The greater grass energy community of New York State met on July 20th to touch base on our current projects and research. As the summer intern for the St. Lawrence County Grass Energy Working Group, I am new to this conversation and gained a lot of insight on the current projects at hand. The major problems we addressed were how to establish specifically a grass energy market and how to further emissions testing to meet EPA and DEC standards. We need to grasp the public and media’s attention about the potential of a grass energy market in New York State. In St. Lawrence County, this has been done on a small scale by distributing a survey and informational cards to the community to gain their opinion on our current project. This has proved beneficial and provided feedback that many residents are interested in a biomass market but do not know how efficient and useful it would be in their homes. The driving force fueling this opinion is the installation cost and maintenance associated with using a pellet stove.
This leads to one of our next agenda points, promote small-scale commercial biomass operations instead of residential as these outlets will provide better use for agricultural based biomass. In order to promote this type of market, we proposed using conferences or home-shows. The Heat the North East Conference is scheduled to be in Saratoga Springs March of 2012 and our hope is that grass energy will be a focus. In addition, there is a proposal to host our own biomass conference within the next year where all spectrums of the grass energy lifestyle will be present from producers to end-users. Finally, the participants of the meeting signed a petition dedicated ourselves to the state’s grass energy project. It is our hope, with more lobby and support from the public, that a list of supporters will prompt agencies like NYSERDA and USDA to fund our projects.
In the world of emission testing, the cellulose and chlorine content of grass is the cause of higher ash content and greater fluctuations in emissions. Further research needs to be dedicated to emission testing before a proper market can be implemented. There are a few hang ups in the process of testing emissions including utilizing the proper furnaces, testing high vs. low ash pellets and lowering the chlorine content of the actual pellet to avoid spikes in harmful emissions. Researchers like Jerry Cherney, are playing a bit of a waiting game on emission testing waiting for pellets with different ash contents to arrive.
The final agenda point of the meeting was for everyone to compile his or her three most important action steps to have The New York Biomass Energy Alliance present to NYSERDA in favor of grass energy. The Energy Alliance board will vote in mid-August about our proposal. I think, that by banning together as a state-wide working group, we will be able to grasp the attention of missing resources and make New York State the front runner in grass pellet energy.
St. Lawrence County Grass Energy Working Group
St. Lawrence University 2013