New Jersey could power over one million homes from waste by 2020

Biomass has potential to help New Jersey diversify its energy sources, reduce reliance on foreign oil and decrease its use of power generated by carbon dioxide-emitting fossil fuels.

That’s the conclusion of a report commissioned by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) and completed by the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.

Biomass includes such materials as certain agricultural crops; food processing residues; wood waste; waste oils, fats and greases; recycled materials; and landfill gas. The report assesses the characteristics and quantity of commercially viable biomass resources and technologies.

It concludes that 65 percent of the estimated 8.2 million dry tons of biomass New Jersey produces annually could be leveraged to help meet New Jersey’s electricity or transportation fuels needs. Biomass could deliver up to 1,100 MW of power or the equivalent of enough power for nearly 1 million homes for one year — or the biomass resources could be used to produce about 300 million gallons of fuel for transportation. Most of the biomass resource, says the report, is in the central and northeastern part of the state. It also notes that farms and forests are important potential sources of biomass.

For the study, Rutgers developed a one-of-a-kind “Bioenergy Calculator” that can compute the potential for generating biopower and biofuel from existing biomass in New Jersey for 2007, 2010, 2015 and 2020. Data can be sorted and compared based on parameters such as existing technologies and county location.

“Helping more biofuels companies locate in New Jersey can only spur the market for our farmers’ crops and agricultural waste through increased demand for feedstocks,” said New Jersey agriculture secretary Charles M. Kuperus.

The report has recommendations to help New Jersey develop policies that will promote and support the development of biomass in the state.

The report is available at www.njaes.rutgers.edu/bioenergy.