USDA Invests in Research to Convert Beetle-Killed Trees into Renewable Energy

November 20, 2013

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on November 6 announced it has awarded nearly $10 million to a consortium of academic, industry, and government organizations led by Colorado State University (CSU) and their partners—including the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory—to research using insect-killed trees in the Rocky Mountains as a sustainable feedstock for bioenergy. The award is part of USDA's effort to develop modern solutions for climate challenges in agriculture and natural resource management.

Pine and spruce bark beetle infestations have impacted more than 42 million acres of U.S. forests since 1996, and a changing climate threatens to expand the threat from bark beetle on our forest lands. The technical barriers, environmental impacts, social issues, and local policy constraints to using beetle-killed wood and other forest residues as renewable fuels remain largely unexplored. CSU researchers, together with other scientists from universities, government, and private industry in the region, created the Bioenergy Alliance Network of the Rockies to address these challenges. The project will conduct a comprehensive economic, environmental, and social/policy assessment, and integrate research results into a web-based, user-friendly decision support system. See the DOI press release.