Biomass Power Uniting to Confront Market, Policy, Regulatory Shifts
Every January, the Biomass Power Association and its board of directors begin planning for the year ahead, predicting what the policy landscape will look like and prioritizing our goals for the coming year. In some ways, we have a clear idea of what must be done in 2016. In other ways, we know we will have to improvise more than we have in the past.
The Clean Power Plan has been a dominant theme over the past two years, and will continue to be top of mind for the foreseeable future. While the EPA didn’t grant us the clarity that we had hoped for, they did give a resounding endorsement to biomass as a low-carbon emissions reduction strategy. As with the rest of the plan, EPA has emphasized that states will have the flexibility to determine the role of biomass in their state implementation plans. While that is generally a good thing, since most states with biomass resources available will almost certainly want biomass to offset their fossil reduction obligations, it does create some uncertainty for biomass as we anticipate 49 different carbon reduction strategies.
The Clean Power Plan also presents the prospect of increased cofiring. Many industry stakeholders see a viable path forward for coal facilities to shift some of their fuel to pellets to reduce the carbon emissions restrictions that will soon be placed on them. Of course, there are many obstacles to a thriving U.S. pellet power market, not the least of which is the challenge of making the economics work out. But it is a real possibility that we will see experimental cofiring in the not-too-distant future.
There’s also the issue of tax and incentives. Of course, all in the biomass industry would appreciate more financial security. We are the only renewable energy source that pays for its own fuel, yet we provide many benefits other than power generation. Biomass keeps forest markets stable and healthy, lessens the need for coal and other fossil fuels, and employs thousands of Americans in rural areas. And we’ve done all of this with much less support than other renewables have received. There are many ways that the government can recognize all of these benefits and help keep facilities in business, and we hope to identify a couple of these in the year ahead.
The most effective way that the industry can maximize its relevancy and grow under the Clean Power Plan is for all involved to unite to weigh in on the important policy and regulatory discussions that are happening. Joining the Biomass Power Association is a great way to make your voice heard. We welcome as members all power producers, suppliers and anyone involved in the U.S. biomass power market. We’d love to hear from you if you’re interested in joining. To find out more about how you can play a role, please contact Carrie Annand, BPA’s vice president of external affairs, at email@example.com.
Author: Bob Cleaves
President, Biomass Power Association