The US Biomass Power Market Analysis and Forecasts to 2015
05/20/2010

The US Biomass Industry has been Stagnant in the Last Decade

Online PR News – 20-May-2010 – – The US biomass market had a cumulative installed capacity of 9,686 MW in 2009. The cumulative biomass power installed capacity has increased from 8,835 MW in 2001 to 9,686 MW in 2009 at a CAGR of 1.2%. The growth of the biomass industry in the US is stagnant in the last decade due to expiry of contracts signed under Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA) by utility companies. The other reasons which affected the growth of the biomass industry are high feedstock costs because of inadequate infrastructure facilities to transport waste and emergence of biomass industry in Europe and Asia-Pacific which came up with better framework supporting biopower industry compared to the US.

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The government has introduced financial incentives to offset the high investment needed for biomass power generation. It has introduced various subsidy and incentive programs to compensate for as much 50% of the initial investment required. The recently extended production tax credit (PTC) provides a tariff for each KWh produced to the biomass power producers. To tackle the environmental concerns and handle increasing problems with different types of wastes such as industrial waste, agricultural waste, municipal waste etc led to biomass installations. With proper financial support and government mandates in place biomass installations have become a more viable option and an appropriate solution to the issue of waste management.

The shortage of feedstock supply has hampered the growth of the US biomass market. To offset this issue the government is promoting cultivation of agricultural crops as biomass inputs. They are also looking at importing feedstock to utilize the complete potential of biomass energy and meet the current and future demand in the country. The lack of proper logistic facilities is also leading to dearth in the feedstock availability which is causing increase in feedstock prices.

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Main feedstocks used for biomass power generation are wood waste, municipal solid waste (MSW) and other waste. In 2009, wood waste contributed about 78.9% to the total biomass power generation in the US. Wood waste constitutes black liquor, wood or woodwaste solids and liquids. Municipal solid waste is another important feedstock with 17% share in the US biomass power generation. Other waste constitutes 4.2% of the biomass power generation in the US.Industrial segment is the major user and constitutes over 58.8% of the end user market for biomass power in 2009. Presently, several industries are buying power from dedicated biomass facilities established with the help of financial incentives from federal and state governments. Residential segment is the other major end user of biomass power. It constitutes 38.3% of the total end-user market.

Covanta Holding Corporation is the market leader in terms of cumulative installed capacity with a share of 11.3%. Covanta Holding Corporation is followed by Wheelabrator Technologies Inc. with a share of 8.7% and CMS Energy Corporation with a share of 1.7%.

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