Wood Energy

Wood Energy in the Northeast
Creating Success in a Dynamic Environment

November 8-9, 2011
Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center

Program (click titles to access presentations)

November 8, 2011
8:30  Sign in, coffee
9:00  Welcome and Introductions, Mike Jacobson, Penn State
9:15     The Project Development Process, Dan Wilson
9:45  Understanding Biomass Supply and Demand, Eric Kingsley, INRS, LLC
10:30 Break
10:45  Selecting Successful Scenarios and Avoiding Pitfalls, Tom Wilson, Wilson Engineering
11:15 Introduction to Case Study, Inspection of Boiler Plant, Tom Wilson, Jim Burkett
12:00 LUNCH at the Gardens
13:00 Pre-feasibility analysis, Mike Palko, DCNR Bureau of Forestry
13:30 Case Study Discussion – Configuration, Loads, and Feedstock Supply, Facilitators: Wilson, Palko, Ciolkosz
15:00 Depart for site visit
15:30 Tour Penns Valley Biomass Plant
16:30 Return to Penn Stater - supper on own
November 9, 2011
8:30    Reconvene, Dan Ciolkosz
8:45  Project Economics for Wood Energy, Mike Jacobson, Penn State
9:15  Project Financing Options and Opportunities, Gwen Auman
10:00  Community Involvement – Making it Work, Tim Pierson, Penn State
10:30 Break
10:45 Case Study Team Discussion – Design Details, Financing, and Community Involvement,
Facilitators: Wilson, Palko, Ciolkosz
12:00  LUNCH at the Gardens
13:00 Report back of case study teams, Mike Jacobson, Penn State
14:00 Projects in the Region – reflections and panel discussion on Lessons Learned,
Tom Wilson, Chris Houser, Ed Johnstonbaugh, Gwen Auman, Tim Pierson, Mike Palko
15:30 Close

About the Event

Wood fired heat and heat-and-power continue to be the most successful bioenergy systems in the Northeast United States.  Not only is the resource plentiful and economical, but interest in these systems continues to grow in the face of rising and uncertain fossil fuel prices. 

However, developing successful wood energy projects is far from a simple task, and there are several key skills needed to ensure a high probability of creating a project that is financially successful, ecologically beneficial, and desirable to the community. 

This short course brings together experts from throughout the region to discuss the development of wood-based energy projects, allowing attendees to better identify winning scenarios, avoid costly mistakes, and develop projects that are truly sustainable.  Expert presentations will be combined with a tour of a nearby bioenergy system, and group discussions centered around a bioenergy case study.


Site Tour

The afternoon of November 8th will include a site tour of the nearby Penns Valley School Biomass Heating Facility.  This brand-new installation features a hot water biomass boiler that feeds both the adjacent elementary school and the high school across the road.  A community center (to be completed in 2014) will also be served by the facility. 


Case Study

The Wood Energy Short Course will feature a collaborative case study in which attendees work in groups to develop the plan for a wood energy project at a real facility.  The case study for the 2011 short course will be focused on the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center (the location of the short course). 

The Penn Stater is a five story structure with a lower "Garden Level" totaling approximately 349,000 SF, and approximately 300 guest rooms on the upper levels.  The building was constructed in 1992 and received a large addition in 2003.  The building envelope is relatively high performance, meeting code requirements in place during each construction period. The functionality of the building is mixed between conference, meeting and banquet type spaces and guest rooms.

 The heating system infrastructure for the building is mixed between electric resistance heat and a central hydronic heating system.  Electric resistance heat is present in the form of stand alone fan coil systems serving guest rooms and corridor spaces. The hydronic heating system feeds most other HVAC systems and consists of 2 Ajax gas fired, fire tube type boilers. 

The case study will include a walk-through inspection of the boiler system, and collaborative development of a plan for wood heat at the facility.


Speakers and facilitators for this short course include regional experts in wood energy systems, including:  



This workshop was organized by Penn State Extension and the Penn State Biomass Energy Center and supported in part by the Northeast Sun Grant Initiative and the DOE Mid Atlantic Clean Energy Application Center.

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