What is CWET?
Colorado was one of 20 states selected to receive funding through the Statewide Wood Energy Team (SWET) Cooperative Agreements developed by the Wood Education and Resource Center with the US Forest Service. Funds from these SWET agreements are to be used to:
- Promote commercially proven wood energy systems
- Expand markets that convert woody biomass into energy
- Develop a systematic approach to installing wood energy systems
- Support the development of statewide wood energy teams
Recommendations to Improve Effectiveness of Statewide Wood Energy Teams
Actions taken by Colorado Wood Energy Team to support the above goals include:
- Identify communities and facilities as good candidates for wood energy and solicit for dedicated assistance and support in developing wood energy systems
- Develop a new “biomass-ready” facility design tool for public and private facilities to “design-in” for a biomass-energy system in the near-term future
- Enhance public support and community acceptance of biomass energy projects
- Lead a Wood-to-Energy Short Course open to professional foresters and natural resource managers, facility engineers and technology providers, renewable energy advocates, state policy makers, members of the economic development community, and private forest landowners
Importance of Project
Colorado is experiencing significant increases in wildfires and local, state, and federal expenditures for hazardous fuels reduction across all land ownership have correspondingly increased. These state and locally funded fuels treatments represent a significant contribution to feedstock supply for new wood energy facilities.
Currently, Colorado has almost a dozen wood energy systems in place. However, our wood energy sector relies heavily on public investment, lacks redundancy and resiliency, and private sector investment risk is high. Moreover, technology and vendor selection is critical. A single change to the feedstock supply infrastructure (a supply processor or contractor going out of business etc.), competition from lower cost energy sources and providers, or community and political support, can and has significant impact the sustainability of some of Colorado’s past wood energy projects and the establishment of new wood-energy facilities. While successes in wood energy have been achieved, Colorado lacks a more formalized process for wood-energy candidate identification, and location, promotion, and reporting. The CWET team has been formulated to address this need.
CWET believes the best predictor for new wood energy systems is in communities with current wood energy systems. Established performance history, in place feedstock supply and processing infrastructure, and community acceptance make these communities a CWET priority for further project solicitation, selection, and CWET assistance and support. After looking at communities with existing wood-energy facilities, additional candidate facilities and communities will be identified by spatially representing current feedstock supplies, wood energy producers and processors, wood products infrastructure, and community wildfire threats.