By Paul Noe
V.P., Public Policy
With states and the country at-large looking for ways to diversify
their renewable energy portfolios, it’s important that biomass
residuals continue to be recognized as a renewable, carbon neutral
energy source by being allowed to participate in state renewable
Biomass-based fuel is part of our country’s “all of the above” energy strategy and is a key part of its renewable portfolio. Biomass provides low-cost baseload energy that reduces the state’s dependence on fossil fuels, enhances the reliability of renewable energy, and keeps energy costs down.
Biomass energy complements the use of other renewable fuel sources in the state’s renewable energy portfolio. Wind continues to grow in states like Maryland despite biomass energy’s presence. In fact, black liquor dropped from 43 percent of Tier I compliance in 2010 to 24 percent in 2012, while wind grew from just 1 percent to 30 percent.
Biomass is carbon neutral, renewable, clean energy. Biomass is widely recognized by experts outside of our industry – and around the world – as carbon neutral. By using biomass residuals, we harness the energy value of the CO2 that would be released into the atmosphere anyway and avoid additional methane production from landfilling (methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide). The industry is also making large investments in innovations to meet stringent environmental standards.
Eliminating biomass from state RPSs would raise electricity costs for consumers. With fewer Renewable Energy Credits (REC) on the market, the prices for those remaining will increase – it’s simple supply and demand. In Maryland, REC prices have already jumped from $4 to about $16 – 400 percent just in the last year -- and the state’s RPS renewable energy requirements more than double by 2022. Removing an important source of RECs at the same time will only make electricity costs rise faster and more severely.
Simply put, biomass deserves to compete on a level playing field with other forms of renewable energy, and if RECs are available for any carbon neutral renewable energy, they should be available for all carbon neutral renewable energy.