Bring Biomass into the Discussion
During his State of the Union Address this week, Pres. Barack Obama outlined the importance of a clean energy standard that takes advantage of all the domestic resources the U.S. has to offer, making brief mention of wind and solar. But he didn’t say biomass.
I can’t say I’m surprised. Besides mentions of transportation biofuels sprinkled here and there in his speeches throughout the years, Obama has omitted the vast opportunities in biomass, even though they can help with a number of his initiatives, namely job creation and a transition away from foreign, dirty fuels. In fact, he stressed the importance this week of offering new incentives for renewable energy generation. And he didn’t say biomass.
We are not a small industry. Bioenergy is growing rapidly and in Europe already has the attention of plenty of federal governments, with more than mere mentions in their policies for cleaner, greener power and heat. I would hope an administration like Pres. Obama’s wouldn’t shy away from such a burgeoning and advantageous energy source because of loud, ill-informed opposition groups leading a misguided charge against a beneficial solution that can be implemented right now. The exclusion of biomass from the President’s alternative energy talks must have something else behind it.
Austria and Germany, among many others, have used woody biomass for heat and power for years, decades even. Finland, Sweden and Denmark have all been heating with woody biomass for years, and Sweden and Denmark are among the countries projected to be at the top of the list of growing pellet markets this year. Switzerland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are just a few more. Beyond Europe, we’re seeing more action in China, Thailand, India, Korea and the Philippines. Not all of these countries are using primarily woody biomass, some opting for agricultural waste, food waste, or municipal solid waste.
Why is there so little support, then, in the U.S.? I just hope Obama’s clean energy standard follows the lead of many countries, including the U.K., Malaysia and multiple others, and specifically incorporates biomass goals into its framework. Without that baseload power from an abundance of available biomass resources, we’ll have difficulty reaching any meaningful clean energy goals.