Bill ‘could create’ US market for large-scale biomass heat

09/04/2010 at 6:03 pm Leave a comment

The biomass heating fuel sector has applauded a group of senators for introducing a Bill to Congress that would encourage businesses to switch to renewable heating systems.

New Hampshire Senator Jean Shaheen, along with Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and Alaska Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski introduced the American Renewable Biomass Heating Act to the US Senate at the end of March.

The bipartisan legislation would allow federal tax credits to support the use of wood renewable biomass in “high-efficiency” heating systems in commercial and industrial buildings.

The tax credits could support up to 30% of a project’s costs under the proposals, which if passed by Congress, would see funding made available for biomass heating systems installed from December 31, 2013 onwards.

Sen. Crapo said a third of building energy consumption is to generate heat, and said prioritizing renewable wood fuels would help reduce US dependence on foreign oil.

The Bill would also bring economic benefits to the timber industry and rural communities.

The Idaho Senator said: “We have seen increased efforts to put wood products, like biomass and wood pellets, to work heating our homes and schools. Now, we need to expand the use of these wood products for larger, industrial uses, and create more jobs in the process.”

Tax credits

Federal tax credits have been available for biomass heating systems since the beginning of 2010, but there is a cap in place limiting credits to $1,500 per project.

The new legislation would allow tax credits for larger scale projects, supporting up to 30% of capital costs.

To qualify for the proposed tax credit, biomass boilers and furnaces would have to operate at a 75% efficiency level or greater while providing space heating, air conditioning, domestic hot water or industrial process heat.

The Biomass Thermal Heating Council, a Washington DC-based trade association, said the Bill if successful could create a market for commercial-scale biomass heating systems.

This bipartisan bill will help create a market for commercial scale biomass thermal systems” – Charlie Niebling, Biomass Thermal Heating Council

It said large-scale biomass thermal technology was already widely deployed in Europe, spurred on by government incentives there.

Charlie Niebling, Chairman of the Council, said: “This bipartisan bill will help create a market for commercial scale biomass thermal systems.

“It supports biomass thermal with the same incentive that already exists for every other renewable energy technology, including solar thermal and electric, wind, and geothermal. Businesses are some of our nation’s biggest consumers of thermal energy, and S. 3188 will provide a powerful incentive to switch to biomass fuels that we produce here in America.”

Level playing field

Senator Shaheen, the original sponsor of the bill, said: “The American Renewable Biomass Heating Act will help put highly efficient biomass on a level playing field with other renewable resources and create the incentives businesses need to invest in clean energy.

“There is no reason why the United States cannot and should not be a leader in clean energy technologies, including biomass.”

A similar titled Bill failed to get out of Committee last year in the House of Representatives. HR 2080 would have raised the cap on biomass tax credits from $1,500 to $6,000.



Entry filed under: Biomass, Policy.

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