The Big Picture: Big Biomass

The world’s biomass power facilities, not counting those in the pulp and paper industry, average just 18 MWe to 20 MWe. In the U.S., passage of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 ignited development of many existing biomass plants. Greenhouse gas rules and renewable policies around the world have kindled a new generation of much larger biomass facilities. New announcements routinely are for plants 50 MW or larger, presumably to leverage economies of scale.

However, the biomass sector is immature and faces numerous potential threats, especially supply chain weaknesses (particularly where woody biomass is the feedstock) and high-energy, high-cost, high-impact fuel transportation concerns.

Here are some of the world’s biggest existing and proposed biomass projects.

Sonal Patel and Dr. Gail Reitenbach