What Will Maine’s Share of the Billion-Ton Biomass Economy Be?

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To start with, grab your GMO-free, organic popcorn and watch this video from US-DOE about the potential for development in one of Maine's strongest historical energy resources: biomass.

The 2016 Billion-Ton Report: Advancing Domestic Resources for a Thriving Bioeconomy is the third in a series of the US Energy Department’s national assessments that have calculated the potential supply of biomass in the United States. The report concludes that the United States has the future potential to produce at least one billion dry tons of biomass resources (composed of agricultural, forestry, waste, and algal materials) on an annual basis without adversely affecting the environment. This amount of biomass could be used to produce enough biofuel, biopower, and bioproducts to displace approximately 30% of 2005 U.S. petroleum consumption and would not negatively affect the production of food or other agricultural products.

Meanwhile, here in Maine, a study by 13 stakeholders released in December, 2016 concludes that big changes must be made to save Maine’s ailing biomass industry.  According to a report by the Bangor Daily News, the report suggests that the State of Maine expand its renewable energy purchasing requirements to include biomass for heating, as New Hampshire has done. In addition, the report sets out five primary goals, to include encouraging investment in the state’s existing biomass facilities, encouraging combined heat and power installations, encouraging biomass generation on-site at manufacturing facilities, using federal grant programs and creating general policies that encourage biomass energy production.

The group acknowledged that three other biomass roadmaps are due out in early 2017: one federal, one from the Maine Forest Economy Economic Development Assessment Team and one from the Governor’s Energy Office. It suggests waiting to see what the other groups recommend before taking action.

The report concludes that Maine’s biomass industry’s many facets are interrelated and that helping one segment of the industry has benefits to other segments.

Video and infographic coutresy of US-DOE.

a billion dry tons of sustainable biomass infographic by US department of energy