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Arizona energy utility prepares for first biomass firing tests

Arizona’s first attempt to generate electricity with a mix of biomass and coal will take place later this year, using debris from forest thinning projects in northern Arizona, US.

The test run will take place at the Coronado Generating Station in eastern Arizona, operated by the Salt River Project (SRP), reports Knau Arizona Public Radio.

Officials plan to burn coal mixed with more than 2,300 tonnes of wood chips, approximately equal to the biomass produced by thinning 250 acres of forest.

Bruce Hallin, water supply director at SRP, said biomass is not the most efficient or cost-effective option for generating electricity.

“But again, our motivation here is, let’s see if we can help accelerate some of these forest restoration efforts, so we can get those forest thinned and protect that watershed,” Hallin said.

According to Hallin small trees and slash piles need to be removed from Arizona’s forests to reduce wildfire risk.

The test run will show whether or not the coal plant’s infrastructure can handle burning biomass.