Alliance for Green Heat urges Biden to support wood heating

By The Alliance for Green Heat | November 18, 2020

The Alliance for Green Heat congratulates President-elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on their 2020 presidential victory and welcome their commitment to scale up renewable energy and energy efficiency.


This change of administration offers the United States a historic opportunity to reduce fossil fuels through a range of renewable heating solutions and energy efficiency measures. We have already begun to decarbonize our electric grid, and now it’s time to also focus on our heating sector which can reduce heating costs for families across the country, buoy economic recovery and create good-paying jobs.

The Alliance for Green Heat’s supports all renewable heating options as well as strategic pairing of heat pumps, geothermal, solar thermal and solar PV with wood and pellet heat technologies (our specialty). The role of decentralized renewable thermal technologies, including wood, solar thermal and geothermal is essential along with the electrification of heat as our electric grids slowly become more renewable. The electrification of transportation is creating massive demands for new generation and distribution. This combined with very high peak demands in the cold, short daylength northern tier of the country calls for strategic deployment and use of non-electric heating technologies. Rural areas need special attention given the cost of new infrastructure.

Executive Branch


The Biden Administration, through executive action, can immediately begin to drive markets toward beneficial forms of advanced wood heating. It is essential that Biden’s administration analyzes small-scale wood heating as having unequivocal carbon benefits. This includes:

*Ensuring there is an in-depth, science-based analysis to account for carbon content of wood used for residential and small-scale institutional heating that is separate and distinct from the analysis used for larger scale biomass to electric pathways.

*Use the power of procurement, as outlined by the Climate 21 initiative, to “bolster markets for climate friendly products such as … heating systems that use wood pellets” in federal buildings, starting with more rural buildings in colder climates.

*Directing the GSA to require rural federal buildings to consider heating with wood, chips or pellets where it is economically feasible.

*Prioritize an interagency working group on bioenergy to focus on small scale thermal wood.

*Include environmental justice considerations in bioenergy projects and expanding employment opportunities for Native Americans and low-income populations in rural areas.

 

Agencies

EPA: 

We urge the EPA, under new leadership to give more priority to one of the most popular and commonplace renewable energy solutions in the country. To this end, we encourage the EPA to:

*Invest in the expeditious development and adoption of test protocols that resemble how homeowners use wood heaters (we use the term “wood heater” to include wood and pellet stoves, boilers and furnaces).

*Prepare the groundwork for a national wood stove exchange program to replace old wood heaters with cleaner alternatives.

*Put resources into the offices that certify wood heaters so that the process is expedited and includes a full review of all testing requirements

*Ensure the EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) evaluates the carbon benefits of residential and small-scale institutional wood and pellet heating based on studies of how that wood is gathered and obtained by households and small institutions.

 

DOE:

*Issue a Statement on Scientific Integrity that reaffirms DOE’s commitment to renewable energy pathways that can be deployed in the short term, including wood heating.

*Expand the focus of the Bioenergy Technologies Office beyond liquid fuels to include biothermal and provide additional grants for automated, next generation wood heating technology.

*Develop strategies that utilize wood heating as an integrated approach to mitigate grid-load growth risks caused by rapid electrification in the country’s northern tier.

 

USDA:

*Prioritize the utilization of wood thinnings removed from high-hazard forests to be used for local heating of homes and institutions in those areas.

*Ensure Rural Development Housing programs allow for and encourage the installation of modern, automated wood heating.

*Increase funding to the Community Wood Energy program.

 

Congress:

We urge the Biden administration to work together with a closely divided Congress to:

*Incorporate the BTU Act into any renewable energy or tax legislation to ensure that the most carbon beneficial pathway for low-grade, bi products of sustainably harvested wood is included.

*Expand tax credits for energy efficient appliances including the cleanest and most efficient wood and pellet heaters,

*Expand funding for the DOE to continue the R&D program to modernize residential wood and pellet heating technology

*Establish a national program to retire older wood heaters in exchange for heat pumps, pellet heaters, and in some cases, new wood heaters.

*Ensure that weatherizing programs inspect wood and pellet stoves just as they do with gas and oil furnaces for both safety and efficiency and provide avenues for repair or replacement, if needed.