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Wood burning plant battles weather

DRESDEN—The biomass burning equipment at AES Greenidge in Dresden has been tested by the weather as the company works its way up to 100 percent optimization.
Plant Manager Doug Roll said since the plant started operating in early August, the equipment has been tested by the weather. He explained that during the winter, several areas of the machinery froze. Roll explained that while they know how to deal with the problems now, at the time equipment like the metering bins froze and it was hard to create friction.
“Once (the wood) processed and fed into the boiler, it was fine,” said Roll.
The warmer weather has also provided its own problems. Roll said it has been hard to get new wood in without it being wet. However, he added they have built up an inventory.
The last part of the project to be completed, after biomass burning started Aug. 1, 2009, was the storage barn for wood. That is also the first stage of machinery the wood goes through to be processed.
Roll explained that the plant is also working on getting the most out of the biomass burning facilities. The equipment can create up to 250 Megawatts per day, one MW from each ton of wood/biomass processed. He said that currently, they are up to 160 MW per day on average. Per hour, the plant is processing eight to nine tons of biomass to the boiler. Roll added some days they have produced up to 190 MW per day.
The plant still produces energy through coal, but biomass burning constitutes about 10 percent of the energy AES makes. He also added that if energy demand is down, the total energy produced would also go down. However, Roll explained that would usually just be the energy produced through coal. So while the amount of biomass processed will be the same, it may be a bigger chunk of the total energy produced than just 10 percent. Roll said biomass energy could make up to 20 percent of the energy AES produces in this scenario.

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