Renewable Energy - Biomass

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Nedra Murphy                                                                                                                                             (505) 470-7044

Daren Zigich
(505) 476-3323


Wood burning for heating is perhaps the most traditional use of bioenergy in New Mexico, and this continues to be the largest use. The other common use of bioenergy in New Mexico involves the production of methane from municipal wastewater sludge. This fuel is then burned to heat the digestion process, and in some cases to also generate electricity for operation of the plant.

Bio-energy is produced by combustion of either non-fossil biological feedstock or other products made from such feedstock. The feedstock may be either produced or harvested explicitly for such use, such as grain milo and firewood, or may be a waste stream from agricultural, municipal or industrial sources. Distribution of and access to the resource are critical to the success of bioenergy use. For this reason the creation of bioenergy is often found at the point of availability of a waste stream, with a facility's size determined by that stream.

Resources and Production
Use of forest products as fuel is perhaps the oldest and most traditional use of bioenergy in New Mexico. The best available research on New Mexico fuel-wood indicates that 197,000 cords were harvested in 1986, which is neither a significant drain on the growing stock inventory nor a competitor with the timber products industry.

Albuquerque and Las Cruces are using the anaerobic digestion of municipal wastewater sludge to generate methane gas. The gas then fuels the production of electricity and heat to power the wastewater facilities. Los Alamos, Roswell and Carlsbad are using the resulting methane to heat the digesting process, water or both. Several sawmills burn waste wood to provide heat for wood drying kilns.

The waste stream bioenergy resource in New Mexico has been studied in detail. The total potential for energy production in this sector is large, at 35 trillion Btu per year, although a large share of this resource is allocated for other uses such as particleboard manufacture. The largest sources in this sector are sawmill/ wood product waste and municipal solid waste.

Recent Developments
Several new bioenergy projects are underway in New Mexico. The City of Albuquerque and New Mexico State University are carrying a long-term study of a municipal solid waste bioreactor design into the field-scale construction phase. The cities of Las Cruces and Ojinaga, Mexico, are jointly studying a process for growing fuel-wood with wastewater sludge.

The U.S. Forest Service is working with the State Forestry Division on two wood chip fueled power systems, one at Jemez Mountain schools and the other a steam boiler at Fort Bayard Veterans Hospital, that use lumber mill residues and forest thinnings for fuel.

Rapid growth of the New Mexico dairy industry has greatly increased the production of manure in New Mexico. The State of New Mexico is working with the U.S. Department of Energy and Dairy Producers of New Mexico, a local dairy trade organization, to develop a project involving the use of a bioreactor to produce methane from this waste. The New Mexico dairy industry produces 1.15 million tons of manure annually - a potential source of methane gas for energy.


Additional Information

New Mexico's Forests, 2000 - USDA and Rocky Mountain Research Station Report

Video: Biomass - Converting Waste to Useful Energy    (Videos will download)
Video: Converting Dairy Manure to Useful Energy
Total New Mexico Dairy Manure Biomass Produced - 2005
County Dairies Milk Cows

Milk Cows

Tons/day DM



Tons/day DM


(tons DM)


(tons DM)

Chaves 39 85,317 640 69,960 262 902 329,313
Roosevelt 44 57,300 430 46,986 176 606 221,171
Curry 20 53,068 396 43,515 163 561 204,835
Dona Ana 24 47,426 356 38,889 146 502 183,058
Lea 16 25,276 190 20,726 78 267 97,562
Eddy 7 16,138 121 13,233 50 171 62,290
Bernalillo 16 12,574 94 10,310


133 48,533
Total 166 297,099 2,228 243,619 914 3,142 1,146,762
Historical New Mexico Fuel-wood Information
New Mexico's 1986 Fuelwood Harvest  (latest detailed data available)



Proxy Species







Dry Energy

Million BTU

True Fir   3,763   White Fir   12,149   14,212  


Alligator Juniper  


  Alligator Juniper   14,868   17,288   431,923
Other Juniper   48,883   Utah Juniper   17,433   20,149   984,944
Spruce   6,188   Engelman Spruce   9,126   10,880   67,325
Pinon   33,041   Pinon Pine   16,045   18,737   619,089
Ponderosa Pine   24,152   Ponderosa Pine   14,152   16,173   390,610
Douglas Fir   9,407   Douglas Fir   13,044   15,330   144,209
Cottonwood   9,901   Aspen   10,715   12,576   124,515
Aspen   3,733   Aspen   10,715   12,576   46,946
Mesquite   1,238   Mesquite Heartwood   20,411   24,029   29,748
Oak   6,538   Gambel Oak   17,792   21,163   138,364
Other Hardwood   25,370   Gambel Oak   17,792   21,163   536,905
  197,198               3,568,058
Notes: Harvest data does not include wood from waste stream of other industries. Energy indicated is potential, or as if burned at 100% combustion. Harvest data from New Mexico's 1986 Fuelwood Harvest, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Energy content data from Arizona Forestry Notes #19, School of Forestry, Northern Arizona University. Glenn Voorhies author, July 1983.



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