National Bioenergy Day Underscores Key Renewable Energy Resource

A critical and growing sector relied upon to help meet this country’s energy needs is the bioenergy industry, a wide array of companies and other enterprises that produce electricity and heat generated from wood and other organic materials.

To raise awareness about the benefits of bioenergy and help celebrate the contributions made to our national energy strategy by this renewable natural resource, biomass, forestry, and pellet companies are tomorrow joining trade associations, schools and universities in 13 states and Canada to hold 25 events, all part of the first-ever National Bioenergy Day.

In addition to serving as a domestic energy source and supplying tens of thousands of jobs, bioenergy companies and their related interests work closely together to keep American forests healthy and put organic byproducts like forest trimmings, industry byproducts and agricultural residuals to good use.

An important factor supporting the role of bioenergy in our national energy scheme is that while it produces a significant amount of the nation’s renewable energy, it is clean, renewable energy made from materials that would otherwise be discarded.

The use of woody biomass to help meet America’s energy needs has long been shown to increase the nation’s forestland base (60 percent is privately owned) and improve the environmental services that land provides, including carbon sequestration.

Bioenergy is a sustainable, renewable, and carbon-friendly energy source because the organic materials used to produce heat and electricity at a biomass facility often have no other use. If not harvested to produce heat or electricity, these materials might be burned openly, left on a forest floor to decompose – a process that releases carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane, both potent greenhouse gases, without any energy production.

Misinformed critics of the biomass power industry fail to understand how landowners are meeting the needs of existing and new markets for energy and wood products, and doing it sustainably and in an environmentally responsible way. Bioenergy production is a key tool in the sustainable management of forests. It is necessary to remove organic residues and non-merchantable wood in order to keep a forest healthy and growing. Rather than discarding or burning openly the removed wood products, bioenergy provides a good, productive use for them. And unlike fossil fuels used for energy, forests absorb carbon.

And since bioenergy uses trimmings from forests, it can be an effective way to reduce the risk of forest fires. Public-private partnerships across the country maintain federal forestlands while fueling clean energy projects.

Most Americans are familiar with other forms of renewable energy, like wind and solar. Bioenergy produces a significant amount of the nation’s renewable energy. Energy Information Administration figures show that in 2011, some 22 percent of all renewable energy was generated from wood, more than wind and solar combined and second only to hydroelectric energy.

Yet because bioenergy is most often produced on a local or small-scale level, it often doesn’t get the national recognition that other renewables receive. National Bioenergy Day is opportunity to make Americans more aware of the benefits of bioenergy.

The 25x’25 Alliance fully understands the value of bioenergy, having developed a comprehensive Wood-to-Energy Policy Roadmap that shows the focused use of woody biomass to help meet America’s energy needs could increase the nation’s forestland base and improve the environmental services that land provides.

The Alliance urges bioenergy stakeholders to use National Bioenergy Day to jump start efforts that help ensure bioenergy has a rich and rewarding future. It’s important to urge elected officials at the local, state and federal levels to support policies that ensure the availability of resources, reasonable regulation and opportunities to compete in the energy market. And during the day’s events, local facility operators and other stakeholders are urged to reach out to consumers and explain to them about what they can do to help the facilities to continue operating effectively and producing an infinite source of energy.

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