The Endowment on Woody Biomass and Wood-to-Energy Over the last two decades, globalization and structural changes in markets and industry has led to a net loss of infrastructure, jobs and outlets for much of the small-diameter, dead or dying and waste wood traditionally used by sawmills and pulp/paper mills. Simultaneously, fire, insect and disease threats have increased. The result has been fewer markets and thus management resources and options at a time when the nationís forests need greater management tools and attention.
Forest health and retention of working forests are directly linked to markets. Woody biomass stands to generate "close-to-home" renewable power that lessens dependence on foreign sources and the costs associated with transportation. In addition, it can retain wealth locally via new market, job and ownership opportunities.
The Endowment supports the conversion of wood to heat and electricity (wood-to-energy) when complimentary to traditional forest-based industries and in keeping with sustainable harvesting practices as well as current, reputable science. Wood-to-energy cuts across all aspects of our mission and the three mission focal areas. The Endowmentís mission is to "work collaboratively with partners in the public and private sectors to advance systemic, transformative and sustainable change for the health and vitality of the nationís working forests and forest-reliant communities."
Our "theory of change" focuses our work in three seminal areas:
Retaining and restoring healthy working forests
Promoting and capturing multiple value streams
Enhancing community capacity, collaboration and leadership
The Endowment worked with a number of partners to research advances and gaps in wood-to-energy technology and implementation and to analyze needs and opportunities for the Endowment to effectively engage in the wood-to-energy sector. Among the results of this undertaking are the following:
Appropriately scaled, commercial demonstration of both thermal and electric based technologies to assess market preparedness e.g. torrefied wood combined with coal, creation of biomethane for transportation end uses, residential updraft gasification, etc.
Promotion of combined heat and power (CHP) operations that partner with existing wood manufacturing facilities.
Connecting consumers of woody biomass to forest owners, workers and managers through new wood procurement or land management models that create reliable sources of woody biomass.
Refining harvesting, gathering, pricing, and transportation systems.
Ensuring that woody biomass harvest is practiced sustainably.
Modeling socially and economically responsible financing instruments that hedge or bridge risks to both landowners and biomass users.
For those seeking funding support for woody biomass ventures, we are pleased to provide the following summary of sources from the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
The Endowment is committed to sharing learnings with other interested parties. To that end, as part of our Woody Biomass Joint Venture Fund we have entered into a cooperative relationship with the National Association of State Foresters to create an ongoing "Issues in the Forest" brief series.