Biomass Energy Pre-Feasibility Assessment Grants

Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation


Grant amount: Up to US $3,500

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: For-Profit Business Nonprofit Indigenous Group Government Entity College / University

Funding uses: Training / Capacity Building

Location of project: Montana

Location of residency: Montana

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Overview:

Background

The DNRC manages the Wood Energy Program (formerly Fuels for Schools and Beyond) designed to promote and facilitate the use of wood for value-added markets including energy. As an incentive for biomass energy installations, the DNRC program offers funding assistance for preliminary feasibility assessments. Funding for this program is federal funding provided by the USDA Forest Service. Since 2003, the DNRC has sponsored over 70 feasibility assessments and provided grant funding to assist in the design and construction of 14 projects in Montana. There continues to be interest from additional facilities at varied scales in Montana who have limited resources with which to evaluate project feasibility. 

Purpose

The purpose of the Wood Biomass Energy Preliminary Feasibility Assessment Grants is to provide financial incentive for Montana facilities to hire the services of a qualified firm to conduct a preliminary feasibility assessment of integrating a wood biomass energy system. 

The objective of a Preliminary Feasibility Assessment (PFA) is to provide the facility manager with preliminary information regarding the technical and economic viability of installing a wood biomass energy system. The PFA is intended to be an introductory step for facilities. This approach to assessing projects in stages, beginning with a preliminary feasibility assessment, provides a low cost option to better identify the most viable projects to move forward with a more in depth, investment grade assessment. The PFA will provide general information and direction to the facility managers, assisting them to make a decision on whether to proceed with further analysis and/or project design and installation. The PFA will mostly focus on evaluating the economic viability of a project, while providing a brief summary of technology and integration options, opportunities and challenges. A typical PFA includes a brief description of the facility heating system, energy usage analysis, breakdown of estimated total project costs, and a life-cycle cost analysis including estimated payback period. 

Facilities approved for this funding will be required to select and hire an analyst from the list of firms pre-qualified by the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC), provided as Attachment A, which is incorporated herein by reference. Hired analysts will complete preliminary feasibility assessments for wood biomass energy system installations at approved facilities. The minimum scope of work to be provided by the analyst through this DNRC program is attached as Attachment B: Scope of Work, which is incorporated herein by reference. 

The use of wood for energy benefits Montana by reducing energy costs for facilities, increasing utilization of forest biomass, providing a more diversified forest product market, and enhancing economic development, and providing a local, renewable energy source. 

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.

Eligibility:

  • Eligible applicants: 
    • Eligible applicants are public, non-profit and tribal facilities, and private businesses. 
    • All applicants must be spending a minimum of $20,000 in heating costs per year. 
  • Eligible Activity:
    • Hire the services of a pre-qualified analyst to conduct a preliminary feasibility assessment for integrating a wood biomass energy system at
    • proposed facility.
  • Matching Funds
    • Public, non-profit and tribal facilities: No cost-share required.
    • Private businesses: Require a minimum 50:50 non-federal to federal cost-share. 
  • The Montana DNRC pre-screens PFA applications to determine the potential likelihood of economic viability of a woody biomass installation and whether it warrants further assessment by a professional firm.
    • Factors included in the pre-screening include:
      • Facility has high heat and/or hot water demand
      • Facility has relatively high heating costs
      • The estimated cost/btu of wood fuel is less than the current cost of fossil fuel/btu
      • Facility has an existing centralized system (steam/hydroponic) heat distribution system
      • The current boiler is old and due for replacement
      • Facility is in proximity to a wood fuel source at a reasonable delivered cost
      • There is space on site for a biomass boiler, fuel storage, and access for delivery trucks
      • Installation is proposed for new facility construction.
    • In some cases, stand-alone facilities may not meet the pre-screening criteria. However, if additional facilities nearby are included, economies of scale can tip the balance toward feasibility.