Monday, November 12, 2012

Is biomass the best renewable energy option for New Jersey?

The state of New Jersey is already one of the nation's renewable energy leaders with main focus being currently set on solar power as the state's solar energy market is booming and is currently the largest commercial solar energy market in the country.

Another interesting renewable energy option for New Jersey is biomass. The New Jersey's Master Energy Plan said that there is a big potential for state to harness more biomass energy in years to come. In fact, according to this report the state of New Jersey produces approximately 8.2 million dry tons of biomass annually, 65 percent of which could be used for energy production. This amount of biomass is enough to generate approximately 1,300 MW of power, which represents around 9 percent of current state's electricity demand.

Biomass comes from the variety of sources with agricultural and forest residues, together with municipal and industrial waste being the primary options for increased biomass production within the state. In total, this report listed more than 40 available biomass resources.

Biomass has some clear advantages over solar energy, with most obvious being costs and reliability. This means that going for more biomass in state's renewable energy portfolio is certainly an idea worthy to consider, especially because state's renewable energy standard wants 22.5 percent of New Jersey's electricity to come from renewable energy sources.

Given current somewhat aggressive renewable energy policy it wouldn’t come as a surprise if New Jersey were to focus on producing more energy from biomass. The technology is already there and with more incentives biomass industry could soon play extremely important role, giving the Garden State yet another renewable energy option where it can become one of nation's clean energy leaders (together with solar).

Of course, only sustainable biomass production is acceptable option. Failure to achieve sustainability would not lead to expected emission cuts, in fact it could further stir fuel vs. food debate, and even lead to deforestation.