EIA report shows five-year trend of increased biomass energy generation

Published on May 27, 2016 by Alyssa Michaud

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) detailed strong growth trends in biomass energy generation over the past five years in a report release this week.

Biomass electricity generation provided 11.3 percent of renewable power in the U.S. in 2015, and 1.6 percent overall. Biomass generation makes use of renewable fuel sources, including forest wastes, sawmill residues and urban landscape trimmings. The variable nature of these fuel sources often means that biomass plants often use biomass as a partial substitute for other forms of fuel.

Data shows that the southern states, including Virginia, Florida and Georgia, have led this growth, with conditions in the region, including greater forestry resources and comparatively poorer wind and solar resources, making biomass generation a more favorable solution.

An initiative in Virginia is currently working to convert coal power plants to biomass, and the state saw three conversions completed during 2013, contributing to the five-year growth trends noted by the EIA. Virginia has set a voluntary goal of reaching 15 percent renewable energy generation by 2025. In Georgia and Florida, biomass energy generation was increased primarily by the activation of a single plant, both in 2013.

While growth in other regions of the U.S. was lower, notable increases in biomass generation were also seen in California, where a few large plants have helped the state meet its renewable energy targets.