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Biomass Energy
Biomass Energy Information
General InformationTechnologyDevelopment
Biomass Energy Overview
 
Oregon Biomass Working Groups
 
Biomass Producer or Collector Tax Credit Rule Advisory Committee 
 
Biomass Energy and the Environment
 
Oregon´s Use of Biomass Energy
 
Oregon´s Biomass Energy Resources
 
Special Reports
 
Biomass Energy Partnership
 
Outside Links
 
Biomass Technology Chart
 
BIOMASS Energy
 
BIOGAS
 
BIOFUEL
 
Cost of Production
Biomass Energy Incentives
 
Permits and Standards
 
Inventions and Innovations
 
Biomass Energy Project Guide

An Overview of Biomass Energy
 
Biomass is the organic matter in trees, agricultural crops and other living plant material. It is made up of carbohydrates — organic compounds that are formed in growing plantlife. Ever since the earliest inhabitants of the region burned wood in their campfires for heat, biomass has been a source of energy for meeting human needs in the Pacific Northwest.
 
Biomass is solar energy stored in organic matter. As trees and plants grow, the process of photosynthesis uses energy from the sun to convert carbon dioxide into carbohydrates (sugars, starches and cellulose). Carbohydrates are the organic compounds that make up biomass. When plants die, the process of decay releases the energy stored in carbohydrates and discharges carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. Biomass is a renewable energy source because the growth of new plants and trees replenishes the supply.
 
Over millions of years, natural processes in the earth transformed organic matter into today´s fossil fuels: oil, natural gas and coal. Fossil fuels are not renewable. The oil, natural gas and coal we use today are gone forever.
 
 The use of biomass for energy causes no net increase in carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere. As trees and plants grow, they remove carbon from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. If the amount of new biomass growth balances the biomass used for energy, bioenergy is carbon dioxide "neutral." That is, the use of biomass for energy does not increase carbon dioxide emissions and does not contribute to the risk of global climate change. In addition, using biomass to produce energy is often a way to dispose of waste materials that otherwise would create environmental risks.
 
Biomass sources provide about 3 percent of all energy consumed in the United States. In 2002, biomass supplied about 47 percent of all renewable energy consumed in the United States. Electric generation from biomass (exluding municipal solid waste) represents about 11 percent of all generation from renewable sources in the United States. In fact, biomass supplied more energy to the nation in 2002 than any other form of renewable energy, including hydroelectric power. Biomass supplied almost six times the energy of geothermal, solar and wind energy sources combined. Globally, biomass meets about 14 percent of the world´s energy needs.
 
The Department of Energy estimates that the total energy value of biomass fuel consumed in Oregon was 79 trillion Btu in 2003. This is about 10 percent of the total amount of non-transportation energy consumed in the state. Biomass supplies about 9 percent of all industrial energy consumed in the state.
 
Living plant material is the source of all biomass fuel. Some biomass fuel resources are waste products left over after plant materials have been used for other purposes or consumed by animals. Other biomass resources are plant materials directly harvested for their energy value. Biomass fuels are readily available throughout the world. Oregon´s biomass resources include wood, agricultural crop residue and organic waste.
 
The Pacific Northwest generates as much as 1,000 trillion Btu of biomass fuel each year. However, competing uses and the cost of collection and transportation limit the amount that is available for energy production. Only one-third of the total biomass fuel generated annually may be economically available for electric power production in the region.
 
The production of heat for industrial processes and for residential and commercial space heating consumes the largest amount of biomass fuel in Oregon. Wood products industries burn wood chips, bark and wood waste to supply heat for industrial processes. Some mills use biomass fuel to generate electricity for on-site uses. Pulp mills burn the residual fiber and lignin components of spent pulping liquor to recover and recycle pulping chemicals and to generate steam. Pellets and fuel logs manufactured in Oregon and firewood collected from Oregon forests supply heat to homes.
 
 
Consumption of Renewable Energy in the United States
2002
 


Oregon Biomass Working Groups
 
The Oregon Biomass Coordinating Group provides support and oversight for the Agriculture, Forest, and Urban Biomass Working Groups. These three separate working groups focus on specific opportunities, barriers and solutions in the three sectors.
 
 

Special Reports
Report: Environmental Effects of Forest Biomass Removal, Office of the State Forester, Oregon Department of Forestry. December 1, 2008
 
The U.S. Department of Energy has prepared a Biomass Energy Data Book about current biomass energy production activity and the potential contribution biomass resources can make. This first edition focuses on biomass conversion technologies and commercially utilized biomass resources. http://cta.ornl.gov/bedb/index.shtml
 
Ethanol From Biomass: America’s 21st Century Transportation Fuel [495 kb pdf, April 2005] Recommendations by the Governors' Ethanol Coalitition for expanding ethanol production to include lower-value, higher-availability feedstock such as grasses, straws, waste wood and corn stover.
 
Oregon Cellulose-Ethanol Study: An overview of ligno-cellulosic feedstock available in Oregon and an assessment of the critical barriers and perceived risks to the development of commercial ethanol production in Oregon using that feedstock.
 
Western Forest Health and Biomass Energy Potential: A report documenting forest conditions in the West, the risk of wildfire and the role of a potential biomass energy market in forest restoration projects.
 
Biomass Resource Assessment and Utilization Options for Three Counties in Eastern Oregon: An assessment of the biomass feedstock resources in Baker, Union and Wallowa Counties and the use of biomass for electric power generation or conversion to ethanol fuel.
 
The Ethanol Forum: A collection of information and reports about ethanol issues: energy balance, sustainability, environmental impacts, health and economics.
 

Regional Partnership
Biomass Energy Partnership
 
In 1978, the Pacific Northwest became the first area of the country to organize a regional biomass energy program. Congress recognized the advantages of a regional approach to bioenergy development in 1983 and established the Regional Biomass Energy Programs. The U.S. Department of Energy now administers five regional bioenergy programs throughout the country. These programs encourage regionally specific applications of biomass energy technologies, matching local resources to local energy needs and opportunities.
 
The Pacific Regional Biomass Energy Program supports applied research and technology demonstration projects and bioenergy commercialization activities. It guides the work of state bioenergy programs in Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.
 

Outside Links
Governors' Ethanol Coalition: A coalition of the Governors of thirty states and international representatives from Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Sweden and Thailand, to increase the production and use of ethanol based fuels.
 
Energy and Agriculture: The Oregon Department of Agriculture´s website on energy opportunities for Oregon´s agricultural community.
 
USDA information on the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002: The "Farm Bill" includes an Energy Title that provides new incentives for biomass energy development.
 
Idaho B20 Biodiesel Program 
 
E85 Fleet Toolkit: US Department of Energy website on E85 fuel and infrastructure development.

Biomass Technology Chart
 
Technology
Conversion Process Type
Major Biomass Feedstock
Energy or Fuel Produced
Direct Combustion
Thermochemical
wood
agricultural waste municipal solid waste residential fuels
heat
steam
electricity
Gasification
Thermochemical
wood
agricultural waste municipal solid waste
low or medium-Btu producer gas
Pyrolysis
Thermochemical
wood
agricultural waste municipal solid waste
synthetic fuel oil (biocrude)
charcoal
Anaerobic Digestion
Biochemical
(anaerobic)
animal manure agricultural waste
landfills
wastewater
medium Btu gas (methane)
Ethanol Production
Biochemical
(aerobic)
sugar or starch crops
wood waste
pulp sludge
grass straw
ethanol
Biodiesel Production
Chemical
rapeseed
soy beans
waste vegetable oil
animal fats
biodiesel
Methanol Production
Thermochemical
wood
agricultural waste municipal solid waste
methanol