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Pennsylvania Low-Use Wood Potential. PSU School of Forest Resources College of Agricultural Sciences November, 2007. U.S. Wood Energy Potential. By 1980 USDA estimate, 600 million dry tons/year of “unused” wood

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Pennsylvania low use wood potential

Pennsylvania Low-Use Wood Potential

PSU School of Forest Resources

College of Agricultural Sciences

November, 2007

U s wood energy potential
U.S. Wood Energy Potential

  • By 1980 USDA estimate, 600 million dry tons/year of “unused” wood

  • Using standard btu conversions, this is equivalent to 1.675 billion barrels of oil

  • US oil consumption is currently 7.3 billion barrels oil/year

  • Nearly one quarter of our oil consumption could be eliminated by full utilization of unused woody biomass

  • Carbon-neutral alternative to fossil fuels


  • “LUW” – Low-use wood, defined by Luppold and Bumgardner (2003) as wood material that is underutilized, usually of poor form, size, quality, and value.

  • McWilliams and Frieswick (2007) – identify 57% of Pennsylvania’s 1.145 billion tons as LUW (658 million tons)

  • 71% of this (469 million tons) is available under PA operability constraints

  • Social constraints will reduce this availability more; how much = ?

Pennsylvania’s Forests – 16 million acres of biological “solar panels” storing carbon energy!

600 District Energy Projects

10 Wood Ethanol Plants

300 Million 40 lb bags of wood pellets

3 million homes

475 - 500 million gallons of #2 heating oil (Karakesh, 2007)

480-600 million gals ethanol

  • 658 million tons of our forest is in “under-utilized small diameter” stems; 469 million tons are potentially available for harvest

  • This volume of forest wood will sustainably yield about 6 million dry tons per year in perpetuity

6 Million Dry Tons Per Year is Equivalent to:

Pressure on the resource
Pressure on the Resource? “solar panels” storing carbon energy!

  • 6 million dry tons annually – from growth only

  • “Energizing” forests could be utilized in efforts to accelerate mixed-aged “old-growth” forest structure and increase professional management options

Key concepts for wood energy
Key Concepts for Wood Energy “solar panels” storing carbon energy!

  • On-site chipping or bundling

  • Transport minimization

  • Concentration and storage near processors

  • Harvest scheduling

  • Contractor recruitment and incentive

  • Site-specific sustainability criteria

  • Phytosanitary data and tactics

  • Community buy-in

  • Project-appropriate solutions

  • Ownership standards and agreements

  • Local industry database

  • Current and proposed project specifications

  • Data collection consolidation “solar panels” storing carbon energy!

Usfs fia
USFS FIA “solar panels” storing carbon energy!

  • Historical data and future projections

    • Species, size, and health of trees

    • Total tree growth, mortality, and removals

    • Wood production and utilization rates

    • Forest land ownership

  • Recently expanded to annual surveys and to include data on:

    • Soil

    • Understory vegetation

    • Tree crown conditions

    • Coarse woody debris

    • Lichen community composition

Conclusion “solar panels” storing carbon energy!

  • There is a public groundswell for small and medium localized energy production

  • Sustainable harvest of available PA LUW will yield tremendous amounts of energy

  • In PA, we need resource utilization and biomass flow databases, state forest harvest plan requirements, and site-specific LUW harvest standards for proper planning, economic development, and landowner assistance

  • National greenhouse gas emission standards and federal biomass production incentives will make wood-based bioenergy happen – and move the U.S. closer to energy self-sufficiency