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  1. #1
    Elite Member Bob77064's Avatar
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    Default Burning down trees for electricity

    When I travel aorund this area and see all the dead trees lying on the ground. They are a fire hazard during the hot dry summer months. What if someone could built an electricity generating plant that could burn these trees for fuel?

  2. #2
    Silver Member
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    Default Re: Burning down trees for electricity

    You're only about 150 years late there bud....

    -ruston_and_hornsby_steam_tractor_sn_115100_of_1922-jpg

  3. #3
    Super Member dave1949's Avatar
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    Default Re: Burning down trees for electricity

    Biomass generators (chopped up trees burnt to power a steam turbine generating plant) have been built here. They tend to be expensive sources of power. The paper mills use them to do on-site power generation, but that is a waste by-product use of the trees that are going to be trucked to the paper mill anyways.

    They get reduced rates from the utility because they can offset peak loads, and they can sell the generated power and get renewable energy credit prices.
    "Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end ..."
    When there is a huge solar energy spill, it is called a "nice day"!

  4. #4
    Elite Member Bob77064's Avatar
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    Default Re: Burning down trees for electricity

    Quote Originally Posted by dirtyoldman View Post
    You're only about 150 years late there bud....

    -ruston_and_hornsby_steam_tractor_sn_115100_of_1922-jpg
    I saw one of those at the fair.

  5. #5
    Veteran Member KennyG's Avatar
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    Default Re: Burning down trees for electricity

    The economics of burning wood is dominated by collecting and transporting costs. The successful biomass projects are generally located at a lumber mill or some other kind of processing facility where all the transportation costs are already paid for by the primary process and the electrical generator gets the leftovers free.

    There have been plans to grow various crops as feedstock but the harvesting and transportation costs have always been a problem.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Burning down trees for electricity

    Even though I do not buy into the Carbon Reduction hype for climate change reasons, I do burn wood for heating my house as a major supplemental to propane. As I look at it the tree is going to rot and release its carbon so why not accelerate that release via rapid oxidation and thereby eliminate the release of carbon from burning propane, natural gas, fuel oil, etc.? I think it also help that I have trees very nearby and can in a couple of hours cut and stack a cord of wood, i.e. it is very cost effective for me since the supply and the consumption are very near to each other. I also like the fact that it is physical exercise but as the years pass I am liking that part less and less.

    I would prefer to have an outdoor wood burner but our I live too near town and they have banned those too close to town. Consequently I am stuck with much more cutting and splitting and carrying to be able to use the wood in my fireplace insert. I also have to live with the mess of the wood in the house. but the heat is so nice that I will live with the issues that arise!

  7. #7
    Elite Member Bob77064's Avatar
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    Default Re: Burning down trees for electricity

    Quote Originally Posted by KennyG View Post
    The economics of burning wood is dominated by collecting and transporting costs. The successful biomass projects are generally located at a lumber mill or some other kind of processing facility where all the transportation costs are already paid for by the primary process and the electrical generator gets the leftovers free.

    There have been plans to grow various crops as feedstock but the harvesting and transportation costs have always been a problem.
    You are exactly right. It would have to be economically feasible. It's just a shame to see all these trees rotting.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Burning down trees for electricity

    Here in northern California in the last 8 or 9 years they have really changed how they log on land owned by the large timber companies. Before they would mostly pile and either leave or burn the waste trees, a little bit was chipped. Now they will go in before logging and remove everything that is to small to use and the oaks that will fit through the chipper and stack them to the side to be chipped along with the limbs and tops after they are done. There are subsidies for agricultural and timber material that can be used in cogeneration plants so that helps but also with timber prices so low they are looking at more ways to make money.
    Tom

  9. #9
    Platinum Member westcliffe01's Avatar
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    Default Re: Burning down trees for electricity

    There is 1 obvious answer to your question and that is labor cost. There are far too few specialized logging machines and too much manual labor involved. Not to mention you are talking selective logging, which only pays with expensive large trees of a desirable species for exotic application (veneer or furniture). Selective logging would never work out to keep a boiler fired. If you start a more systematic logging process, the environmentalists will be putting the brakes on because of some obscure bug or rat.

    There is a lot more potential for decentralized combined heat and power using natural gas (each home generates its own electricity and gets heat as a by product). Commercial units have been built and pilot projects run in several states, but it never seems to be able to compete against coal powered electricity. One needs to sell millions of units before the development costs are covered at which point it starts getting cheaper. Summer can be a problem when you just don't need the heat and so far they don't have an absorption type AC unit set up to use the heat in the right way.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Burning down trees for electricity

    Quote Originally Posted by Creamer View Post
    Even though I do not buy into the Carbon Reduction hype for climate change reasons, I do burn wood for heating my house as a major supplemental to propane. As I look at it the tree is going to rot and release its carbon so why not accelerate that release via rapid oxidation and thereby eliminate the release of carbon from burning propane, natural gas, fuel oil, etc.? I think it also help that I have trees very nearby and can in a couple of hours cut and stack a cord of wood, i.e. it is very cost effective for me since the supply and the consumption are very near to each other. I also like the fact that it is physical exercise but as the years pass I am liking that part less and less.

    I would prefer to have an outdoor wood burner but our I live too near town and they have banned those too close to town. Consequently I am stuck with much more cutting and splitting and carrying to be able to use the wood in my fireplace insert. I also have to live with the mess of the wood in the house. but the heat is so nice that I will live with the issues that arise!


    I, too, heat almost solely with wood and have been doing it since 1976 at a 6 cord plus/yr rate. I is "sorta" carbon neutral as you pointed out. that wood would rot and release its carbon 'eventually'. Tht is the rub. Short term it adds carbon as you burn far more wood in a give time span than that same amount of wood would have rotted.

    The offset by not burning oil/gas doesn't cover it all as wood is nowhere near as efficient as oil/gas appliances are.

    Harry K

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