Skip navigation
Tribal Energy and Environmental Information Clearinghouse
Tribal Energy and Environmental Information Clearinghouse: Environmental resources for tribal energy development
Energy Resources Assessments & Monitoring Laws & Regulations
Energy Resources Assessments & Monitoring Laws & Regulations |  Home  |  News  |  FAQ  |  Glossary
Document Library
Federal and Tribal Contacts

Utility-Scale and Distributed Biomass Energy Generation

Biomass resources can be applied at varying scales, including utility-scale electricity generation, fuel production, and distributed generation.

The Tracy Biomass Plant, a Wood Fired Power Plant in California
The Tracy Biomass Plant, a Wood Fired Power Plant in California
Source: NREL
The Tracy Biomass Plant, a Wood Fired Power Plant in California
Source: NREL
Click to enlarge

What Is Utility-Scale Biomass Energy Generation?

Utility-scale biomass power facilities generate a large amount of electricity that is transmitted from one location to many users through a transmission system similar to that of any other commercial power plant. Direct combustion power plants burn the biomass fuel directly in boilers that supply steam for the same kind of steam-electric generators used to burn fossil fuels. The biomass fuel can also be added to pulverized coal for combustion.

Corn Ethanol Plant
Corn Ethanol Plant
Source: USDA
Corn Ethanol Plant
Source: USDA
Click to enlarge

What Is Utility-Scale Fuel Production?

Biofuels facilities are biorefineries that produce large quantities of ethanol or biodiesel for use as transportation fuel. The resultant fuel is then delivered to the user via rail, truck, or pipeline.

What Is Distributed Generation?

Wood burning stove
Wood burning stove
Source: National Institute of Health
Wood burning stove
Source: National Institute of Health
Click to enlarge

Distributed generation is the generation of small-scale biomass energy that is distributed and used over a local area. For example, individual homes, farms, or businesses may have their own biomass source and generate their own heat or fuels for personal or business use.