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Advancing Renewable Energy for the Yakama Nation


Bioenergy projects hold the promise of employment, reduced green house gas emissions, better quality air, and markets that can finance ecosystem restoration. This promise is especially appealing to the largely rural, often economically distressed communities that live in Indian Country. However, investment in bioenergy infrastructure is dependent upon high quality estimates of the biomass supply. The UW Bioresource-based energy for sustainable societies IGERT partnered with the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation to establish the scale of woody biomass available for use in a new biomass-fired combined heat and power facility for the reservation. The Tribe is now pursuing the financing needed to launch this project

Address Goals

Primary—-This multi-cultural, interdisciplinary project brought IGERT trainees to the reservation to work side-by-side with tribal experts in forestry, power, and environmental restoration.

Secondary—-Understanding and quantifying the life cycle implications of an energy project is one of the grand challenges at the interface between science, engineering, the environment, and the policies that govern activities. This tribal renewable energy research project provided students with on-the-ground understanding of life-cycle assessment, via direct involvement in natural resources, their logistics, and use, thus complementing formal life cycle courses taken by the cohort.