Vermont Bioenergy Initiative
The Vermont Bioenergy Initiative concluded a 10+ year effort to foster the development of a small-scale bioenergy industry in Vermont as a replacement for fossil fuel based energy.
The purpose of the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative was to foster the development of sustainable, distributed, small-scale biodiesel, grass/mixed fiber, and algae-to-biofuels businesses in Vermont, in order to produce bioenergy for local transportation, agricultural, and thermal applications—as a replacement for fossil fuel based energy. This initiative marked the first strategic effort to reduce Vermont’s dependency on petroleum through the development of homegrown alternatives.
The Vermont Bioenergy Initiative provided grant funding and agronomic and financial planning assistance to farmers and entrepreneurs interested in developing homegrown bioenergy and supported the development of on-farm oilseed production, processing, and biodiesel production capacity for farm and local community use, as well as with researchers to develop the agronomics and economics of oilseed crop and biodiesel production in Vermont.
Farmers, entrepreneurs, and researchers interested in advancing the commercialization of grass for thermal energy received funding and engineering technical support to augment Vermont’s woody biomass supply with grass and mixed fiber pellets for thermal applications.
Producing algae for biofuel drew another set of researchers, and entrepreneurs who were financially supported by the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative to develop cold climate algae that could eventually be available for biodiesel production.
The initiative concluded in 2016 with the release of the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative Final Report to the U.S. Department of Energy which documents all of the research, technical assistance, and infrastructure development in emerging areas of bioenergy conducted as a part of the initiative from 2008-2016.
Vermont Tech Anaerobic Digester
Also in 2016, the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund and Vermont Technical College published the Community Anaerobic Digester Report to demonstrate how a community scale biodigester can keep excess nutrients out of watersheds and food residuals out of landfills while generating renewable electricity. VSJF served as a project partner with Vermont Tech, home of the Vermont Tech anaerobic digester known as “Big Bertha.”
Both the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative and the Vermont Tech biodigester project connect to the acceleration of sustainable economic development in renewable energy, environmental technology, and waste management sectors.
Vermont bioenergy research, technical assistance, and infrastructure development in emerging areas of bioenergy will continue with Vermont Bioenergy Initiative partners UVM Extension, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, Vermont Technical College, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, and the Energy Action Network.