Mount Wachusett Community College is dedicated to promoting and demonstrating the role of forest biomass as a sustainable renewable energy source. The college broke ground in April 2002 for the construction of a new wood biomass heating system that came on line for the 2002-03 heating season, replacing the current all electric system. This new system is saving the college an estimated $300,000 per year. A second phase of the project saw the installation of a biomass cogeneration system that provides heat, air conditioning, and electricity. Please see the stories of the Mount Wachusett Community College Biomass Conversion Project and the Mount Wachusett Community College CHP project using the links at left.
Wood Biomass Energy
Definition: Wood (solid wood, tree trimmings, wood chips, sawdust, bark, and shavings) used to produce heating, electricity, or other forms of energy.
Wood has been utilized as a fuel since the beginning of civilization and it is still the main source of energy in many developing nations. Many homes in our region are equipped with fireplaces or wood stoves. Modern biomass energy, however, is similar to these traditional systems only in that they all use wood as a fuel. Tremendous technological advances over the past few decades are now resulting in wood biomass energy systems that are clean, efficient, and economical. Biomass is rapidly emerging as a locally produced alternative to fossil fuels.
Wood Biomass Energy is:
- Renewable: Utilizing the principles of scientific forest management our forests can provide a continuous and sustainable yield of wood biomass. Biomass systems also can utilize tree trimmings, industrial waste wood, and wood from demolition and construction wastes, materials that are currently burdening our landfills and waste systems.
- Clean: Biomass use reduces the buildup of greenhouse gases and can also have a positive effect on gases in the atmosphere that cause acid rain and are damaging to human health.
- Economical: Biomass comes from local resources and keeps energy dollars close to home. Money spent on oil and gas are a huge drain on local economies. When a community uses biomass it creates forestry and agricultural jobs in the surrounding region.
A description of the College’s conversion project is available and will be updated periodically. We have also prepared a report providing a three-year analysis of the Athol-Royalston Regional School District Wood Energy Heating Conversion Project.
Building on the College’s successful biomass conversion project, Mount Wachusett Community College is embarking on other renewable energy projects and initiatives.
A short list of reports, charts and other useful biomass energy information:
- MA Sustainable Forest Bioenergy Initiative
Two Massachusetts State agencies the Department of Energy Resources and the Department of Conservation and Recreation have identified biomass as a renewable energy resource with tremendous potential in Massachusetts due to the state’s 3 million acres of underutilized forestland and other large sources of wood. This broad initiative will facilitate the development of biomass energy projects and fuel supply infrastructure in the Commonwealth.
Below are several reports developed from the Bioenergy Initiative:
- Forest Harvesting Systems for Biomass Production
- Massachusetts Woody Biomass Report, developed by the MA Biomass Energy Working Group
- The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Division of Energy Resources, Renewable Portfolio Standard, Annual RPS Report for 2003
- Wood Fuel Financial Feasibility Spreadsheets and Boiler Manual developed by Bob Govett, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
- The Massachusetts State Sustainability newsletter is a bi-monthly series published by the Massachusetts State Sustainability Program which works to minimize the environmental impacts resulting from state government operations
- USGS Are We Running Out of Oil
- Biomass Provisions in the 2005 Energy Bill provided by Innovative Natural Resource Solutions, LLC