Group releases draft of biomass strategy for Oregon
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
The Forest Biomass Working Group wants to tap the potential in Oregon forests for economic gain.
The state's Forest Biomass Working Group released this week a draft strategy document that aims to focus efforts to develop the state's biomass industry.
The Forest Biomass Strategy, available for download here, was released by the Oregon Department of Energy and is open for public comments until Sept. 30.
The strategy recommends a focus on four key biomass markets including:
- The use of forest biomass for heating or cooling using advanced boiler systems.
- The use of biomass for the generation of heat and electricity at existing lumber mills and related facilities.
- The expansion of existing market opportunities for products like sign poles, landscape bark and other uses for small wood and wood waste.
- The development of emerging markets including the use of biomass for biofuels, green chemicals and other new energy-related products.
The state working group has been examining biomass strategy for the state since it was formed by the Oregon Legislature in 2006. Originally tasked with identifying uses for forest biomass to reduce the risk of forest fires in the state, this new strategy is focused squarely on economic opportunity.
"We've got some momentum," sat Matt Krumenauer, senior policy analyst for Oregon's energy department. "We're starting to really articulate the promise of this industry."
Krumenauer said there is ample untapped biomass opportunity in Oregon.
For example, only about eight of the state's wood products mills in the state are generating biomass power for the grid, Krumenauer said. And the fact that more Oregonians use wood to heat their houses than use natural gas, presents a huge opportunity for using biomass products for heat.
The draft strategy provides the example of John Day, the eastern Oregon city that made a concerted effort to convert many of its municipal buildings to biomass heat.
"Instead of buying heating fuel from overseas, they're getting it from down the street," Krumenauer said. "Energy dollars stay local."
The working group is co-chaired by Krumenauer and Link Phillippe, president of Cave Junction-based Rough and Ready Timber Company.
The biomass strategy will be complementary to Gov. John Kitzhaber's 10-year energy plan. That plan closed for public comment this week, with a final draft expected soon.
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