario Wood Pellets Would Have Produced Less Than Half Of The (net) CO2 as Norwegian Wood Pellets

Ontario is importing “advanced biomass” wood pellets from Norway. See the post here is you are coming in late.

I was looking for total CO2 figures for the Atikokan plant. I haven’t found any yet. But I did find an OPG document showing CO2 production of 4 scenarios at Thunder Bay (which is also burning Norwegian Wood). One of those scenarios is a Natural Gas Combined Cycle power plant. It showed that plant producing a huge amount of CO2 compared to wood pellets. I know that isn’t true from this article.

Then I realized the the wood pellet CO2 numbers are based not on actual amount of CO2, but on the “net CO2” which is CO2 minus the fudge factor applied by the AGW cult to claims that since the trees are renewable most of the CO2 doesn’t really count. (page 10  and 11 here)

The key is where they use the term (net) as in “Green House Gas (GHG) Life Cycle Assessment (net)”

Anyway … back to comparing Ontario Wood Pellets to Norway Wood Pellets.

From this OPG document:

Capture_Norway_CO2

See all that CO2 produced by transporting all those pellets from Norway!

 

Ontario Spent 170 million to Convert a Coal Power Plant to burn Norwegian Wood Pellets

Ontario has shut down its coal power plants. One of those coal power plants was Atikokan. What OPG decided to do (because they needed dispatchable power) was to convert the plant to biomass. And that biomass was wood pellets. Not just any wood pellets. It was “Advanced Biomass”.

Advanced biomass has been treated to withstand exposure to rain, and has handling and storage properties similar to those of coal. It is still in the early stages of development, which is why OPG purchases advanced biomass fuel from Norway.

Before we get to CO2 and squandering hundreds of millions to change from one fuel you burn to anther fuel you burn …. you may ask yourself why you need to make wood pellets waterproof.

Wet biomass catches on fire. Or explodes.

Biomass fuel has a wide range of possible refuse items: pellets, chip logs, forestry, sewage sludge, methane, meat and bone, palm kernels, cereal, sawdust, bioenergy crops, or landfill gas. When a biomass fuel is stored in a pile, waiting for transport or use, the biomass can spontaneously heat through oxidation. In order for this to happen, three conditions must sync: rate of heat generation, air supply, and insulation properties of the immediate surroundings. With most biomass material, there is a high moisture content combined with air and/or bacterial fermentation – both of which can cause spontaneous combustion through oxidation.

Back to CO2. The study I have referenced before told us that wood pellets (especially those transported long distances like USA to UK) produce way more CO2 than coal. So I would assume that if you buy wood pellets from Norway, your power plant is producing more CO2 than if you had not spent 170 million and were still burning coal.

CO2emissions

 

‘Green’ logic confuses me.Killing Norwegian forests and turning the wood into special waterproof pellets and then using a lot of fossil fuel to ship it to Ontario to burn in a closed down resurrected coal power plant seems crazy to me.

 

SaveTheCoal

 

 

 

Word of the Day: Sewage Sludge

Ok. Technically Sewage Sludge is a phrase.

The other day I was talking about cofiring. And I discovered that one of the fuels they cofire alongside coal is sewage sludge.

What is sludge?

Up to 95 percent is water. But it starts as wastewater, which is a mix of food, paper, diapers, plant mater, feces, condoms, sanitary napkins, paints, pesticides, bacteria, pathogens, pharmaceuticals, sand, metal particles, road salt, insects and gases.

I think I would prefer 100% coal.

 

Word of the Day: Cofiring and more CO2

Cofiring: the combustion of two different types of materials at the same time.

This word may not be new to many of you (or some of you) but it was to me. Or course I have mocked the idea of replacing coal with wood since burning wood from the USA creates more CO2 than coal. The DRAX post from the other day points out that even DRAX’s own study showed more CO2 from wood pellets than from coal.

And destroying forests to produce more CO2 in the atmosphere seems to me to be amazingly stupid.

So I’ve been investigating to see what kind of cofiring goes on and how much CO2 is produced. The really important terms are Total CO2 and Net CO2 and CO2 neutral.

Total CO2 refers to the gross emissions of CO2 from this power plant.

Net CO2 refers to the emissions of CO2 from the fossil fuel used in this power plant, since biomass is assumed to be CO2 neutral. Gross CO2 and net CO2 will be the same where only fossil fuel is used.

In my opinion the concept of CO2 neutral is bogus. CO2 is CO2. If you generate 600MW of power and you care about CO2 then it shouldn’t matter whether you use coal or sewage sludge or any other biomass. It should be total CO2. (Not completely true because other things are produced from coal power plants like SO2 etc but today we talk CO2)

I came across this paper: A Techno-economic assessment of the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions through the use of biomass co-combustion

The paper claims:

Using sustainably-grown biomass as the sole fuel, or co-fired with coal, is an effective way of reducing the net CO2 emissions from a combustion power plant. There may be a reduction in efficiency from the use of biomass, mainly as a result of its relatively high moisture content, and the system economics may also be adversely affected.

Notice the term net CO2 is used. Their conclusions are based on the fallacy that the CO2 produced by burning the biomass is zero. But they were nice enough (honest enough?) to show the figures for total CO2.

The table shows the result of the experiments. The one I highlighted has 4 sections:

PN1: a 600MW power plant burning 100% coal. CO2 = 759 g/kWh
PN2: a 600MW power plant burning 80% coal and 20% straw. 773 g/kWh
PN3: a 600MW power plant burning 80% coal and 20% sewage sludge. 765 g/kWh
PN4: a 600MW power plant burning 80% coal and 20% straw (reburn). 818 g/kWh

In all cases biomass+coal cofiring produces more CO2. And the CO2 numbers don’t take into account transportation of coal or biomass. So locally sourced biomass isn’t a disaster. But wood pellets from the USA produce a lot of CO2 just in transport costs.

Capture