U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced a total of $47 million to fund eight research and development projects that will support the production of biofuels, bioenergy and high-value biobased products from a variety of biomass sources.
“The projects that we are announcing today will spur innovation in bioenergy by developing renewable resources that produce energy more efficiently and do so in a sustainable way,” said Vilsack. “Advances made through this research will help boost rural economies by developing and testing new processing facilities and profitable, energy-rich crops that U.S. farmers and foresters will grow.”
The biomass research and development grants have been awarded for projects in Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, and South Carolina with feedstocks ranging from algae to sweet sorghum, paper mill waste products and energy crops like switchgrass.
In addition, USDA announced today the establishment of the first Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) Project Area designating areas in Missouri and Kansas for the production of dedicated feedstocks for bioenergy.
Comprising 39 contiguous counties in Missouri and Kansas, the first BCAP Project Area proposes the enrollment of up to 50,000 acres for establishing a dedicated energy crop of native grasses and herbaceous plants (forbs) for energy purposes. Producers in the area will plant mixes of perennial native plants, such as switchgrass, for the manufacture of biomass pellet fuels and other biomass products to be used for power and heat generation. The proposed crops also will provide long term resource conserving vegetative cover. The project is a joint effort between the agriculture producers of Show Me Energy Cooperative of Centerview, Mo., and USDA to spur the expansion of domestically produced biomass feedstocks in rural America for renewable energy.
Vilsack and Chu held a press conference this afternoon announcing the biomass grants and addressing questions about the real potential for cellulosic ethanol, Congressional proposals regarding the ethanol blender’s tax, most promising fuels for the military, and more.
Listen to or download the press conference here: USDA DOE Biomass Grants