The Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC) recently hosted a second educational site visit to showcase thermal and combined-heat-and-power (CHP) wood energy, in partnership with the Rural Maryland Council MAERDAF grant, the U.S. Forest Service, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and the Alliance for Green Heat.
Tour attendees in front of National Life Group’s wood chip storage bins.
The tour visited a variety of facilities in Vermont and New Hampshire, including everything from schools and multifamily residences to factories and office buildings, as well as a dry wood chip manufacturing facility. The attendees – a selection of forestry experts, state officials, and prospective users of wood energy – learned firsthand about the environmental and economic benefits of the technology: namely renewability, incentivization of sustainable forestry, low operational costs, and invigoration for local economies.
Additionally, the tour had multiple opportunities to learn from experts’ knowledge regarding wood energy’s role in Vermont and New Hampshire, and how it can potentially fill the same role in Maryland.
On the first day, Molly Willard – Wood Energy & Forest Product Specialist with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation, and her colleagues at the Vermont state government gave a comprehensive presentation on the ways in which wood heating is valuable to both Vermont’s economy and its renewable energy portfolio.
On the second day, Jim Van Valkenburgh – Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Froling Energy, provided insight into the process of producing and distributing the dry chips that fueled many of the tour’s boilers.
As legislators, regulatory agencies, and environmental groups continue to debate what role wood energy will play in Maryland’s renewable future, this first-hand look at other states’ successes with the technology can provide valuable guidance.
Left to right: A mid-size Schmid wood boiler at Maplewood Nursing Home. Piles of dry wood chips at Froling Energy’s manufacturing facility. Tour attendees see thermal and combined-heat-and-power wood energy systems in use during visits to facilities in Vermont and New Hampshire.