Biomass is becoming one of the most intriguing sources of alternative energy in the U.S. In 2013, 4.6 quadrillion BTUs were generated from biomass, and that number is expected to grow to 5.6 quadrillion BTUs by 2040.
These increases will only continue as more incentives are poured into the industry – such as the most recent round of biomass incentives provided by the USDA.
Earlier this month, the USDA announced that special incentives through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) will continue, to the tune of $11.5 million through 2015.
The program was created in 2014 as part of that year’s Farm Bill. It seeks to provide “financial assistance to establish and maintain new crops of energy biomass, or who harvest and deliver forest or agricultural residues to a qualifying energy facility”. This includes those who transport or harvest crops or residues to biomass facilities, and also includes anything from orchard waste to corn residue.
For ranchers, farmers, and landowners who own forest property, the announcement is good news that should continue to further biomass progress.
Already, the BCAP program has helped support biomass production from over 50,000 acres across 11 projects and 74 counties throughout the country. BCAP has also been responsible for the removal of 200,000 tons of biomass fuel stock through the end of December 2014. The program follows the theme of the 2014 Farm Bill – that of increasing renewable energy production.
Toward that end, the USDA also announced that it would dedicate $8.7 million toward bioenergy research an education. More research and development are needed to continue progress made over the past decade in biomass, and this latest announcement could fund research through the end of 2015 and well into 2016.
It is an exciting time for the biomass industry, not just for producers of biomass resources, but also owners of facilities that process biomass. Growth has been rapid and sustained, and we expect this growth to continue well into 2016 and beyond as momentum gathers for this potent and diverse source of renewable energy.