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Local Bioenergy Opportunities Phase I Project Completed

The Center for Natural Capital is proud to release the results of the Local Bioenergy Opportunities Phase I Project. Virginians, like everyone else, are forced to make difficult decision when the mercury drops.  Faced with rising energy prices, fuel oil and propane dependent communities continue to watch their energy dollars leave town.  However, some communities are finding that the byproducts of local forestry operations and end-of-the-season grassland harvests can be used for heating fuel, creating new jobs and keeping their energy dollars circulating in their local economy. These energy markets could also provide the income landowners require to establish or keep their land in forests or grasslands, providing wildlife habitat and improving water quality in the Chesapeake Bay.  In order to see this restoration economy vision come to life CNC staff set out to map Local Bioenergy Opportunities.

Examining areas without access to natural gas CNC staff have identified seven clusters for potential bioenergy marketing activities.  Each of these clusters have multiple anchors – institutions with multiple active boilers currently consuming fuel oil or propane that could benefit financially from fuel switching to locally sources wood or grass fuels.  Each of these clusters also includes numerous public schools where fuel expenditure savings could translate into additional resources for classrooms.  Individually, these schools may be challenged to make a conversion economical, collectively the investments in fuel supply infrastructure could make projects very attractive to investors.  CNC staff has compiled a database with the location, number and age of active fuel oil or propane boilers and the acres of forestland, pasture and degraded land with 25 miles of each location.  In total CNC staff has identified:

  • Ten institutions of higher education
  • Five private schools
  • Fifteen hospitals
  • Fifteen correctional facilities
  • 425 public schools

The Local Bioenergy Opportunities Project provides bioenergy service providers a starting point to prioritize marketing activities.  Similarly, other entities interested in promoting small-scale bioenergy will find the database useful for identifying regions, communities and locations for education, outreach and investment.  Please contact the Center for Natural Capital to learn more!


Brian Becker

Program Manager, Virginia Biomass Solutions &

the Virginia Community Wood Energy Program

The Center for Natural Capital



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