The 2014 Mid-Atlantic Biomass Heat & Power Conference was held on April 23-24 in Gettysburg, PA with the goal of expanding the biomass industry and helping to develop a consistent, unified vision for how biomass can be used to meet heat and power needs. Over 145 attendees from industry, government, school districts, hospitals, farms, national labs, and other energy-related organizations made the event a success.
The Pennsylvania Biomass Energy Association (PBEA), the group responsible for organizing the conference, is a non-profit, industry-driven organization working to advance the use of Pennsylvania’s sustainable biomass feedstocks for clean heat and combined heat and power applications in residential, small business, commercial, institutional, agricultural, and industrial sectors. Biomass feedstocks include plant and animal matter, such as trees, switchgrass, corn, willow, algae, food waste, and animal fats. Energy can be derived from these sources directly, with combustion, or indirectly, through conversion to biofuel. PBEA worked with state leaders from the Mid-Atlantic region to organize a conference that would provide attendees with a better understanding of how this swiftly growing renewable energy source can be used in an economically and environmentally responsible manner.
Conference talks focused on energy policy, environmental concerns, successful projects, system design, LEED building applications, and feedstock availability. The event also included tours of four locations that are currently using biomass energy. The tours included Slate Ridge Farm, who has a small-scale digester to recover energy from manure; Blue Ridge Landfill, which supplies 15 percent of the Borough of Chambersburg municipal utility’s energy needs with methane; Caledonia State Park, where biomass heating systems are in use; and Twin Springs Fruit Farm, who replaced a coal greenhouse system with a biomass boiler.
The conference was hosted by the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund and sponsored in part by the EMS Energy Institute. For more information on PBEA or the Mid-Atlantic Biomass Heat & Power Conference, visit PBEA’s website at supportpabiomass.org. The website lists membership benefits, current member organizations, and upcoming events.