Catskill Grass Bioenergy Project
Grass biomass is receiving interest as a renewable alternative energy source as energy prices have dramatically increased in recent years. Production and combustion of grass biomass pellets for heating is a very promising option that offers the following advantages:
- Local energy loop
- Very efficient energy conversion
- Very environmentally friendly (low net greenhouse gas production)
- Existing infrastructure on farms to harvest haycrop
- Compatible with livestock and crop operations
- Maintains open space
- Annually renewable crop
- Stove and furnace technology is very efficient and low emission
In recent years Dr. Jerry Cherney at Cornell University and researchers elsewhere have been exploring the use of grass biomass for combustion. A thorough review of the issue is available at Dr. Cherney’s grass bioenergy website: http://www.grassbioenergy.org.
In an effort to facilitate the development of a local grass bioenergy system, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County and the Catskill Watershed Corporation are developing a “production to consumption” grass bioenergy pilot project. The basics of this program are as follows:
- To work with farmers to produce and test grass biomass feedstock suitable for combustion purposes.
- To work with local grass biomass processors, in particular EnviroEnergy LLC of Franklin, NY (www.enviroenergyny.com), to produce and test grass biomass pellets.
- To test and demonstrate bulk delivery and on site handling of grass pellets.
- To install, research, and demonstrate residential and small business/municipality scale combustion technologies (pellet stoves and outdoor boilers) that are known to work with grass pellets.
The project will sponsor outreach and education with the farmers and the public regarding grass biomass production. Demonstration sites featuring burning technologies will be set up at local municipalities where the general public will be invited to open houses to discuss the use of grass biomass and learn about management of the burning technologies. The project is slated to run for three years and is funded by the Catskill Watershed Corporation.