Biomass energy is the energy captured from burning plant sources (grass, crops, wood, etc), methane gas produced from animal/human waste, landfill gas, and some garbage. It is sometimes referred to as bioenergy.
Biomass energy is used to fuel vehicles from biofuels, generate electricity and space heating.
Several biomass energy sources exist such as trees, grass crops, forestry, animal wastes and urban wastes.
Biomass is a renewable energy source because the "fuel" can be replenished.
The most common way to release energy from biomass is to burn it. There are other non-combustion methods, such as heating plant matter to release gases, liquids and solids. Biochemical and chemical methods are also used to create methane, ethanol and biodiesel.
Biomass power is generated by burning biomass fuels such as lumber, agricultural products, methane gas from animal waste or landfills or construction wood wastes. Power plants can burn biomass fuel in boilers to supply steam to generators. These are usually the same kinds of generators that burn fossil fuels.
The most common use of biomass in the home is for space heating. This can be as simple as a fireplace, but there are newer more efficient appliances for heating your home that use biomass pellets for fuel.
Pellets are made of bark, sawdust, wood chips, agricultural crop waste, waste paper and other organic materials.
Appliances that burn pellets produce very little emissions because of their higher combustion and heating efficiencies, compared to wood stoves or fireplaces.
Most pellet stoves cost between $1,700 and $3,000 and can also vary depending if they are a freestanding or fireplace insert.
Most pellet appliances have a fuel hopper that stores pellets until they are needed and can hold 35 to 130 pounds of pellets. This amount can typically last about a day, so refueling can be required daily.
A regular inspection of fans, motors and other components is usually recommended as well as cleaning the flue vent on a regular basis to prevent buildup. It's also a good idea to remove any unburned pellets from the system after the heating season.
Renewable projects produce two products, 1) Energy (kWh) and 2) environmental attributes (EAs). The EAs include the Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) as well as any applicable Carbon Credits, or other benefits identified in the future.
As with all combustion technologies, burning biomass does generate air emissions.
As a wholesale power supplier, Tri-State does not serve retail consumers and therefore does not have programs in place to directly assist individuals with the up-front cost of a biomass installation. However, through its renewable energy program, Tri-State enables and offers incentives to its member co-ops to develop local renewable resources. You will need to contact your local electric co-op to learn how those programs can be applied to your project.