top of page
DOE photo_edited.jpg

DOE

The Department of Energy

The Department of Energy Bioenergy Technology Office (BETO) supports a broad array of bioenergy pathways, and has recently begun supporting some residential biomass heating efforts. BETO was one of the top sponsors of the 2018 Wood Stove Design Challenge. DOE is the primary sponsor of the 5th Wood Heater Challenge, from 2021 – 2023. In May 2019 Congress appropriated $5 million for the DOE to offer a funding opportunity for the development of innovative, state-of-the art technology in residential wood and pellet stoves and central heaters. That funding was also made available by Congress in 2020, 2021 and 2022. The DOE website also has this webpage with educational information about residential heating.

DOE National Labs

The Brookhaven National Lab (BNL) on Long Island, NY has become one of the premier labs for non-commercial testing and R&D of wood stoves and boilers. Led by Tom Butcher and Rebecca Trojanowski Brookhaven National Lab has helped developed new test methods for boilers. Brookhaven has also been a core partner the series of Wood Stove Design Challenges. in testing for the Wood Stove Decathlon and much more.

d1.jpg

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab has become engaged in wood stove work through DOE funding and the 5th Wood Heater Design Challenge and has extensive experience with cook stoves in the developing world.

The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) in Colorado has a robust biomass program that is mostly dedicated to biofuels but has done some work with thermal applications of solid fuels.

d2.jpg

The Energy Information Agency is an autonomous unit within the DOE that collects, analyzes, and disseminates independent and impartial energy information. The Alliance for Green Heat and other groups pressed the EIA to better include wood heat in their reporting. In 2012, the EIA included wood heat in their Winter Fuel Outlook for the first time and in 2014 the EIA began producing reports similar to other renewables. While there is still a long way to go, considering the popularity of wood and pellet heating, the EIA is improving their coverage.

Weatherization and Energy Audits

The DOE is also a major player in national policy on weatherization assistance and energy audits, including setting standards that direct how federal funding from the Weatherization Assistance Program can be used by states. Very little had been done to address how wood stoves fit into weatherization and energy audit programs prior to summer 2021, which is when the Alliance started calling on the DOE to recognize the importance of wood heating, particularly in rural areas, and the dangers and missed opportunities to not including wood heating appliances. In October 2021, we re-emphasized the ways in which DOE weatherization guidance for stoves was lacking and provided a visual guide to wood stove inspections for energy auditors.

In December 2021, a new Weatherization Program Notice arrived from the Weatherization Assistance Program. Among other changes, this notice “reinforces requirements for safety inspections of solid-fuel appliances (e.g., woodstoves)” and “strengthens inspection and testing procedures for solid fuel appliances (i.e., woodstoves and fireplaces) including requirement that Grantees have specific testing policies and action levels.” State health and safety plans for weatherization should follow soon. States are required to re-formulate their H&S plans at least annually, and most states tend to release their documents in July. Thus, starting in July 2022, we expect new H&S documents to be released by states with language that is more inclusive of wood stoves.

Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Loans

PACE loans for renewable energy systems are added to your property tax over a period of 20 to 40 years so whoever owns the property keeps paying down the loan. At least four states authorize "distributed generation renewable energy sources" which should include biomass and geothermal, as well as electricity-producing systems; CA, IL, OK and VA. NY authorizes only solar and wind. The DOE is promoting these programs. Clean biomass systems could be excluded inadvertently in some cases and some states are amending their enabling legislation. For more information, see http://pacenow.org/.

bottom of page