A year ago, you may remember that the NEWBio webinar series hosted by Penn State Extension took a detour and reinvented its platform to provide an in-depth exploration of a timely special topic - the role of biomass in the Clean Power Plan. The seven-episode arc of that program is archived online, where any of the presentations can be viewed for free. Regardless of the now-uncertain future of the Clean Power Plan as a specific policy, the discussions initiated under its categorical umbrella that the webinar series as well as the in-person programming and stakeholder engagement that accompanied it in the region yielded some promising work and positive new partnerships in the area of renewable and alternative energy.
Since the conclusion of that special topic arc, the NEWBio webinar series has pivoted back to its broader focus, providing free monthly presentations that feature fascinating and important topics related to bioenergy and the broader bioeconomy in the Northeast U.S. Specifically, this year, we're diving deep into the research findings, business/practitioner perspectives, and hot-off-the-presses industry developments in the NEWBio body of work. Now in its final year of a 5-year effort, the project has set its focus on arming stakeholders in the industry with new knowledge gained through the collaborative work it has taken on.
As a reminder, the NEWBio Consortium is one of several USDA NIFA-funded projects focusing on sustainable production of advanced biofuels, industrial chemicals, and bio-based products in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic U.S. NEWBio undertakes this work to enhance existing agricultural systems, create rural jobs, and achieve other goals related to energy security and sustainability.
So far this year, the series has presented the findings from a recent survey of 2,794 Northeast USA landowners regarding the ways they make decisions about their land and how social factors shape the availability of land for bioenergy crop production, as well as insight into eddy covariance studies in shrub willow and corn that reveal surprising patterns in how these two crops grow and use water very differently over time. Remember that you can watch recordings of these and every other presentation in this series from the last several years via the archive. Many more topics are in the lineup for 2017: using perennial crops as components of "working" or "multifunctional" riparian buffers, increasing productivity of switchgrass on marginal lands, siting and supply chain optimization for biomass product development, fire risk mitigation in biomass production systems, ecosystem service payments for switchgrass in the Chesapeake Bay, and more!
To stay informed, bookmark the NEWBio webinar page or subscribe to the NEWBio e-news via the main NEWBio website to receive email reminders of upcoming presentations.
Prepared by Sarah Wurzbacher, Penn State Extension Crawford County