Biomass as an Energy Resource for Michigan: Opportunities, Challenges, and Policies


January 31, 2011 - William A Knudson

This brief paper outlines some of the issues related to biomass as a feedstock for energy production in Michigan. This includes national and state policies that promote alternative energy including biomass. It is based on a presentation presented at the Coal to Clean Conference sponsored by the Institute for Public Utilities and the Michigan State University Product Center on December 3, 2010.

Broadly defined, biomass is anything produced from plants or animals. Potential feedstocks for energy production are

  • Crop and crop residues
  • Woody biomass
  • Biomass from municipal solid waste (MSW) facilities
  • Biomass from farms
  • Biomass from food processing and other industrial sources

Biomass can be used for heat or electricity. It can also be integrated into existing energy
grids or used as an energy source off the grid. One source of concern is the long term
commitment of some of these policies, particularly at the state level. The size of the
state’s budget deficit may mean a reduction in the support of some of these programs,
especially grant and tax credit programs.


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