UNIT 1.1: Introduction to Bioenergy

In this unit, bioenergy – renewable energy derived from biomass – is described as a renewable energy source.  The types of biomass resources are identified, and primary conversion technologies are explained.  Motivations and drivers of bioenergy development, including federal interest in energy security and energy independence, federal and state policies, government funded programs, and opportunities for regional economic development are detailed.  A basic definition of sustainability is given, and the role of sustainability in bioenergy (and vice versa) is described.


Learning Objectives

  1. Provide current background information regarding energy consumption and production statistics.
  2. Describe policy which has led to increased interest in bioenergy sources and uses.
  3. Lead discussions of bioenergy development, addressing local opportunities and concerns.
  4. Develop educational programs for community stakeholders that overview bioenergy process, products,feedstock requirements, and concerns about sustainability.
  5. Lead discussions of potential trade-offs related to the development of bioenergy sources.
  6. Help local decision-makers find relevant and accurate information as they consider options and develop projects.
  7. Provide information regarding regional and global impacts of bioenergy development and concerns about sustainability.


Guiding Questions

  • What is bioenergy?  What are the basic types of bioenergy?
  • What are the primary biomass sources?
  • What are the primary biomass conversion technologies?
  • What are the primary drivers of bioenergy development?  What are the key federal policy instruments driving bioenergy development in the U.S.  How is bioenergy development influenced by current trends in energy production and consumption in the U.S.?
  • What are the overall goals of sustainability and how is bioenergy evoked as a potential tool for achieving sustainability goals?