A Week Full of Interesting News

This week brought a number of innovative and interesting news stories worthy of mention.
By Lisa Gibson | May 25, 2012

A few cool things happened in our industry this week and it’s hard to pick just one to highlight. So I didn’t.

First, Vermont became the first state in the country to ban fracking of natural gas. Not only is this stellar news for the Earth, but also for the biomass industry, as cheap and abundant natural gas has been a barrier to biomass thermal project development. Vermont’s Gov. Peter Shumlin also signed energy bills this week, including the Vermont Energy Act of 2012, expanding the cap for energy from distributed generation facilities from 50 MW to 125 MW.

Also this week, we reported on a project where an old steam locomotive will be retrofitted to run on torrefied biomass. A partnership between Sustainable Rail International and the University of Minnesota will install a torrefied woody biomass boiler in a train built in 1937. The partnership purchased the train from a museum. Not only does the project aim to prove the technology, but also to break the 130-mph record for steam locomotive speed. I’m excited to hear more about this project as it develops.

And then there is the new mini pellet mill designed for small-scale heat users such as hospitals and universities. This is pretty cool. Check out this video.

This was a week full of very intriguing news in the biomass power and thermal industry. These stories help balance out recent policy news (mostly negative except for possible BCAP funding), reminding us that our industry is constantly evolving. Positive, innovative reports are just as easy to come by.