The Expanding Role of Biomass in the Power, Paper, and Cement Industries

Earlier this year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected nearly a 400-percent increase in biomass electricity generation by 2040. This marked growth in biomass use is fueled in part by federal incentives such as the Biomass Research and Development Initiative, evolving federal emissions standards, state Renewable Portfolio Standards, and ever-increasing public awareness of the benefits of biofuels over fossil fuels. To see how these factors may be impacting our customers, we conducted a review of biomass trends in three of the key industries we serve — power generation, pulp and paper, and cement.

Power Generation

In the field of power generation, a 2009 survey conducted by Norbridge found that 69 percent of utilities surveyed and 71 percent of state agencies surveyed were interested in increasing biomass usage. As recently as March of last year, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Biomass Cogeneration Facility came online at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, South Carolina. The 34-acre facility, a converted coal power station, was funded with the largest Energy Savings Performance Contract ever awarded by the federal government and will save it nearly $1 billion over time while eliminating roughly 100,000 tons of greenhouse emissions each year.

Pulp and Paper

The pulp and paper industry has seen a dramatic growth in biomass integration over recent years, consuming about 75 million tons of woody biomass during 2009, according to the Wood Resource Quarterly, which represents a 50-percent increase in biomass energy production over a three-year period. In fact, the use of biomass for power generation in the pulp and paper industry has become so accepted that we often receive requests to optimize co-fired and dedicated biomass system in this sector, meaning that pulp and paper plants aren’t just using biomass; they are leading the way in developing biomass energy best practices.


Despite the downturn in the cement industry over the last few years, concrete has been used more than any other building material made by man, and cement is a crucial ingredient in this staple of civilization’s infrastructure. Because cement kilns require long periods of uninterrupted power, manufacturers are starting to turn to biomass solutions for the captive power plants that run their factories. Co-firing systems are most prevalent in this sector, though, because cement factories often use coal ash to create their product, which can be compromised if mismatched types and proportions of biomass ash are folded into the coal fly ash mix.

If you’re considering a biomass conversion or system optimization, it’s best to work with experts to predetermine scope and specifications. With over 20 years of experience in the field of biomass fuel systems, ProcessBarron can handle every stage of biomass adaptation, from design and engineering to installation, maintenance, and repair. Call us today at 888-663-2028 and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about creating systems that can take advantage of this increasingly prevalent form of renewable energy.