Buckthorn biomass to be converted into electricity

It was brought to the United States as a hedge and is now more of a nuisance.

Buckthorn multiplies so fast it literally chokes native plants and trees, but the Department of Natural Resources has come up with a powerful pilot plan to make use of the plant.

"Most of the material here that has grown up has only grown up in the last 25-30 years," said MN DNR's Mark Cleveland.

The prickly plant took over a spot near the Minnesota River Valley and eventually eliminated any view of the water, but Wednesday the DNR regained control of the land In the past they would simply torch the pile of buckthorn and be done with it.

"There's absolutely value in buckthorn when it's removed from the land," said Don Arnosti, Director of Forestry for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

This time around the woody buckthorn will be shredded and used as energy. As part of the new Woody Biomass Project, years of growth will help supply St. Paul with electricity.

"This is going to power, heat and cool downtown St. Paul," said Arnosti.

The project combines habitat restoration with renewable energy like never before.

"It can actually reduce the costs of these sorts of ecological restorations because something must be done with the massive piles that are here," said Arnosti.

Reduce, reuse, recycle and now a provider of power.KARE 11 News