When I was asked to attend the chamber’s Transatlantic Climate Bridge conference on biomass energy so that I could write some press releases about it, the first thought that crossed my mind was that I have yet to really understand what biomass energy is. Fortunately, after attending the conference I finally understand, and definitely see why the southeast needs to join in on the idea!
Biomass energy uses plant material (wood chips, scrap branches from timber, etc) that is burned to generate heat. The heat then generates steam, which can turn a turbine or heat a pipe with water. Another option to create biomass energy is to put plant material together with animal manure in a giant “bucket”. The combination gives off biogas that can be burned to generate steam. The end result of both is an energy source that is completely sustainable and renewable, unlike our current fossil fuel dependence!
One of the presenters at the conference was Eckhard Fangmeier, the president of the bioenergy village of Jühnde in Germany. Jühnde is entirely energy self-sufficient, after converting to biomass energy in 2005. With a population of 750 residents and 9 farmers, the village uses the waste of 500 cows and 150 pigs along with its resources of a little less than two thousand acres of woods and more than 3,200 acres of fields to produce energy. This energy comes to homes in form of a heat and electricity. Even though Jühnde uses little more than 20% of its energy producing resources, it generates twice as much electricity annually than it consumes. It sells the extra energy back to the public grid, and is well on its way to completely re-making its initial investment in the switch over to biomass energy.
A leader in renewable energies, Germany is looking to further build its partnership with the United States through the common goal of energy efficiency. In addition to getting amazing insight from the village of Jühnde, global firm BiEnergy Group presented its custom tailored biomass manufacturing services for the American biomass market and the Georgia Forestry Commission explained how Georgia is best suited to join in the biomass market because of its extensive agricultural resources. Jill Stuckey from the Georgia Centers of Innovation also explained the resources available to companies looking to enter the biomass field in Georgia.
In the words of our CEO Kristian Wolf, when it comes to renewable energies “there is a lot more to it than wind and water.”