The old lumber mill sits at the entrance of Hines, Ore., shuttered since 2006, a mere ghost of the industry that once fueled economic growth in the region.
A new owner plans to have the facility humming again, but instead of making wood products, it will use state-of-the-art technology imported from Germany to process locally grown alfalfa hay into animal feed, supporting dairy farms across the state in the Willamette Valley.
Northport School District Superintendent Don Baribault had an expensive problem on his hands: An old diesel boiler in the preschool-through-eighth-grade building on the Northport Elementary/Middle/High School campus was failing. It needed constant maintenance, but the district didn’t have the budget to upgrade its heating system.
Then the district received a call from the Washington State University Energy Program, inquiring if the district had an interest in some grant money to install wood energy at the school through a state-funded bioenergy pilot program. It would be the first time the state installed a wood pellet boiler for a public building.
This is only the beginning - a theme on the lips of many of the speakers at the ribbon cutting for the new biomass boiler project April 6.
The torrential downpour on Friday afternoon could not put a damper on the excitement of the staff of Sierra Institute, especially biomass project leader Camille Swezy, as she greeted community members and forestry employees for the welcome and ribbon cutting for the brand new biomass project, which will provide both heat and fuel for the county building in Quincy.
At six public schools across the Prince of Wales Island in Alaska, the installation of modern wood heating systems has fueled a surge of energy savings, student entrepreneurship and, surprisingly, improved nutrition.
Now that renewable energies are cost competitive with fossil fuels in many markets around the world, they are starting to be implemented as mainstream sources of energy in countries like Sweden and Costa Rica. More locally, many communities and Tribal Nations are also working on achieving energy independence through renewables. In pursuing its goal of being a true sovereign Nation, the Spokane Tribe of Indians of Washington is emerging as an innovative leader in attaining self-sufficiency.
Richard DeWolf’s Portland-based company, Versatile Wood Products, specializes in the restoration and remodel of historical doors, windows and cabinetry. In the course of a single year, that work produces a significant amount of wood waste and sawdust, to the tune of about 100 total tons per year.
DeWolf wanted to find a sustainable way to get rid of those excess materials. So he teamed up with another Portland firm, Wisewood Energy, to design and install a biomass boiler system that takes what would have been dumped in a landfill and turns it into fuel to heat Versatile Wood Products’ 40,000-square-foot facility in North Portland.
Photo credit: Dan Bihn
BURNS, Ore. - Harney County-based High Desert Biomass Co-op and regional business lender Craft3 have closed on a $1.1 million loan to allow for long-term, community ownership of an innovative, biomass district heating system in Burns.
At best, the road to finding an efficient and economic means of heating the Plumas County Health and Human Services Center has been rocky. In 2006, the facility was rebuilt to consolidate and centralize operations, and with the new design, the existing heating solution was replaced with a ground-source geothermal system. Though appealing in theory, the system—undersized and unable to keep up with the buildings’ heat load—has been very expensive to operate. A decade later, it’s close to failing, and the building’s heating and cooling costs are significant. That will soon be changing, however, as a new solution will be in place by spring—a biomass-fueled, combined-heat-and-power system, a project that has been in the making for the past couple of years.
It's no surprise that fresh produce can be hard to come by in Alaska, where the growing season is short and high energy prices make commercial food operations challenging. A few innovative communities are changing that trend by building greenhouses at schools and heating them with locally sourced woody biomass - creating a compelling chain of local energy generation, fresh food production, and hands-on education. The State recently released a handbook that outlines how to replicate this model, from project conception all the way through understanding biomass options, funding greenhouse operations, and incorporating a suite of educational opportunities. Of course there are also tons of great photos and inspiring case studies.
This April Wisewood Energy and the Quinault Indian Nation kicked off a new design project for a biomass district heating facility in Taholah, Washington. Taholah is situated at the confluence of the Pacific Ocean and the Quinault River, an area rich in forest, river, and ocean resources. However, this area is also experiencing an increasing risk of sea level rise, coastal erosion, and intense storm events, and as such the community of Taholah has decided to relocate to higher grounds. The biomass district heating facility will provide key infrastructure for the relocated community buildings, and will be designed to use hog fuel wood chips sourced from the local area. Scroll down to p.9 for an excerpt on Wisewood's recent site visit to Taholah.