WhyGreen Renewable101 biomass banner Biomass Energy 101

How It Works

Biomass is any organic matter like trees, plants, or animal waste that can be used as an energy source. Energy comes from the sun through a process called photosynthesis and is released when biomass is burned or decomposes.

Plant Waste

Leftover wood and crop waste from factories and farms can be burned to produce electricity.

  1. Wood scraps, sawdust and crop waste are collected from farms or manufacturing plants
  2. The waste is burned to heat water and create steam
  3. Steam is sent to a turbine, which spins to power a generator
  4. The generator creates electricity and sends to transmission lines


Waste produced by cows or other farm animals creates a gas called methane, which can be captured to produce electricity.

  1. Animal waste is collected in a large tank or pond with bacteria
  2. As bacteria decomposes the waste (i.e. methane) is released
  3. Methane is then burned to heat water and generate steam
  4. Steam turns a generator turbine to create electricity, which is sent to transmission lines

WhyGreen Renewable101 biomass2 Biomass Energy 101

Fun Facts

  • The word “biomass” means natural material
  • If you’ve ever been near a campfire or a fireplace, you’ve witnessed biomass energy through the burning of wood
  • Biomass has been around since the beginning of time when man burned wood for heating and cooking
  • Wood was the biggest energy provider in the world in the 1800′s
  • Biogas can also be captured and sold as fuel if not used to generate electricity on site
  • Biomass is a renewable energy source because trees and crops can always be grown
  • Biomass produces about 1.5% of the energy used in the United States