Biomass is organic material which has stored sunlight in the form of chemical energy. Forms of biomass include wood waste, straw, manure, sugar cane, and agricultural byproducts. Biomass is a renewable energy, which relies on photosynthesis in plants or animal waste, basically serving as a battery for stored energy from the sun. By using biomass in a boiler, instead of just fossil fuels, the stored energy that is released can be used to heat water or generate electricity. At the District Energy St. Paul plant, visitors can see truckloads of wood chips from waste wood delivered throughout the day. The wood waste or biomass comes from places that cannot repurpose this clean wood, such as construction sites, brush clearing, habitat restoration, or even just the Christmas trees that are put curbside after the holiday. This fuel source helps heat downtown Saint Paul and generate electricity, making it one of the most renewable cities in the country.
Where can I find biomass?
The District Energy St. Paul facility uses waste wood to help heat downtown and make electricity for Xcel Energy. Trucks carrying wood chips can be seen from Sheppard Road, the Science Museum Big Backyard, and the plaza overlooking the plant.