Biomass for Heat
This Resource Page from the Whole Buildings Design Guide focuses on woody biomass that is used for facility heating only. Woody biomass is commonly used for facility heating in three forms: whole logs or firewood, wood chips, and wood pellets. Systems are available from 6,000 British thermal units (Btu)/hr to over 100 million Btu/hr. Small systems, particularly small- and mid-size pellet and log systems, are available off-the-shelf from numerous manufacturers. Larger pellet systems and wood chip-fired systems are commercially available from several companies. The larger systems typically require both facility modification and system customization, mainly for integration of the fuel storage and handling and conveying systems.
This Resource page explains that, compared to most other renewable energy options currently available, biomass has the advantage of dispatchability, meaning it is controllable and available when needed, similar to fossil fuel heating and electric generation systems. The disadvantage of biomass for facility heating is that the fuel needs to be purchased, procured, delivered, and stored. Biomass combustion also produces emissions, which must be monitored and controlled to comply with regulations.