Biomass energy encompasses a huge range of potential sources with one big thing in common: They're alive. The sheer breadth of possibilities present in this alternative power source makes it an excellent place for investment and innovation.
This type of power system extracts the solar energy that plants and microorganisms use for food. Biomass-derived energy has been a primary heat source since man discovered fire -- wood is a combustible biofuel used all over the planet for heating and cooking. Other forms of biomass are already in use in the form of corn ethanol, biodiesel and methane captured from landfills, where active microorganisms release the stinky gas through natural, ongoing processes.
While biomass does require combustion to release its energy and therefore does release harmful emissions, many types of biofuels pollute less than fossil fuels, and they're unquestionably a more sustainable sources of power. Plus, "trash"-derived biofuels that recycle substances like fast-food-fryer grease and decaying landfill mass have the added bonus of reducing waste.
Next, a time-tested but controversial energy producer …