Now, fossil fuels are just biological materials that are some WICKED ancient. We can burn materials that take less than 50 years to re-generate instead, and we can grow’em right around these parts.

Biological Power News

Maine's Conversation about Biological Power

When we talk about biological power, we mean power that is generated from converting materials that were once living, such as trees or other plants.  We will have several sub-headings (such as biodiesel, biomass and ethanol) under biological power in time; for now they are all under one umbrella.

We invite Maine's experts and novices to post their questions, concerns, insights, rants, praise or technical information about the many forms of biological power available in Maine here. Please join the conversation and check back often for updates.

Advertisement for trees as Maine's homegrown fuel

 
 
Feds Throw Lifeline to Maine’s Forest Products Industry
02/05/2017 - 7:40pm

SAPPIs Skowhegan woodyard courtesy of SAPPIOn January 18, 2017, the US Economic Development Administration announced a series of grants and initiatives aimed at breathing new life into Maine’s ailing forest products industry by helping industry leaders create a vision and roadmap for the sector. These will include forging a collaboration between Oak Ridge National Laboratory, University of Maine and the US Department of Energy, to find new opportunities for biomass energy for combined heat and power, microgrid and cutting edge research related to biofuels.

The news is welcomed by the Maine Forest Products Council and the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine as a way to carry the industry into a future of stable prosperity.

Read the full report of the Economic Development Assessment Team (EDAT).  Or, read the full story in Mainebiz.

Image credit: SAPPI’s Skowhegan woodyard courtesy of SAPPI.

MPUC Defers Decision on Net Metering Rule Changes
01/08/2017 - 1:51pm

Photo of Mark Vannoy courtesy of the Maine Public Utilities CommissionOn December 19, 2016, the Maine Public Utilities Commission announced a delay in handing down a decision about a controversial set of proposed rule changes to Maine’s net metering law.

Commission Chairman Mark Vannoy was quoted as saying, ”This is an important rule and more time is needed to consider the proposed rule in light of the comments we received to ensure that the rule treats all ratepayers in a fair manner. It remains clear that changes in technology and costs of small renewable generation, particularly solar photo-voltaic, require a careful review of the current rule and potential modifications."

The 128th Maine Legislature, which has just opened it 2017 session, will also be considering changes to net metering laws.

Read more in Mainebiz and read the announcement on the MPUC website.

Photo of Mark Vannoy courtesy of the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

Maine Prepares to Export Wood Chips
11/13/2016 - 2:52pm

image of wood chips courtesy of DOEAs of November 8, 2016, the ports of Searsport and Eastport, Maine are announcing that they are prepared to begin exporting wood chips to India and the European Union, to be used as power generation feedstock, as soon as 2017.

Preparations have been underway since 2009 and involve perfecting a process called phytosanitation for heat treating the wood product to kill insects before transit. The news is being welcomed by Maine’s biomass industry, which has been dogged by paper mill closures and low oil prices for the past several years.

Read the full story in the Portland Press Herald or in Mainebiz.

Image of wood chips courtesy of DOE.

Maine Governor Signs Biomass Bailout Bill
05/07/2016 - 5:14pm

biomass hopper at Colby College image courtesy of Colby CollegeOn April 16, 2016, Maine’s Governor signed a $13.5 million biomass bailout bill, LD 1676: “An Act To Establish a Process for the Procurement of Biomass Resources”, into law after it passed both houses on April 15.

The bill would authorize the Maine Public Utilities Commission to purchase up to 80 MW of power from Maine’s remaining biomass energy plants at above-market prices over two years in order to shore up demand. Funding for these purchases would come from the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” of surplus tax revenues, rather than from an increase in electricity rates, as originally proposed.

Supporters see the bill as essential to the preservation of over 1,000  jobs in the logging and biomass industries. Opponents see the bill as “corporate welfare” which will benefit JD Irving and biomass plant owner ReEnergy Holdings, with no guarantee that the plants will remain open.

Read more in the Bangor Daily News and listen to the story on MPBN.

Algae Research Funds Flow to USM
10/27/2015 - 11:08am

a student conducts algae research image courtesy of US-DOEOn October 2, 2015, the US Department of Energy awarded a multi-year, $1.5 million grant to the Algae Foundation, to develop a college degree in algal cultivation technologies as well as an aquaculture extension training program.

The Algae Foundation has formed the Algae Technology Educational Consortium (ATEC), a partnership between academic institutions, national research laboratories, and industry leaders. The Consortium will develop novel educational programs to strengthen industry workforce capabilities.

The Algae Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about the algae industry. Its leader, Dr. Ike Levine, teaches at the University of Southern Maine in Lewiston. Read the full news story here.

Image courtesy of US-DOE.

E2Tech Hosts its First Expo Oct. 1
09/28/2015 - 9:45pm

Environmental and Energy Technology Council of Maine E2TechThe Environmental & Energy Technology Council of Maine (E2Tech) and its partners are pleased to host the inaugural E2Tech Expo on October 1, 2015. Events include keynotes from a Fortune 50 company and a venture capital firm; its first-ever “E2Tech Talks” on Maine’s local and global food movements; a high-level plenary panel on cleantech markets, technologies, and public policies; workshops on energy policy, workforce development & career connections, sustainability in the supply chain, and cluster development and seed funding; and dozens of tables featuring environmental and energy companies, products, services, and resources.

You may see the agenda and register here.

Maine Islanders Study Danish Energy Ways
01/18/2015 - 6:22pm

Samso Island, Denmarks Energy Academy photo courtesy of Samso Energy AcademyIn October of 2014, a group of 5 Mainers from Peaks and Monhegan Islands and 15 College of the Atlantic students traveled to Denmark's Samso Island to attend the Samso Energy Academy and learn about their "Fossil-Free Island" project.

Samso Island is becoming energy independent by using wind and solar power and geothermal and biomass heat. Read a great New York times article that details what they learned there.

Image: Samso Energy Academy photo courtesy of Samso Energy Academy.

Taking Energy from Waste to a New Level
08/09/2014 - 5:08pm

a Trashanol plant in Virginia courtesy of FiberightThe Municipal Review Committee, a non-profit that manages the solid waste needs of 187 communities in and around Penobscot County, is entertaining a proposal from the Maryland company, Fiberight, to extract energy and other resources from its waste.

Fiberight proposes to build a zero-sort recycling and trash-fed fuel processing and engineered fuels facility that would make ethanol or biogas (coined, "Trashanol") from the food and other organic materials in the waste stream. A similar process is being pioneered by Old Town Fuel & Fiber in Orono.

Read more in the Bangor Daily News and on the Fiberight website.

Image: a "Trashanol" plant in Virginia, courtesy of Fiberight.

CMP Withdraws Standby Fee Hike Proposal
07/11/2014 - 12:12pm

Solar Array at Thomas College by Jen BukerIn apparent reaction to vociferous opposition by renewable energy proponents, Central Maine Power Company (CMP) has withdrawn from its rate case settlement agreement a request to hike the standby fees that it charges to grid-tied ratepayers who produce their own electric power.

The Office of the Maine Public Advocate was among the many intervenors opposing the increased fees. Brunswick Landing, which is planning to generate power from anaerobic digestion of wastes onsite and Bowdoin College, which is building the state's largest solar complex, are among the beneficiaries of this move.

Read it all in the Portland Press Herald or in Mainebiz.

Brunswick Landing Welcomes Anaerobic Digester
03/21/2014 - 5:23pm

MRRA Executive Director Steve Levesque and Village Green Ventures CEO Dave Weyburn shake hands after signing documents for a new anaerobic digester power plant to be built at Brunswick Landing in Maine photo courtesy of MRRAOn March 14, 2014, the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA) signed a ground lease agreement and power purchase agreement with Village Green Ventures, which plans to build a 1-megawatt anaerobic digestion power plant on the east side of the BXM airfield at Brunswick Landing. The plant is expected to furnish a large percentage of the collective power needs of businesses on the campus.

Read the full story on the MRRA website.  Or, read our detailed blog post on Dave Weyburn's E2Tech presentation about the system here.

Photo: MRRA Executive Director Steve Levesque and Village Green Ventures CEO Dave Weyburn shake hands; photo courtesy of MRRA.