Biomass has long been used for generation of heat and electricity, historically primarily in small, dedicated facilities. Across the spectrum of renewable energy alternatives, though, biopower is one of very few that offers baseload (i.e. always-available) power, and thus can substitute for existing baseload solutions such as coal. With dedicated crops enabling a level of scale that biopower has traditionally been unable to achieve, biopower can now play an important role in the world’s renewable energy portfolio.
Reducing Coal’s Environmental Impact through Co-firing
Many traditional coal-fired power plants can be equipped to burn a combination of coal and biomass. Introducing biomass, such as Palo Alto biomass sorghum, to the combustion not only reduces the amount of non-renewable coal used and thereby the total life-cycle carbon emitted, but also reduces many other harmful emissions, such as mercury. As power producers look for ways to further reduce emissions and their carbon footprint, co-firing biomass is becoming a viable, environmentally superior alternative for many facilities.
Green Power for Greener Products
One way for companies to improve the carbon footprint of their products is to ensure that the power used to generate them is renewable. From cement and steel factories to biorefineries, facilities that have traditionally used coal or natural gas for on-site power generation can substitute biomass to provide reliable, renewable, low-carbon power.
Dedicated Crops Enable Larger Dedicated Facilities
Because of the cost of transport, dedicated biopower facilities are limited in scale based on how much feedstock can be sourced within a reasonable radius. Historically, most biopower feedstocks have been wastes and residues, making the local supply fairly limited. Maximizing tons per acre per year with high-yielding dedicated crops such as Palo Alto biomass sorghum allows for much greater scale and the economies of scale that come with it.