Wood Bioenergy Conference

Speakers Stepping Up





Wood Bioenergy Conference & Expo announced its first wave of keynote speakers and technical presentations for the event to be held next March 12-13 at the Omni Hotel in downtown Atlanta, Ga. The event, which is held every other year, and will be held for the eighth time, is hosted by Wood Bioenergy magazine and Georgia Research Institute.

• Traveling the farthest to the conference could be Nicholas Dottino, CEO & Chairman of the Management Board at Graanul Invest. Headquartered in Tallinn, Estona, Graanul Invest is a leading biomass and bioenergy producer, including12 modern pellets plants in the Baltics and U.S. and six combined heat and power plants in Estonia and Latvia. The Group employs 500.

Graanul Invest pellet production capacity is 2.98 million short tons per year, making it the second-largest pellet producer in the world and the largest in Europe. The U.S. plant in Woodville, Texas, known as Woodville Pellets, was featured on the cover of Wood Bioenergy magazine last year.

Dottino will address “Next Highway to Growth—SAF, Biofuels, BECCS. Sustainable biomass is poised to revolutionize future applications. As we explore the next growth avenues for biomass, it is clear that biomass will continue to shape the energy landscape, but entirely new sectors are waiting to be discovered. Which avenues will biomass explore next, and how do we ensure we’re on the right path? Dottino will explore the innovative possibilities of sustainable biomass in emerging sectors like Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), advanced biofuels, and the transformative potential of BECCS (Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage) in our journey to net-zero.

Brandi Colander, senior vice president, chief sustainability officer and Government Affairs at Enviva, will talk about “Sustainably Scaling Wood Biomass.

Within an evolving and expanding regulatory landscape and under increased external scrutiny, it is critical to stand by your sustainability practices through transparent and verifiable means. This presentation will outline how Enviva, the world’s largest producer of industrial wood pellets, has committed to doing this through responsible sourcing practices.

Several Enviva wood pellet mills have been featured in Wood Bioenergy magazine through the years, and Enviva executives have been regular participants in the Wood Bioenergy Conference & Expo.

Paul Schubert, CEO, Strategic Biofuels, will address “Converting Forestry Waste to Negative Carbon Footprint Transportation Fuels.” Strategic Biofuels is developing a series of deeply negative carbon footprint plants in northern Louisiana that convert waste materials from managed and sustainable forests into renewable transportation fuels. The project incorporates conversion of plantation pine forest thinnings into fuel, production of green power primarily from sawmill waste, capture of carbon dioxide emissions from those processes and its permanent geologic sequestration.

Strategic Biofuels has been engaged in a cooperative program with the U.S. Forest Service together with input from the U.S. EPA on qualification of the wood feedstocks under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which has resulted in a practical guide for compliant feedstock identification. This effort has resulted in a significant increase in the amount of wood from plantation and natural timber stands that is qualified under the RFS relative to the traditional views. Both RFS compliance and the status of the project will be discussed.

William Strauss, founder and president of wood energy consulting firm, FutureMetrics, will make a return appearance to the Wood Bio Conference and address “Large Scale Use of Pellet Fuel is Coming to the U.S. Electric Utility Sector: Why and How Explained. Many jurisdictions around the world already use pellet fuel to replace coal in power generation. Baseload and on-demand generation using carbon beneficial wood pellet fuel is an essential complement to any decarbonization strategy. This presentation will describe how that is being done elsewhere and why and how it will be done in the U.S. over the next several years.

• Another previous participant at the conference, Wendy Owens, founder & CEO of Hexas Biomass, will speak about “One Fiber, Multiple Co-Products—How to Sugar Coat Energy Pellets. There is much more to biomass than just BTUs. This presentation will look at biomass, wood and non-wood, as sources of multiple co-products, like sugars and lignin, in addition to being sources for direct combustion fuel. To displace fossil fuel-based products it is necessary to borrow from the crude refining model and work to use the “whole biomass buffalo” to improve sustainability and return on investment. Driven by the bourgeoning bioeconomy, this model is a continuation of using timber for multiple applications and this presentation will review the advantages of the biochemical applications of biomass.

The U.S. Industrial Pellet Assn. (USIPA) will be represented by Taylor Fitts, vice president, Communications and External Affairs. He has worked at USIPA for more than five years, and has had a substantial career in the communications field. His talk is entitled “Changing the Narrative on Biomass. Since its inception, the biomass industry has struggled to manage critics and effectively communicate its positive contributions for the climate and society. This presentation will offer perspective on how the industry can address and overcome this challenge to unlock its full potential.

Dane Floyd, CEO of Biomass Engineering & Equipment, will talk about “Projects That Predict the Future. Known for his grasp of the big picture for the wood bioenergy industry, Floyd will point to the development of several projects since the 2022 conference, their potential volumes and impacts to fiber allocation. He’ll speak on the incredible growth in the number and size of biochar projects, noting BE&E is involved in a number of these. What is driving it and will it last? He’ll touch on a fascinating project of wood expansion gases going directly to a turbine and genset without the typical (and expensive) boiler and steam train between them. He’ll also review wood to metallurgical carbon projects that are finally becoming reality; as well as wood sugars projects. He’ll note that growth in woody biomass use in the ethanol industry is not just about cellulosic ethanol. He’ll explain why. He’ll look at the increased pace of the sale of small-scale CHP units—except in the U.S., while pointing to Austria to see the future. And he’ll touch on why the days of wood pellets to electrical energy are limited.

Andrew Johnson, vice president, TSI: “Biochar Production and Applications, addresses what are the pathways to commercial production of biochar at scale. How do you control production so that biochar can be tailored to different applications? What are some of the emerging markets for biochar and how does the requirements of those markets affect the production process?

Colin Miller, Partner and Managing Director, 11Foundry: “Return on Compliance. EUDR (European Union Deforestation Regulation) promises to be highly disruptive in the wood biomass energy sector. Still, companies within and outside the EU that can successfully navigate the data- and analysis-intensive requirements of the new regulation stand to differentiate themselves in the market in significant ways. Colin will explore “Return on Compliance” and how companies can build on existing principles with new tools to discover new synergies.

Timo Müller, Business Development Director, SALMATEC: “Current Pelleting Technology Trends. The pelleting industry is constantly evolving. While industrial biomass pellets are most relevant in North America, Europe focuses more on residential heating pellets. There is a lot that both production markets can learn from each other. This presentation will show current trends in the wood pelleting industry, focusing on the pretreatment of the raw material as well as the pelleting itself and finally the storage of pellets.

Organizers continue to add presentations. The final agenda will be published soon.

Wood Bioenergy Conference & Expo meets in the Grand Ballroom North of the Omni Hotel. Immediately adjacent the speaking sessions is the exhibit floor, which will feature approximately 70 equipment and technology providers.

Immediately following the Wood Bioenergy Conference & Expo is the Panel & Engineered Lumber International Conference & Expo (PELICE), which will be held March 14-15 at the same location. Attendee registration will open in December.

For exhibitor information contact Fred Kurpiel: fredkurpiel@gmail.com

For presentation information contact Rich Donnell: rich@hattonbrown.com

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