SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The New York Biomass Energy Alliance has launched a new website for farmers, landowners and renewable energy supporters who see grass as a potential form of available, renewable energy. Contributors are lined up from the North Country, the Catskills, the central Southern Tier and the Hudson Valley.
Hilary Mayton, a Cornell scientist who has conducted energy grass research around the state for several years, will also be a regular contributor.
“Our goal is to start a conversation among people all across New York State — and perhaps the region as well — about the practical issues involved in making grass energy a success,” said Elizabeth Keokosky of the Danby Land Bank Cooperative, who will serve as administrator of the site.
“It takes less than three months for a field of grass to grow. Densified grass has a very efficient energy ratio for combustion. Ecologically, economically and aesthetically it is a good fit for our area. It is worth the effort to overcome the challenges and find the most appropriate ways to produce and use it.”
Grass focus. Jon Montan from the St. Lawrence County Grass Energy Working Group points out, “While biomass energy crops are renewable, they are also finite, at least in the short run. It is essential that the maximum amount of useable energy be squeezed out of them. The reason we are concentrating on grass fuels in our working group is that they are one of the least developed biomass energy resources, despite their enormous potential both as a source of heat and a new rural enterprise.”
The blog will focus on practical problems that need to be solved to make grass energy a reality, including managing combustion for efficiency and low emissions, alternative densification systems to facilitate efficient fuel handling, building grass-based energy businesses and policy issues that are likely to affect the development of this form of renewable energy in the future.
Steve Rigoni, a board member of the New York Biomass Energy Alliance, has used hay for crop drying for the past three years.
“Using this available energy source — particularly if the alternatives are fuel oil or propane — makes good economic sense,” he observes. “Those of us who are working with grass as a heat source need to be paying attention to what’s happening around the state, finding out who’s got a good idea, and applying it in other places.
“We are delighted that Elizabeth Keokosky has stepped forward to help us build a communications bridge among people all around New York who have made the obvious connection between idle farm land and the need for local, economical energy supplies,” said Dan Conable, New York Biomass Energy Alliance Director. “We hope it attracts a large readership, and that people feel free to add their ideas and thoughts to what they find on this new site.”
The grass energy blog, Grass Energy in the Northeast, can be accessed at http://grassenergy.wordpress.com/. It is also available as a link from the New York Biomass Energy Alliance website, www.newyorkbiomass.org.