Energy from willows comes of age in upstate NY
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Energy from willows is moving out of the experimental stage and into commercial production in New York.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture invested $4.3 million this year to encourage the growth of shrub willow as a renewable energy fuel in northern New York. Landowners must have at least 100 acres and a contract to sell the chipped willow to energy producer ReEnergy, which has three power plants in New York.
Development of shrub willow for bioenergy began in Sweden in the mid-'70s. New York researchers started breeding it as a fuel crop in the mid-'90s. Before it could become viable for large-scale production, researchers had to develop varieties that were resistant to beetles and diseases and provided high yields.
Numerous varieties are commercially available through a nursery in Fredonia.