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The Future of Wood Bioenergy

Pinchot focus areas:

Climate & Energy
Ensuring Forest Sustainability in the Development of Wood-based Bioenergy in the Great Lakes Region
2009 Regional Meeting: The Great Lakes Region
Held at the University of Minnesota's University Arboretum in Chaska,
 Minnesota on September 9-10, the Pinchot Institute for Conservation and 
the Heinz Center convened a regional workshop to identify common goals
 and objectives for environmentally sustainable development of a wood
 biofuels/bioenergy industry in the Great Lakes region. Workshop
 participants from across the Great Lakes region of Ontario, Michigan,
 Wisconsin, and Minnesota included about 45 representatives from the 
energy industry, forest products industry, USDA Forest Service, state
forestry, economic development agencies, conservation NGOs, and
 academia. As conveners 
of this meeting, and of the larger dialogue process of which it is a
part, the Pinchot Institute and the Heinz Center approached this
 question from a neutral standpoint, and managed discussions at the
 meeting to provide a fair hearing for all points made by the interested stakeholders. 

The workshop was intended to explore common views of how bioenergy 
expansion might increase forestland value for landowners, safeguard
 conservation values, avoid unnecessary controversy over forest 
management and biomass procurement, and identify opportunities to 
maximize the net public benefit of this developing sector. More specifically, the 
dialogue at the Great Lakes workshop focused on: Defining data and
 information needs for current and future supplies of biomass;
 Identifying opportunities to adaptively manage biomass harvesting and
 supply logistics; Identifying regional assets, such as the significant
amount of certified forestland; Illuminating potential synergies between 
the energy and forest industries; Enhancing regional stakeholders'
 ability to evaluate policy options; and, Identifying areas for strategic
 collaboration between jurisdictions.

Ensuring Sustainability in the Development of Wood-based Bioenergy in the Great Lakes Region, V. Alaric Sample, Pinchot Institute for Conservation, and Robin O'Malley, H. John Heinze III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment [Download .pdf]

Panel 1: Providing reliable estimates of sustainable biomass supply.  What are the recent developments in methodologies for producing consistent, reliable estimates of how much woody biomass can be sustainable supplied (nationally, regionally, locally) as a basis for siting new or expanded bioenergy/biofuels capacity?  What longer-term opportunities are there to increase inventory and net growth over current levels?

  • Dennis Becker, University of Minnesota
  • Joe Maure, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources [Download .pdf]
  • Steve Betzler, Minnesota Power
Panel 2.  Sustainability safeguards.  How is forest management expected to evolve to accommodate long-term increased use of wood for energy?  What biomass harvesting and/or procurement guidelines have been developed?  What is the potential role for certification and other nongovernmental sustainability programs?

  • Paul DeLong, Wisconsin Division of Forestry
Panel 3:  Options for build-out of a sustainable wood bioenergy/biofuels industry in the Great Lakes.  What is the range of near-term options for developing the wood bioenergy/biofuels industry, and what factors determine the choice of type of facility?  What factors should be considered in matching the choice of facility to local circumstances, in terms of community economic development goals and sustainable management of forest resources?  How can a regional bioenergy strategy maximize the contribution of woody biomass to achieving renewable energy goals, while minimizing the additional demands on forest resources?

  • Donna LaCourt, Michigan Economic Development Corporation [Download .pdf]

Panel 4:  Great Lakes regional bioenergy strategy and lessons for renewable energy policy.  What is the continuing role of state/provincial renewable energy, economic, and natural resource policy in guiding development along optimal lines [vision/principles framework as springboard for regional action plan?]; regional “lessons learned” that need to be reflected in flexible national renewable energy policies.

  • David Donovan, Excel
  • Cara Boucher, Michigan Department of Natural Resources
  • TJ Morice, Marth/Biomass Thermal Energy Council [Download .pdf]
Additional Documents:
  • Ensuring Forest Sustainability in the Development of Wood Biofuels and Bioenergy in the Great Lakes Region Agenda [Download .pdf]
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