The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) plan to regulate carbon emissions is just the latest challenge facing the U.S. electric power system. Technological innovation is disrupting old ways of doing business and accelerating grid modernization. Earlier this year, AEE released Advanced Energy Technologies for Greenhouse Gas Reduction, a report detailing the use, application, and benefits of 40 specific advanced energy technologies and services. This post is one in a series drawn from the technology profiles within that report.
Solid biomass has been used as fuel in power plants for many decades. The dominant technology is direct combustion in which biomass is burned in a boiler to generate high-pressure steam, which is used to turn a steam turbine-generator set. Other technologies also exist, such as gasification, in which the biomass is first converted to a synthesis gas that can be burned in boilers, reciprocating engines and gas turbines. Solid biomass resources include logging and agriculture residues, forest products residues such as sawdust, bark and spent pulping liquors, as well as dedicated energy crops, both woody and herbaceous.