As concerns about North America’s dependence on foreign oil and rising energy prices continue to increase, the concept of generating renewable energy from biomass gains attention in this region. Biomass energy offers many associated environmental benefits that help drive the adoption of these technologies over conventional fossil fuel-fired technologies for energy generation.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (energy.frost.com), North American Biomass and Waste-to-Energy Markets, expects these industries to grow by 18 to 26 percent over the next ten years.
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“By utilizing the concept of waste-to-energy, it is possible not only to reduce waste but also generate electricity as a side product,” notes Frost & Sullivan Senior Research Analyst Shreyas Rajan. “This has led to increased activity in the biopower market, with more bids being submitted for projects and more inquiries being generated for biomass technologies.”
Constructing biomass power plants involves huge initial investment costs, making project development a challenging task for interested companies, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises. In an attempt to reduce the burden of high initial costs, the government and various agencies have introduced tax incentives and subsidies up to 50 percent of the investment costs.
“For instance, tax incentives currently applicable for wind energy have been extended to new installed waste-to-energy capacity,” says Rajan. “These measures are likely to help biomass plants become more competitive in relation to fossil fuel technologies.”
Another potential hurdle facing biopower projects is the large number of landfills in North America, particularly in the Midwest, where land is cheap and easily available. These landfills offer less expensive, and hence more attractive, waste management solutions. Competition among various biomass technologies is also increasing as less mature technologies compete with more established and economical ones such as combustion.
Most technologies entering the market are proven technologies in other areas such as nuclear or hazardous waste management. Other technologies such as digesters have not succeeded due to lack of maturity.
Many biopower initiatives have just passed the development and demonstration phase. Assessing and proving the cost effectiveness of energy-generating systems using various technologies including gasification, pyrolysis and digesters can only be done through practical experience in regular operations.
“Only when these technologies overcome teething problems and prove to be viable options offering superior performance over existing plants for the generation of electricity and reduction of waste, can real growth begin in the biomass and waste-to-energy markets,” concludes Rajan.
North American Biomass and Waste-to-Energy Markets, part of the Energy & Power Subscription, provides an in-depth analysis of these markets, their development, and growth potential in the next few years. It also examines the influence of major drivers and restraints on these markets. Interviews with the press are available.
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