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.
When it comes time for project implementation, supply is just one of four important factors to consider when determining the right scale for your community. Meagan Hartman, Project Development Manager at Wisewood Energy, shared insights garnered from years of project development and her graduate research at OSU. She discussed appropriately-scaled biomass activities, the different tensions of scale, and different biomass energy technologies. In addition to supply, she calls out social acceptance, economic viability, and existing forest sector supply chains as top factors in determining the appropriate scale of a new project.
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.
The culture of Central Oregon is a place-based one. The region is known for its bright skies beyond the gray Willamette Valley, high snowy peaks perfect for winter recreation, pumpkin colored pine trees that provide a scenic backdrop and playground, and of course, its craft brewing built on a rich watershed. Is it possible this place can also be known for its home-grown biomass energy?
Wisewood Energy specializes in community-scale biomass energy systems, whether for a single institution, district heating for a downtown area, or process heating for a larger industrial user. But, did you know biomass works at even smaller scales too? In fact, biomass boilers are very common in residential households across Europe, particularly pellet systems.
Last October we held the ribbon cutting celebration for Harney Community Energy (HCE), an innovative, first-of-its kind in the region, biomass district heating system in Burns Oregon. The system is providing heat to multiple community institutions on one common hot water loop using a single biomass boiler.