Renewable energy remains a relatively untapped and undeveloped industry in Mississippi. Currently, 35.8% of Mississippi’s total energy use comes from petroleum resources, followed by natural gas at 32.6%, coal at 12.4%, nuclear at 10.1% and renewables at 4.9%.
Mississippi’s most viable potential source for renewable energy may be its abundant supply of biomass. Biomass is used in the production of liquid fuels, chemicals and various forest products. Biomass feedstocks produced in Mississippi include: oil (from soybeans, canola, camelina or algae); starch (from corn, barley, grain sorghum and rice); sugar (from sugar cane, sugar beets and sweet sorghum); and lignocellulose (from wood, crop residues, municipal waste, and dedicated energy crops such as switchgrass and miscanthus).
The state produces many forms of biomass, but still faces economical barriers to it becoming a primary energy source. For example, transportation of biomass material by truck over certain distances may prove to be cost prohibitive.
Mississippi’s one ethanol plant can produce 54 million gallons of biofuel annually, enough to equal about 0.5 percent of total U.S. ethanol output.
Mississippi generated 2.8 percent of its electricity from renewable energy resources during 2010, with wood and wood waste accounting for almost all of the State’s electricity generation from renewable energy.
Some forms of renewable energy are not viable options for Mississippi. The region does not maintain wind speeds necessary to generate reliable power, and although Mississippi is known for its hot summer days, the region is not ideally suited for using solar as a power source.