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Biomass Energy

Utilizing Biomass Energy for Distributed Power Generation


Biomass energy, or biopower energy, is the use of renewable biomass to generate electricity. Biomass is any organic material that has stored sunlight in the form of chemical energy. Wood is a well-known example of biomass: it can be burned for heat or shaped into building materials. There are many additional types of biomass that can be used to derive fuels, chemicals, and power—such as plants, agricultural and forestry residues, organic components of landfills (municipal solid waste), and farm animal manure.

This broad diversity of suitable biomass has resulted in increased research and development of technologies to produce fuels, products, and power at an industrial scale. According to the Energy Information Administration, 23% of all renewable energy consumed in the United States was biomass-based in 2015.

XLS Energy helps customers and communities harness the benefits of biopower energy by building distributed generation power plants and cogeneration facilities that utilize clean burning renewable biomass waste to operate.

There are four primary types of biomass systems that are used to generate biopower. They are direct combustion, cofiring, gasification and anaerobic digestion.


Most electricity generated from biomass is produced by direct combustion using conventional boilers. These boilers primarily burn waste wood products from the agriculture and wood-processing industries. When burned, heat from the wood produces steam, which spins a turbine. The spinning turbine then activates a generator that produces electricity.


Co-firing involves replacing a portion of the fossil-based fuel in high-efficiency coal-fired boilers with renewable biomass. Co-firing has been successfully demonstrated in most standard boiler technologies, including pulverized coal, cyclone, fluidized bed, and spreader stoker units. Co-firing biomass can significantly reduce the sulfur dioxide emissions of coal-fired power plants and is a least-cost renewable energy option for many power producers.


Through gasification, biomass is heated in an environment that enables the solids to be converted into a synthesis gas, which can then be burned in conventional boilers or used in turbines to produce electricity.


In anaerobic digestion, organic matter is decomposed by bacteria in the absence of oxygen to produce methane and other byproducts that form a renewable natural gas.

Disposal and treatment of organic waste represents a major challenge for the waste industry. Anaerobic digestion is an alternative to composting for a wide range of organic substances including livestock manure, municipal wastewater solids, food waste, industrial wastewater and residuals, fats, oils and grease, and other organic waste streams.

Diverting organic waste to facilities that contain anaerobic digestion technology could lower greenhouse gas emissions, specifically methane released from landfills as waste breaks down. In addition to waste management, anaerobic digestion provides a renewable source of biogas, which can be burnt to generate heat or electricity or upgraded to be used as a vehicle fuel.

Anaerobic digestion is a biological process that occurs naturally when microorganisms break down organic matter in environments with little or no oxygen such as swamps, water-logged soils and rice fields, deep bodies of water, and in the digestive systems of termites and large animals. This process produces biogas, a mixture of mostly methane and carbon dioxide with trace amounts of other gases.

The natural activity or these organisms can be harnessed industrially to convert a range organic biomass materials into a biogas. This biogas can be combusted to generate electricity and heat, processed to remove non-methane compounds as a direct replacement for natural gas, or converted into renewable hydrocarbon liquid transportation fuels.

XLS Energy helps customers and communities harness the benefits of biopower energy by building distributed generation power plants and cogeneration facilities that utilize clean burning renewable biomass waste to operate.

XLS Energy provides multiple financing options based on our clients requirements, configuration size and geographical location of the project. These financing options include the XLS Energy Zero Capital Cost Energy Solution, long-term power purchase agreements and energy savings performance contracts.