Biomass is material that originates from living plants. Our power plants convert forest-based waste and diverted biomass material (e.g. urban and agricultural waste material) into fuel to generate 20-35MW of grid-delivered, 24/7, 365 day baseload renewable electricity.
Forest-based biomass is sourced from three primary sources:
- Tops and limbs of trees harvested to produce finished lumber (approximately 20-25% by weight of every tree sustainably cut for such use is typically left behind in the forest, creating a fire hazard)
- Smaller trees that are thinned out of forests periodically (typically at 8 year intervals) so that the remaining trees can grow more productively
- Roadside and power line tree trimming
Agriculture biomass includes waste products such as plant stalks, straw, prunings, shells, etc.
In addition, in many cities, laws now mandate the separation of clean wood resulting from construction and demolition as well as residential tree trimmings before going to a landfill. This urban waste source typically constitutes 10-15% by volume of the total fiber consumed by a plant each year.
Each plant receives a continuous supply of these materials 24/7 from within a one-hour’s truck drive radius.
The biomass fuel is fed into an automatic loading system that meters an even flow of material into a boiler where the heat generated from the combustion of the fiber creates high-pressure steam. The steam flows into a multi-stage GE turbine which is directly connected to a generator.
All currently permitted biomass power plants have modern air emission control systems with real-time monitoring systems to ensure that the renewable power is a clean source of electricity.
Biomass energy plants are considered by the US EPA as a carbon-reduction technonolgy. They are a long run negative emitter of greenhouse gases. If the fiber feedstock is not consumed to produce electricity and is left in the forest or landfill, it will emit higher amounts of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide as it naturally degrades.
There are more than 200 biomass plants throughout the US delivering heat and electricity for industrial facilities as well as into the power grids. The multi-billion dollar industry sustains more than 25,000 jobs, the large percentage of which are in very rural communities.
Biomass power plants in the US consume more than 35 million tons of waste wood annually to produce 24 million megawatt hours per year and millions of pounds of industrial-grade steam for industrial processes.
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