Why Use Biomass for Heating?
Thermal energy (e.g. heating and cooling) is used daily by homes, businesses, and industrial facilities across the country. These thermal energy demands account for roughly one-third of the total energy consumption in the United States, and are mostly being met with fossil fuels. As a widely available sustainable source of renewable energy, biomass is uniquely poised to meet these heating needs while at the same time displacing fossil fuels.
The types of biomass most commonly used for energy include waste wood from the timber and wood products industries, as well as agricultural residues. These fuels can either be directly combusted, or they can undergo a variety of refining processes such as chipping or pelletization for use in a variety of applications. Through combustion, the chemical energy locked in these fuels is efficiently converted to thermal energy (heat) that can be used for space, water, and industrial process heating.
If the New England and New York region were able to meet 25% of all thermal energy requirements with renewable energy resources by the year 2025, the area would experience significant benefits, including:
- Supply 19 million green tons of sustainable biomass for thermal energy available annually from forest and farm sources
- Achieve 25% of all thermal energy from renewable resources by 2025
- Achieve 75% of thermal renewable energy from biomass by 2025
- Convert 1.38 million households in the seven states to biomass for thermal needs
- Improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gases and build healthier communities
- Reduce 1.14 billion gallons of heating oil annually
- Reinvest $4.5 billion in resulting economic wealth in the Northeast economy
- Create 140,200 jobs