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Sustainable wood biomass? • Vermont has set a target of doubling its current production of 1.5 million green tons by 2025, including at least one million tons of “chunk wood”, chips, and pellets. • Do Vermont communities have sufficient wood to heat homes, public facilities and businesses?
Vermont Community Biomass Project August 2008-2011 (3 yrs) Funded by Northern States Research Cooperative (USFS) UVM Department of Geography UVM Community University Partnerships Office Biomass Energy Resources Center (BERC), Middlebury College Forest Guild
Objectives • Identify current production and use of forest-based biomass in two clusters of communities (9 towns). • Improve practices in community biomass production and use.
Community Initiatives NE Addison County Vermont Family Forests (VFF) – Community-supported forestry Bristol, Lincoln, Starksboro, New Haven, and Monkton (3,845 households) Mad River Valley Northern Forest Alliance (NFA) – Assessing options for procuring local, sustainably grown wood and reduce costs through a distribution system of shared transportation and landings. Warren, Waitsfield, Fayston and Moretown (1,960 households) In both sites, communities are identifying sustainability indicators that reflect their aspirations for wood-based energy.
Wood consumption survey Target group: residents of the 9 study towns Distributed in January and February 2009 via local schools, town meetings, grocery stores, vendors and personal networks. 385 responses received
Average firewood consumption was 4.3 cords per household in 2008 - 3.8 cords in Mad River Valley - 4.9 cords in NE Addison County
Total wood harvested Total of 92.92 thousand cubic feet or about 2,950 tons of wood were acquired in 2008 as wood or pellets for 278 households (both sites) = 24,915 million BTUs of energy, or 177,964 gallons of #2 heating oil saved by using wood-based energy. (1 gallon = 140,000 BTUs) Mad River = 41.4 thousand cubic feet or 1,317 tons (45% of total), About 79,390 gallons of oil Middlebury’s new biomass plant uses about 20,000 to 21,000 tons of wood chips annually and Burlington’s McNeil Generating Station uses about 180,000 tons of wood annually.
Interest in biomass for public facilities • Mad River Valley (193 households) Very or somewhat interested • Firewood – 102 households • Pellets- 135 households • Grass – 99 households
Interest in biomass for residence • Mad River Valley (193 households) Very or somewhat interested • Firewood – 145 households • Pellets- 69 households • Grass – 59 households
Preferences for wood products that I use…. Mad River Valley (193 households) Strongly or somewhat agree • Locally produced – 153 • Environmental integrity – 175 • Aesthetic and recreational value protected- 174 • Green house gases – 165 • Fair returns- 173 • Affordability - 156
Concerns about wood products that are produced in my community Mad River Valley (193 households) Strongly or somewhat agree • Ecological impacts– 158 • Aesthetic and recreational value impacts - 151 • Traffic, dust, noise impacts– 144
Survey analysis just beginning • Consumption patterns (when, how acquired, what kind of land harvested from, appliance used, satisfaction with wood) • Biomass energy preferences (firewood, pellets, grass) • Importance of different sustainability factors (ecological integrity, effect on aesthetics, affordability)
Costs and Effects of Income Avg. household spending on firewood - $622 Avg. $172/cord for green wood MRV $187 or $32.58/BTU NEA $160 or 27.87/BTU $232/cord for dry wood MRV $227 or $21.50/BTU NEA 239 or $22.63/BTU
# cords/household varied significantly by income (F=2.268, p= .049) Household income <$25,000 – avg. 2.5 cords Household incomes $80-99,000 – avg. 5 cords.