Energy and Global Climate Change in New England
Biomass derived from organic materials, including wood and crops, as well as wastes from consumer, municipal and agricultural processes, can be used to generate heat and electricity. Biomass fuels encompass a broad range of solids, gases, and liquids that result from living organisms or from the wastes and by-products of human activities.
Biomass energy is considered environmentally friendly because it comes from renewable resources such as plants, and often produces heat or electricity with less harmful environmental impacts than energy from traditional fossil fuels such as coal.
Biomass energy is commonly used in the following applications:
- Electricity production
- Heat generation
- Transportation fuel
Fuels and Applications
Cofiring: Cofiring refers to using a mixture of biomass and fossil fuels. This decreases reliance on fossil fuel and helps reduce emissions.
Landfill and Digester Gas: Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, more than 20 times more able to trap heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. It is also the main component of natural gas, a primary fuel for electricity generation in New England. Additionally, the decomposition of organic matter in landfills and wastewater treatment plants produces significant amounts of methane as a byproduct. Collecting methane for fuel serves as a cost effective means of generating power or heat by using what would otherwise just be vented to the atmosphere.
Finally, while biomass and biogas are renewable fuels, they can be stored and dispatched like conventional fuels such as natural gas or coal.
- Biomass Availability Analysis – Five Counties of Western Massachusetts (PDF) (55 pp, 1.6MB, about PDF)
- Biomass Energy Research Association
- Biomass Energy Resource Center
- US Department of Energy Biomass Program
- US EPA Landfill Methane Outreach Program