Quick Facts

  • Bio-power accounts for 1.4 percent of total electricity generation in the United States.
  • Current production of biomass is estimated at 15 million mega-watt hours of electricity annually.
  • It is successful in generating more electricity than any other renewable energy source (except hydro-power).
  • The use of bio-power reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 30 million tons annually.
  • It prevents the release of greenhouse gases from organic waste, which would otherwise decompose in the open.
  • By removing over 68.8 million tons of forest debris, the bio-power industry is successful in improving the health of forests and also reducing the risks of forest fires from occurring.
  • Bio-power can produce a continuous and dependable flow of electricity 24 hours a day since it is not affected by the changes in weather conditions.
  • The industry is responsible for creating 18,000 jobs!

Benefits

  • Bio-power is twice as effective at reducing greenhouse gas emissions as compared to the other forms of renewable energy.
  • It helps reduce the dependence on fossil fuels.
  • It provides a clean and renewable source of power as compared to fossil fuels, which are responsible for contributing to global warming by releasing carbon into the atmosphere.
  • It is considered to generate energy on demand since the energy can be stored until required.
  • It also plays a very essential role in utilizing waste that would otherwise be dumped in landfills.
  • It is responsible for creating jobs in many rural areas and is also successful in creating a diversified job market.

Challenges

  • High costs associated with bio-power compared to coal-based electricity.
  • The low density of biomass fuels makes transportation and fuel production more expensive as compared to that of fossil fuels.
  • Biomass power facilities tend to be small because of their dispersed nature. This makes it hard to compete with fuel-fired generating that are able to benefit from existing economic of scale.
  • The fact that biomass is a land-intensive energy resource raises concern about the land use competition (production of food and other essential needs). If the use of dedicated biomass feedstock to generate bio-power were to develop into a sizable industry, concerns would likely include the effect of the industry on land use (i.e., how much land would it take to grow the crops needed to fuel or co-fuel power plants) and the effect on the broader economy, including farm income and food prices.

Sources:

  1. Biopower Climate TechBook
  2. Biopower Factsheet
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