Biomass energy ("bioenergy") is energy generated from a biologically derived material from a living or recently living organism (animal or plant). Biomass energy has been used since people began burning wood and dung for cooking and heat.
Biomass provides about three-tenths of Pennsylvania's renewable electricity. Pennsylvania is among the top 12 states in the nation using biomass for electricity generation (EIA, July 2016). Biomass, when harvested and combusted properly, can be good for the environment and less costly to burn than fossil fuels, and boosts energy independence by supporting Pennsylvania’s agricultural and forest-product industries.
Biomass energy can be broken down into three types:
Map: Anaerobic Digester Projects in the United States
- Biopower – used to generate electricity through directly burning biomass or clean technologies that convert it into liquid fuels or gaseous liquids that burn more efficiently. An example would be anaerobic digestion. For more information, please go to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.
- Biofuels – used for transportation and heating once it is converted into a liquid fuel, such as biodiesel.
- Thermal biomass energy – used for space or process heating from direct combustion of biomass.