The New York Biomass Energy Alliance (NYBEA) has announced the completion and availability of a Local Impact of Woody Biomass Energy Projects Quick Assessment Tool to help community leaders, planners and developers analyze the localized impacts of proposed woody biomass energy projects.
The new tool, developed in partnership with the New York Farm Viability Institute, and funded by a U.S. Forest Service Wood Education and Resource Center (WERC) Grant, assists leaders in need of ways to quickly and realistically clarify potential project impacts and payback for their specific communities. The Excel-based tool is primarily geared for use in the Northeastern U.S., including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New England states, but can use used by communities anywhere in the country.
The Quick Assessment Tool is available online at http://www.biomassenergyqat.wordpress.com.
“This Quick Assessment Tool engages community members with real-world, localized calculations regarding the impact of a proposed project in four key areas: economic costs and benefits, the sustainability of local forestry resources, and air emissions and transportation impacts,” says NYBEA Executive Administrator Alice Brumbach. “The fuel expense savings projection is one community leaders should find of interest as heating with woody biomass is less expensive on a cost per BTU basis compared to fossil fuels.”
Brumbach adds that chipping treetops and branches discarded as unusable for furniture and lumber production is a cost-effective and sustainable way of utilizing forest resources for energy.
The Quick Assessment Tool calculation software allows project leaders to enter information about the type of biomass system under consideration to compare its impact to other types of heating systems. The proposed project can be for new construction or to replace or supplement an existing system. Data fields include the percent of heat load the woody fuel will provide, the current annual fossil fuel use, and the average cost of locally-available wood fuel, such as wood chips and pellets.
“This new resource lets local leaders input community-specific information on their own to achieve high level estimates of the impact of a proposed biomass system early in the project development process,” Brumbach said.
In addition to cost comparisons, the tool also addresses such factors as local employment. U.S. Forest Service county-level forest harvesting inventory data and U.S. Census economic data are used to model project impacts.
The Quick Assessment Tool, available in lite and full versions with a User Manual, is free for use and is easily downloaded at http://www.biomassenergyqat.wordpress.com. The site includes a video tutorial and frequently asked questions.
The New York Biomass Energy Alliance is a coalition of individuals, businesses, and organizations working together to enhance support, understanding and use of sustainably produced farm and forest biomass as a source of renewable energy. The Alliance serves as a sounding board for both entrepreneurs and public officials.
Learn more at www.newyorkbiomass.org or contact Alice Brumbach at 607-316-3437, firstname.lastname@example.org.