Summit County is proposing an ambitious project to heat several buildings at the County Commons near Frisco with boilers burning wood waste and slash, foregoing traditional natural gas for steam energy created by burning biofuels.
"One thing that is important to recognize is that the use of biofuels is in it's infancy," said Steve Hill, the county's special projects manager researching the proposed project.
"As to use of biofuels within the nation and world, we've got some real experience we can count on and use."
Europe leads the world in biomass experience; countries from Scandinavia to central Europe are increasingly embracing natural sources of energy.
In Austria, whose alpine environment most resembles the Summit County landscape, nearly 70 percent of domestically-produced power came from renewable sources in 2003, the most recent data available. Biomass accounted for 11.2 percent of the country's total primary energy supply and 21 percent of heat production, according to the International Energy Agency. And at one of Austria's leading ski resorts, Lech, a biomass plant provides 90 percent of the town's heat.