While biomass energy holds great potential to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is relatively expensive to harvest, collect, process and transport to power plants the brush, small trees and waste from forest-thinning operations that are used to produce biomass energy. The market value of forest-derived biomass fuel seldom covers the cost of processing it for use in energy production.
Fortunately, there’s an upside to the costs associated with biomass energy: family wage jobs. The activities that make biomass energy expensive are labor-intensive. At a time when rural communities are suffering from very high unemployment, investing in energy generation that creates twice as many jobs per dollar as wind and four times as many jobs as oil makes complete sense.
The harvesting and hauling that makes biomass more costly also returns dividends of clean air, carbon sequestration, landfill avoidance, and in the case of forest fuels, community safety. Plus, because biomass is labor intensive, tapping forests and farms for renewable energy creates jobs. A 50 MW biomass power plant employs about 50 people and supports about 125 dedicated indirect employees. A 50 MW natural gas plant typically employs four or five.
Investing in biomass power could put people to work building a carbon-friendly infrastructure that pays dividends for years.
Modern forest management policies make a difference. They cut greenhouse gases, create more oxygen and…
- Restore unhealthy forests.
- Regenerate habitat.
- Create climate-friendly products.
- Provide a bio-energy alternative.