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EIA: ethanol production drives growth in overall biomass energy use over past decade

Biomass energy consumption in the United States grew more than 60% from 2002 to 2013, the growth due almost entirely to increased consumption of biomass to produce biofuels, primarily ethanol but also a smaller amount of biodiesel and other biomass-based diesel fuels, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). In 2013, biomass accounted for about half of all renewable energy consumed and 5% of total US energy consumed.

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The major biomass energy sources in the United States are:

  • Wood, including wood-derived fuels such as charcoal and byproducts of paper production;

  • Waste, including municipal solid waste, landfill gas, sludge waste, agricultural byproducts, and others; and

  • Organic raw material inputs (feedstocks) used to produce biofuels.

From 2002 to 2013, biomass energy converted to biofuels grew more than 500% as US production of ethanol and biodiesel grew. On average, 60% of the energy in feedstocks is converted to deliverable biofuels. The remainder becomes energy losses or coproducts, which are measured as energy consumed by the industrial sector. Most biofuels are consumed as blended transportation fuels.

Consumption of wood and waste energy increased just 4% over this period as increases in the consumption of waste energy exceeded increases in wood use. About two-thirds of US wood energy is consumed for industrial processes. Nearly all US waste energy is consumed for electric generation or industrial processes.

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