The renewable resource that shows the most promise in the Southeast and Mississippi Power's service area is the use of biomass. The use of biomass reduces sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions compared with coal, plus the renewable energy source absorbs carbon dioxide from the air as it grows.
For almost 15 years, Southern Company and Mississippi Power have focused renewable research on biomass power — specifically co-firing and re-powering existing plants. Switchgrass, sawdust, and wood chips have all been tested as a fuel source.
Engineering and cost studies have also been conducted to determine the feasibility of converting certain older plants for biomass firing.
Re-powering an existing plant typically results in the loss of about 50 percent of its generating capacity due to the low heating value of biomass compared to natural gas or coal. Other limiting factors of biomass include availability, transportation, and storage.