The Energy Policy Act of 2005 defines biomass as non-hazardous
cellulosic material from forest-related resources, wood waste
materials excluding solid municipal waste, agricultural waste and
plants grown for the purpose of producing electricity. These
materials are used to generate power either by burning them or by
burning methane released during their decomposition.
The use of biomass to generate energy is called biopower.
Biopower is classified as renewable energy because the biomass
used to generate it can be replenished. Biopower is considered to
be carbon neutral because the carbon absorbed by the plant source
during its life approximately equals the carbon released when the
source is converted to biopower. In addition to being carbon neutral,
biopower is generated with lower emissions than power generated
by burning fossil fuels.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) classifies biopower
based on four sources of biomass: landfill gas, municipal solid
waste, power from wood and
wood derived fuels and other
biomass. The other biomass classification includes agricultural
byproducts and crops grown to produce biopower. According to
the EIA, wood and wood-derived fuels account for the largest
share of biopower generated by electric utilities.
The primary way utilities generate biopower is by co-firing
biomass with a fossil fuel such as coal to create steam and
power a turbine. Biomass can also be burned as a sole fuel
source. Burning biomass presents some unique disadvantages.
The source may not always be available when needed or at a
price per BTU that is comparable to a fossil fuel source. In
addition, the biomass may contain characteristics that
require boiler modifications and/or additional air permits.
Biomass at AEP
We've conducted biomass
co-firing tests and
analyses at several of our
power plants, and we
continue to investigate
Today we use biodiesel
for unit startup and flame
stabilization at several