A Beautiful Day for Biofuels in North Carolina

September 18, 2014

Carl Crozier (NCSU-CALS) presenting research results from the sprayfield project on energy grasses (switchgrass and miscanthus).Bioenergy is already being used in many parts of North Carolina and the local public were recently invited to learn more about it as part of an event to mark National Bioenergy Day. The NC Bioenergy Field Day was held at the Williamsdale Biofuels Lab in Wallace, NC followed by an afternoon tour of the Coastal Carolina Clean Power biomass power plant in Kenansville NC.  The event was led and organized by the North Carolina State University College of Natural Resources (CNR), North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), and the N.C. Bioenergy Initiative of the Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS).
 
The workshop was open to the public at no cost as a result of generous support from our corporate sponsors and sponsoring partners. A post-workshop evaluation indicated that this event was a success as 100% of respondents indicated that they would attend another similar workshop and 70% would recommend it to their friends. 
 
September 18, 2014
 
Field Tour (A) Woody Crops (Hybrid Poplar and Native Hardwoods), Genetically Modified Woody Crops
This tour provided participants with the opportunity to learn more about research on short rotation woody crops.  The first stop was at a field of planted hybrid poplar clones and native hardwoods.  Researcher is focused on determining the best practices for establishing fast growing hybrid poplar and native hardwood plantations.  Participants were able to walk into the stand and ask questions from the speakers.  The last stops were at a field of genetically modified and transgenic trees being studied to improve biomass growth for bioenergy production.  Speakers also talked about the regulations in place by USDA-APHIS at the state and federal level. 
 
Field Tour (B) Sprayfield Project on Energy Grasses – Switchgrass and Miscanthus, Arundo donax Research, and Biomass and Sweet Sorghums
Participants learn about storage methods being researched on energy grasses (switchgrass and miscanthus).For this tour, participants learned how energy grasses such as miscanthus and swithgrass and Arundo donax are being studied for a potential alternative to Bermuda grass for swine waste sprayfield application sites. The latest data on biomass and sweet sorghums was also presented.
 
Elizabeth Nichols (NCSU-CNR) (middle) presenting results from the Poplar Establishment Trial.  Dennis Hazel (NCSU-CNR) (right) also presented along with PhD candidate Shawn Dayson Shifflett (NCSU-CNR) (left).This tour provided participants with the opportunity to learn more about research on short rotation woody crops.  The first stop was at a field of planted hybrid poplar clones and native hardwoods.  Research is focused on determining the best practices for establishing fast growing hybrid poplar and native hardwood plantations.  Participants were able to walk into the stand and ask questions from the speakers.  The last stops were at a field of genetically modified and transgenic trees being studied to improve biomass growth for bioenergy production. Speakers also talked about the regulations in place by USDA-APHIS at the state and federal level.
 
Lunch with Updates from Industry Speakers & Sponsors
While the first part of the tour focused on the biomass sources, during lunch, the audience had the opportunity to hear from companies within the bioenergy industry that are or will soon be operating within North Carolina.  Since the bioenergy industry cannot succeed without these companies, it was interesting to hear their perspective and updates on their work in North Carolina. 
 
Afternoon Session and Tour
Following lunch, attendees toured an operating biomass power facility in Kenansville, NC. This facility has plans to diversify their feedstock by adding poultry litter to its fuel mix, the audience learned about the testing results from their initial attempts. Coastal Carolina Clean Power and Duke Power are currently negotiating a revised power purchase agreement for renewable energy credits for poultry litter and biomass.  The REPS requires that 12.5% of North Carolina electric retail sales from investor owned utilities by 2021 and beyond be acquired from renewable energy sources or energy efficiency measures.  The REPS has specific set aside requirements that requires a portion of the renewable energy to come from poultry litter. 
 
This National Bioenergy Day was a success and there are plans to have another field day within two years.  For more information on the event including informational handouts please visit, http://www.ncsu-feop.org/BioFieldDay/index.html.
 
The workshop was supported, in part, by USDA Renewable Resource Extension Act (RREA) Funds, North Carolina State University Extension Forestry, North Carolina State University CALS & NCDA&CS Bioenergy Initiative, Southeastern Partnership for Integrated Biomass Supply Systems, a USDA AFRI-funded project, Biochemtex, Coastal Carolina Clean Power, NexSteppe, Repreve Renewables, Tyton BioEnergy Systems, and Vermeer Mid Atlantic.  Contribution from our corporate sponsors and government agency support helped to eliminate registration fees for the event.

2014-NC-Bioenergy-Field-Day.pdf — PDF document, 1.1 MB
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