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What is a Biomass Cluster?

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by Caleb Dean on 18 June 2013

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Transcript of What is a Biomass Cluster?

What is a Biomass Cluster?
Biomass clusters are cost effective, efficient,
and local energy solutions for rural communities that seek to increase the health of their landscapes, create long term jobs, and secure a strong and resilient future.
1. A source of woody biomass.
2. A biomass manufacturer like a wood pellet or chips producer.
3. A market to utilize the biomass.
4. And, all of the elements must be located in close proximity.
A Biomass Cluster Includes 4 Elements:
Forest land at risk of abnormal wildfire is being restored by thinning small trees and reducing vegetation. Restoration of local forests provides a source of material to be processed at a local mill. Forest restoration also provides opportunities for local forest contractors and increases forest health.
A local mill takes this biomass from forest restoration and manufactures it into wood fuel products such as pellets, chips, and bricks. With these new products and market opportunities, these mills are sustaining and creating jobs that stay in the community.
These wood fuel products are burned in clean, efficient, modern boilers that have been installed at local schools, businesses, municipal buildings and homes, saving them tens of thousands of dollars on heating costs each year. This ensures a local market for the mill, reduces the community's dependence on fossil fuels, and makes restoration projects cost effective.
Forest Health & Jobs
A group of stakeholders who care about the Malheur National Forest in Eastern Oregon has come together to increase forest health and create forest jobs. The pace and size of forest restoration projects are increasing because of these stakeholders' ability to collaborate and produce positive impacts for the community. Additional opportunities to promote and improve forest health exist across eastern Oregon.
New Jobs for an Old Mill
The Malheur Lumber Company in John Day, OR invested in a wood pellet mill that allows them to take biomass from restoration projects on the Malheur National Forest and create new heating products like densified wood bricks and pellets. Other facilities also produce quality wood chips. This investment has created new jobs and allowed the mill to retain many more. Additional opportunities for job creation exist at other potential cluster sites. For instance, the Integrated Biomass Energy Campus in Wallowa County, OR is pursuing a wood products and biomass cluster approach that will support up to 30 jobs when fully operational.
The Grant County Airport in John Day Oregon has installed a clean and efficient biomass boiler that provides the heating and cooling needs for the facility. All of the wood pellets come from the Malheur Lumber Company just two miles away and this new technology is saving the airport over $100,000 per year in heating and cooling costs.
Clean and Cost Effective Heat
What is Biomass?
Biomass is organic matter. Woody biomass includes trees and woody plants including limbs, tops, needles, and leaves that are the by-products of forest management. Often we think of it as small trees and slash.
Why use the Cluster Approach?
It is important that the emerging biomass sector be efficient and competitive from the beginning. Transportation is a key component of a biomass project, and projects with long transportation distances between the source of supply and consumers are less likely to be built. By grouping projects together and lowering transportation costs, projects are more resilient to rising fossil fuel prices. The cluster strategy will create more attractive investment opportunities and ultimately improve forest health, create local jobs, and help rural communities be more energy independent.
How does biomass save money for public buildings?
Biomass heat delivers energy savings because it is a less expensive and more stable fuel than fossil fuels. Many rural communities burn imported heating oil and propane which are expensive and volatile. Since the maintenance on wood-based systems is nearly equal to fossil fuel based systems, heating and cooling costs go down and the school saves money. In addition to saving money, when building owners install biomass heating systems they create demand for a locally produced fuel and jobs for their neighbors.
Material
Product
Demand
Local Energy in Oregon
http://www.oregon.gov/energy/RENEW/Biomass/Pages/Wood-Energy-Cluster-Development-Resources.aspx
Source
Manufacturer / Producer
Market
Biomass Boiler, Wallowa County, OR, Marcus Kauffman, 2012.
Enterprise School Boiler System, Enterprise, OR, Dylan Kruse, Sustainable Northwest.
Wood bricks coming off the line at the Malheur Lumber Company, John Day, OR, Caleb Dean, Sustainable Northwest.
Wood chips in hand, John Day, OR, Caleb Dean, Sustainable Northwest.
Felling a tree, Oregon, Caleb Dean, Sustainable Northwest
fs.usda.gov
Malheur Lumber Company
Grant County Airport
Malheur National Forest
In John Day, OR we can see the close proximity of source, manufacturer, and market in a biomass cluster.
John Day, OR
Blue Mountain Hospital
Grant Union High School
This infographic highlights just one example of a successful biomass cluster in John Day, OR. Many other opportunities for cluster development exist across Oregon.

The goal of the Oregon Wood Energy Cluster Pilot Project is to invest in the development of projects that compliment current forest restoration activities and existing wood products infrastructure. Project partners include, Oregon Department of Energy, USDA Forest Service, Oregon Department of Forestry, US DOI Bureau of Land Management, and Sustainable Northwest.

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