Contract to supply woody biomass fuel to University of Missouri's power plant called 'national model' for its forest protections; construction underway on campus' new CHP biomass boiler, expected to cost about US$75M

LOS ANGELES , October 18, 2011 () – A contract to supply the University of Missouri’s (MU) power plant with woody biomass fuel is being called a “national model” for its forest protections, reported the Columbia Missourian on Oct. 17.

MU accepted the six-year contract despite it adding US$6,000 to $10,000 per year to its cost for biomass.

Foster Brothers will supply 100,000 tons per year of wood chips to MU’s new biomass boiler starting in fall 2012, taking steps to ensure it won’t endanger the state’s forests.

The biomass boiler, which is now under construction, will provide 20%-25% of the university’s heat and electricity requirements, said Gregg Coffin, superintendent of MU’s power plant, the Columbia Missourian reported.

The new boiler will replace an older coal burner at the university’s power plant, reducing its coal consumption by 25%. The project will cost about $75 million, said Hank Stelzer, an MU Extension forestry professor who helped develop the biomass supply contract.

The MU power plant also has four boilers that use coal and a small percentage of blended biomass amounting to no more than 6,000 tons/year of grasses and woody material; plus one natural gas-fired boiler, reported the Columbia Missourian.

Foster expects to begin supplying the co-firing boilers next spring. The Auxvasse, Missouri-based company produces 400,000-500,000 tons/year of wood products and operates five waste wood chipping facilities in Missouri.

The sustainability measures in the UM supply agreement are a “national model,” said Peter Becker, a research coordinator with the Eastern Ozark Forestry Council who pushed for the conditions to be included, the Columbia Missourian reported.

The protections are viewed as necessary as Missouri lacks logging restrictions and the state’s forests face increased logging due to several other wood-fueled power plants that are under development.

These projects are proposed in the Missouri towns of Perryville, Viburnum, Ellington and Fort Leonard Wood, and each would require 100,000-400,000 tons/year of waste wood, said Hank Dorst, a member of Mark Twain Forest Watchers, reported the Columbia Missourian.

While generating heat or electricity from biomass-fueled plants is not new in the Midwest, the size and sourcing for the MW boiler is, said Stelzer, The Columbia Missourian reported.

The primary source of this article is Columbia Missourian, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, on Oct. 17, 2011.

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