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Archive for June, 2011

By Doreen Barker

Since there seems to be an increase in interest for alternative and renewable energy with the higher fuel prices, I figured that I would take the time to discuss ways that we have the potential to market grass energy.

We, as the grass energy people, have a daunting task ahead of us. As stated in previous articles within this blog, people within the biomass industry are surprised to learn that grass provides nearly the same heating values as wood. Since individuals within our own industry don’t know this, how can we expect our potential customers and consumers to know. This lack of information is a hurdle that we MUST overcome. I think that there are several avenues that need to be pursued to change this. As we all know, communication is the key to success in everything we do. So how can we communicate better?

Communications of grass energy benefits can be accomplished through email marketing, holding discussion forums, open houses, blogs such as this one and even newsletters. The list goes on and on. In my case, I have started writing articles as the Alternative Energy portion in the Green Living section of the Syracuse Examiner. As a group of individuals, by pulling our knowledge base together, we should be promoting grass energy daily. Speaking of pulling our efforts together, it has recently been brought up in conversation that those of us directly involved with grass energy should create our own group or alliance to network our efforts for one common goal. After several phone calls and many emails, I have discovered that we can form a sub-group under the NY Biomass Energy Alliance. In the meantime, I have worked with a couple of other individuals to secure a room for a gathering of grass energy people. TC3 in Dryden, NY has offered a room to us on July 20th from 1-4 p.m. This will be a great opportunity for all of us to pool together our efforts and consider what we need to progress toward in the future. For more information, please see the invitation. I am doing some research into possibly setting up booths at some local functions that could also be valuable to spreading the word about grass energy.

I would also like to express that we had a wonderful time at EnviroEnergy’s open house. The demonstration of the Bio-Burner was well received by several of the people I had the pleasure of speaking with. This unit is one step in the right direction when it comes to fuel diversity and I think they deserve a big round of applause for what they are working at accomplishing.

We, at Broome Biomass, are still working at progressing forward but not without several hurdles to overcome ourselves. We do have several upcoming meetings that I will keep everyone posted on after the fact. I will also be writing additional articles for the Syracuse Examiner, focusing on some of these hurdles that each of us have and are facing. If anyone has a topic that they wish to be discussed, please free to contact me and I will do my best to promote or bring the issue into public focus.

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A very successful open house at EnviroEnergy one week in May solidified my thoughts for this post. We had good traffic all day and it was good to meet people in person who are friends in cyberspace.

This activity along with all the developments since my last post continue to convince me that bio-mass in all it’s forms will continue to increase it’s viability as a heat source. People I have been in communication with of late really seem to get the concept of a local renewable energy loop. Consumers seem to be willing to put up with the little inconveniences of handling bio-fuel to gain fossil fuel independence .I have been pleasantly surprised that I have been contacted by manufacturers who are interested in building appliances that can more efficiently handle bio mass. When our project began, we contacted many manufacturers who would not talk about bio mass fuel. Thus we were well aware that it would be an uphill climb to be successful with grass as a fuel.To date, the project has proved the concept and we are looking forward to the next generation of equipment.

I am aware of several start ups that are trying to get started. As we involved in the industry are well aware, the hurdles are not few. The two biggest obstacles are emissions regulations and capital. The emissions are a very important issue and does need addressing; however,  the expense of testing for compliance can be a major issue. This brings me to the major point of this post.
This industry needs to be seen as an important,valuable and necessary component in this country’s  energy strategy. We are well aware of the European stand on renewable energy, and need our governmental bodies to support this initiative. Where is the support going to begin? Sure, the industry has to push the issue; however, that in my vision is not the ultimate solution. The consumer will be the success of this change in policy. As we are seeing in the heating industry, the demands of the people actually buying the fuel force the changes. Why are appliance manufacturers embracing renewable fuels? The consumers are demanding it. Our organizations, including the sponsor of this blog, will be an important part of the change. But the biggest force to push government, industry and the banking world will be the demands of people who enjoy being warm and comfortable at a manageable expense. We need to continue  to reach out to the populace and explain bio mass. They get it, but it constantly amazes me that there are so many people who are shocked to learn that grass is a viable energy source. “Come on what else is in it?” I have heard this over and over so the preaching is more important than ever.

Enjoy the spring!!

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