Biomass Power Map Info Shows Progress

By Rona Johnson | November 01, 2011

We just wrapped up the 2012 U.S. Biomass Power Map and although the number of proposed plants decreased from the previous map, that’s mainly because several of them are now under construction and were moved to the operational list.

The map consists of biomass power facilities that use solid biomass fuel to produce 1 megawatt or more of power and supply all or a portion of that power to the grid. Also included are conversions from coal to biomass, coal plants that are currently or planning to cofire with biomass. 

The Spring 2010 U.S. Biomass Power Map indicated a total of 49 proposed and proposed conversions, compared with 39 on the current map, and 147 operational, under construction and idled plants, compared with 161 on the current map.

If you look closely, you will see that there were only six plants under construction on the spring map and 15 on the new map. Although some of those were just added this year, it’s still a pretty impressive increase. I would imagine that the end of the year deadline for the U.S. Treasury’s 1603 program may have had something to do with the increase in plants under construction.

California continues to be the state with the most biomass power facilities, followed by Florida, New York, New Hampshire, Maine, Michigan, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Oregon.
You may have noticed that I called this map the 2012 U.S. Biomass Power Map. No, that’s not a typo. We decided that we are only going to do the map once a year in the future. In place of one of the biomass power maps, we will be adding a pellet mill map.

On the bad news side, the spring map only had three idled biomass power plants and the latest map has seven. I’m not sure if it is from a lack of feedstock because of the slump in the construction market, possibly some issues with power purchase agreements, or just competition with other energy sources.  The operator of one plant that went from operating to idle told me that they are looking for a partner to help refurbish and operate the plant. So although that plant is idle now, there is still a chance that the plant will be operational once again when the next map is published.