Biomass power is "baseload" generation. That means it provides technical benefits that wind and solar cannot provide. Electricity cannot be effectively stored like in a battery. The grid – a sophisticated system of wires and equipment that move electricity from the power plant to the consumer – manages power so it's generated as it's consumed. Biomass power has a key role in ensuring this system is efficient and reliable, helping to keep the lights on throughout the region.
Did you know that all electricity is not the same? Biomass is baseload, and baseload power generates AC current. That means it produces a component of electricity called a VAR (volt ampere reactive). VARs are important for ensuring the flow of electricity on the grid, and are needed for heavy electrical loads like large pumps and motors. Wind and solar power is generated as DC and converted to AC, so it doesn't have VARS.
Certain industries need VARs to operate and cannot rely on sources like wind and solar for their power.
"The grid" is a system of power generators, high-voltage transmission lines that move electricity over far distances, and low-voltage distribution lines that deliver the power to consumers. All these pieces have to be synchronized to ensure that the power supply is there when it's needed.
Operating the grid is complex because power generation cannot always be located where it's being consumed. Generating all the power in one location and trying to deliver it to consumers by wire is inefficient, unreliable and expensive. Distributed generation, like baseload biomass power, provides grid operators with a source of generation they can rely on for things like averting power outages and reducing congestion on the transmission lines.
Biomass is also "dispatchable" power, meaning it can make as much or as little power as needed. Wind and solar are intermittent sources of energy that can only make power when the wind and sun are available, which isn't always when it's needed. Baseload power, like biomass, gives grid operators the ability to compensate for fluctuating generation from intermittent sources. Biomass power compliments other sources or renewable energy.