JEA bumps up biomass burn at Northside power plant

JEA, the municipal power generator for the city of Jacksonville, Fla., applied on Jan. 13 at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for an air permit change that would allow it to burn up to 300 tons per day of biomass in each of the two units at its Northside power plant.

The biomass is definied as wood chips from tree trimmings and similar materials. The Florida DEP had in October 2011 approved JEA to burn up to 33.3 tons per day of biomass, or 1% of the heat input potential, in each of these same boilers. Notable is that the nearby St. Johns River Power Park coal plant of JEA is covered under the same air permit, but these changes only apply to Northside.

JEA said in the Jan. 13 application that this request to bump up the allowed biomass burn, in units normally fired by a blend of coal and petroleum coke, is designed to reduce emissions of various pollutants, including greenhouse gases. The 300 tons per day level for biomass in each boiler would not result in increases of emissions of NOx and volatile organic compounds, JEA said.

These boilers are currently permitted to fire coal, coal treated with latex binder, petroleum coke, No. 2 fuel oil, natural gas, landfill gas and the lower level of biomass.

The heat content of the biomass is not known, the application noted. Using a conservative high estimate of 8,000 Btu/lb, this new level of biomass burn would replace a total of 3,504,000 mmBtu per year of actual heat input for both boilers. There would would be no change to existing air pollution control equipment on the two boilers as a result of this project and no new emissions equipment would be added.

A table of historical heat input for the two boilers for the 2006-2010 period shows there was vastly more heat input from petroleum coke than bituminous coal, with only minor heat input from natural gas. U.S. Energy Information Administration data shows Northside taking delivery of petroleum coke in September 2011 from Valero.

These two units consist of two of the largest circulating fluidized bed combustors, or CFBs, in the world. These CFBs produce nearly 300 MW each, said the JEA website.

JEA said on the website that it is working to increase its use of “green” energy like solar, biomass and landfill gas. In 1999, JEA signed a memorandum of understanding with the Sierra Club and the American Lung Association of Florida that details its commitment to generate at least 7.5% of its electric capacity from clean and green energy sources by 2015.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.