Biomass

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Used in its more general sense, biomass refers to the total mass of living matter in a given area. Within the context of bioenergy, biomass generally refers to organic material from plants and animals, including agricultural and municipal waste products, but excluding food products.

  • Biomass such as cow dung or wood (that is, "traditional biomass") have been used traditionally throughout the world. However, increasing use of biomass resources, especially wood, can lead to forest degradation, deforestation, and consequently desertification. For this reason, solar cookers are being promoted as an alternative to the use of firewood, such as in Africa.
Wood is a form of biomass.

Contents

Types of biomass crops

Technologies

Northeastern U.S. pine forest. Selectively harvested biomass from forests can be transformed into different forms of bioenergy.

Biomass can be transformed into different forms of bioenergy in a variety of ways, from the low tech to the high.

Emerging technologies

Organizations

Events

Women and girls in parts of developing countries spend many hours collecting wood for cooking in the home. (Flickr Creative Commons image by Genocide Intervention Network).

2012

2011

2010

Click here to see earlier biomass-related events

See the archive of past biomass-related events.

News

2012

  • Journal article explores hybridized life cycle analysis method by Kris Bevill for Ethanol Producer Magazine, 4 April 2012.
    • "A recently published article in the peer-reviewed Journal of the Royal Society Interface suggests that in order for life cycle analyses (LCA) of biomass-based products such as biofuels to be most accurately calculated, modelers should develop a hybridized methodology that considers both direct and indirect effects, to measure the carbon intensity of production. Further, the authors of the paper stressed the need for policymakers worldwide to develop methodologies that are compatible and comparable, rather than continue forward with the patchwork of individualized policies specific to country or region."
    • "Susan Tarka Sanchez served as lead author of the paper, titled 'Accounting for Indirect Land Use Change in the Life Cycle Assessment of Biofuel Supply Chains,' while working as the senior scientist at California-based business and environmental consulting firm Life Cycle Associates LLC, the company which developed the CA-GREET life cycle analyses model used by the California Air Resources Board in developing the state’s low carbon fuel standard. Sanchez admits that indirect land use change (ILUC) continues to be a controversial topic, but said the group of international experts that contributed to the journal paper feel it is essential to incorporate indirect effects into biofuels methodology in order to gauge the full effects of the product." [1]
    • Read the article, Accounting for Indirect Land Use Change in the Life Cycle Assessment of Biofuel Supply Chains by Susan Tarka Sanchez, Jeremy Woods, Mark Akhurst, Matthew Brander, Michael O'Hare, Terence P. Dawson, Robert Edwards, Adam J. Liska and Rick Malpas.
  • EU carbon target threatened by biomass 'insanity' 2 April 2012 by Arthur Neslen for EurActiv: "The EU's emissions reduction target for 2020 could be facing an unlikely but grave obstacle, according to a growing number of scientists, EU officials and NGOs: the contribution of biomass to the EU's renewable energy objectives for 2020."
    • "On 29 March, a call was launched at the European Parliament for Brussels to reconsider its carbon accounting rules for biomass emissions, and EurActiv has learned that the issue is provoking widespread alarm in policy-making circles."
    • "Around half of the EU's target for providing 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2020 will be made up by biomass energy from sources such as wood, waste and agricultural crops and residues, according to EU member states' national action plans... Wood makes up the bulk of this target and is counted by the EU as 'carbon neutral', giving it access to subsidies, feed-in tariffs and electricity premiums at national level."
    • "But because there is a time lag between the carbon debt that is created when a tree is cut down, transported and combusted – and the carbon credit that occurs when a new tree has grown to absorb as much carbon as the old one – biomass will increase atmospheric CO2 concentrations in the interim." [2]
  • Seattle: Officials keen to make region a center for aviation biofuels: Efforts are under way to create an aviation biofuels industry in the Northwest, harnessing the presence of Boeing, Alaska Airlines and research labs across the state. 17 March 2012 by Kyung M. Song for The Seattle Times: "For three weeks last November, Alaska Airlines flew passengers aboard Boeing 737s powered in part with used cooking oil, becoming only the second American carrier to operate scheduled flights using renewable biofuel."
    • "The destination for one of the maiden flights from Seattle, [ Washington ]? Washington, D.C. — home to lawmakers Alaska and other U.S. airlines believe are crucial to eventually securing plentiful aviation biofuels that cost no more than petroleum jet fuel. That's a distant reality. As it was, the biofuel Alaska bought was made from restaurant grease by a Louisiana company and sold through a broker based in Amsterdam — at $17 a gallon."
    • In all, Alaska flew 75 flights with a 20 percent biofuels blend "to highlight the issue. But it was very expensive for us to do it," said Keith Loveless, Alaska's executive counsel, who led the trial effort."
    • "The goal is to establish the Pacific Northwest as an epicenter for aviation biofuels by harnessing the presence of Boeing, Alaska Airlines and research labs across the state. In addition, the region's forests and farms are promising sources of [biomass] crops, algae and woody material that could be converted to fuel." [3]
  • EPA switches course on new feedstocks in fuel standard, 6 March 2012 by Amanda Peterka for Governors' Biofuels Coalition: "On the heels of opposition from the environmental community, U.S. EPA today withdrew a rule that would have added four new feedstocks to the Renewable Fuel Standard."
    • "The direct final rule, proposed in early January, would have allowed advanced biofuels made from camelina oil, energy cane, giant reed and napiergrass to qualify under the yearly obligations set by the standard. It also would have opened the standard to biomass-based jet fuel and certain renewable gasolines made from crop residues and yard, food and municipal solid wastes."
    • "But in a notice posted today in the Federal Register, the agency said it is withdrawing the rule after receiving 'adverse comment.' EPA had proposed the initial rule without taking public comment, describing it as a 'noncontroversial' action." [4]
  • The Effect of Assessment Scale and Metric Selection on the Greenhouse Gas Benefits of Woody Biomass by Christopher S. Galik and Robert C. Abt, February 2012. "Recent media attention has focused on the net greenhouse gas (GHG) implications of using woody biomass to produce energy. In particular, a great deal of controversy has erupted over the biomass accounting techniques used to evaluate these GHG effects."
    • "This paper informs the present debate over the GHG effects of woody biomass use by conducting a comparative analysis of these accounting techniques. It compares these techniques in a hypothetical scenario in which coal-fired power plants in Virginia add woody biomass to their fuel mix—a process known as 'cofiring.' It finds that these techniques strongly influence the calculated GHG balance. The paper also assesses the relative effect of the accounting approach on differences in GHG balance, and concludes with implications for policy makers." [5]
  • Single spark sends 10% of UK's renewable energy capacity up in smoke , 28 February 2012 by ClickGreen: "Fire investigators believe a spark from machinery triggered the huge fire that swept through Europe's biggest biomass power plant yesterday."
    • "Firefighters spent more than 15 hours tackling the fire at the Tilbury power plant on the banks of the River Thames in Essex...."
    • "The fire involved between 4,000 and 6,000 tonnes of wood pellet fuel in storage cells - at least two of the bunkers were destroyed in the fire...."
    • "In early 2011, RWE npower was granted the necessary consents from the Environment Agency and Local Planning Authority to convert all three of the power station’s units to generate power from 100% sustainable biomass...."
    • "The UK has signed up to achieve a legally binding target of 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. The Department of Energy and Climate Change estimates as much as half of that may be generated from biomass, which includes municipal waste, wood pellets and straw...."[6]
  • Biomass Supply and Carbon Accounting for Southeastern Forests , 14 February 2012 by National Wildlife Federation: "A new study of southeastern forests in the U.S. finds that in the long run, burning wood instead of fossil fuels to make electricity can reduce heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but not soon enough to prevent worsening the conditions leading to global climate change."
    • "...[T]he southeastern United States has seen recent interest in significantly expanding the biomass energy sector, including building new power plants, co-firing with coal power in existing plants, pellet manufacture for export to Europe, and producing cellulosic ethanol. While some look to these developments and see promise, others look with great concern at pressures on the region’s forests, implications for forest health and sustainable wood supply, and impacts on cumulative greenhouse gas emissions...."
    • "...[T]his study seeks to address two key questions relevant to the biomass electric power sector in this region of the country:
"How much biomass (primarily wood) is available on a sustainable basis to source the expanding southeastern biomass electric power sector? And, what is the potential of public policy to create demands that exceed sustainable supply levels?"
How will the increased use of forest biomass for electric power generation in the Southeast affect atmospheric carbon over time, and how does biomass energy compare to several fossil fuel energy alternatives in terms of cumulative GHG emissions over time?"[7]

2011

  • Researchers discover new process for biofuel, 25 October 2011 by R&D Mag: "A University of Maine engineer and his research team have, however, discovered a revolutionary new chemical process can transform forest residues, along with other materials such as municipal solid waste, grasses, and construction wastes, into a hydrocarbon fuel oil."
    • "Considering the amount of wood in Maine—including around 6 million green tons of additional available biomass, according to a 2008 Maine Forest Service Assessment of Sustainable Biomass Availability—the new fuel has the possibility of 120 million gallons per year of gasoline, diesel, heating oil, and kerosene mixtures while providing all the steam and power needs of the processing plants."
    • "The fuel has been determined to have a number of properties that make it better suited to serve as a drop-in fuel—which refers to the ease of which it can be used in a number of fuel tanks and pipelines—than many hydrocarbon fuels being widely researched and even those currently on the market."
    • "The process by which the oil is created, known as thermal deoxygenation or TDO, is relatively simple, Wheeler says, and will work on the cellulose found in wood or other substances that contain cellulose or carbohydrates."[8]
  • More Job-Creating Biomass Crop Projects Announced Recently, 7 October 2011 by EESI: "Over the summer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the establishment of nine new biomass production project areas across the U.S. as part of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP)."
    • "However, the agency is rapidly running out of funds for new project areas, and the House has zeroed out funding for the program for FY12."
    • "Developing next generation biofuels and bioenergy will help create jobs, reduce U.S. dependence on petroleum and other fossil fuels, help keep more of the nation’s energy dollars invested here at home, and help rural America grow its way out of recession."
    • "Commercial scale bioenergy production requires bringing together biomass producers and bioenergy producers within a close radius so as to minimize the cost of transporting large volumes of bulky biomass."
    • "A bioenergy plant will not be built if there is not an adequate supply of biomass nearby, but biomass producers will not begin planting biomass crops or harvesting biomass residues until they are assured that a nearby bioenergy plant will buy their biomass."[9]
  • 'World's first' biomass exchange to open in Rotterdam, 3 October 2011 by Business Green: "What has been hailed as the world's first biomass exchange looks set to be launched in Rotterdam from next month, in response to soaring demand for wood chips from the biomass energy industry."
    • "Online systems in North America already serve a global market for wood pellets estimated to stand at around 10 million tonnes a year."
    • "Countries are increasingly turning to biomass to decarbonise their energy sectors, and experts predict that demand could grow sixfold by 2020."
    • "Trading will commence on 3 November with non-cleared products, before a second phase scheduled for 2012 will see the development of clearing services for wood pellets contracts."
    • "The new exchange is likely to further fuel the debate over the sustainability of biomass imports."
    • "European countries are likely to look abroad to meet future biomass needs, potentially pushing up the price of wood and encouraging deforestation in poorer countries, critics say."
    • "However, supporters of biomass power, including the UK Forestry Commission, have repeatedly argued that wood from sustainable forests, where new trees are planted when others are cut down, releases far less carbon than traditional fossil fuels."[10]
  • S.C. group fighting biomass pollution, 20 September 2011 by The State: "The S.C. Coastal Conservation League, one of the state’s largest environmental groups, says the federal government should not exempt biomass plants from pending carbon dioxide rules."
    • "Also Monday, the Dogwood Alliance of western North Carolina said it will join the challenge against exempting biomass plants, which are growing in popularity as alternative sources of energy."
    • "Many biomass plants burn wood to make energy."
    • "South Carolina has 28 facilities that burn wood, according to a 2010 S.C. Energy Office report. At least seven more biomass facilities are proposed in the state, the league says."
    • "Black said the league doesn’t oppose biomass plants, but believes major facilities should be monitored until they can show that carbon emissions are not a problem."
    • "The Dogwood Alliance says the exemption could encourage a rush to build biomass plants — and that could take a toll on southern forests."[11]
  • Britain’s biomass demand will affect climate, wildlife – R.S.P.B., 7 September 2011 by EcoSeed: "United Kingdom charity group Royal Society for the Protection of Birds revealed in a report that Britain's increasing demand for biomass could lead to serious damage to wildlife and climate."
    • "The report showed that the proposed scale of British biomass development will surpass the continent's domestic fuel supply. Currently, the country's biomass industry heavily relies on domestic supplies amounting to 74 percent."
    • "However, changes on the use of biomass may yield to dependence on biomass imports from countries such as Canada, the United States, Russia, and the Baltic states."
    • "R.S.P.B. believes that Britain is capable of having a sustainable bioenergy sector based on wastes and domestic feedstocks if the government acts to encourage more sustainable technologies at appropriate scales, rules out subsidies for large-scale electricity production dependent on imported wood, improves sustainability standards, and fully accounts for all emissions from bioenergy."[12]
  • Ghana sees first biomass supply chain project, 2 September 2011 by Biomass Power and Thermal: "Africa Renewables Ltd., headquartered in London, is actively recruiting for more than 70 new forestry and biomass production jobs in Ghana to support the country's first wood chip supply chain venture."
    • "The project will harvest redundant rubber trees from the Ghana Rubber Estates Ltd. plantation for chipping and sale to European utilities and energy traders, according to Jamie Wynn-Williams, spokesperson for Africa Renewables."
    • "The project, located between the GREL plantation and the port of Takoradi, will also include the development of a 5 hectare (12 acres) storage depot to house wood chips between monthly shipments, a spare part store and a mechanical workshop."
    • "Africa Renewables will provide the appropriate training required for the operation of forestry equipment, with new jobs at every level of the project logistics chain from initial felling of trees to harvesting, processing and eventual delivery of biomass to cargo ships for export."[13]
  • U.S. DOE releases Billion-Ton Study follow-up report, 9 August 2011 by Biomass Power and Thermal: "A follow-up report to the U.S. DOE’s 2005 'Biomass as Feedstock for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry: The Technical Feasibility of a Billion-Ton Annual Supply,' commonly referred to as the Billion-Ton Study, has found consistency with the original in terms of magnitude of resource potential under the same assumptions."
    • "But the follow up, 'U.S. Billion-Ton Update: Biomass Supply for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry,' finds differences in specific feedstock availability and includes a number of elements the Billion-Ton Study did not."
    • "The initial Billion-Ton Study sought to determine whether the land resources in the United States are capable of producing a sustainable supply of biomass to displace 30 percent or more of the country’s petroleum consumption by 2030. The goal would require 1 billion tons annually, the report found, and concluded that the nation could produce 1.3 billion tons per year, about 1 billion from agricultural biomass and 368 million tons from forestlands."
    • "The forest residue potential in the updated report is determined to be somewhat less than in the original, as measured by the unused resources and by properly accounting for pulpwood and sawlog markets that provide the demand and the residue, the report states. The crop residue potential is also determined to be less because of the update’s consideration of soil carbon in crop residue removal, as well as the omission of any residue produced on land that is conventionally tilled."[14]
  • Massachusetts pro-biomass coalition advocates for positive change, 30 June 2011 by Biomass Power and Thermal: "The Coalition for Biomass Energy for MASS has a simple goal: convince Gov. Deval Patrick and the state legislature in Massachusetts that biomass in the form of construction and demolition waste, forest residues and other materials, should be used in-state to produce energy."
    • "Under pressure from numerous anti-biomass organizations, the DOER crafted renewable portfolio standard (RPS) qualifications in May that all but eliminate biomass power from being eligible for Renewable Energy Certificates."
    • "Construction and demolition debris processing facilities already send material to biomass plants in Maine and Canada, Mike Camara, the coalition’s passionate chairman, said, as well as cement kilns in Pennsylvania."
    • "Starting in September, Camara will focus on crafting letters to legislators, recruiting the help of hauling, recycling, and demolition workers, as well as unions."
    • "The opposition groups have argued that the biomass plants will be harmful to the environment, as well as human health."[15]
  • MIT study: Biofuels not necessarily greenest choice, 12 May 2011 by Cnet News: "Biomass used to make biofuels must be carefully sourced, or the biofuels they produce may be no greener than conventional jet fuel."
    • "For the nearly four-year study, researchers conducted a life cycle analysis on 14 diesel and jet fuel sources made from feedstocks, and identified the key factors that make a difference in whether a biofuel is truly an environmental improvement over conventional jet fuel."
    • "Biofuels made from jatropha oil, for example, can have a low carbon footprint because the byproduct husks, shells, and meal from jatropha plants can be used for fertilizer, animal feed, and electricity generation."
    • "But the study found that many biofuel carbon footprints are based on where and how it's grown."
    • "The study suggested that easy-to-grow algae or salicornia, neither of which requires nutrient-rich soil, might be more effective biomass options for biofuels than crops requiring acres and acres of farmland."[16]
  • Global demand for timber set to increase due to biomass, 5 May 2011 by KMS Baltics: "An increasing number of people may be looking to secure an investment in Eastern European timber, as demand for the material is predicted to soar."
    • "According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the need for paper is going to decline, but timber will still be widely sought after due to the growing popularity of biomass."
    • "A report commissioned by the organisation suggested that the European Union alone would require between 340 million and 420 million cubic metres of wood each year by 2020 to satisfy its biomass needs."
    • "The global price of timber has risen in recent weeks, as demand from nations like Japan, South Korea and China has surged."[17]
  • Wanted by EPA: Scientists for controversial climate mission, 26 April 2011 by The Hill: "The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking experts to help unwrap a wonky but politically charged question: How to measure the carbon footprint of using biomass for energy."
    • "EPA in January backed off applying greenhouse gas permitting rules to power plants and other facilities that use plant matter to make energy."
    • "EPA said it would use the three-year delay to improve methods for accounting for the carbon footprint of using various types of forest and other plant materials. On Wednesday, the agency is slated to publish a request for nominations to serve on a panel of EPA’s Science Advisory Board that will weigh the matter."
    • "A key question is how to track carbon released from land-use changes related to harvesting plant matter."
    • "EPA has come under heavy pressure from the forest industry and some Capitol Hill lawmakers fearful that applying emissions rules to biomass would stymie the market for the energy source."[18]
  • Advanced biofuels lag far behind mandates, 19 April 2011 by DesMoinesRegister.com: "Advanced biofuels are developing far slower than Congress imagined when it imposed mandates on refiners to use them, and there’s little sign the production is going to catch up with the targets."
    • "The government expects just 170 million gallons of fuel to be made from crop residue and other sources of plant cellulose by 2014, which is far short of the 1.75 billion gallons that a 2007 law requires refiners to use that year, said Paul Bryan, who manages the Energy Department’s biomass program."
    • "The Environmental Protection Agency already has slashed the mandates for biomass fuels last year and this year because very little is being produced."
    • "He said the next generation of fuels can’t be just new forms of ethanol either because ethanol will displace so much gasoline that it will create economic problems for refineries that are needed to produce diesel, jet fuel and petrochemicals."[19]
  • U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy Announce Funding for Biomass Research and Development Initiative, 15 April 2011 press release by U.S. Department of Energy: "To support President Obama's goal of reducing America's oil imports by one-third by 2025, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy (DOE) today jointly announced up to $30 million over three to four years that will support research and development in advanced biofuels, bioenergy and high-value biobased products. The projects funded through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) will help create a diverse group of economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass and increase the availability of alternative renewable fuels and biobased products. Advanced biofuels produced from these projects are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 50 percent compared to fossil fuels and will play an important role in diversifying America's energy portfolio."
    • "Subject to annual appropriations, USDA plans to invest up to $25 million with DOE contributing up to $5 million for this year's Biomass Research and Development Initiative. This funding is expected to support five to ten projects over three to four years. A description of the solicitation, eligibility requirements, and application instructions can be found on the FedConnect website, Fedconnect.net and the Grants.gov website under Reference Number DE-FOA-0000510. Pre-applications are due on May 31, 2011 and must be submitted electronically. It is anticipated that applicants who are encouraged to submit full applications will be notified by August 3, 2011."[20]
  • Growing biomass on unused land can help meet energy needs, study finds, 11 April 2011 by Green Economy: "The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) found that biomass could be used to generate four per cent of the UK's electricity demand and one per cent of the UK's energy demand if planted on unused agricultural land, thereby helping the UK meet its targets of 15 per cent energy and 30 per cent electricity from renewable resources by 2020."
    • "The UKERC study found that there's enough agricultural land available to produce biomass crops without disrupting food production or the environment."
    • "The research suggests that 7.5 million tonnes of biomass, probably poplar and willow, could be generated from 0.8 million hectares. These plants in particular would be beneficial because they do not require high-quality land for growth, but crops such as wheat and maize do."[21]
  • Ethanol: How Much Can We Produce?, 5 April 2011 by RenewableEnergyWorld.com: "Innovations in America’s ethanol industry are constantly delivering new ways to reduce water and energy consumption at the plant, coax more energy out of the feedstock and cut greenhouse gas emissions through use of renewable energy."
    • "But researchers from General Motors, Auburn University and Coskata Inc. have also identified ethanol as the most efficient and productive way to create renewable fuels from biomass – such as agricultural waste, trash and other cellulosic materials – that is often otherwise left unused in the United States."
    • "As oil prices spike on unrest and instability in the Middle East, research demonstrates that we have more than enough cellulosic feedstock for conversion into ethanol in this country to cut our foreign oil consumption by as much as 30 percent."
    • "Some of the paper’s findings echo other work – such as the finding that ethanol substantially reduces carbon emissions, compared to other transportation fuels. But other conclusions would surprise critics of ethanol. For example, the paper concludes that using higher blends of ethanol improves the performance of today’s high-compression engines, because of its superior qualities over gasoline as a fuel."[22]
  • Google funds company producing biofuel from grass, 21 March 2011 by the Guardian: "Google has again beefed up its position as one of the world's leading investors in innovative renewable energy technologies, shelling out an undisclosed sum as part of the latest funding round for California-based start-up CoolPlanetBiofuels."
    • "The investment will support CoolPlanetBiofuels efforts to produce a biofuel made from biomass such as grass and wood chips, which the company claims will result in a "negative carbon fuel" that removes carbon from the atmosphere."
    • "According to CoolPlanetBiofuels, its N100 fuel technology utilises a "revolutionary thermal/mechanical processor" to turn non-food crops such as grasses and crop residues to produce gas streams that can then be upgraded using catalytic processes to produce a hydrocarbon fuel suitable for use in conventional vehicles."
    • "Significantly, this turns excess carbon into a high purity solid that can then be buried as a soil enhancer, sequestering the carbon for hundreds of years."[23]
  • CO2 emissions from biomass combustion, 16 March 2011 by EurekAlert: "An article in the current issue of Global Change Biology Bioenergy proposes a new method to account for CO2 emissions from biomass combustion in bioenergy systems."
    • "CO2 emissions resulting from bioenergy production have traditionally been excluded from most emission inventories and environmental impact studies because bioenergy is carbon- and climate- neutral as long as CO2 emissions from biofuel combustion are sequestered by growing biomass."
    • "The authors propose that CO2 emissions from biomass combustion for bioenergy should no longer be excluded from Life Cycle Assessment studies or be assumed to have the same global warming potential as anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Carbon dioxide is emitted when biomass is burnt and the sequestration in the new vegetation can be spread for up to several decades in the case of slow-growing biomass, like forests."
    • "The authors believe that the global warming potential of CO2 emissions from bioenergy production depends on the interactions with the full carbon cycle and its sinks, the oceans and the terrestrial biosphere, which work on different time scales."[24]
  • Environmental groups object to biomass plant, 9 March 2011 by iStockAnalyst/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Critics of a biomass power plant proposed by We Energies and Domtar Corp. say the project shouldn't qualify for a [Wisconsin] environmental permit because it will lead to higher emissions of greenhouse gases."
    • "The We Energies project is the first biomass plant, and one of the first three projects in the country, to be reviewed under new greenhouse gas rules enacted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency."
    • "It doesn't make sense to issue a permit for the project because it would add emissions of carbon dioxide at a rate much higher than a natural gas-fueled power plant, said Mary Booth, an ecologist who is researching biomass projects for a national coalition called the Partnership for Policy Integrity."
    • "The proposal is being closely watched by the industry because it is one of the first to be issued. It also comes at an unusual time, because the EPA is considering backing off on carbon regulation for biomass power plants."
    • "Cost concerns led to the cancellation of Xcel Energy Corp.'s proposed biomass power plant in Ashland and led to [Governor] Walker's decision to cancel a proposed biomass plant to serve the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus."[25]
  • Computer Model Charts Environmental, Economic Impacts of Biomass, 7 March 2011 by Duke University Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions: "A computer model created by a Duke University researcher, in partnership with North Carolina State University, provides a detailed visual representation of how woody biomass could be used to meet renewable energy targets in the South."
    • "The model is intended for use by a specialist audience familiar with biomass terminology to help inform the debate surrounding the renewable energy source."
    • "The tool uses a timber forecasting model developed at N.C. State that runs data from the U.S. Forest Service to provide state-specific results for the Carolinas and Georgia. Users can customize factors including the type of biomass intended for use—whole trees or forest debris—in 140 scenarios for each of the three states. The results not only reveal a scenario's ability to meet renewable energy and fuel targets, but also display a more detailed, graphical representation of everything from the effect on forest carbon to forested acres."
    • "For access to the white paper, model and a short video tutorial on how to use it, visit: http://www.nicholasinstitute.duke.edu/events/Biomass-Model/."[26]
  • A billion tons of biomass a viable goal, but at high price, new research shows, 16 February 2011 by Physorg.com: "A team of researchers led by Madhu Khanna, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois, shows that between 600 and 900 million metric tons of biomass could be produced in 2030 at a price of $140 per metric ton (in 2007 dollars) while still meeting demand for food with current assumptions about yields, production costs and land availability."
    • "According to the study, not only would this require producing about a billion tons of biomass every year in the U.S., it would also mean using a part of the available land currently enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program for energy crop production, which could significantly increase biomass production and keep biomass costs low."
    • "The study also contends that the economic viability of cellulosic biofuels depends on significant policy support in the form of the biofuel mandate and incentives for agricultural producers for harvesting, storing and delivering biomass as well as switching land from conventional crops to perennial grasses."[28]
  • Plant closure bursts Ga.’s biomass bubble, 15 February 2011 by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "The premise, and the promise, were brilliant in their simplicity: Turn tree waste into fuel, help break the Middle Eastern choke hold on America’s economy and bring hundreds of jobs to rural Georgia."
    • "What wasn’t there to like?"
    • "Plenty, starting with the closing last month of the Range Fuels cellulosic ethanol factory that promised to help make Georgia a national leader in alternative energy production. Then there’s the money — more than $162 million in local, state and federal grants, loans and other subsidies committed to the venture."
    • "Over the last six years, Georgia has successfully wooed a variety of companies specializing in biomass — cellulosic ethanol, corn ethanol, biodiesel, wood pellet, wood-to-electricity — with the goal of becoming a renewable energy leader. Many of the companies, though, are no longer in business."[29]
  • Is Biomass Clean or Dirty Energy? We Won't Know for 3 Years, 13 January 2011 by Solve Climate News: "The Obama administration put off for another three years a decision on whether to regulate planet-warming gases from biomass power."
    • "The delay leaves wide open a question central to the industry's future: Should turning tree parts into electricity qualify as clean renewable power in the eyes of government regulators, or should biomass emissions be regarded as a source of greenhouse gas pollution?"
    • "Biomass includes plant waste, wood chips, organic debris and whole trees, and industry representatives say burning it is "carbon neutral." They argue that new growth absorbs CO2 and cancels out emissions spewed into the atmosphere from burning the wood."
    • "Conservationists dispute that claim with a very different understanding of what constitutes the natural carbon cycle. Rotting biomass enriches soils, which capture and sequester some of the carbon of the once-living plant tissue. They argue that biomass combustion produces more CO2 than burning fossil fuels — by how much varies depending on the type of materials and how they are transported."
    • "EPA said it would bring the best science to bear on the issues over the next three years. By July 2014, it will decide how to treat biomass under its "tailoring" rule, which determines which polluters are required to account for their emissions under the Clean Air Act."[30]

2010

  • While Tax Package Richly Rewards Corn Ethanol, Senate Appropriators Propose Pulling Rug Out from Under Next Generation Bioenergy, 15 December 2010 by the National Wildlife Federation: "While the Senate approved a tax package today that includes a $5-billion subsidy for corn ethanol, five lines buried within the almost 2000-page Senate Omnibus appropriations bill unveiled yesterday sound a death knell for next generation bioenergy crops at a critical time for the industry. The omnibus bill proposes to zero out funding for a key program to support development of the next generation of biofuels and bioenergy based on grasses and trees."
    • "The Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), enacted as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, has been eagerly awaited by the next generation bioenergy industry as a critical link in making biomass based energy a reality by helping with the “chicken and the egg” problem of ensuring an adequate supply of tree and grass crops to fuel biomass energy facilities. The program would provide annual payments for five years to offset the risk to the landowner of trying these new crops, as well as assistance with the cost of establishing the new crops."
    • "While Senate appropriators claim that it was their intent to deeply cut, rather than to eliminate the BCAP, the language included in the bill would eliminate all funding for the program in Fiscal Year 2011."
  • Researchers Debate Whether Biofuels Are Truly Greener Than Fossil Fuels, 21 November 2010 by Loren Grush: "The ETC Group, an international organization supporting sustainability and conservation, has just published its newest report, an 84-page document that presents a lengthy criticism of "the new bioeconomy." In it, principal author Jim Thomas argues that using biofuels for energy and resources isn't green -- in fact, he says, in certain ways they can be more harmful to the environment than coal."
    • "But other scientists say the biofuel economy is complex, and they note that it's hard to lump absolutely everything labeled biomass together."
    • "'One needs to recognize that all biofuels are not the same. The current generation is based on corn in the U.S., based on wheat and rapeseed in Europe,' Dr. Madhu Khanna, a professor of agriculture at the University of Illinois, told FoxNews.com."
    • "But even among the first generation, there is also sugarcane, which is a much cleaner fuel, and Brazil has a lot of available land for sugarcane production. You're able to expand without coming into conflict with food production. So you don't hear the same criticism necessarily about sugarcane."
    • "Thomas is adamant that land use will become a massive issue for the biomass industry. "This isn't a switch, it's a massive grab on land," he said. "This movement to a plant-based, or so-called green economy, will throw a lot of people off their land in the developing world."[32]
  • Bioenergy’s Carbon Neutrality Dismissed by Coalition of NGOs, 20 October 2010 by the Energy Collective: "A coalition of environmental organizations has warned that bioenergy is far from being carbon neutral and that related carbon accounting systems currently in place are deceptive."
    • "According to Ecosystems Climate Alliance, an alliance of NGOs committed to 'keeping natural terrestrial ecosystems intact and their carbon out of the atmosphere', zero-emission bioenergy is a myth. It blames the loopholes in LULUCF’s (Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry) accounting rules for the misconception."
    • "ECA says" that nations "with renewable energy targets allow biomass burners to stay out of emissions accounting, backed by the 'deceptive assumption that prior sequestration is sufficient to neutralize the problem', and give them generous financial incentives for generating 'green energy'. This way they act as serious competition for real renewables like wind and solar, which have much higher unit cost of production."
    • "The fact that emissions from logging and burning of biomass are left out of Kyoto Protocol accounting systems, ECA says, creates an 'attractive but misleading way for industrialized countries to appear to be achieving their national emissions reduction targets under the Protocol through substituting bioenergy for fossil fuels. In reality, such substitution results in higher emissions than those from fossil fuel for the same amount of useable energy.'"[33]
  • USDA and DOE Partnership Seeks to Develop Better Plants for Bioenergy, 2 September 2010 by the US Department of Energy: "Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced research awards under a joint DOE-USDA program aimed at improving and accelerating genetic breeding programs to create plants better suited for bioenergy production."
    • "The research grants will be awarded under a joint DOE-USDA program focused on fundamental investigations of biomass genomics, with the aim of harnessing lignocellulosic materials--i.e., nonfood plant fiber--for biofuels production. Emphasis is on perennials, including trees and other nonfood plants that can be used as dedicated biofuel crops."[37]
  • Biochar research yields significant results, 12 August 2010 by Biomass Magazine: "Although it will not solve climate change entirely, biochar has the potential to mitigate up to a tenth of current greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new study."
    • The study, "Sustainable biochar to mitigate global climate change", which "centered on the carbon sequestration capabilities of biochar was published this week in Nature Communication, and co-author James Amonette hopes it will have great influence on those in the scientific community who doubt biochar’s climate mitigation potential."
    • "Amonette and fellow researchers calculated that when taking into consideration all biomass resources presently available, biochar has the potential to sequester one to two gigatons of carbon per year."
    • "A surprising determination of the resource analysis was that a significant amount of biomass is already spoken for in one way or another, Amonette said. 'There’s not a lot of it just lying around. We were very careful, getting back to the sustainability issues, not to consider breaking natural ground and converting it to biomass plantations because that was absolutely not the right way to go; the carbon debt from doing that is very large.'"[39]
  • In Defense of Biomass, 11 August 2010 by 25 x 25: "Over the past several years, the production of biomass for use as renewable energy has elicited criticism from some on Capitol Hill and from some in the environmental community who have drawn their conclusions from flawed assumptions and misconstrued data."
    • "The latest assault is focused on greenhouse gas emissions from bioenergy and other biogenic sources and more specifically how they should be calculated. Farm and forestry bioenergy feedstock suppliers and their partners along the value-chain are being aggressively challenged about the ways in which they measure and account for the differences between bioenergy pathways and fossil fuel pathways."
    • "In response, the 25x’25 Alliance has created a new work group that will develop recommendations for how greenhouse emissions (GHGs) from biomass energy development should be calculated. The mission of the Work Group is to develop a set of overarching bioenergy accounting principles that policy makers and regulators can use to assess the GHGs from bioenergy and other biogenic sources."
    • "The EPA is currently soliciting information and viewpoints to help the agency address the issue of the carbon neutrality of biogenic energy. The agency has imposed a Sept. 13 deadline for the public comment period, and the Work Group’s first priority is to study the issue of biogenic emissions and provide EPA with information and recommendations."[40]
  • Fight Gears Up on Biomass, 27 July 2010 by the New York Times "Green" blog: "There is evidently no form of energy, including renewable energy, that lacks opposition. A big spat right now centers on biomass power plants."
    • "Biomass is a broad category that encompasses everything from burning whole trees to burning leftover wood chips, agricultural residues or household garbage. The focus of the argument is currently in Massachusetts, where state regulators are considering raising the bar for biomass plants."
    • "Supporters say that cutting down trees to make electricity is carbon-neutral, because the trees will regrow and absorb carbon dioxide from the air. But a recent study suggests that the trees will take years to do that, offering little short-term help."
    • "Now a group in Cambridge, Mass., is mounting a more direct assault on harnessing biomass: the Biomass Accountability Project is trotting out experts in medicine and forestry to argue against such power generators."
    • "Margaret Sheehan, a lawyer with the group, says that even if new biomass plants meet all Environmental Protection Agency regulations on air emissions, generation could still endanger human health because the standards are inadequate. For emissions of very small soot particles, she said, 'there is no safe known limit.'"[41]
  • 46,000 Square Miles Of Forest Needed To Supply 120 Planned US Wood-Fired Power Plants, 3 August 2010 blog post by TreeHugger: Why "are 120 wood burning power plants being planned in multiple US states? Are banks and managing utilities planning for biomass (a euphemism for wood-fired) just to meet state renewable energy goals?"
    • "Mainstream media are 'missing the forest for the trees' on this issue and the underlying reasons may surprise you."
    • An article from Ohio.com, Burning Ohio trees at Burger sets fire to debate reported that:
      • "Nationally, there are 102 biomass plants that generate electricity in 21 states, according to the Biomass Power Association, a national trade group. Biomass accounts for 1.2 percent of America's electricity."
      • "More than 120 wood-burning biomass power plants have been proposed in the past three years. They would require 46,000 square miles of forests -- an area the size of Pennsylvania -- to be cleared by 2025, according to one national eco-group."
    • "Wood fired power plant stack emissions are relatively low in SOX and PM2.5 particulates compared to stack emissions produced by coal. Utilities can meet their emission permit limits by simply switching to wood - without investing in expensive new air pollution equipment."
    • "Environmental regulations promulgated under the US Clean Air Act may be a primary force behind the biomass power movement. Too soon [to] tell whether local opposition to such planned projects will hold many of them back."[42]
  • Alaska Airlines, Boeing, & Airports Partner on Biofuels, 14 July 2010 by Bill DiBenedetto: "Their endeavor, called the “Sustainable Aviation Fuel Northwest” project, is the first regional assessment of its kind in the U.S., according to a joint announcement from the group this week."
    • "The assessment will examine all phases of developing a sustainable biofuel industry, including biomass production and harvest, refining, transport infrastructure and actual use by airlines. It will include an analysis of potential biomass sources that are indigenous to the Pacific Northwest, including algae, agriculturally based oilseeds such as camelina, wood byproducts and others. The project is jointly funded by the participating parties and is expected to be completed in about six months."
    • "Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh added, 'Developing a sustainable aviation fuel supply now is a top priority both to ensure continued economic growth and prosperity at regional levels and to support the broader aim of achieving carbon-neutral growth across the industry by 2020.'"
    • "The assessment process will be managed by Climate Solutions, an Olympia, WA, environmental nonprofit organization, which will align the effort to sustainability criteria developed by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels. The project’s objective is to identify potential pathways and necessary actions to make aviation biofuel commercially available to airline operators serving the region."[44]
  • New Rules May Cloud the Outlook for Biomass, 9 July 2010 by New York Times: "An energy technology that has long been viewed as a clean and climate-friendly alternative to fossil fuels is facing tough new regulatory hurdles that could ultimately hamper its ability to compete with renewable power sources like wind and solar."
    • "There is opposition to a proposed biomass power plant in Russell, Mass. Critics of the technology fear the use of wood products for fuel would create a rapacious industry and threaten forests."
    • "[A] long-simmering debate in Massachusetts questioning the environmental benefits of biomass has culminated in new rules that will limit what sorts of projects will qualify for renewable energy incentives there....The new proposals would, among other things, require the projects to provide 'significant near-term greenhouse gas dividends.'"
    • Biomass power, "a $1 billion industry in the United States...has long been considered both renewable and carbon-neutral on its most basic level."
    • "But many environmental groups say that the benefits of biomass power — and all forms of energy derived from organic sources, including biofuels — are realized only in carefully controlled circumstances. The cycle of carbon emission and absorption also unfolds over long periods of time that need to be carefully monitored."[46]
  • Researchers propose movable biofuel center, 8 July 2010 by UPI.org: "If agricultural waste can't go to a biofuel processing center, then the processing center should go to the agricultural waste, U.S. researchers theorized."
    • "Researchers at Purdue University propose creating mobile processing plants that would roam the Midwest to produce biofuels using a technique called fast-hydropyrolysis-hydrodeoxygenation, the West Lafayette, Ind., university said this week in a release."
    • "'What's important is that you can process all kinds of available biomass -- wood chips, switch grass, corn stover, rice husks, wheat straw,' said Rakesh Agrawal, the Winthrop E. Stone distinguished professor of chemical engineering."[47]
  • Next-Generation Biofuels: Near-Term Challenges and Implications for Agriculture, June 2010 by William Coyle: "Next-generation biofuel companies are using a variety of strategies to overcome high initial capital costs, limited access to low-cost biomass, and other hurdles to remain financially viable during pre-commercial development."
    • "Achieving the U.S. goal to triple biofuel use by 2022 will depend on rapid expansion in cellulosic biofuels, and U.S. agriculture, as a leading source of the Nation’s biomass, will play a significant role in this expansion."
    • "There are more than 30 U.S. companies developing biochemical, thermochemical, and other approaches to produce next-generation fuels. Most of these firms are currently engaged in small-scale production, experimenting with a variety of feedstocks. Most are also focusing on cellulosic ethanol, a fuel identical to corn ethanol—now commonly used as a gasoline additive. Because ethanol provides only two-thirds of the energy of gasoline and faces blending and transportation constraints, some companies are developing products like green gasoline, green diesel, and biobutanol, which are closer substitutes for fossil fuels."
    • "If next-generation biofuels are to play a key role in America’s energy future, a number of challenges must be overcome, foremost of which are reducing costs."[48]
  • Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Awards Woody Biomass Utilization Projects, 24 June 2010 by the USDA: "Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the award of more than $4.2 million in grants to 13 small businesses and community groups developing innovative renewable energy projects and new product development using woody biomass from hazardous fuel reduction projects on National Forest land."
  • Net Benefits of Biomass Power Under Scrutiny, 18 June 2010 by Tom Zeller Jr. from The New York Times: "Matthew Wolfe, an energy developer with plans to turn tree branches and other woody debris into electric power, sees himself as a positive force in the effort to wean his state off of planet-warming fossil fuels."
    • "[P]ower generated by burning wood, plants and other organic material, which makes up 50 percent of all renewable energy produced in the United States, according to federal statistics, is facing increased scrutiny and opposition."
    • "Biomass proponents say it is a simple and proved renewable technology based on natural cycles. They acknowledge that burning wood and other organic matter releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere just as coal does, but point out that trees and plants also absorb the gas. If done carefully, and without overharvesting, they say, the damage to the climate can be offset."
    • "But opponents say achieving that sort of balance is almost impossible, and carbon-absorbing forests will ultimately be destroyed to feed a voracious biomass industry fueled inappropriately by clean-energy subsidies. They also argue that, like any incinerating operation, biomass plants generate all sorts of other pollution, including particulate matter. State and federal regulators are now puzzling over these arguments."[50]
  • Magically carbon neutral biomass, evil EPA rules and other myths, 18 June 2010 by Nathanael Greene on the NRDC Switchboard blog: "The [biomass] industry has convinced policymakers that no matter how much carbon is 'spent' when biomass is burned for energy, there will magically be enough income in the form of regrowth to cover all expenses. Because of this magic, the industry would have us categorically exclude their emissions when we do our carbon accounting."
    • Recent climate and energy bills "buy into this magically carbon neutral source of energy. The European Union has done it too."
    • "So how did the biomass industry and its supporters...react recently when EPA said it was going to account for the emissions column of the ledger as part of its rules governing which facilities will be covered by the Clean Air Act? Sadly, with willful misinterpretation."
    • A recent Massachusetts report "makes it very clear that most forest biomass is not carbon neutral."
    • "The ultimate solution is a comprehensive climate and energy bill that requires careful accounting of all carbon, including the carbon released and absorbed by biomass."[51]
  • Mass. study: Wood power worse polluter than coal, 10 June 2010 by Associated Press: "A new study has found that wood-burning power plants using trees and other 'biomass' from New England forests releases more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than coal over time."
    • "The report, conducted by the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, concludes that the net cumulative emissions of greenhouse gases from replacing coal-fired plants with biomass would be 3 percent greater by 2050 than from using coal to generate electricity."
    • "The report found that harvesting trees for biomass facilities could have 'significant localized impacts on the landscape, including aesthetic impacts of locally heavy harvesting as well as potential impacts on recreation and tourism.'"[53]
  • PSC Approves Biomass Plant for Gainesville, 27 May 2010 by Gainesville Regional Utilities: "Plans to bring biomass energy to Gainesville took another step forward today. Commissioners from Florida’s Public Service Commission (PSC) approved GRU and American Renewables’ joint petition for the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center, a planned 100-megawatt biomass plant."
    • "Under terms of the 30-year energy contract, American Renewables will build, own and operate the biomass facility. GRU will purchase and own 100 percent of the energy produced. The plant will be fueled by a plentiful, local supply of leftover clean woody waste using urban wood waste, wood processing wastes and logging residues."[58]
  • Scientists to Congress & Obama: count the carbon in biomass, 24 May 2010 blog post by Nathanael Greene at the Natural Resource Defense Council: "Today a group of leading scientists from across the country sent a letter to congressional leaders and Obama officials urging them to carefully count the carbon from biomass burned for energy as part of a comprehensive climate bill or any other legislation or regulation. The letter makes abundantly clear that failing to do so risks sacrificing forests around the globe and putting more pollution into the atmosphere, not less."
    • "[T]he American Power Act (APA) proposed by Senators Kerry and Lieberman provides a solid framework for reducing our global warming pollution and investing in a cleaner economy. Unfortunately, as proposed, the bill would turn a blind eye towards emissions from biomass combustion, threatening to significantly undermine the bills carbon reduction goals."[59]
  • Biomass Energy Juggernaut Threatens Human and Forest Health, 20 May 2010 blog post by George Wuerthner on NewWest.net: "The long awaited Kerry-Lieberman energy bill known as The America Power Act has, among other goodies for industry, a clause that legally defines biomass incineration as 'carbon-neutral' and 'renewable.'"
    • This "poses a real threat to our forest ecosystem, human health, and global planetary climate."
    • "Since many government entities from local cities to states now require renewable energy as part of their energy portfolios, defining wood energy as a renewable energy creates a direct economic windfall profit for the timber industry."
    • "Worse, the use of woody biomass burning to meet renewable portfolio 'clean energy' mandates is a fraud perpetuated on unsuspecting consumers, many of whom believe when they are paying for 'renewable' electricity they are supporting the development of clean and truly renewable sources like wind and solar energy."
    • "Because of its low energy content, burning wood releases 1.5 times smokestack CO2 than burning coal to produce the same amount of energy." Also, "recent research suggests that logging disturbance of forest soils can increase carbon losses as well."[60]
  • New publication explains how Europe can harvest more wood to reach its sustainable energy goals by 2020, 18 May 2010 by UNECE: "According to a new publication, if Europe is to achieve its renewable energy objective of 20% by 2020, it must step up the supply of wood from its sustainably managed forests."
    • "The publication, Good Practice Guidance on the Sustainable Mobilization of Wood in Europe [PDF file], gives an overview of measures that countries can take to mobilize their wood resources."
    • "Good Practice Guidance sets out general principles to be applied in wood mobilization, such as avoiding the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and making a maximum amount of market information available to all the stakeholders."
    • "'We hope that this publication will illustrate the enormous potential that wood has for a sustainable energy future,' said Paola Deda, head of the UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section. 'In the European Union today, over 50% of renewable energy sources come from wood'."
    • "In the 56-country UNECE region, industry and Governments are already acting to mobilize wood sustainably.'"
    • "According to Ms. Deda, 'the publication will particularly contribute to implementing the resolution on "Forests, wood and energy", which was adopted in 2007 by the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe....It also contributes to the objective of the EU Forest Action Plan to promote the use of forest biomass for energy generation'."[61]
  • Biomass Industry Sees 'Chilling Message' in EPA's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rule, 14 May 2010 by Greenwire/New York Times: "U.S. EPA's final rule determining which sources will be subject to greenhouse gas permitting requirements does not exempt biomass power, a decision that has raised concern in the biomass industry."
    • "Issued yesterday, EPA's final 'tailoring' rule determines which polluters will be required to account for their greenhouse gas emissions in Clean Air Act permits when the agency begins to formally regulate the heat-trapping gases next January."
    • "Emissions from biomass or biogenic sources are treated the same as other sources of greenhouse gases in the final rule, EPA spokeswoman Cathy Milbourn said."
    • "That decision 'came as a bit of a surprise to us,' said David Tenny, president and CEO of the National Alliance of Forest Owners....Tenny's organization and other forestry groups had urged EPA to exclude biomass combustion from the requirements, arguing that the process is 'carbon neutral.'"
    • "Without an exemption from the tailoring rule, Tenny said, "what you have is an incentive for biomass producers to turn back to fossil fuels," because they offer a more concentrated energy source."[62]
  • BC Hydro seeks biomass projects, 21 April 2010 by Northern Sentinel (Canada): "BC Hydro has issued a request for qualifications for innovative, community-based biomass projects."
    • "The utility is seeking projects no larger than five megawatts that produce electricity from carbon-neutral biomass sources and create local or regional economic benefits."[63]
  • Tobacco shows potential as biofuel crop, 19 April 2010 by David Kuack: "Scientists in the Biotechnology Foundation Laboratories at Thomas Jefferson Univ. in Philadelphia have been investigating alternative means of producing biofuels, as inexpensively, quickly and energy-efficiently as possible. They are conducting research to develop specially engineered strains of tobacco plants to generate a large amount of biomass from the plants’ leaves and stems."
    • "The scientists believe the rapid growth of these tobacco strains can result in more efficient biofuel production than other traditional agricultural crops used for biofuel. Tobacco plants are naturally rich in sugars, starch and low-lignin cellulose that can be converted into ethanol, yielding up to 1,100 gallons of bio-ethanol per acre. "[64]
  • Berkeley Lab To Build DOE Advanced Biofuels User Facility, 2 April 2010 by Berkeley Lab: "The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has been awarded nearly $18 million from the Recovery Act to build an advanced biofuels process development facility. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), this new facility will help expedite the commercialization of next generation biofuels by providing industry-scale test beds for innovative technologies."
    • "Berkeley Lab's Advanced Biofuels PDU will feature pre-treatment of biomass capabilities and bioreactors for the production of microbial or fungal enzymes that can break down biomass into fermentable sugars. The facility will also have substantial capabilities for fermentation or further conversion of sugars into advanced biofuels, along with the capacity to purify these fuels in sufficient quantities for engine testing."[65]
  • Department of Energy to Invest Nearly $18 Million for Advanced Biofuels User Facility, 31 March 2010 by U.S. Department of Energy: "[T]he Department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will build an advanced biofuels process development facility aimed at speeding the commercialization of advanced biofuels by allowing researchers and the private sector to test and integrate innovative technologies."
    • "'The Department is committed to developing cost-effective and sustainable advanced biofuels. With this investment, we will vastly increase the capacity to test new innovative approaches on a larger, integrated scale,' said Assistant Secretary Zoi. 'Scaling up these clean energy technologies is crucial to addressing climate change and building a strong, domestic clean energy economy.'"
    • "Planned capabilities include unique pretreatment of biomass, enzyme production, fermentation for the production of multiple biofuels, and product purification in quantities sufficient for engine testing at partner institutions."[66]
The March 2010 report by the National Wildlife Federation, Growing a Green Energy Future, examines issues related to the sustainability of biomass utilization in the United States.
  • Nation's Forests Can Meet Demands for Energy, Bioproducts and Traditional Uses, 12 March 2010 blog post by 25x’25: "25x’25 has created a Wood-to-Energy Work Group that is bringing together major forestry, conservation and industry stakeholders in a series of roundtable discussions around current and future uses of wood. The goal of these discussions is the development of consensus recommendations on how best to increase and expand the role and contribution of the nation’s private and public forest lands to national energy needs while continuing to provide wood for traditional uses."
    • "[A] significant finding was that without major change in public land management policy, public lands will likely not contribute in any significant way as a source of supply for traditional wood product or biomass for energy. This shortfall in supply potential is particularly unfortunate given the potential gains in forest health, fire reduction and productivity on the public lands and the economic benefits to rural communities that could result from the wider use of their resources."
    • "[T]he participants agreed that if woody biomass is to contribute more to the nation’s energy future while also supplying all traditional uses, there must be more investment and expansion of short rotation woody crop production on marginal crop and pasture lands, including the use of genetically improved trees."[68]
  • (U.K.'s largest power station) Drax suspends plan to replace coal with greener fuel, 19 February 2010 by Times Online: "Britain’s biggest power station has suspended its plan to replace coal with greener fuel, leaving the Government little chance of meeting its target for renewable energy."
    • "The power station, which is the country’s largest single source of CO2, has invested £80 million in a processing unit for wood, straw and other plant-based fuels, known as biomass."
    • "Drax is also one of dozens of companies delaying investments in new biomass power stations because of uncertainty over the Government’s policy on long-term subsidies. Hundreds of farmers growing biomass crops may now struggle to sell their produce."
    • "Drax’s decision will make it almost impossible for the Government to meet its commitment to increase the proportion of electricity from renewable sources from 5.5 per cent to 30 per cent by 2020."
    • "The Renewable Energy Association said that plans for more than 50 biomass projects, totalling £13 billion of investment, had been suspended because of uncertainty over policy."[69]
  • Obama Announces Steps to Boost Biofuels, Clean Coal, 3 February 2010, US Department of Energy Press release: "At a meeting with a bipartisan group of governors from around the country, the President laid out three measures that will work in concert to boost biofuels production and reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil."
    • "The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized a rule to implement the long-term renewable fuels standard of 36 billion gallons by 2022 established by Congress. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed a rule on the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) that would provide financing to increase the conversion of biomass to bioenergy."
    • "In addition, President Obama announced a Presidential Memorandum creating an Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage to develop a comprehensive and coordinated federal strategy to speed the development and deployment of clean coal technologies."[70]

See the archive of past biomass-related news


Resources

  • The Charcoal Project - "The mission of The Charcoal Project is to promote, facilitate, and advocate for the widespread adoption of clean burning technologies, sustainable fuel alternatives, and policies that support energy-poverty alleviation for those who depend on biomass as their primary fuel around the world."



Biomass edit
Biomass energy - Biopower/Bioelectricity | Woody biomass | Emerging biomass industries
Biomass sources: Traditional - Trees/Wood - Agricultural waste | Potential - Seaweed
Biomass-related events (Biomass event archive)
Biomass-related news (Biomass news archive)


Household energy edit
Household energy use: Biomass (Dung, Wood)
Bioenergy feedstocks edit

Biodiesel feedstocks:
Currently in use: Animal fat | Castor beans | Coconut oil | Jatropha | Jojoba | Karanj | Palm oil | Rapeseed | Soybeans | Sunflower seed | Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO)
Currently in research and development: Algae | Halophytes (Salt-tolerant plants)


Ethanol feedstocks:
First-generation: Cassava | Corn | Milo | Nypa palm | Sorghum | Sugar beets | Sugar cane | Sugar palm |Sweet potato | Waste citrus peels | Wheat | Whey
Second-generation: For cellulosic technology - Grasses: Miscanthus, Prairie grasses, Switchgrass | Trees: Hybrid poplar, Mesquite, Willow


Charcoal feedstocks: Bamboo | Wood
Waste-to-energy (MSW)


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