Companies highlight how bioenergy benefits Georgia / Public News Service

Albany Green Energy and Procter and Gamble showcase how Georgia is harnessing bioenergy this week.

In celebration of the 11th National Bioenergy Day, companies on Wednesday hosted an open house, demonstrating their use of woody biomass such as mill residues and forest waste to generate clean, renewable energy.

Burning materials helps reduce emissions and promotes environmental sustainability, said James Luckey III, facility manager for Albany Green Energy.

“What we burn eliminates smokestack emissions,” Luckey emphasized. “It is negated by the carbon that is absorbed by the regrowth of the forest because it promotes a lot of regrowth when we remove branches and debris and things left in the forest.”

By burning more than 2,000 pounds of biomass a day, they are able to provide industrial steam for Procter and Gamble and the U.S. Marine Corps logistics base, and generate 52 megawatts of electricity for Georgia Power, he said.

John Pattison, Director of External Relations at Procter and Gamble, said they had taken a big step towards sustainability by harnessing AGE’s renewable energy. Starting with a small on-site biomass boiler, they evolved into using steam from AGE. He pointed out that this approach not only helps them achieve their goals, but also contributes to the production of daily household products and the creation of more than 700 local job opportunities.

“We’re able to take something that was completely waste and turn it into energy,” Pattison explained. “Instead of it ending up in the field or being left behind, we can take that and turn it into a usable product.”

Some environmental groups have criticized woody biomass, arguing that it reduces forest health and has a higher cost than other renewable alternatives.

The biomass industry helps employ more than 15,000 people in rural areas, supports local farmers and plays a role in reducing harmful wildfires.

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