The Future of Biomass is Brighter Than Ever

It’s an exciting time for bioenergy.To close the door on 2022, I decided to look back at the top story in each issue of the 2022 volume of Biomass Magazine.
By Anna Simet | January 18, 2023

It’s an exciting time for bioenergy. To mention just a few of many bright spots, global pellet demand continues to rise, we are finally seeing major traction on inclusion of eRINs in the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, the North American renewable natural gas sector is growing exponentially, and sustainable aviation fuel is quickly transitioning from a future plan to reality. To close the door on 2022, I decided to look back at the top story in each issue of the 2022 volume of Biomass Magazine.

The following are their titles and leads.

Issue 1: Advancing Bioenergy in the North: While there are some hurdles to overcome, Arctic and Subarctic governments such as the Northwest Territories are working to replace fossil fuels with bioenergy—including modern wood heat and renewable diesel.

Issue 2: Fueling the Hydrogen Revolution with RNG: Stewart Stewart of BayoTech discusses the U.S. hydrogen industry, its potential to utilize RNG, and the company’s rollout of regional hubs.

Issue 3: Navigating the Turbulence of Global Trade: Coming off a season with inventory levels the highest they have been in several years, an impending pellet shortfall in Europe has some U.S. heating pellet producers eyeing a challenging opportunity.

Issue 4: Minnesota Biomass Revival: Urban centers are expecting the current onslaught of emerald ash border-killed wood to continue, but lost infrastructure will need rebuilding for woody biomass markets to rebound.

The variety of topics was interesting, and you’ll find that same theme in this issue: variety. When we talk broadly about bioenergy, it’s really unique in that it is so expansive; types of renewables are what they are (i.e, wind, solar, coal, etc.). But biomass or bioenergy—incredibly versatile. We can do so much with it. For example, our page-22 feature and cover story, “A Powerful Community Partner,” details Burgess Biopower, a 75-MW biomass power plant in the city of Berlin, New Hampshire. The plant buys more than 800,000 tons of biomass from over 154 towns and cities in the state. It also provides reliable, baseload power, creates hundreds of jobs in a previously struggling community, and it supports nearly $70 million in annual economic activity (and that’s not all). Now—if all goes according to plan—it will partner with the city of Berlin to send its waste heat downtown, initially to melt snow and ice on the sidewalks and roadways to make it more accessible during harsh winter months, and potentially, provide district heating, as the project underway will only utilize about 8% of the plant’s waste heat. Says Pamela Laflamme, city of Berlin, “This allows us both the opportunity to upgrade our aging downtown infrastructure and add in an innovative component that will save the city money in maintenance, provide economic opportunity, and allow our residents a place to walk during the winter without dealing with the issues of snow and ice.”

In another story, staff writer Katie Schroeder revisits a topic that we have been following, and that’s the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on global pellet markets. Industry stakeholders foresaw a potentially catastrophic situation well in advance, and have worked to minimize its effects, which will continue to linger indefinitely. Check out “Alleviating a Shortfall,” on page 28, for the latest.

In our final feature, “A Foot in the Door,” page 16, Biomass Power Association CEO Bob Cleaves discusses the U.S. EPA’s recently proposed set rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard, which, after longer than a decade of pressure, has finally included eRINs—albeit not yet to the extent the original legislation mandates. The progress, however, is a good indicator that more is to come.

 There are a lot more topics to read about in these pages, from feedstock degradation and mitigation to the production and benefits of biochar. As your industry trade publication, our goal is to bring you the most useful, recent and relevant information that will help you stay informed and make connections. We look forward to doing so in 2023—Happy New Year.

Author: Anna Simet
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