Bullish on Biomass

By Rona Johnson
The biomass power industry took an undeserved beating in June as a result of two studies, one by the Manomet Center for Conservation Studies and one by the Environmental Working Group. I'm not going to go into any detail here on the studies because Bob Cleaves, president and CEO of the Biomass Power Association, covered them in his BPA Update on page 7.

I should mention, however, that the Manomet study did contain some good news for combined-heat-and-power facilities and biomass heating operations, saying that the carbon benefits of these systems would be reaped within a decade when replacing oil and between 20 and 30 years when replacing natural gas (see pages 18 and 19).

As you read this column, I hope you are planning to attend, or are at the Northeast Biomass Conference & Expo in Boston. Because of the event's location, Anna Austin, Biomass Magazine associate editor, wrote a feature about renewable energy incentives in the Northeast region (see page 40). The story goes into the many different incentives, definitions, and rules and regulations, which vary from state to state and sometimes, as in the case of Massachusetts, can change. If you are not familiar with the renewable energy incentives in the Northeast you will want to read Austin's feature.

The other two features are based on this month's theme, which is biogas. Lisa Gibson, Biomass Magazine associate editor, wrote about two companies in Europe that are demonstrating their anaerobic digestion process at breweries to showcase the benefits of using the spent grains and yeast waste streams to produce biogas (see page 34). The companies have installed a demonstration plant at the Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan in Freising, Germany.

The other feature is about a new process for turning waste into energy using a rotary kiln gasifier (see page 28). Researchers at the State University of New York at Cobleskill are experimenting with the gasifier, which was developed and owned by W2E, focusing on feedstock and syngas handling. Gibson got the idea to do this feature after hearing Douglas Goodale's presentation at the International Biomass Conference & Expo in Minneapolis in May. Goodale is the bioenergy project manager and principal investigator for SUNY Cobleskill, who says the U.S. Department of Defense is interested in the technology.

Stories like these are just a few of the reasons why we at Biomass Magazine are still bullish on the success of the biomass industry, despite misleading and misconstrued studies about us.