Biomass power plant begins operation
We Energies recently announced that the biomass-fueled power plant on the site of Domtar Corp.'s Rothschild, Wis., paper mill was placed into commercial operation Friday, Nov. 8, after testing and commissioning activities were successfully completed.
Wood, waste wood and sawdust are being used to produce up to 50 megawatts (MW) of electricity; steam provided by the plant is also supporting Domtar's sustainable papermaking operations.
This new biomass plant adds another technology to the renewable energy portfolio operated by We Energies.
“The addition of the biomass plant enables us to produce renewable energy on demand,” said Gale Klappa, We Energies chairman, president and chief executive officer. “That benefit is simply not available with solar or wind generation.”
The company's renewable energy portfolio includes the state's two largest wind developments – the 145-MW Blue Sky Green Field Wind Energy Center in Fond du Lac County and the 162-MW Glacier Hills Wind Park in Columbia County. Together, these three projects are capable of delivering nearly 360 MW of renewable energy, enough to supply approximately 120,000 homes.
“These renewable energy projects – fueled by Wisconsin resources – were developed largely through the talents of Wisconsin companies and Wisconsin labor,” Klappa said.
More than 400 workers contributed to the construction of the biomass plant, which also will support approximately 150 permanent jobs in the region, including independent wood suppliers and haulers from northern and central Wisconsin who will secure waste wood for the project.
Under Wisconsin law, utilities statewide must use renewable energy to meet 10 percent of the electricity needs of their retail customers by the year 2015. With the commercial operation of the Rothschild biomass plant, We Energies estimates that it now has secured enough renewable energy to remain in compliance with the state mandate through 2022.
In addition, Domtar's use of the steam produced by the plant will help improve the paper mill's energy efficiency and reduce overall emissions at the site by more than 30 percent.
We Energies serves more than 1.1 million electric customers in Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula and 1.1 million natural gas customers in Wisconsin. Domtar Corp. designs, manufactures, markets and distributes a wide variety of fiber-based products including communication papers, specialty and packaging papers and absorbent hygiene products.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.