BTEC Top Priorities for 2017
The first few months of the new presidential administration have left the legislative future for biomass thermal energy uncertain. However, the Biomass Thermal Energy Council sees opportunities to advance biomass thermal adoption through updating technical codes and standards, and expanding markets for biomass through policy and legislative initiatives.
The Farm Bill is one of BTEC’s top priorities this year. Although it is not up for reauthorization until 2018, there are extensive preparations that go into the legislation’s energy title. BTEC, along with strategic industry and U.S. Forest Service partners, is advocating for:
* A community wood energy program that would fund biomass thermal projects in low-income or low-energy access communities.
* Reform to the Advanced Biofuels Program to ensure more equitable payments to producers of densified wood pellets.
The funding of these and other initiatives would help expand the market for biomass thermal technologies, foster energy independence, and encourage rural and local economic growth.
Another policy priority for BTEC is the establishment of a wood-to-energy commodities checkoff through the USDA. In this program, eligible companies would pay a certain amount of sales to fund economic and environmental research, public education, and forest health initiatives. Stakeholders from the biomass thermal, power and fuel sectors are spearheading this effort, and the process for establishing the program could be completed by this fall.
BTEC continues to support a change to ASHRAE SSPC 189.1, Standard for the Design of High-Performance, Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings. The standard would allow biomass to qualify as an on-site renewable energy resource in high-performance buildings. This would expand the market for biomass thermal in commercial and institutional settings, and reinforce its clean energy potential. This standard is an aspirational building code, and based on current and potential future technologies, BTEC has recommended that the standard include a minimum efficiency of 80 percent, and maximum particulate emissions of 0.1 pounds per MMBtu for pellet-fueled systems, and 0.15 pounds per MMBtu for chip-fired systems, in order for installations to qualify. The standard still faces a long road to adoption, but BTEC will continue to work to build support for it among ASHRAE and other high-performance building stakeholders.
Author: Aaron Aber
Project Assistant, Biomass Thermal Energy Council