Monday, October 19, 2009

Middlebury College using willows to make watts

Middlebury College used to heat its buildings with oil, then switched to wood chips. Now, it's planting willow shrubs - a sustainable and cheap source of fuel that could help cut demand on the state's forests. The nine-acre patch of fast-growing willows is at the heart of the college's biomass energy experiment that seeks determine if wood-chip burning heat systems could lead to the deforestation of Vermont. Willows may be the answer because they grow faster than other trees. The college began using a new system last year that meets about a fifth of its electrical demand.