The Guardian recently published a piece supporting the likelihood that the COVID-19 pandemic will have a drastic impact on global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2020. “Global carbon emissions from the fossil fuel industry could fall by a record 2.5bn tonnes this year, a reduction of 5%, as the coronavirus pandemic triggers the biggest drop in demand for fossil fuels on record,” the article adds.
While much of the reductions are due to anemic demand for transportation fuels as automobiles have been idled by the millions, new wood-to-energy projects in the US are also helping to mitigate fossil-based GHG emissions.
Per a recent-published press release, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service (USFS) announced that it will award a total of $1.5 million in funding to seven rural communities through a new Community Wood Energy and Wood Innovation grant program.
Made possible through the 2018 Farm Bill, the new program will help to fund the costs of installing wood energy systems and building innovative wood product facilities in rural communities nationwide. Awardees from five states will use locally sourced wood to reduce energy costs and fossil fuel use while supporting local forest management.
“The Forest Service is taking advantage of this new program to invest in rural communities motivated to convert leftovers from their local sawmills or forestry operations into renewable wood energy,” said Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. “The communities will save on energy costs and enhance energy resilience while sustainably managing their forests. These infrastructure investments immediately create permanent jobs for rural Americans determined to keep their communities vibrant and self-sufficient.”
In addition to the funds awarded through the new grant program, awardees will collectively leverage an additional $3.4 million in matching funds. Together, the seven communities are projected to save more than $250,000 a year by using locally supplied, renewable wood energy. Most of these projects also reduce hazardous fuels and are close to national forests.
The new program funds wood energy facilities from those in small office buildings to large sawmills and other industrial operations. These facilities are typically manufacturing or processing plants, including sawmills, that make diverse products like building components, such as mass timber and other innovative products made from low-value or low-quality wood.
Community Wood Energy and Wood Innovations Grants
For more information about the USFS’s grant program, visit the Wood Innovations Home.