Looking Forward to 2010

By Rona Johnson
It's the end of the year and the list of proposed biomass power facilities continues to grow, permits are being awarded and I expect construction to be buzzing along quite briskly by mid-2010.

Looking back, I think 2009 was a good year for biomass. In fact, it was quite good in terms of the government support for biomass production and project finance. Instead of using this issue to look back at 2009, however, the editors at Biomass Magazine were more interested in the current situation and in looking ahead. Thus, it was only fitting for us to devote the last issue of the year on the woody biomass market, financing opportunities, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program and the world's leading producers of bioenergy.

I see the first part of 2010 as being much the same as 2009, mainly because there are still questions about what certain biomass resources are worth and the cost and logistics of harvesting, transporting and storing those feedstocks. Once these proposed plants start to come on line, those issues will be solved if only by necessity in order for the industry to move on. It would be nice if everything came together in a nicely wrapped package tied with a crisp bow, but at this point, I think it's going to be more of a trial-and-error-type situation.

We know that industries aren't built in a day, and that when things don't turn out as we expected there is always plan B. For example, I'm not a big fan of the government-run health care option, but, I'm not going to freak out if it passes because I trust that the powers that be will tweak it if it doesn't work as they had envisioned. Although that may sound easy, it is not. It's hard to come up with what you consider a good idea and watch it fail. Sometimes people get so fixated on their great idea that they don't see failure as an option. It takes a smart person to be able to accept failure and move on.

That's actually going to be one of my New Year's resolutions: to be smart enough to recognize when my ideas don't work and to find another solution.

I also have goals for 2010. One of them is to further develop our biopower and biogas maps and another is to develop monthly market reports for the different types of biomass. I envision a section in the magazine with a chart and some commentary about the woody biomass market. I would like to include municipal solid waste, crop residues and other biomass resources. If you have any information on how I can accomplish these goals, please shoot me an e-mail at rjohnson@bbiinternational.com or call me at (701) 738-4940. And, let me know if you see something that should be changed as these goals develop. That's when you'll know if I'm keeping my New Year's resolution of being smart enough to see the error of my ways in 2010.

In the meantime, I hope your holidays are joyous. See you next year.