Wood Biomass Energy

RENEWABLE ENERGY and CLIMATE CHANGE

IN THE U.S.: Biomass-derived feedstocks can be used for space heating/cooling, district heating/cooling, industrial process heat, and combined heat and power. Wood can be an important segment of the biomass energy. Common wood fuel types include wood chips, firewood/cordwood, wood waste streams, logs, slash, forest residues, and biogas.
About one-third of the total U.S. energy consumption is thermal energy. Almost 13 million U.S. households currently have secondary wood heating equipment installed.  The most efficient use of wood biomass is to generate thermal energy.

The U.S. Commerce Department estimates that $40 billion a year will be invested in clean energy technologies by 2020 generate 750,000 new jobs. Global investment in clean energy and energy efficiency w reached $155 billion in 2008. Governments have provided “stimulus” funding of $180 billion for renewable energy projects. Click here for the Federal Green House Gas Accounting and Reporting Guidance Draft. Please click here for the government's press release on the draft.

The U.S. ranks first in installed biomass energy capacity. Biomass and wind account for the largest renewable energy segments. Biomass energy is growing at 4.3% annually worldwide and accounts for 1.1% of the global energy capacity in 2008. (Source: U.S. Department of Energy, “Renewable Energy Data Book 2009”)

Biomass power is eligible for both the production and the investment tax credit, as well as a 30% cash grant in lieu of either the PTC or ITC. (Source: www.dsirusa.org ) Grants for biomass projects are also available from the Departments of Treasury, Energy, and Agriculture (www.grants.gov).   State renewable energy portfolio requirements create demand for biomass power. Energy efficiency grants and low-interest loans may also be available in some states.

The USDA Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) provides financial assistance to producers delivering eligible biomass material to designated biomass conversion facilities for use as heat, power, bio-based products, or bio-fuels. Eligible materials include materials that would not otherwise be used for higher-value products. Any organic material that is available on a recurring, renewable basis, such as wood waste or crop residues. www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home

Other useful websites of the U.S. government programs include:
http://www.commerce.gov
http://www.trade.gov
http://trade.gov/MAS/index.asp
http://www.trade.gov/energy
http://www.trade.gov/envirotech
http://www.buyusa.gov/home/us.html
http://www.export.gov

Other useful websites include:
http://www.biomassthermal.org

IN EUROPE:

Participants in an “International Conference on Carbon Storage in Wood Products” held in Brussels on September 1, 2009 unanimously called for a recognition of Harvested Wood Products as carbon stores during the forthcoming climate change debates in Copenhagen, which should lead to a follow‐up of the Kyoto protocol.

The Conference, organized in the context of the “Wood in sustainable development” process of CEI‐Bois Roadmap 2010, gathered leading scientists on wood products and climate change, forestry and wood industry representatives from across the globe, with a focus on Europe, as well as other interested persons. It attracted more than 100 participants and was chaired by Prof. Dr. Ir. Joris Van Acker of the Laboratory of Wood Technology of Ghent University. The program was built around three main topics:

• Science on how much carbon is stored in wood‐based products.

• How could a carbon credit system be set up on the basis of this scientific evidence in a way that it is to the benefit of the woodworking industries?

• Development of a global action plan in support of Hardwood Products with
all partners in the wood value chain.

The participants unanimously agreed that harvested wood products act as carbon stores and this needs to be recognized in future international agreements on climate change.

In this context, the following conclusions were drawn:

• Wood products are carbon pools. They have an important role to play in enhancing the
effectiveness of forest sinks, both by extending the period that CO2 captured by the forests is stored before being released back to atmosphere, and by encouraging increased forest growth. The HWP pool behaves as a sink when it expands.

• No other commonly used material requires so little energy to produce as wood. Trees
capture CO2 from the air, combine it with water they take from the soil and produce the
organic material, wood. Thanks to sunlight and photosynthesis, trees trap large amounts of CO2 and store it in wood.

• Not only is the production and processing of wood highly energy‐efficient, giving wood
products a low carbon footprint, but wood can often be used to substitute materials that
require large amounts of energy to produce. In most cases the energy necessary for
processing and transporting wood is much less than the energy stored by photosynthesis in the wood.

• Sustainably managed forests are more efficient carbon sinks than forests left to grow
randomly. Younger trees, in vigorous growth, absorb more CO2 than mature trees, which will eventually die and rot, returning their store of carbon to the atmosphere. Harvesting trees at the optimum time from sustainably managed forests maximizes the carbon sequestration potential of the forest. In addition, converting timber into wood products stores the carbon throughout the entire product’s lifetime. The participants also discussed proposals as to how this could be accounted for in future, agreeing that this should be dealt with once the political recognition has been achieved. As a follow‐up to the conference, CEI‐Bois and its members will now deploy a global action plan towards the national and international policymakers in order to further underpin their request for the recognition of harvested wood products as carbon stores in the follow-up of the Kyoto protocol.

Concluding the seminar, CEI‐Bois Chairman Mikael Eliasson stressed:

“The recognition of Harvested Wood Products will boost the carbon storage in wood‐based products thereby helping the Parties to reach the Kyoto Protocol targets. It has been estimated that an annual 4% increase in Europe’s wood consumption would sequester an additional 150 million tons of CO2 per year.”

EPF President Ladislaus Döry called the European authorities for immediate concrete actions:
“Authorities should reduce the VAT tariffs for “Kyoto‐friendly Products” such as wood‐based products and stimulate their consumption by rewarding consumers for renovating their homes and for replacing old kitchens, bathrooms, etc.”

HPVA's Comments Regarding "Biomass Crop Assistance Program"

For even more information on wood biomass energy, please visit our friends at

The Biomass Thermal Energy Council (BTEC)