Biomass program

Division of Forestry

Biomass Program

photo: hand full of wood chips

Biomass is living and recently dead biological material that can be used as fuel or for industrial production. DNR Forestry's Biomass Program deals specifically with woody biomass. Woody biomass includes logging residue (nonmerchantable tops and limbs left over from a commercial timber harvest, nonmerchantable small-diameter trees and stems, dead standing trees, and down logs), primary and secondary mill residue, dedicated energy crops, urban forest–clearing material, land-clearing material, and brushland material.

Biomass in the News

Branching Out — As demand for conventional forest products shifts, innovators eye new uses for Minnesota trees. Read more »

Minnesota has a new statewide team for supporting high efficiency wood energy systems. The Minnesota Statewide Wood Energy Team includes diverse organizations and individuals with expertise to support effective use of wood energy technologies. More information This link leads to an external site.

Support requested for the Biomass Thermal Utilization Act. Last week, U.S. Senators Angus King and Susan Collins and Representative Mike Michaud sent a "Dear Colleague" to their fellow Members of Congress requesting their co-sponsorship of the BTU Act. (S. 1007 and H.R. 2715). The BTU Act pdf simply allows biomass thermal energy systems to compete on a level playing field with other renewable energy technologies like geothermal, wind, and solar. Call or send an email message to your Members of Congress urging their support for the BTU Act of 2013.

Renewable Fuels Standard comment period now open. EPA has released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Renewable Fuels Standard external link: The RFS program set a target for the renewable fuels to be blended into transportation fuel that rises each year until 2022. With respect to the lake states' forestlands, as currently written, limitations on eligible wood used for biofuels in the RFS restrict economically hard hit forested regions of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan from contributing biomass feedstocks by disqualifying wood that is not hand planted nor logging residue. The result of this limited definition is that roughly 5.6 million acres (in MN alone) of state-owned, sustainably managed, and dual third-party certified wood are ineligible for use in renewable fuels development. Governor Mark Dayton, with support from DNR and MDA, recently sent a letter to EPA encouraging broadening the definition of eligible woody biomass.

Wood-to-Energy Roadmap external linkcontains recommendations on creating a sustainable national supply of woody biomass developed by a team of scientific, academic, conservation, and forestry experts.

Researchers at the USDA Forest Service found that regions with the highest rates of forest product output have the lowest rates of deforestation and forest carbon emissions. In addition, regions with the highest rates of deforestation and forest carbon emissions tend to rank lowest in "industrial roundwood harvest." Full article external link

photo: processing logs for biomass

Biomass Business Development

Are you thinking about developing a woody biomass energy facility? Check out these resources:


  • The MN Business First Stop external link. Created by the Minnesota State Legislature, MN Business First Stop brings together a team of professionals from several state agencies, including the departments of Commerce, Transportation, Agriculture, Natural Resources, Employment and Economic Development, Pollution Control Agency, and Iron Range Resource's to help renewable energy and clean tech companies large and small with all aspects of project development, including feedstock identification, financing, environmental permitting, and site selection.
  • DNR's Utilization and Marketing Program prepares biomass supply analyses for individuals interested in developing a biomass facility. This program aims to help individuals make informed decisions regarding the most efficient and sustainable use of woody biomass resources.
  • DNR's Forestry Resource Assessment Unit pdf is available to help quantify, locate, describe, and value forest resources; provide inventory design, cruising, data management, and analysis; and develop short- and long-range management plans that include financial, logistical, social, spatial, and temporal constraints. The unit tailors analyses to clients' management objectives, stakeholder comments, and land base characteristics.