Biomass fuel solution to high heating oil prices
According to estimates from the Energy Information Administration, prices for U.S. home heating oil rose 24 percent in February 2011, compared to February 2010. With prices expected to continue to rise, members of the Northeast Biomass Thermal Working Group are urging homeowners, business owners and policy makers to take action making the business owners and policy makers to take action making the utilization of renewable heating options, such as biomass, a reality for more residents of the Northeastern United States. According to the group, steadily rising fossil fuel costs are, once again, causing the region to refocus efforts in support of renewable alternatives.
“The Northeastern U.S. is witnessing a rise in home heating fuel oil and propane costs—a dependency that drains our regional economy of billions each year,” said Charlie Niebling, co-chair of the NEBTWG steering committee and general manager of New England Wood Pellet. “Biomass, such as pellet fuel and wood chips, provides an alternative to exporting 75 cents out of every Northeastern dollar spent, which is what occurs with heating oil from foreign sources. Heating homes and businesses with biomass not only saves money on heating bills, but helps communities to retain more of their wealth due to local sourcing, delivery and use of sustainably produced fuel.”
The New York Biomass Alliance has estimated that, on a per million Btu basis, heating costs in January 2011 varied dramatically by fuel type. For instance, No. 2 heating oil, commonly used for residential heat, was $24.90 per MMBtu. Bagged wood pellets were $14.70 per MMBtu. This means that heating a home with No. 2 fuel oil was approximately 69 percent more expensive than heating the same home with wood pellets. Another biomass fuel source, delivered cordwood, was even less expensive at $8 to $10 per MMBtu. Prices are trending up for February and beyond, further growing the cost divide between fossil home heating fuels and biomass.
NEBTWG’s recent policy publication, “Heating the Northeast with Renewable Biomass: a Bold Vision for 2025,” details the path towards a 25 percent replacement of the Northeast’s fossil fuel with renewable energy sources by 2025. Major findings from the vision publication include the potential creation and retention of 140,000 Northeastern jobs and the reinvestment of $4.5 billion into the region.
At its third annual conference in Manchester, N.H., April 14 and 15, 2011, NEBTWG will be discussing policy solutions related to residential and commercial heating with biomass. The conference, titled Heating the Northeast with Renewable Biomass, will reiterate the vision’s principles and call for a renewed commitment to the advancement of the thermal conversion of biomass for heat in the region. Details and registration information is available at www.heatne.com.