Bioenergy also presents an opportunity for rural development and for the agricultural sector in particular, potentially helping to meet key social development goals. Indeed, bioenergy signals a significant new market for agricultural producers.
Cordwood, wood pellets, wood chips, waste paper, along with dozens of other agricultural by-products capable of being used for energy, are all examples of biomass fuel. The most compelling principle of biomass is that it is renewable. Given proper forest and agricultural management, biomass is virtually limitless, and has proven to be price stable. The environmental benefit of the fuel is that it turns readily available waste products into clean and efficient energy.
First, the moisture content of pellets is substantially lower (4% to 8% water, compared to 20% to 60% for raw biomass). Less moisture means higher BTU value and easier handling especially in freezing situations with green raw biomass materials.
Second, the density of pellet fuel is substantially higher than raw biomass (40 lbs. per cubic foot vs. 10-25 lbs. per cubic foot in raw material form). More fuel can be transported in a given truck space, and more energy can be stored at your site.
Third, pellets are more easily and predictably handled. Their uniform shape and size allows for a smaller and simpler feed system that reduces costs. This high density and uniform shape can be stored in standard silos, transported in rail cars and delivered in truck containers. Pellets pose none of the explosion risks or environmental pollution from spills as nonrenewable fossil fuels do.
The remarkable consistency and burn efficiency of pellet fuel produces a fraction of the particulate emissions of raw biomass. Pellet burners feature the lowest particulate matter emissions of all solid fuel burners.
In addition, wood pellets
• are convenient and easy to use, and can be bulk stored in less space than other bio-mass fuels
• have a high energy content, and the technology is highly efficient compared to other biomass fuels
• are a clean-burning renewable fuel source
• are produced from such waste materials as forestry residues and sawdust
• are price stable compared to fossil fuels