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Forests into Fuel: Promise and Limits of Biomass in the Northeast

WIND MEASUREMENTS

  • 02 2011 24
    Millbrook, NY, USA --Forest biomass could replace as much as one quarter of the liquid fossil fuel now being used for industrial and commercial heating in the Northeastern United States. That's according to a new report released last week by the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.But the report, Forest Biomass and Bioenergy: Opportunities and Constraints in the Northeastern United States, also has sharp caveats: The potential for forest biomass varies widely within the region, and forest resources must be carefully managed to protect the other important services and goods they provide. Under the right circumstances, however, the report found that forest biomass can provide a domestic energy resource, create local jobs, and provide incentives to forest owners.

    “In targeted applications, the heat generated by locally-grown biomass can reduce dependence on fossil fuels and support local economies,” said Dr. Charles D. Canham, a forest ecologist at the Cary Institute and co-author of the report. “But each forested landscape is different, and regional variation in forest conditions and energy infrastructure means there is no one-size-fits-all solution.”

    The report analyzed U.S.D.A. Forest Service Forest data from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

    It found that using forest biomass for heat in the region was far more effective in replacing liquid fossil fuels than converting it to cellulosic ethanol for road transport. Biomass burned in combined heat and power plants reduced fossil fuel use more than five times more effectively than substituting gasoline with cellulosic ethanol. Sursa: renewableenergyworld.com