New Bio-Fuel Projects Take Advantage Of North Country Resources
An energy plant on Fort Drum being modified to burn logging waste.
A proposal to turn manure into energy in Lowville.
A wood chip energy experiment in Lyons Falls
And word of a woodchip-burning plant in Tupper Lake.
All would draw on the north country's abundant resources.
Philip Hopke, director of the Institute for a Sustainable Environment at Clarkson University, said "We have significant amounts of forest areas that are now available because of declines in the paper industry."
"And we have a continuing dairy industry that obviously produces significant amounts of manure."
But the wood and manure have been around awhile. Hopke says another big factor is that bio-fuel plants have become more efficient.
"So we have the opportunity for both woody bio-fuels and biogas if we can do it efficiently and effectively," Hopke said.
Sometimes biomass projects can compete with more conventional forms of energy and sometimes they can't.
Government subsidies often help make up the difference.
"There's subsidies out there to encourage this sort of project," said Joe Lawrence of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Lewis County, "so that certainly factors in."
If current trends continue, there could be more bio-fuel plants.
"With the technology we have, with the resources we have, this is good business for the north country," Hopke said.
And the north country can always use more business.