Industry leaders in the US are calling on the federal government to invest more time and money on the biomass industry.
Proposed cuts to a farming bill – the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) – are a signal to some that this particular alternative energy sector isn’t receiving the intention it deserves.
“Cuts in BCAP could put additional pressure on the bio-energy groups using the biomass to set feedstock prices [per ton] at a profitable level for the farm,” Jay Van Roekel, biomass business manager for Vermeer Corporation, told Farming Industry News. “There is some concern that traditional energy resources are at low prices, so it will be difficult for the bio-energy companies to pay the farm gate price.”
Though Roekel is predominately concerned with developments in the farming sector, he said the country should be looking forward to alternative energy projects, such as cogeneration plants, and building a long-term consistent energy policy.
“We need clear direction from Washington in terms of rural development, energy security and keeping billions of dollars in the United States,” Van Roekel said.
Others, such as Todd Stucke, AGCO director of hay and harvesting, said initial investing by the government for biomass projects will be valuable to developing that long-term energy plan.
“We need to get some models up and running and proving themselves,” he said. “I’ve been working [in the biomass area] for five years and it can definitely be done.”
Stucke also said that the government is also looking to reduce the amount of pollutants associated with coal-fired energy plants, which “bodes well for biomass.”
For their part, the US government has indeed made initial investments in several biomass projects throughout the country. In January, the US Department of Energy awarded Ameresco Inc. a sum of $795 million to finance, design, construct, operate and maintain a biomass cogeneration facility in South Carolina – the largest biomass project in the US.