Biomass provides about 2% of California's power mix, but could provide three times more. Woody material provides most of this energy now, but the following sources are increasing: municipal solid waste, food processing waste, animal manure, and wastewater treatment. This study assessed the air quality impacts of existing and projected bioenergy capacity in California, focusing on biomass feedstocks and advanced technologies. Emission factors were combined with facility locations and input to air quality modeling to predict impacts from biopower scenarios. With current technology, maximum biopower production would lead to significant increases in ozone and PM concentrations by 2020; however, the use of technological upgrades and emission controls would minimize these impacts. A shift from biopower production to compressed natural gas production for vehicles could reduce air quality impacts further, and also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These findings should help in the development of biomass policy and bioenergy technology needed to meet California's energy and environmental goals.
For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Research Division staff at (916) 445-0753
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