Biomass power plants utilize materials that would otherwise go to waste and help support the power grid. It is beneficial use of wood from timber harvest and saw mills and manufacturing, as well as other materials. It's the ultimate in "reduce, reuse, recycle."
Instead of letting wood rot on the forest floor, or be put into landfills, we extract energy from it, producing reliable renewable energy and providing local jobs in rural areas. We extract the last bit of value form valuable these forest resources, from cradle to grave. Power production also utilizes other materials that are problematic for landfills, specifically scrap tires (tire-derived fuel) and railroad ties. These cannot be landfill, but instead are managed as fuel under state and federally regulated rules and programs.
Healthy forests often need management to stop the spread of disease and infestation, and promote new growth. Biomass power plants provide an outlet to for this wood, and destroy the pest or disease by burning it in the boiler. Forests are periodically thinned of underbrush that poses a risk for catastrophic wildfires. In all these cases, biomass power plants provide a market for this material that reduces the cost of these management treatments.
Biomass power puts secondary materials – by products – to good use. Besides forest residues it also utilizes wood byproducts from the forest products industry, and diverts crates, pallets and other industrial wood from landfills, recovering energy from it. It provides an outlet for storm debris and helps resolve the disposal problem of scrap tires and railroad crossties. When co-fired with wood, these are safe, cost effective fuels that resolve the problem of how to dispose of these materials.