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Feb. 28, 2012 - At the morning keynote sessions for the Bioenergy Conference & Expo in Atlanta, Georgia, a number of individuals presented on various facets of the biomass industry: International markets, growth potential, manufacturing and job growth.


February 28, 2012
By David Manly

Feb. 28, 2012 – At the morning keynote sessions for the Bioenergy Conference & Expo in Atlanta, Georgia, a number of individuals presented on various facets of the biomass industry: International markets, growth potential, manufacturing and job growth.

The first session, by John Keppler, the chairman and CEO of Enviva LP, focused on how biomass can better make an impact on international markets. The main focus was on how to best expand the biomass industry into the international stage.

According to Keppler, the best ways to do so are to focus on the main tenants of any manufacturing business – sustainability, safety, reliability, policy and risk management.

“We have a great story to tell,” he said, “but it all starts on the ground, with the guys in the boots planting trees.”

The second session was by Jim Imbler, the president and CEO of ZeaChem Inc. and former oil executive on the similarities between the wood energy industries and oil.

The company is currently working on maximizing the amount of biomass harvested from trees, as well as decreasing the amount of storage time in silos by harvesting and putting the biomass to use as soon as possible.

“It’s the new oil,” he said.

The third addresses discussed the hard reality of pellet manufacturing by Steven Walker, the president and CEO of New England Wood Pellet. He stated that safety is paramount, and should be one of your biggest expenses with the construction of a plant (see our article on their newest plant here).

Walker stated that over 50 percent of the pellet plants in the Northeastern US are gone and primarily due to the fact of the huge prevalence of bad information out there. There is always a learning curve associated with a successful business because “every wood is different.”

Finally, the final keynote address in the morning focused on the huge commitment within the state of Georgia, which has among the highest volumes of biomass in the entire United States. Jill Stuckey, the director of the Georgia Centre of Innovation for Energy, highlighted their huge commitment to the utilization of biomass that has resulted in over 1 billion dollars worth of announced projects in the pipeline.

In fact, Stuckey mentioned that the state of Georgia could support over 45 major biomass investments (ranging from pellets to drop-in fuels and pharmaceuticals) totaling over $100 million in state money, due to its large volume of unused biomass.

Stay tuned for more from the Atlanta Bioenergy conference over the next few days from Canadian Biomass.


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