Ah, finally, a topic with which I have extensive personal experience.
Wood pellets are, in my mind, one of the best alternatives to conventional fuel sources that the State of Maine has to offer its citizens. It’s cheap, easy, low maintenance, and significantly more cost effective than current heating oil or natural gas options that are available in Maine today.
The process is simple: biomass is processed into small, cylindrical pellets that are, similar to a simple wood stove, burned for heat. There are essentially two forms that this can take. Many large-scale operations tend to use a boiler run on wood pellets, generally if it is a large building or a home that uses wood pellets as a hot water heater as well. If a boiler is not used, the most common form of burner is a simple wood pellet stove, which produces heat similar to that of a wood stove, yet more distributed throughout the house or building. Personally, my family has two pellet stoves, one for the front and upstairs of the house, the other for the back and the basement. We made the switch in 2006, and added the second stove in 2010. Since then, we’ve seen massive savings on heating costs, almost directly due to the switch from heating oil. It is also vastly easier to handle than an oil burner, which usually requires professional help. If an issue arises, my father will simply open the stove, fiddle around for a couple of minutes, swear several times, and the stove is fixed. They are incredibly user and eco friendly.
This technology is one that should be actively promoted throughout the state. The article has it 100% correct, the biggest actor in the lack of industry penetration for wood pellet companies is lack of public awareness. I cannot count the number of times that a friend has come over, looked at the stove and asked “what on earth is that?” With further promotion and raising awareness, pellets could feasibly become the primary source of heat for many Maine families.
Lastly, this is a technology that can be kept in the state and become a thriving industry for Mainers. In case anyone was wondering, we have a boatload (that’s an official term) of biomass available to be used as a renewable or semi-renewable energy source. With around 90% of the State being covered in forests, we have an enormous amount of resources to attack this industry with. It would be foolish not to expand on this opportunity. And Mainers are already beginning to open up to the industry. All of our pellets come from Corinth pellets, and very nearly all of our family friends who have installed pellet stoves buy local. This is an opportunity to expand upon a local and massive energy reservoir in the state of Maine, and could very well boost our economy in terms of the energy sector. We have all the infrastructure and capital established, the only thing we need is increased public awareness. The moral of this is to tell all your friends to invest in this technology, it might just save our energy woes.