Biomass Energy

NSPE Position Statement No. 1761
Approved: April 2011
Latest Revision: May 2015

NSPE supports the continued development of biomass energy as part of a diversified national energy portfolio. Producing energy from biomass decreases America’s reliance on fossil fuels, while reducing air pollution.

Biofuel is a fuel (solid, liquid, or gas) that is produced from the decomposition of organic materials.  It can be made directly from cultured products or indirectly from waste (industrial, commercial, domestic, or agricultural). There are a wide variety of ways to manufacture biofuels; however, all methods essentially reformulate the carbon and minor chemical constituents into fuels and/or other chemicals. Biofuel converts waste products into an energy source by converting the molecular structure into a usable fuel source.

Waste products that require more energy to produce the fuel than can be recovered by the combustion of the fuel should be avoided. NSPE supports biomass energy deployment when there is a clear net energy gain from producing and using biomass energy. NSPE also supports moderate deployment of net-negative biomass when such applications provide energy where other sources are not economically viable. Public health impacts from sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and other emissions should be a strong factor in total cost estimates and in risk-benefit analyses.

NSPE supports public-private partnerships continuing the research and development of new and improved biomass processes and production facilities. The goal is to incentivize development of economic biomass conversion processes that can become self-sufficient.

The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) promotes the ethical and competent practice of engineering, advocates licensure, and represents licensed professional engineers for the benefit of the public and its members.