Salt River Tests Wood Burn as a Coal Substitute

By Editors of Power Engineering

Though Salt River Project’s 400-MW Coronado Generating Station typically burns coal, it will start a three-week test burn of forest debris this week.

The first scheduled test at CGS Unit 1 in St. Johns will be a one-day, two-load burn on Wednesday to evaluate the power plant’s coal-handling system’s ability to integrate the biomass. If the one-day test burn is successful, a full system test will commence with a 2 percent mixture of biomass on Nov. 3 and will last 10 days, followed by a 5 percent mixture of biomass starting Nov. 17 and lasting 10 days.

Salt River’s test is designed to understand the feasibility of integrating biomass fuel into a plant designed to burn coal.

The biomass for the test comes from forest-restoration activities taking place in northern Arizona that are part of a statewide effort to clear debris and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. If the forest debris could be used as a biofuel, it would help pay for millions more acreage at risk of wildfire.

Most often, cleared forest debris is placed in large piles and burned.

This test won’t require any permanent modifications to the power plant, which was not originally designed to burn biomass.

Agency partners for the test include the Arizona State Land Department, the Arizona State Forestry Department, the Arizona Department of Administration as well as the Arizona Governor’s Office, which secured a grant through the U.S. Department of Energy as partial funding of the project.

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