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Rising fossil energy prices, concerns over the security of energy supplies and mounting evidence linking fossil energy use to global climate change have all increased interest in developing new technologies, management strategies, and the transformation to a new economic model – a sustainable bioeconomy.

Local Fuels, Greener Future

While researchers work to make this kind of biomass fuel more affordable, we’re considering other options, including other sourcesof clean-burning biomass fuel.When we use the word biomass, we’re talking about any plant-based fuel. Besides crops, there are many other materials that also qualify as biomass because originally they were made from plants. We’re looking at many of them, including forest waste, railway ties, surplus wood from construction and demolition projects, pulp and paper by-products, even wood-based factory discards. Every fuel option we’re studying has been proposed to us by local businesses as cleaner fuel options than coal.Our research partners are studying each of these fuels (see Greener Fuel Protocol) to ensure that they are cleaner than coal. Some of them have other advantages, including the fact that using them for fuel would keep them from rottingin landfills. And all of them are available locally. We’ll study every option — some over the short term and others over the longer term — before we make any final decisions.While we continue to use coal for the time being, switching to some of these alternative fuel sources, which are very competitively priced compared to coal, could allow us to economically invest in a permanent system for using these fuels, as well as biomass crops from local farmers, as soon as they become economically viable.

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