Biomass energy has the potential to supply a significant portion of Greater Minnesota’s energy needs. Farmers can gain a valuable new outlet for their products while communities can use locally-grown crops and residues for heat and power.
There are several applications for biomass. Here are a few examples:
Most biomass is converted to energy just by burning it. The heat can be used directly for heating buildings, crop drying, dairy operations, and industrial processes. It can also be used to produce steam and generate electricity, like District Energy in Saint Paul.
While most crop residues are left in the field to reduce erosion and recycle nutrients back into the soil, some could be used to produce energy without harming the soil.
Grasses, like switchgrass and other native varities, produce high yields and can be harvested annually for several years before replanting.
Some fast-growing trees make excellent energy crops, since they grow back repeatedly after being cut off close to the ground.
Use biomass to heat your greenhouse! Since 1972, Len Busch Roses of Plymouth, MN has used environmentally-friendly biomass boilers to heat its greenhouse. They receive wood residues from the local community, grind it to specification, and then uses two boilers to consume the material, heating half a million square feet.