Let’s burn wood waste for power

LETTER

Re: Storm mess a ‘wake-up call’ for the district, June 27 story.

Look at the age of some of that larger wood in the slash stream. It’s not all a product of current logging but possibly windfalls that could have met their end any time in the past 10 years.

We do not have a useful purpose for all this old wood and the new slash that is being added by current logging. Or do we?

When the wood is drier and chipped it could be used as fuel. The technology is called power co-generation. The unit would need to be close to the sources of this slash. In other areas it is called bin wood and in the Hawke’s Bay, Pan Pac uses clean chips for making pulp, and other fragments can be burnt to provide the energy for power co-generation.

Eastland Group has invested in geothermal power in the Bay of Plenty so is experienced in this power co-generation technology. Has it considered providing a service to our East Coast communities by locating a wood chip-powered co-generation unit near the Tolaga Bay area that would use this otherwise unusable wood to provide power to the local and national grids? I would be very interested hear their thoughts.​

John McLean

Footnote response from Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd:

We have looked at using wood waste as a source of fuel for a combined heat and power plant a number of times, starting as far back as 2005 when we were granted some money from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to investigate the opportunity. The writer is correct that the technology is well proven, you burn chipped or hogged wood and produce both electricity and process heat.

Electricity generated can be easily sold, but the issue we have faced is the absence of a customer who needs a significant amount of process heat and without this the project isn’t economic.

The additional problem is cost-effective transportation of the wood waste from the forest to the plant, with forests close to the plant being economic but those further away being too expensive.

The good news is that in the past six months we have re-livened this project and we are having a fresh look at it. There are new forestry processing plants being discussed and these would potentially need process heat. It wouldn’t — in itself — solve the forestry residue issue, but it could make a meaningful contribution.

Re: Storm mess a ‘wake-up call’ for the district, June 27 story.

Look at the age of some of that larger wood in the slash stream. It’s not all a product of current logging but possibly windfalls that could have met their end any time in the past 10 years.

We do not have a useful purpose for all this old wood and the new slash that is being added by current logging. Or do we?

When the wood is drier and chipped it could be used as fuel. The technology is called power co-generation. The unit would need to be close to the sources of this slash. In other areas it is called bin wood and in the Hawke’s Bay, Pan Pac uses clean chips for making pulp, and other fragments can be burnt to provide the energy for power co-generation.

Eastland Group has invested in geothermal power in the Bay of Plenty so is experienced in this power co-generation technology. Has it considered providing a service to our East Coast communities by locating a wood chip-powered co-generation unit near the Tolaga Bay area that would use this otherwise unusable wood to provide power to the local and national grids? I would be very interested hear their thoughts.​

John McLean

Footnote response from Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd:

We have looked at using wood waste as a source of fuel for a combined heat and power plant a number of times, starting as far back as 2005 when we were granted some money from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to investigate the opportunity. The writer is correct that the technology is well proven, you burn chipped or hogged wood and produce both electricity and process heat.

Electricity generated can be easily sold, but the issue we have faced is the absence of a customer who needs a significant amount of process heat and without this the project isn’t economic.

The additional problem is cost-effective transportation of the wood waste from the forest to the plant, with forests close to the plant being economic but those further away being too expensive.

The good news is that in the past six months we have re-livened this project and we are having a fresh look at it. There are new forestry processing plants being discussed and these would potentially need process heat. It wouldn’t — in itself — solve the forestry residue issue, but it could make a meaningful contribution.

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