Biomass Conference Creates Excitement

By Rona Johnson
The International Biomass Conference & Expo that was held May 4-6 in Minneapolis couldn't have been held at a better time, as millions of gallons of oil were uncontrollably gushing from the Gulf of Mexico seabed. Although tragic, it also emphasizes the nation's need for clean, reliable energy sources such as biomass.

This is no time to be smug, however, as strong opposition to biomass power projects is cropping up across the country. As Bob Cleaves, president and CEO of the Biomass Power Association, said May 5 during a general session panel at the conference: "The carbon benefits of biomass are under siege." Cleaves urged the other organizations that filled out the panel including the Biomass Thermal Energy Council, Algal Biomass Organization, National Biodiesel Board, Advanced Biofuels Association and the Renewable Fuels Association, to work together to make sure that lawmakers understand the carbon neutrality of woody biomass. The group agreed that it's in everyone's best interest to tout the importance of renewable energy to America's national energy security and the environment.

Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association, also mentioned how crucial it is to reach out to environmentalists on a more consistent basis. It's critical for the industry to be especially diligent when it comes to emissions. In this issue of Biomass Magazine, we've included a contribution called "Air Emissions Control for the Biomass Industry" (see page 76) that details several air emission control systems. To read more about the conference see "Biomass Bonanza" on page 38.

This month's magazine also includes a feature about the burgeoning demand for wood pellets, chips and briquettes in Europe and how U.S. and Canadian companies are shipping their products overseas. One European company is building a wood pellet plant in the U.S. and intends to ship those pellets back to its biomass power plant in Europe (see "Supply and Market: Bridging the Global Gap" on page 54). The demand in Europe is driven mainly by the European Union's goal of generating 20 percent of its energy consumption from renewables by 2020.

This issue also includes an interesting feature on district heating and how Finland is producing about 20 percent of its total energy consumption from wood. Dominik Röser, research scientist with the Finnish Forest Research Institute, describes the country's model and cautions that although it has worked well for communities in Finland, every community needs to adapt its business models to local conditions.

The final feature, and probably the most important, is about the potential for scams to surface in growing industries (see "Unearthing Green Scams" on page 60). The feature discusses the two most common scams and the red flags that people need to be aware of as they look to invest in biomass-based businesses.