BIOMASS ENERGY INITIATIVE
Forest Stewardship is critical to the health of Maryland’s environment and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. But, healthy forests are the result of deliberate maintenance and management, which costs money to accomplish. Creating markets for the wood material products that are generated by forest maintenance could help cover these costs and provide local economic benefits, jobs and wages. Demand for wood material products not used for construction and manufacturing could also serve as an affordable, sustainable, locally accessible, source of energy using advanced energy technologies. How does this renewable energy opportunity balance with forest conservation and preservation priorities?
U.S. WOODS INNOVATION GRANT
Through the Woods Innovation Grant, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Maryland Clean Energy Center is partnering with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Forest Service, the Maryland Wood Energy Team, and others to expand renewable, clean thermal energy through locally-sourced woody biomass.
To do this, we are identifying high potential facilities that currently have little access to renewable energy with a high dependency on heating oil, located near large forest stands with a need for active forest management practices, and an opportunity for employment within the community. Installing thermal woody biomass systems decreases dependency on dirty fossil fuels, provides financial opportunities for landowners to actively manage their forests, and supports local transportation, logging, and forestry sectors.
To learn more about the benefits of woody biomass or how communities are prioritized for this grant, click the links below.
HOW WE CAN HELP
Through this grant, we are able to help interested facilities make the switch from fossil fuels to thermally-led woody biomass systems by providing a variety of services such as
- USFS Wood Education and Resource Center (WERC) engineering and analysis services
- IMPLAN analyses to show the regional investment/fiscal community impact from using woody biomass
- Bid-ready designs
- Developing a wood supply chain
- A pathway into economic development partners & funding programs
- Community education and outreach materials
However, there are concerns we want to acknowledge about woody biomass – What is the impact on the forests and how do we make sure the state isn't over-harvested? What is the carbon life cycle of a woody biomass system? What are the expected impacts to the local air quality and what are the available technologies to limit air emissions? MCEC and our partners take these concerns very seriously. To address them, we are working with the states’ leading environmental groups to ensure we are only pursuing and installing sustainable systems that will not overburden our forests.
If you would like to participate in these discussions, please send an email to the Wood Energy Coordinator stating your interest.
In early November, the Maryland Wood Energy Team, which is comprised of experts in the forestry and energy sectors, met to review the prioritization process used to identify high potential communities. Currently, the process is undergoing revisions based on feedback from the group.
Additionally, economic leaders in Maryland have reached out seeking information on how to rejuvenate their local economy, increase employment, while maintaining their county’s natural beauty. We have been working alongside these leaders and existing facilities within their communities develop innovative ways to reduce fossil fuels, source sustainable materials, and save money.
BIOMASS ENERGY UTILIZATION WHITEPAPER
All energy systems and each consumption choice we make comes with associated impacts and trade-offs. The impacts of these choices vary depending upon several factors and conditions, including technology and available alternatives. Bioenergy and the use of woody biomass for thermal or electric energy production are important strategies for reducing the dependence on fossil fuel energy sources and for shifting toward the use of alternative renewable energy resources.
Maryland’s current renewable energy policy emphasizes solar and wind with limited opportunity offered for biomass energy. The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act (GGRA) mentions the use of wood for thermal energy but is not being strongly pursued. Barriers to the use of wood resources to meet renewable energy and climate change mitigation goals could be reduced through policy changes that balance the incentives associated with diverse sources of renewable energy and by emphasizing opportunities to use wood in thermal energy applications to displace fossil fuel consumption.
Research shows that strong markets for forest products, including biomass markets, can support keeping forests as forests and contribute to diverse goals for forest health and resiliency. In general, use of biomass from residues, waste materials, low-value materials or sustainably managed forests in highly efficient systems provide the greatest carbon benefits in comparison to non-renewable, fossil-fuel based systems.
Barriers to the use of wood resources to meet renewable energy and climate change mitigation goals could be reduced through policy changes that balance the incentives associated with diverse sources of renewable energy and by emphasizing opportunities to use wood in thermal energy applications to displace fossil fuel consumption.
This paper addresses environmental concerns and potential impacts associated with development of woody biomass energy in Maryland. The paper relies upon research findings and comparisons of alternative energy systems. Concerns that are addressed include effects on forest harvest rates and health, carbon emissions, and policy considerations.
Perspectives on Biomass & Forest Health
BIOMASS ENERGY WEBINAR SERIES
This 2020 webinar series highlights how Maryland commercial and institutional consumers can benefit from the adoption of thermal biomass energy solutions, through case study examples of successful projects and discussions covering a range of economic, operational, environmental, policy, and regulatory considerations.
VIEW WEBINAR RECORDINGS
Economic & Environmental Opportunities for Woody Biomass in Maryland
Maryland has an untapped supply of energy that could diversify and expand our renewable energy portfolio, help local economies, and maintain or improve forest health without increasing carbon emissions: woody biomass. In this series of webinars, we will share information, listen to concerns, and address challenges to using woody biomass to meet MD's energy needs and support sustainable forest management. View the Session Overview or Q&A Transcript (updated 6/18/20).
• Session Moderator: Gary Allen - President, MD Forestry Foundation
• Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio - Secretary, MD Dept. of Natural Resources- 06:41
• Kathryn Fernholz - President/CEO, Dovetail Partners- 13:33
• Maura Adams - Program Director, Northern Forest Center- 44:33
• Josh Kurtz - Policy and Government Relations Director, The Nature Conservancy- 1:06:33
Economic Framework - Supporting Forest Conservation with Woody Biomass Energy
Using woody biomass for energy has positive impacts on forest health, when the right policy framework is in place. It is important for educated stakeholders to work together to create sound policies for sustainable forest management using woody biomass for energy. View the Session Overview. The Q&A Transcript will be available, soon.
• Session Moderator: Donnelle Keech Resilient Forests Program Director, The Nature Conservancy
• Kelly Schulz - Secretary, MD Dept. of Commerce- 6:45
• Wade Haerle - Agriculture and Energy Program Manager, MD Dept. of Commerce- 10:50
• Brian Kittler - Senior Director of Forest Restoration, American Forests- 26:28
• Dr. David Wear - Nonresident Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future- 59:34
Environmental Framework - Incentivizing Woody Biomass Energy & Regulating Carbon Emissions
Using woody biomass for energy has neutral impacts on carbon emissions when the right policy and regulatory framework are in place. It is important for educated stakeholders to work together to create sound policies and regulations for the harvest and use of woody biomass for energy. View the Session Overview. The Q&A Transcript will be available, soon.
- • Session Moderator: Kenneth Jolly - Acting Director/State Forester, MD DNR Forest Service
• Dr. Suzanne Dorsey - Assistant Secretary, MD Dept. of the Environment- 05:15
• Kendall DeLyser - Senior Manager of Forests and Climate, American Forests- 12:03
• Dr. Elliott Campbell - Director, Center for Economic and Social Science, MD Dept. of Natural Resources- 29:55
• Christopher Beck - Division Chief - Climate Program, MD Dept. of the Environment- 47:32
• Dan Rider - Forest Stewardship & Utilization Program Manager, MD Dept. of Natural Resources- 1:03:00
Biomass Energy Systems - Operation
Woody biomass is already available in abundance in Maryland but, the use of this renewable fuel source for energy, as an alternative to fossil fuels, has not been widely adopted. Best management practices of ‘right-sizing’ designs for modern current and evolving technologies allow for this type of energy solution to be cost-effective and meet air quality standards.
This session offers a high-level synopsis of various wood energy applications: low temperature boiler, thermal storage, distributed heating, etc. These examples cover diverse uses: industrial processing, university campuses, hospitals, schools, and part-year heating. View the Session Overview. The Q&A Transcript will be available, soon.
• Session Moderator: I. Katherine Magruder - Executive Director, Maryland Clean Energy Center
• Dan Wilson - Vice President, Wilson Engineering Services, PC- 02:42
• Lew McCreery - Forest Products Technologist, USDA Forest Service- 33:56 Wood Energy Systems in Commercial and Industrial Settings - View Slides
• Matt Hafner - Lead Engineer, Chemical Unit, Air Quality Permits Program, MD Dept. of the Environment- 51:50
• Kyla Cheynet - Director of Sustainability, Drax Biomass- 1:02:36
Biomass Energy Systems - Economics & Finance
Woody biomass is already made in abundance in Maryland. However, the use of this renewable fuel source for energy, as an alternative to fossil fuels, has not been widely adopted. Project design and financing technical assistance is available. View the Session Overview or Q&A Transcript.
• Session Moderator: I. Katherine Magruder - Executive Director, Maryland Clean Energy Center
• Wyatt Shiflett - Director of Finance Programs, Maryland Clean Energy Center- 05:17
• Garry Aime - Energy Program Manager, MD Energy Administration- 20:03
• Bruce Weaver - State Energy Coordinator/ Program Specialist, USDA Rural Development- 31:51
These programs and resources are offered in association with the Spurring Fossil Free- Biomass initiative, brought to you by the Maryland Forestry Foundation and Maryland Clean Energy Center in partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Sustainable Forestry Council, with funding from the Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Fund.