[NEWS] Biomass Energy Renewable? Some Scientists Say No

– by David Sommerstein, June 28, 2016, NCPR


Photo: NCPR

Once a booming industry, biomass, producing electricity by burning trees or other organic matter, is getting hammered by low electricity prices and growing questions over whether it is renewable after all.

According to U.S. energy data, biomass produces more renewable energy in the United States than solar panels, comprising 1.6 percent of nationwide electricity production compared to 0.6 percent for solar. But the biomass industry is shrinking these days, not growing. A couple months ago, ReEnergy Holdings’ biomass plant in Lyonsdale, NY, went offline, in large part due to low electricity prices.

But the company was also concerned about its product’s standing as a renewable energy source. According to state data, New York paid biomass producers $52 million in renewable energy incentives since 2004. But now, New York is writing a new renewable energy plan, and nationwide, there’s a growing debate over whether biomass deserves that “green” label. Much of that debate revolves around logging practices for the wood that fires biomass plants.


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