“Best-in-Class” Studies Show Woody Biomass as Affordable, Dependable

October 9, 2009 – Greenville, SC – Work Showcases “Best-in-Class” Wood- to-Energy Systems as Affordable, Dependable Approaches for Schools, Hospitals and even Entire Communities

The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) today announced completion of 45 “best-in-class” case studies of community-scale wood-to-energy systems selected from projects across Canada, Europe and the U.S.

“While wood-to-energy systems have been around for decades, speculation that their popularity will fade as oil prices drop, appear to be fading,” said Endowment President Carlton Owen. As evidence he pointed to the fact that in the face of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, oil prices have hovered around $70 per barrel – a very high historic level.

The Biomass Energy Resources Center (BERC) of Vermont, among the world’s leaders in information about wood-to-energy use, led development of the case studies. The works not only illustrate the development and experiences of biomass facilities in many different applications, they also provide evidence that local biomass feedstocks are “technically and financially viable fuel source,” according to the findings.

Project sponsors included forest industry and resource agencies — American Forest and Paper Association; Forest Products Association of Canada, as well as the respective federal natural resources agencies, (USDA Forest Service and Natural Resources Canada). The larger project will include a review of the state-of-the-science of wood-to-energy conversion and a North America-wide database of woody biomass users at the community- and industrial scales.

“BERC was especially pleased to conduct this work with support of the Endowment” said Christopher Recchia, BERC’s Executive Director. “We believe the case-studies provide valuable insight into the range and flexibility of modern community-scale wood energy applications around the world.”

Modern wood-to-energy systems are capable of burning a wide variety of bio-material. Among those addressed in the case studies are systems that use wood chips, pellets and cordwood. The use of the varying systems is determined by the need of the institution and the availability of local wood supply. School Superintendent Murray Dalgleish points out that wood is a “cheap, available” source of fuel for the Council, Idaho school district.

The case studies provide a deeper understanding of how woody biomass is being used in institutional settings. Biomass for heat is more common in Europe where whole towns and villages obtain their heat and hot water from district heating. District heating generates energy from a centralized biomass facility, then distributes the heat to users via underground pipes. Although incentives exist for transitioning from fossil fuel to wood in other countries, in Sweden “incentives aren’t needed. District heating pays off.”

Although the initial investment in biomass technology may seem expensive, the annual saving on heating bills, reduced carbon footprint, price stability, its role in forest sustainability and development of local jobs are a few of the reasons facilities continue to invest in the technology.

To view all 45 “best-in-class” case studies use the following link:



For more information U.S. Endowment:

Carlton Owen, 864-233-7646 carlton@runslikeclock.workFor more information BERC:

Chris Recchia, 802-223-7770 ext. 122 crecchia@biomasscenter.org

About the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment)

The Endowment is a not-for-profit public charity working collaboratively with partners in the public and private sectors to advance systemic, transformative and sustainable change for the health and vitality of the nation’s working forests and forest-reliant communities.www.usendowment.org

About Biomass Energy Resource Center (BERC)

BERC is a national non-profit organization located in Montpelier, Vermont whose mission is to achieve a healthier environment, strengthen local economies, and increase energy security across the U.S. through the development of sustainable biomass energy systems at the community level.www.biomasscenter.org.

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