Biomass energy is energy from plant materials. It is a very broad category, encompassing direct heat sources (e.g. wood stoves), electricity generation, and biofuels for transportation (e.g. ethanol and biodiesel). Biomass feedstocks are also varied, and include the following:
- Forest residues
- Mill residues
- Crop residues
- Energy crops
- Animal waste
- Municipal waste
- Landfill gas
For example, biodiesel made from used cooking oil or other plant-based oils can be used in standard diesel engines, thus replacing an imported fossil fuel with a clean, locally produced energy source.
For more information about biomass energy, see the following resources:
- Montana Green Power Biofuels Page
- Montana Department of Environmental Quality's Biomass Energy Resources
- US Department of Energy's Biomass Program
- Montana State University Extension E3A Anaerobic Digesters Fact Sheets
- Montana State University Extension E3A Biodiesel Fact Sheets
Geothermal Heat Pumps
Geothermal Heat Pumps, also called Ground-Source Heat Pumps, take advantage of the fact that the earth, just a few feet below the surface, maintains a much more constant year-round temperature than the air. It can therefore be used to provide a heat source in the winter and a heat sink in the summer. Geothermal heat pumps work by circulating a fluid underground through long loops of pipe. The heat pump itself is located indoors and uses a basic refrigeration cycle (evaporation, compression, condensation, and expansion) to transfer heat from the ground to the house in the winter, and from the house to the ground in the summer.
The cost of a geothermal heat pump system will depend on your home's energy use, lot size, and soil conditions. The best way to reduce the cost of your geothermal heat pump system is to reduce your energy consumption first, so that a smaller system will meet your needs. Check out our conservation resources for more information. In addition, federal tax credits and state tax credits are available to reduce the cost of your geothermal heat pump system.
For more information on geothermal heat pumps, see the following resources: