Massachusetts' biomass heating market could grow 97%/year with right market development mechanisms, could cut GHG emissions by 500,000 tons, create 2,000 jobs by 2020, says state-commissioned study

LOS ANGELES , April 10, 2012 () – Massachusetts’ biomass heating market could expand at the rate of 97% a year with the “right market development mechanisms,” according to a study commissioned by the state, reported Biomass Magazine on April 9.

At this elevated rate of growth, biomass thermal heating could reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by a possible 500,000 tons and create more than 2,000 jobs by 2020, according to the report by Meister Consultant Group.

The study, which was commissioned by the state’s Dept. of Energy and Resources (DOER) and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, evaluates various types of renewable heating and cooling opportunities in the state and their impacts, Biomass Magazine reported.

Currently, the biomass thermal market in Massachusetts is small, partly because of the lack of state or federal incentives and policies, according to the report.

Other blocks to development include the upfront costs, which give low-emission biomass heating a long payback, especially for residential systems. Economies of scale make commercial-scale systems more competitive, reported Biomass Magazine.

The Massachusetts’ biomass heating market also needs a distribution infrastructure to flourish, as customers currently do not have convenient access to biomass fuel, the report found.

Stakeholders in the market suggest that “integrating existing fossil fuel distributors into the pellet heating market will be essential to drive vibrant market growth,” the study indicated.

The DOER’s next step will be to discuss the study’s findings in an outreach program, to help raise awareness of a renewable thermal pilot project, and to determine possible policy options.

In addition to examining the market for biomass thermal, the report also looked at solar hot water and space heating, advanced biodiesel and high-efficiency heat pumps.

It studied the market barriers that slow down growth of renewable thermal markets and examined thermal policies that have pushed development in the U.S. and internationally, particularly in European countries such as Germany, Austria, Sweden and the U.K., reported Biomass Magazine.

The primary source of this article is Biomass Magazine, Grand Forks, North Dakota, on April 9, 2012.

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