Renewable energy right in our backyard
Woody biomass comprises wood, bark and leaves from trees and shrubs and the leftovers from harvesting and milling. All of these extra wood products are processed together and used as fuel. This renewable form of energy is used most often for generating heat and power. Woody biomass is also an innovative material in that it can be used to create adhesives, solvents, plastics, inks and lubricants.
About 15 percent of Oregon’s forestland has the potential to provide useful woody biomass through thinning, which in turn reduces risk of forest fires. Thinning forests over 20 years would provide enough woody biomass to generate about 150 megawatts of electricity annually. Currently, Oregon’s electricity usage is growing at a rate of about 100 megawatts per year.
Although using woody biomass does produce carbon dioxide, Oregon state law treats biomass as CO2 neutral because newly planted trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Because thinning forest stands is an important part of actively managing forests anyway, we wind up with abundant material to create woody biomass. We can responsibly recycle our forests into fossil fuel alternatives, just as our forests recycle carbon dioxide for us.
In addition to improving forest health and providing Oregon with a renewable energy source, woody biomass production is also revitalizing rural economies by providing jobs for local residents to harvest the biomass and run production plants.
Woody biomass is a great opportunity to:
- Improve forest health
- Create renewable energy
- Provide economic opportunities for many rural Oregon communities