Humans have used the energy from trees, grasses, agricultural crops or other biological material, since people began burning wood to cook food and keep warm.


Most biopower plants burn biomass directly to produce steam that drives a turbine, which, in turn, drives a generator that converts the mechanical energy into electricity. Some biopower technologies liquefy or gasify the biomass matter before burning it, while others capture and burn the methane (natural gas) that is produced from the decaying biomass at landfills, sewage treatment plants and animal feedlots.

Biopower is considered a “carbon-neutral” source of electricity because, even though carbon dioxide is released when biomass is burned, this release is largely nullified by the carbon dioxide captured during the growth of the biological material.