This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

June 17, 2009

USDA Awards $49 Million for Biomass Energy Projects in 14 States

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on June 11 its selection of 23 biomass energy projects in 14 states that will receive $49 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The funds will help create markets for small-diameter and low-value trees removed during forest restoration activities. The wood will be used to fire boilers for heating systems in schools and other facilities, to provide heat for a cement plant, as fuel for biomass power systems and combined heat and power systems (also known as cogeneration systems), and as a source of firewood and pellets for wood stoves. It will also be co-fired with coal in a coal power plant in Colorado, while Oregon will evaluate the value of in-woods, portable pyrolysis units that would convert biomass into a biobased oil. Biomass pyrolysis involves heating wood to high temperatures in the absence of oxygen, causing the organic compounds in the wood to break down. The USDA also awarded $8 million for biomass projects not related to energy production. See the USDA press release and the full list of projects (PDF 125 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

The USDA also announced in early May that it planned to award $224 million in Recovery Act funds to 110 projects that would make improvements to ecosystems and reduce hazardous fuels, such as underbrush and small trees in dense forests. While most of those projects were not related to energy production, some were, including two projects in Arizona; and one each in California, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, and South Carolina; five in Oregon; and one project that spans both Oregon and Washington. Those projects aim to direct at least some of their wood towards power generation, combined heat and power generation, heating for schools, industrial heat production, firewood sales, and the production of wood pellets for stoves. The Colorado project will co-fire the wood with coal in a coal-fired power plant. Note that additional projects may direct biomass to energy projects, but may not have explicitly declared that in their project summary. See the USDA press release and the full list of projects (PDF 146 KB).