Boardman Coal Plant Could Get New Life with BioMass Burning
By 2020 the Boardman, OR coal fired electrical generating plant is going to be closing, a decision made by Portland General Electric (PGE) in the wake of increasing restrictions and some say, strangulation of the coal plant industry.
The plant, one of the 'youngest' or newest in the U.S., is going to be closed voluntarily and in return are receiving less expensive and costly emissions and environmental restrictions. PGE has chosen to close the plant rather than face a growing mountain of regulations and expenses. Many of the some 94 plant shutdowns across the country, either pending or those that have already happened, came about after President Obama's vow a few years ago to "bankrupt" the coal industry.
Rather than install costly environmental equipment and other features, PGE officials say it's cheaper to shut down Oregon's only coal-fired plant.
However, the plant could gain new life as a biomass burning and alternative fuel plant. Officials plan to have an experimental biomass burning day later this fall, where the electricity-generating station will be fed entirely forest product biomass, to see how efficiently it burns the materials.
The biomass is fed into machines that pulverize the biomass, a process called torrefaction. The shredded materials are then turned into a crispy dry material that can be burned much like coal, according to the Walla Walla Union Bulletin, and East Oregonian.
Later this fall, will be the first time the plant will be fed entirely biomass materials for 24 hours. Last year, a mixed fuel of coal and biomass resulted in a successful test, now officials want to proceed further.
The biomass would be gathered from Oregon forests, some of it dead by products from aging trees and other plant materials, some of it offshoots from wood that cannot be processed in a lumber mill. Officials hope to prove the process can turn into a sustainable source of jobs, energy production, and economic development, and keep the plant operating.