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Should We Use Wood for Energy? An Introduction. Brief History: Energy in the U.S. Source: EIA, 2007.

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Presentation on theme: "Should We Use Wood for Energy? An Introduction. Brief History: Energy in the U.S. Source: EIA, 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 Should We Use Wood for Energy? An Introduction

2 Brief History: Energy in the U.S. Source: EIA, 2007

3 Brief History: Energy in the U.S. Energy Consumption by Source (1635-2000) INSERT GRAPH Source : EIA, 2007

4 Nonrenewable Energy Finite resources – Cannot be replenished over a short period of time Fossil fuels – Fossilized remains of plants and animals found in top layers of Earth’s crust – Coal, petroleum, and natural gas – In 2006, 86% of energy consumed in U.S. produced with fossil fuels (U.S. EIA, 2006) Uranium (nuclear energy)

5 Renewable Energy Not depleted or can be replenished over a short period of time – Solar – Wind – Biomass – Hydroelectric – Geothermal Photos courtesy of NREL

6 Renewable Energy: Future Trends Source: EIA, 2008 (

7 Brainstorm What are some of the potential advantages and disadvantages to using: – nonrenewable energy sources? – renewable energy sources? How many strategies can we use to improve the energy situation?

8 Biomass Biological material from plants or animals that is either living or was recently living (Environmental Literacy Council, 2008) – Food crops (sugar, corn, wheat) – Grassy and woody plants – Agricultural and forestry residues – Municipal and industrial solid wastes – Landfill gas Photo courtesy of NREL

9 Woody Biomass Plant material from trees and shrubs: roots, bark, leaves, branches, limbs, trunks, and vines Some sources of woody biomass – Urban waste wood Yard trimmings Storm damage Land-clearing debris – Forestry residues Thinning for forest health and wildfire, disease, insect pest risk reduction Ecosystem restoration Branches from harvesting – Wood grown for energy Short rotation woody crops

10 Questions to Explore What do you know about using wood for energy? What do you need to know in order to make informed decisions regarding using wood for energy in your community? What do you think are some of the major issues associated with using wood for energy?

11 Potential Advantages of Using Wood for Energy Local and renewable resource Creates local jobs Can help keep land in forests Useful way to process “waste wood” Thinning results in healthier forests Can produce lower levels of sulfur, nitrogen, and heavy metals such as mercury than coal Carbon-neutral energy source

12 The Carbon Cycle

13 Potential Disadvantages of Using Wood for Energy Cannot meet all energy demands Challenges of transportation and storage Reduction of highly valued forests – Products – Landscapes – Recreation – Wildlife habitat – Watershed protection Concerns about air emissions Impacts on soil fertility, water quality Concerns about long-term availability

14 Harnessing Energy from Wood Break down cellulose in wood to release energy Uses of energy from wood – Generate electricity – Heat buildings with water, steam, or air – Produce steam for industrial purposes – Transportation fuels

15 Wood Conversion Technologies Direct combustion Gasification Anaerobic digestion Pyrolysis Fermentation Alcoholysis Photos courtesy of NREL

16 Wood Conversion Products Biogas Bio-oils Biodiesel Ethanol Wood pellets Photos courtesy of NREL

17 Biogas

18 Bio-oils BIO-OILS HEAT POWER FUELS Boiler Co-firing Diesel engine Micro-turbine Stirling engine Biodiesel

19 Canola Soybean Peanuts Tung Oil Tree Chinese Tallow (Popcorn Tree) Chlorella

20 Switch Grass Wood Chips and Residue Giant Miscanthus Ethanol Sugarcane Sweet Sorghum


22 Wood Pellets in the Southeast EUROPE FLORIDA GEORGIA

23 Wood Pellets in Europe Finland – World leader in bio-energy generation (30% of total primary energy consumption) Sweden – World largest producer, importer, and consumer of wood pellets – Pellet production in Sweden increases 25 to 30% every year – From 270 municipalities that have district heating systems, 250 use biomass fuels, mostly wood pellets

24 Case Study: Co-firing with Wood and Switchgrass Gadsden Steam Plant in northeastern Alabama Run by Alabama Power, subsidiary of Southern Company Uses switchgrass from a local farmer and wood from forest thinning, wood processing, and harvest residues

25 Case Study: Innovative Fuel Sources Generate Success Telogia Power facility near Tallahassee, Florida

26 Telogia Power, LLC In operation since 1988 Liberty County, Florida Currently supplies electricity to Seminole Electric 14 MW gross electricity production Fuel—190,000 tons/year  Wood (yard waste, forest management debris, timber harvest residues)  Paper waste (diaper tailings, unfit currency, confidential documents)  Occasionally more unusual sources such as contaminated peanut butter

27 Important Questions What factors should be considered? How can a community address all of these factors?

28 Sustainability Sustainable decisions are those that consider current and future impacts on three components: environment, economy, and society

29 Is Using Wood for Energy Sustainable? Brainstorm current and future impacts of using wood for energy on the environment, economy, and society

30 Many Factors to Consider Environmental Habitat change Air quality Water quality Soil fertility Sustainable management Economic Local jobs Cost of electricity Cost of facility Supply of wood Cost of wood Social Public health Quality of life Public involvement Fair decisions Values Sense of place Technical Conversion process Co-firing Transportation options Storage

31 Systems Thinking and Critical Thinking Systems thinking – Consider the whole picture – Think about all the parts of the system and how they interrelate Critical thinking – Analysis – Synthesis – Evaluation "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.“ - Albert Einstein

32 Should our community use wood for energy?

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