Nebraska Forest Service to fund biomass energy system studies

By Anna Austin | July 19, 2011

The Nebraska Forest Service has funding available for institutions interested in determining whether they are good candidates for converting from fossil fuels to biomass-based heating and cooling systems.

Adam Smith, woody biomass/community forestry project coordinator at the NFS, said about $50,000 is available statewide for the studies, which will look at several different biomass utilization scenarios, ranging from full reliance on biomass for heating and cooling to using it in combination with the facility’s current energy system.

Smith said the NFS will fund up to 50 percent of the cost of the study, not to exceed $5,000 per study. College and school campuses, hospitals and mental health facilities, correctional institutions, large warehouses, pallet manufacturers, alfalfa dehydration plants, greenhouses and large agricultural operations are examples of good candidates.

Criteria investigated will include the amount of woody biomass required to run the system; the available supply of feedstock and related costs; construction, retrofit, and maintenance costs, and cost and savings over the life of the system.

Statewide, Nebraska has 1.5 million acres of forestland, according to the NFS. With 270,000 green tons of wood waste generated each year from timber harvests, wood product processors and forest improvement projects, in combination with a need to manage dead and dying trees as a result of invasive insects and diseases, there is an ample supply of wood waste in the state.

“We believe that woody biomass in Nebraska truly is an untapped resource,” Smith said. “With this grant we hope to get facilities excited about woody biomass utilization and on their way to conversion, as well as stimulate jobs and growth within communities.”

Candidates interested in applying for funding, which was provided through a U.S. Forest Service redesign grant, can contact Smith at [email protected] or (402) 472-1276.