Mike Baughman, executive director of the Lincoln County Regional Development Authority, attended the International Biomass Conference in Minneapolis April 10-12. He was there to speak in the biomass feedstock session with regard to biomass operations that could be developed in Lincoln County.

His presentation was entitled, “Expanding the Footprint of the Global Biomass Industry: The Potential role of Pinyon and Juniper Woodlands Located in the Western United States.”

As listed in numerous publications, biomass is an industry term for getting energy by burning wood, and other organic matter. Burning biomass releases carbon emissions, around a quarter higher than burning coal, but has been classed as a “renewable” energy source in the European Union and United Nations legal frameworks, because plants can be regrown. It has become popular among coal power stations, which switch from coal to biomass to comply with the law.

In his presentation, Baughman noted 1.4 billion people in the world lack access to electricity. Rapidly increasing populations, rising concern of global warming, and the need to achieve national energy security is driving an unprecedented interest in exploring renewable power resources. Also, 120 countries, including China, have pledged to reduce fossil fuel use, increase energy efficiency and deploy renewable energy technologies. In addition, it is estimated that bioenergy can contribute at least 150EJ (56EJ in 2013) to the energy supply sustainable in the near future. Thus far, China has yet to make its mark on the global bioenergy market, but it appears the government is now making bioenergy a priority.

There are over 100 million acres of Pinyon-Juniper woodlands in 10 western states in the U.S, Baughman explained, with nine million acres in Nevada, plus a heavy concentration in the BLM Ely district, including 990,000 acres of accessible Pinyon-Juniper in Lincoln County.

The hope is to attract business in the industry to consider Lincoln County as a source for their biomass operations

Baughman will give a more complete report at the next meeting of board of directors of the Lincoln County Regional Development Authority May 1 at the Caliente City Hall.