Biomass and waste fuels powered 2% of US electricity generation

Biomass and waste derived fuels contributed 2% of total US electricity generation in 2016, according to figures recently released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The EIA figures, included in its recently released annual electric power data, reveal that biomass and waste fuels produced 71.4 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2016. EIA defines biomass fuels as all non-fossil, carbon-based (biogenic) energy sources. Waste fuels on the other hand, are defined as all other non-carbon (non-biogenic) wastes.

Energy produced from wood solids accounted for nearly one-third of electricity generated from biomass and waste. According to EIA data, most wood solids come from three sources – logging and mill residues, wood, paper and furniture manufacturing, and discarded large timber products such as railway ties, utility poles and marine pilings.

In 2016, the dominant wood derived fuel – that is, a byproduct of chemically processed wood – was black liquor. Black liquor is a byproduct of the kraft pulping process and accounted for 27% of 2016 biomass and waste-generated electricity. Other paper making wastes, such as sludge waste and wood waste liquids, produced less than 0.5% of biomass-generated electricity.

Landfill municipal solid waste accounted for 20% of biomass and waste generated electricity in the US, with 51% of this coming from biogenic sources such as wood, paper food and rubber. The remaining municipal solid waste generated electricity came from non-biogenic sources such as plastics.

Biogas derived from landfills meanwhile, provided nearly 16% of 2016 biomass generated electricity.

The remaining biomass generated electricity came from sources such as biogas generated from wastewater treatment plants, as well as crop and wood based waste, and agricultural biomass such as crop residues and animal excretions. In addition, tyre derived fuel accounted for less than 2% of biomass generated electricity in 2016.