More than any other energy resource, plants, with their stored solar energy, are particularly well suited to meet the nation's energy, environmental, and economic needs.
Plants are the masters of capturing the sun's energy into conveniently stored forms--sugars, fats, and proteins--that power and construct almost all life forms, including humans. Although our bodies are exquisitely tuned to extracting and using the solar energy carried in plant and animal matter, our technologies for extracting and using plants' stored solar energy, in comparison, have been clumsy and primitive at best. Nonetheless, plants, called biomass in the energy industry, are already the second-largest source of renewable energy after hydroelectric power.
From the energy industry's viewpoint, biomass is essentially stored solar energy that can be converted to heat, electricity, fuel, or chemicals. Increased use of biomass for energy would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lessen dependence on foreign oil, improve the U.S. balance of trade, boost the rural economy, and support a major new American industry. More than any other energy resource, biomass is capable of simultaneously addressing the nation's energy, environmental, and economic needs.
Biomass power is the generation of electric power from …