The largest source of renewable energy in Kentucky may be biomass, which refers to formerly live mass that can be burned to create electricity. Biomass includes things like grasses, sawdust and chicken fat. Biomass energy can work both on the family/community scale and a utility scale. There are at least 14 native Kentucky plant species considered to be suitable for biomass energy production.
Our state government is now aggressively pursuing the idea of burning wood and other fuel crops, along with coal, in our existing fleet of power plants. One paper suggests that growing fuel crops on a large scale could consume 13% of Kentucky’s existing farmland (Biomass and Biofuels task force). Burning wood waste and switch grass in our coal-fired power plants could decrease the amount of coal used and lower Kentucky’s carbon dioxide emissions. It could also spur job creation and a stronger agricultural economy.
Any plan to use biomass energy on a large scale will have other important consequences for Kentucky's forests, air, soils, and water and thus must be carefully considered.
Reports and Resources
Executive Taskforce on Biomass and Biofuels (KY). "Final Report" (September 2009): agpolicy.ky.gov/Documents/091210_BiomassTaskForce_FinalReport.pdf.
Kentucky Department for Energy Development and Independence. Biomass task force home page: www.energy.ky.gov/biomass/.
Kentucky Rural Energy Consortium. "25 x '25 Roadmap for Kentucky" (2008). louisville.edu/kppc/krec contains a link the report.
Mountain Association for Community and Economic Development. "The Forests and Wood Products Sector in Appalachian Kentucky: What We Heard and What We Learned" (February 2009). Click here to access.
Moore, Frank. "Executive Task Force on Biomass and Biofuels" presentation (September 2009). Click here to access.
Shearer, S.A. "Can Kentucky Develop a 25 MTY Biomass Industry?" presentation (September 2009). Click here to access.