New Biomass Plants Called For in Obama’s Green Agenda

Renewable energy — By Stephanie on November 20, 2008 at 7:00 am
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Biomass combined heat and power plant

Earlier this year, Congress extended the production tax credits for renewable power sources like solar, wind and biomass.  Locally, in my Central Oregon region, several new biomass plants may remain viable as a result of the election of Obama as the 44th President of the United States.  These include the Warm Springs Biomass plant, and a similar plant proposed by Silvan Power in Prineville, Oregon.

Obama’s green agenda is clear.  He campaigned on promises to create 5 million “green jobs.” In order to make these jobs and renewable energy a reality, the production tax credits may be extended for 5 years (although they were extended under the $700 billion bailout plan, they are currently set to expire one year from now).

Obama says:

“This program will provide incentives to farmers and other local producers of renewable energy to boost rural renewable energy production.”

That all sounds great, doesn’t it?  But what do you know about biomass?  Here is a quick Biomass 101:

Biomass heat and energy can be created by new biomass plants from the breakdown of wood products and other organic materials.  For example, when the Forest Service thins tree stands to cut down on fire fuels, the woody debris can be sent to new biomass plantsto be turned into biomass fuel and/or heat.  Simiarly, waste from wood mills can also be used in this manner.

The University of Idaho has been heating its Moscow campus for 2 decades by burning waste from local mills.  We should see more schools and universities follow in its footsteps under the federal Fuels for Schools program which provides subsidies to schools that install biomass boilers.  A school in Montana that implemented the program saved over $90,000 in heating oil costs in the past year!

Europe is leading North America (for now!) when it comes to new biomass plants, however.  Check out this video:

Here on the other side of the pond, of several new biomass plants under consideration in Oregon, the Warm Springs project is proposed to be a $50 million, 20-megawatt power plant that will provide steam heat and electricity to a lumber mill next door.  A remaining 15.8 megawatts generated will provide power over the grid for 12,000 homes.  Tax credits will help make the project viable.

Living in an area heavily covered with forests that need constant, consistent management, I would much rather see the wood debris sent to new biomass plants than burned!  I am excited to watch the development of new, green technology and witness less wasteful depletion of natural energy resources.  Obama’s green agenda will – I believe – lead us out of the recession and create many new green collar jobs.  At the same time, we can breathe a little easier as our reliance on fossil fuels will ease through the use of biomass fuel and heat.  Don’t you agree?

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  1. India Travel says:

    The power energy retrived from solar wind and biomas are good for environment

  2. chachi506 says:

    The University of New Hampshire has its own powerplant that runs off of gasses released from a landfill a few miles away. thats a good idea

  3. Jiomm Jones says:

    Wow, what a beautiful place

  4. Stephanie says:

    Hi India Travel, I agree! I am hoping that we will see even more biomass plants, solar and wind projects under Obama’s administration. Thanks for stopping by.


  5. Stephanie says:

    Hi chachi506, thank you for letting us know about the University of New Hampshire’s green practices! It certainly sounds like a smart thing to do, using gasses released from a landfill to create electrical power.


  6. mojo1988 says:

    An absolute waste of money. If you want new energy, put the money in basic research. There’s no point in building these farms if they cost that much. If the energy costs double what energy typically costs then it’s the opposite of being environmentall friendly. Think about it. The money you spent here could be used to do truly environmentally friendly things.

    If you think the politicians and policy makers can make better decisions than the energy companies, you are kidding yourselves…they don’t have to worry about what really works because their neck isn’t on the line – what’s likely to happen is that the industy with the biggest lobby will get the money, not the industry with the best promise. Also by skewing the market through subsidisation, you’re going to have problems of allocation and other unintended consequences — just look at ethanol. You think a central figure should have the power to override the will of millions of consumers? It’s silly and inevitably leads to problems. There is no one smart enough who deserves that kind of authority.

    Get real people.

  7. Anek says:

    Please do not question lord obama.

  8. duvar kagidi says:

    is this post availible in German?

  9. Stephanie says:

    Hi Duvar, Let’s see if Google translator works for you. I think Google has some tools that may help you.

    Best, Stephanie

  10. DeepForest says:

    Biomass for alternative energy does not have to lay with just huge corporations and huge plants. It can be available to everyday people like you and me. Gasification takes biomass and burns it into a gas which can then power homes, cars, emergency power systems, backup solar systems or an altogether replacement of solar panels. Gasification is the “other solar power” as coined on an online community on gasification if anyone is interested. They have the best information on gasification and in video format as well for free. Gasification is what is giving electricity and new freedoms to rural areas in third world countries but the technology has been held by major corporations until “Woody” (gasifier about $2,000) came along. It’s the only real machine for home scale gasification that is making it possible for regular people to get off the grid. Information on that is available at

    Hope this information helps expand on what is possible and how we can become energy independent, live off the grid and green. This technology can also offer “green jobs” since a smart entrepreneur could set up accounts and service all of those units etc… etc… Pretty cool huh?

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