Utilization of Woody Biomass for Energy
The Society of American Foresters (SAF) encourages the creation and enhancement of local and national policies that support the development of markets for fuel, heat, and power from sustainably sourced woody biomass. SAF also supports continued investment in forest products research and development to support more resilient supplies and markets. Properly designed policies, including equitable treatment to other net carbon neutral renewable energy sources (e.g., solar and wind power), that incentivize the use of wood for energy can increase energy independence and contribute to a thriving US forest industry. Opportunities exist for integrated power systems, utilizing biomass for energy and captured syngas for electric power, steam, or hot water. These systems can be coupled with carbon capture and storage, a major strategy for recent climate change mitigation scenarios due to potential for negative carbon emissions. Furthermore, use of low-value timber, salvage wood, and residues from thinning and other forest-sector activities can contribute to restoration goals, deter outbreaks of pests, reduce fuel availability for wildfires, and enhance forest conditions and the provision of ecosystem services. Policy-makers should support public outreach activities to disseminate peer-reviewed science on the need for forest thinning and the benefits of using renewable biomass for energy. Ongoing monitoring of US forests to inform management activities can ensure maintenance of forest conditions that support a diversity of ecosystem services for current and future generations. Investments to retain land in forests and manage forests more sustainably need incentives such as long-term agreements (e.g., private contracts, volume commitments from federal lands) and options to supply diverse forest product markets. More stable and secure demand attracts investments in forestry, biomass processing, and conversion facilities.