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    Mongabay, a leading resource for news and perspectives on environmental and conservation issues related to the tropics, has launched Tropical Conservation Science - a new, open access academic e-journal. It will cover a wide variety of scientific and social studies on tropical ecosystems, their biodiversity and the threats posed to them. Tropical Conservation Science - March 8, 2008.

    At the 148th Meeting of the OPEC Conference, the oil exporting cartel decided to leave its production level unchanged, sending crude prices spiralling to new records (above $104). OPEC "observed that the market is well-supplied, with current commercial oil stocks standing above their five-year average. The Conference further noted, with concern, that the current price environment does not reflect market fundamentals, as crude oil prices are being strongly influenced by the weakness in the US dollar, rising inflation and significant flow of funds into the commodities market." OPEC - March 5, 2008.

    Kyushu University (Japan) is establishing what it says will be the world’s first graduate program in hydrogen energy technologies. The new master’s program for hydrogen engineering is to be offered at the university’s new Ito campus in Fukuoka Prefecture. Lectures will cover such topics as hydrogen energy and developing the fuel cells needed to convert hydrogen into heat or electricity. Of all the renewable pathways to produce hydrogen, bio-hydrogen based on the gasification of biomass is by far both the most efficient, cost-effective and cleanest. Fuel Cell Works - March 3, 2008.

    An entrepreneur in Ivory Coast has developed a project to establish a network of Miscanthus giganteus farms aimed at producing biomass for use in power generation. In a first phase, the goal is to grow the crop on 200 hectares, after which expansion will start. The project is in an advanced stage, but the entrepreneur still seeks partners and investors. The plantation is to be located in an agro-ecological zone qualified as highly suitable for the grass species. Contact us - March 3, 2008.

    A 7.1MW biomass power plant to be built on the Haiwaiian island of Kaua‘i has received approval from the local Planning Commission. The plant, owned and operated by Green Energy Hawaii, will use albizia trees, a hardy species that grows in poor soil on rainfall alone. The renewable power plant will meet 10 percent of the island's energy needs. Kauai World - February 27, 2008.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Largest U.S. power supply cooperative to invest up to $1.5bn in biomass power plants

After becoming the leading renewable energy source in Europe, biomass is beginning to grow big at the other side of the pond too. Oglethorpe Power Corporation (OPC), America's largest power supply cooperative, is going green in a major way by announcing plans to build as many as three 100 megawatt (MW) biomass electric generating facilities in Georgia. Designed to utilize woody biomass, one of the state’s most abundant renewable resources, the baseload power plants will provide power to OPC’s 38 member cooperatives, which supply electricity to nearly half of Georgia’s population.

With our abundant biomass resources, Georgia has the unique opportunity to expand our use of alternative energy, grow our economy and transform the way we provide energy to our citizens. Oglethorpe Power’s pioneering investment in alternative energy is consistent with our goal to grow, convert, and use biomass energy to power our homes and businesses. - Sonny Perdue, Governor of Georgia

OPC has secured options for five potential sites in Appling, Echols, Warren and Washington counties. The first two biomass power plants are scheduled to be built and placed into operation in 2014 and 2015; however, which of the five sites will host the first plants is still to be determined. A third unit could also be completed and placed into service in 2015.

Capital investment in the biomass plants will range from $400-500 million per facility, with each providing approximately 40 good-paying, full-time jobs. In addition, each plant will require an annual investment of more than $30 million for fuel stock alone and will create a need for potentially hundreds of new jobs in the state’s forestry industry.

The power plants will be steam-electric generation stations using conventional fluidized bed boiler/steam turbine technology. Fuel for the plants will consist of a woody biomass mixture, including processed roundwood (e.g. chipped pulpwood), primary manufacturing residue (e.g. wood waste from sawmills) and harvest residue (e.g. wood remaining in forests after clearing). The plants will be designed to allow for the co-firing of other types of biomass, such as pecan hulls and peanut shells. There are no plans to use any fossil fuels:
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With 12 million people expected to call Georgia home by the year 2030, we will need more energy to meet the demand of our growing population. The addition of Oglethorpe Power’s biomass electricity plants will help supply Georgians with homegrown energy that is clean and renewable. - Chris Clark, executive director of the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA)

Smith added that the GEFA is committed to providing affordable and reliable power from a diverse mix of energy sources. Georgia has an abundant renewable biomass resource that is competitive with other available generation technologies. Unfortunately, our state is a poor location for wind energy and only has a modest potential for solar, thus making the case of biomass power generation as our best renewable alternative.

Employing environmentally responsible technologies, the biomass plants will meet all state and federal environmental requirements. The exact control technologies utilized will be determined as part of the permitting process. It is likely, however, that the plants will include filter baghouses for reduction of particulate emissions and selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) for control of NOx.

Depending on the location, water would be obtained either from onsite wells, nearby surface waters, from municipal sources or grey water from nearby industries. Each plant would be developed on a minimum of 150 acres of land to ensure an adequate buffer between the plant and its surroundings.

OPC is the America's largest power supply cooperative with approximately $5 billion in assets, serving 38 Electric Membership Corporations which, collectively, provide electricity to 4.1 million Georgia citizens. A proponent of conscientious energy development and use, OPC balances reliable and affordable energy with environmental responsibility and has an outstanding record of regulatory compliance. Its diverse energy portfolio includes natural gas, hydroelectric, coal, and nuclear generating plants with a combined capacity of approximately 4,700 MW, as well as purchased power. OPC was established in 1974 and is owned by its 38 member systems. It is headquartered in Tucker, Georgia.


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