OSU Extension Workshop to Explore Bioenergy Opportunities in Southern Ohio

March 3, 2009

Editor: Please note that this workshop has been cancelled as of March 23 due to lower than expected registrations.

PIKETON, Ohio -- With nearly 70 percent of southern Ohio's land cover invested in farmland and forests, opportunities abound to convert those resources into bioenergy products. An Ohio State University workshop will be offered this month that will explore the feasibility of producing and processing bioenergy crops to meet growing energy demands while stimulating the local economy.

"Biofeedstock Production and Utilization of Biofuel" will be held March 27 from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. at OSU South Centers at Piketon, Room 160, 1862 Shyville Road, Piketon. Registration is $20 and includes morning refreshments and lunch. Registration deadline is March 20.

Ohio State University Extension, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, and OSU Extension Sustainable Agriculture Team are hosting the workshop.

"The workshop is intended to help address questions and provide information to clientele to build interest in bioenergy feedstocks, support bioenergy research projects, and explore options for processing bioenergy products to help support and create jobs throughout southern Ohio," said Maurus Brown, an OSU South Centers Extension specialist who is involved in bioenergy initiatives.

Brown is encouraging Extension educators, NRCS soil and water district conservationists, county commissioners, elected state officials, farmers, woodlot owners, lumber mill owners and business owners to attend the workshop.

"Renewable energy in Ohio is generally focused on solar and wind, which is really only applicable to northwest Ohio, as well as field crop production, such as corn. We are focusing on what southern Ohio can contribute to bioenergy efforts," said Damon Hartley, an OSU South Centers program specialist in timber harvesting.

Hartley said that the workshop would address two of southern Ohio's biggest natural resources: farmland and forests.

"What we want to do is show woodlot owners what they can do with already existing resources -- using the wood waste from timber production as a heating substitute for industries and businesses looking for an alternative to coal, and a cheaper product than natural gas or heating oil," said Hartley. "The idea is not to introduce invasive techniques or put pressure on the rest of the forest products industry, but just better utilize our natural forests by taking what would generally be discarded and turning it into a bioenergy opportunity."

Another effort being explored is using marginal farmland (land not entirely suited for crop production) for growing grasses suited for ethanol production. Such crops include switchgrass, big blue stem grass and rapeseed.

"The workshop will explore the things we can do with land that is just sitting idle," said Brown.

The workshop program includes the following sessions:

• Future of Renewable Energy -- Bill Richards, 25X25 Initiative.

• Environmental Degradation and U.S. Transition to Bioenergy -- Rattan Lal, OARDC soil scientist.

• Feedstock Availability in Ohio -- Jim Zuber, director of Ohio Energy.

• Ohio's Opportunities in Renewable Energy -- Mike Bailey, Bioenergy of Ohio program leader.

• Woody Biomass Feedstocks in Ohio -- Matt Bumgardner, U.S. Forest Service.

• Economics of Bioenergy Production -- Fred Hitzhusen, Ohio State economist.

• Distribution and Utilization of Biofuels -- Rick Puckett, president of Glockner Oil Company.

• Manufacturing Biodiesel Locally -- Wyndan Skye, CEO and president of ZOFU and Mother Earth Resources Cooperative.

The lunch speaker will be Ronda Kinnamon from the governor's regional office, who will discuss energy programs.

For more information on the workshop, contact Maurus Brown at (740) 289-2071, ext. 123 or e-mail brown.989@osu.edu. To register, contact Mary Gulas at (740) 289-2071, ext. 132 or e-mail gulas.3@osu.edu.

Through funding support, OSU South Centers at Piketon is exploring bioenergy initiatives that support economic development across Appalachian Ohio. To learn more about OSU South Centers at Piketon, log on to http://southcenters.osu.edu.

Author(s): 
Candace Pollock
Source(s): 
Maurus Brown