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In this Issue

Strauss: Pellets a Solution for Inevitable U.S. Carbon Policy

Existing Home Sales Rebound in April

Weber's GrillWatch Survey Shows Spike in Female Grillers

Strauss: Pellets a Solution
for Inevitable U.S. Carbon Policy


From Biomass Magazine

The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts are wrong for biomass utilization in the power sector, according to William Strauss, founder and president of FutureMetrics, writing  in his latest white paper, “Wood Pellet Fuel: A Solution to Reliable Baseload Low Carbon Electric Power Generation.”

While the Energy Information Administration (EIA) is predicting the proportion of renewable energy will grow only slightly, and coal and natural gas’s contribution to the U.S. power portfolio will remain constant at about 70 percent, climate change is going to change that, Strauss argues. He predicts the U.S. will have a carbon policy within the decade.

“The U.S. will alter its policy into one that follows the lead of much of the rest of the developed world,” he said. 

Looking at the EU gives some indication of where the U.S. is likely to go, Strauss suggests, highlighting how biomass plays a starring role in the European Union. “The EU’s use of biomass today is greater than the EIA projection for the U.S. in 2040,” he says. “Also, in the EU many power stations use the rejected heat from the turbine steam cycle for district heating (combined-heat-and-power or CHP) which provides a significantly improved efficiency in converting the energy in the fuel into useful energy.”

In making the case for using wood pellets for power generation, Strauss cites a couple of examples of pellet conversions in Ontario and England, and the importance of a commitment to sustainable supply chains.

“The forest is the world’s oldest natural battery that runs on solar power,” Strauss writes. “As long as we do not reduce the stock of trees, that carbon cycle will remain closed and no new net carbon will be added to the atmosphere by using sustainable wood for manufacturing fuel.”

Sawmill residues are the traditional source of input wood for pellet manufacturing, he points out, which follows the demand for lumber, but changes in the pulp and paper industry are likely to increase the availability of wood supplies for pellets. In addition, the long-term supply agreements common among power generators will have an impact.

“The front end of the supply chain can invest in new modern equipment and make significant improvements in silviculture, thus improving the productivity of the working forests,” he says. “That will also increase the supply of wood for making low carbon fuel for our energy needs.”

While pellet fuel today is more costly than coal, that will change, according to Strauss. “If we are to mitigate anthropologic climate change, the external costs associated with unregulated CO2 emissions will have to be internalized by the power generators (and that includes natural gas generators). That is already the case with sulfur (acid rain), particulates (smoke), oxides of nitrogen (smog and ozone), and other regulated pollutants. CO2 mitigation policy and regulation is also already the norm in many countries in the developed world and also in some developing nations.”

– Sue Retka Schill

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Existing Home Sales Rebound in April


From Wells Fargo Economics Group

Following three consecutive months of declines, existing home sales rose 1.3 percent in April to a 4.65 million-unit rate. Inventories reached their highest level since August 2012. Condo sales jumped 7.3 percent.

Inventories Are on the Move

Marking a good start to the Spring home-buying season, the rebound in April suggests weather did play some role in the slower pace of sales since January. Sellers are also feeling a little more upbeat about the housing market, with listed inventories jumping 16.8 percent in April, resulting in 2.29 million homes available for sale.

Still No Sight of the First-Time Home Buyer

Much of the focus in this sluggish housing recovery has been on the first-time home buyer who continues to struggle with tight credit standards and stringent down payment requirements. Sales activity for first-time home buyers only accounted for 29 percent of overall sales activity in April and is still below the long-run trend. The share of all-cash transactions and investor activity is also largely unchanged on the month.

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Weber's GrillWatch Survey
Shows Spike in Female Grillers


PR Newswire

Heading into the top grilling holidays of the year – Memorial Day (62 percent of grill owners will be firing up the grill); Father's Day (45 percent); Fourth of July (84 percent) and Labor Day (71 percent) – the 25th annual Weber GrillWatch Survey shows that more women than ever before (25 percent) are taking control of the tongs when it comes to grilling outdoors. This number is up from 20 percent last year, and 15 percent in 2009; it’s the highest percentage since Weber started fielding the survey a quarter century ago.

“Grilling goes hand-in-hand with the culture of enjoying the great outdoors and, most importantly, having fun,” says Kim Lefko, EVP of Marketing, Americas. “Our research shows that people prefer grilling outside to cooking indoors, so it's great to see that women are picking up the tongs and taking control of the grill.”

Gender at the Grill 

Confidence: Thirty-one percent of women have more confidence in cooking indoors, compared to 14 percent of men, while 30 percent of male grill owners are more confident in grilling outside, compared to 15 percent of women. 

Confidence Part 2: One-third of male grill owners (34 percent) believe they are a better griller than most people, whereas only 17 percent of women agree with that statement.

Boys Like Their Toys: Like collecting cars, men tend to acquire multiple grills more so than women. Thirty-five percent of men are more apt to have two or more grills than women (25 percent).

Dress for Success: Male grillers are more likely than women to own a number of accessories, including grill covers (53 percent vs. 47 percent), smoker chips (18 percent vs. 13 percent), and rotisseries (17 percent vs. 12 percent). Women rule with tongs (79 percent vs. 69 percent), spatulas (62 percent vs. 46 percent) and vegetable baskets (21 percent vs. 16 percent).

Gather 'Round the Grill: Men (33 percent) more so than women (26 percent) agree that it is “extremely important” to have the grill when entertaining family and friends.

Thanks Dad!: When it comes to learning how to grill, 59 percent of U.S. grillers teach themselves, but one-third also learn from their fathers (34 percent) and 15 percent from a spouse. Inside cooking is typically taught by mothers (56 percent) or self-taught (45 percent).

Weber commissioned KeyStat Marketing to field the 25th annual Weber GrillWatch Survey. Toluna provided the sample of 1,000 grill owners throughout the United States who completed the online survey. All respondents were 21 years of age or older and currently own a charcoal, gas or electric outdoor grill or smoker. The sample was divided between 50 percent males and 50 percent females and was balanced demographically to represent households across the U.S.

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