Report: Midwest has abundant, increasing feedstocks

By Staff | May 21, 2013

A working report recently prepared by FutureMetrics Inc. outlines a vision to achieve 15 percent renewable thermal energy in the Midwest by 2025, with 10 percent derived from sustainably produced biomass.

According to the report, in the Midwest, approximately 97 percent of thermal energy consumed in the residential sector is from nonrenewable sources, and no Midwestern states have adopted formal targets to reduce the reliance on fossil energy in heating markets. While other renewable thermal energy options exist in the U.S., the report stresses that biomass is the region’s most abundant renewable resource for thermal applications.

Data included in the analysis demonstrates that Michigan currently leads the Midwestern states in biomass utilization for thermal energy. The state generates 4.44 percent of its thermal energy from biomass sources. Minnesota, Ohio and Indiana generate a relative 2.66, 2.51 and 2.32 percent of thermal energy from biomass. Illinois, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin all generate less than 2 percent of their thermal energy from renewable biomass sources.

While little biomass is currently being utilized for thermal energy production, the report estimates a great deal of the renewable feedstock is available in the Midwest. About 104.82 million green tons of biomass is available in the region, including 86.73 million tons of agricultural biomass and 18.09 tons of forest biomass for pellet production. By 2025, the quantity of biomass is expected to increase to 147.02 million tons, including 114.5 million tons of agricultural biomass and 29.83 tons of forest biomass.