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The market value of electricity generated from biomass in the United States will increase steadily to $53 billion by 2020, up from approximately $45 billion in 2010, according to a new report.
Biomass, already a large percentage of total renewable energy sources, is poised for continued growth in the years to come within three key sectors: biopower, biofuels, and bioproducts. Significant investments continue to be made in biomass research and development, and the pace of commercializing new technologies will increase during the next decade, according to analysts at Pike Research.
“Biomass will continue to be the leading source of renewable energy,” says managing director Clint Wheelock. “While it does not have the celebrity appeal of solar, wind or other emerging technologies, biomass is an affordable and reliable form of power generation. In addition, we expect continued growth in the adoption of biofuels during the next decade, as well as a proliferation of bioproducts such as plastics and chemicals.”
Wheelock adds that many different feedstocks can be classified as “biomass” including corn and grains, plants and forest resources, construction/industry waste, agricultural and food industry wastes, terrestrial and aquatic energy crops, municipal waste and manure.
Applications for biomass range widely, from power generation to heating, transportation fuels, chemicals, and plastics. The development of the biomass industry is in large part driven by government policies and mandates and, while world governments are likely to back away from some of the aggressive targets set a few years ago, Pike Research anticipates that biomass will continue to be a significant focus for energy policymakers.
The report, “Biomass Markets and Technologies”, analyzes the global market opportunity for biomass with a focus on power generation, biofuels, and bioproducts including plastics and chemicals. It examines demand drivers, technology issues, policy and regulatory factors with forecasts through 2035.
Last month, an annual survey on global renewable energy mergers and acquisitions worldwide found that 37% of respondents plan to invest in biomass--higher than both solar and wind.
Also, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the award of more than $4.2 million in grants to 13 small businesses and community groups developing renewable energy projects and new product development using woody biomass from National Forest lands. USDA also released a report providing a roadmap on how America can meet the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2).
Meanwhile, forest advocacy groups warn that bioenergy poses a threat to forests and indigenous peoples. Increased demand for burning wood as an energy source has increased logging and expansion of tree plantations in the US, Ghana, the Congo, Brazil and West Papua.
An executive summary of the Pike Research report is available for free download.
Disclosure: no positions