Home > Media > BCSE In The News
Print Print

BCSE In The News

Report provides estimates of bioenergy capacity investments

By: Energy Monitor Worldwide
Published: February 10, 2014

A new report finds that clean energy efficiency improvements in the U.S. have reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by nearly 10 percent since 2005. The report, titled the "2014 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook," was produced for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Among a variety of renewable energy and clean energy technologies, the report addresses biomass, biogas and waste-to-energy power production. According to the report, interest in dedicated biomass power has picked up since 2008, driven by attractive state subsidies, feedstock availability and the production tax credit (PTC) incentive.

The report estimates that approximately 230 megawatts (MW) of biomass-to-power was commissioned last year, making 2013 the most successful in terms of new capacity since 2009. The factbook does not list any new large-scale biogas capacity that meets its analysis parameters.

However, the report does indicated that there are currently 782 operational landfill gas power projects in the U.S, with a combined capacity of 1,835 MW and 8.4 million cubic meters per day of biomethane for direct use, as cited by the EPA Landfill Methane Outreach Program. The report also estimates there are 34 farm-based utility-scale anaerobic digestion plants operating the U.S.

The analysis defines utility scale as 1 MW of capacity or more. With regard to small-scale biogas, the analysis estimates that there were 224 operational farm-based anaerobic digestion plants in the U.S. as of the close of 2013. The combined capacity of these plants is an estimated 109 MW. Roughly 190 of the 224 operational plants are estimated to be smaller than 1 MW.

The factbook estimates that only 7.6 percent of municipal solid waste (MSW) was processed at waste-to-energy facilities in 2011, far below Europe’s average rate of 40 percent. In addition, the number of waste-to-energy plants in the U.S. has fallen, from about 180 facilities in the 1980s to approximately 84 today. The report estimates that 6 MW of capacity additions were made to existing waste-to-energy plants in 2011. The analysis indicates that about $4.1 billion was invested in the biomass sector between 2010 and 2013.

The investment for 2013 was only $118 million, which the report attributes in part to the expiration of the PTC. Since 2008, the report shows that BNEF has recorded about 50 asset finance deals in biogas, and that $1.8 million was invested in the biogas market from 2004 to 2013. About 70 percent of committed finds went to landfill gas projects. According to the Factbook, BNEF recorded only 13 asset finance deals in the waste-to-energy sector since 2006.