Biomass energy technologies use renewable organic resources, also known as biomass, to produce energy-related products. Electricity; liquid, solid and gaseous fuels; heat; chemicals; and other energy-related products can all be derived from biomass resources.
Biomass power is the largest source of renewable energy worldwide. Biomass comes from both human and natural activities. By-products from most industries, including timber, agriculture, naturally occurring forest residues, household wastes and landfills, are all viable sources of biomass energy materials.
Agricultural products like corn kernels, corn stalks, soybean and canola oils, animal fats, prairie grasses, hardwoods and even algae can be converted to energy. The largest source of energy from wood is pulping liquor or black liquor, a waste product from the pulp and paper industry.
Wood and wood waste is a major source of biomass energy, particularly in the Northwest. Wood waste from thinning young timber stands and harvesting older stands for timber or pulp yield tops and branches suitable for bio-energy production. Timber stands damaged by insects, disease or fire are also potential sources of biomass fuels.
Transporting wood waste and biomass materials is often costly. The use of smaller, lower-cost power plants located near the biomass source minimizes those costs and improves the viability of bio-energy projects.