As the demand for renewable energy increases power producers are turning to wood. High tech wood gasification plants rival natural gas as producers of clean energy. We will soon see the transition from scrap wood to dedicated plantings for power alone.
One of the world’s oldest energy sources is making a comeback.
Across the USA, power plants are turning to wood to make electricity. The move is spurred by state mandates to encourage renewable power and by bills moving through Congress that require more renewable electricity nationwide.
Wood power’s rise is "meteoric," says William Perritt, editor of Wood Biomass Market Report. One wood-burning plant started up in 2007, seven in 2008 and a dozen in 2009, he says.
Dozens more are on the drawing board. That includes three 100-megawatt plants, scheduled to start in 2012 that together would crank out enough juice to power up to 270,000 homes.
In 2008, wood-burning power plants were capable of generating roughly 6,700 megawatts or enough to provide power to about 6 million homes, according to the Energy Department. That includes, however, plants that supply power to wood-products factories that use waste wood to generate electricity.