Biomass energy existed long before anyone mentioned renewable sources or green technologies.
Wood was formerly the primary fuel for heating and cooking all around the planet; that is still being used in some developing nations.
Biomass is organic matter from living beings such as plants and animal waste.
Dead Plants, wood, urban waste, and rubbish are the most frequent biomass energy sources. These are also referred to as biomass feedstocks.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the almost 140 billion metric tons of Biomass produced annually by agriculture can offer renewable energy to 1.6 billion people in developing economies, many of whom lack access to electricity.
Although Biomass has been promoted as an economical and ecological alternative to fossil fuels, doubts persist concerning its role in decreasing carbon emissions.
Let us now go through the pros and cons of biomass energy and see if it is a viable renewable form of energy.
Table of Contents
Biomass energy pros
The pros of biomass energy are as follows:
1. Low Carbon
The amount of carbon footprint ejected into the atmosphere contributes significantly to climate change.
Biomass minimizes this because, unlike oil and other fossil fuels, it is a natural element of the carbon cycle.
When handled appropriately, biomass materials are more carbon neutral than coal and natural gas.
They are regarded as a component of our terrestrial carbon cycle – the movement of carbon from plants to soil and into the environment.
Biomass-fired power facilities emit carbon dioxide promptly absorbed by replacement plant growth, resulting in minimal net greenhouse gas emissions.
But, when poorly managed, biomass-fired power facilities contribute significantly to air pollution and endanger public health.
2. Valuable Byproducts- methane or alcohol
We may turn Biomass into several kinds of fuel that reduce the number of emissions produced when burned.
Methane gases are the perfect flammable components that can be a combined heat and light alternative fuel.
Although this procedure is costly and time-consuming, it will also lessen the environmental impacts of electricity generation for a large-scale plant.
Small-scale enterprises have more extraordinary expenses in this area, which is why they often generate energy using non-converted fuels.
Biomass energy is also one of the most flexible options accessible. It may be transformed into various fuel sources, each with its applications.
Biomass, for instance, may be processed to produce biodiesel for automobiles, but it can also be used to produce methane gas and a variety of other biofuels.
Additionally, wood may be used to produce heat, and we can use the steam created by some types of Biomass to power turbines and produce energy.
4. Widely Available
One of the most significant advantages of biomass energy is its abundance.
Every day, an increasing amount of organic material is generated; Biomass is a perfect renewable energy option found almost wherever on the earth.
Simply looking out the window exposes sources of energy such as wood waste, agricultural waste, or food waste.
For example, we can burn dead leaves, grass, and trees to provide energy. We can also convert animal corpses into biomass energy.
Crop waste and animal components are organic and beneficial for the environment.
Using these materials reduces the quantity of garbage we send to landfills, which indicates that Biomass will not have a limited supply, unlike fossil fuels.
In 2018, the United States produced over 38.1 million metric tons of oil equivalent, up from approximately three million in 2000.
5. Reduces Waste
One of the reasons Biomass is so readily available is that the world generates a lot of garbage.
Much of our garbage is biodegradable, such as food and plant waste. Instead of throwing it out, we could convert it into power!
Biomass energy is frequently capable of reusing trash from landfills. This lessens the impact of such locations on the natural environment, which is especially noticeable in polluting nearby ecosystems and harming species.
Because landfills take up less room, this trash reduction frees up more space for humanity to live.
6. Reduced Dependence On Fossil Fuels
Because we can transform Biomass into fuels and energy, it can assist in reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
Implementing climate change mitigation measures has shifted the global energy system away from fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas, prioritizing developing alternative energy sources to fill the void.
While renewable energy alternatives such as wind and solar are expected to predominate the future energy blend, biomass-fired power generation has arisen during this transition phase.
With a share of about 60%, Biomass for energy (bioenergy) remains the primary renewable energy source in the EU, where old coal plants are upgrading their current equipment to use biomass feedstocks.
Biofuels are critical alternative energy carriers to diesel and petroleum that can be employed in transportation, heating, and industrial activities.
Biomass energy Cons
While biomass energy has many pros, it also has significant drawbacks, which include the following:
The cost of setting up biomass technology and infrastructure may be relatively high.
To begin with, establishing a biomass energy plant necessitates a considerable initial expenditure.
We must also weigh the cost of gathering and shipping massive amounts of biomass resources.
The organic waste must be kept at the facility, which makes Biomass more costly than other renewable choices on the market.
Other renewable options, like solar, do not necessitate similar ongoing transit and storage expenditures.
For example, Fuel transfer and storing sunshine are not needed once a solar farm is created.
However, It is far less expensive to harness biomass energy than fossil fuels mining and extraction.
2. Air Pollution And Harmful Emissions
One of the most compelling reasons against utilizing Biomass as a clean energy source is that it emits pollutants when burned.
The material is organic, but blazing wood and other natural elements aren’t immaculate.
Many greenhouse gases are emitted by biomass energy fuel, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds.
These harmful gases all add to the air pollution that plagues our environment.
3. Relies On Natural Materials
While using natural resources is admirable, we must consume a substantial number of them to generate a significant amount of electricity.
For example, wood is a primary source of biomass energy, but it must be burned extensively to create energy on a big scale.
4. Can Lead To Deforestation
Biomass energy sources are renewable, but our careless actions have created a question about sustainability.
Deforestation can occur if biomass output is not managed. Wood is a primary source of biomass energy.
Facilities must burn many planks of wood and other waste products to generate significant power.
The ambition to create energy on a massive scale may result in deforestation, destroying the homes of many plants and animals.
In the regions where deforestation is permitted, humanity has displaced dozens of animal and bird species, not to mention the drought that will ensue.
This is the primary cause of the slowdown of large-scale biomass fuel applications.
Governments are concerned that replanting efforts might never exceed the rate of chopping down trees.
5. Water Intensive
The amount of water required in manufacturing is an often-overlooked downside of biomass energy.
All plants require water to survive; thus, supplies must be accessible. This not only raises irrigation expenses but may also reduce the availability of water supplies for humans and wildlife.
Water is an alternative energy that is significantly cleaner than biomass energy, so it begs the issue of why it isn’t employed for that reason instead.
Finally, because biomass crops are not controlled the same way as food crops, the watershed may become more polluted with chemicals due to biomass production.
6. Seasonal Supply
Because of their short growing season, certain nations avoid using Biomass.
Northern regions have restricted access to biomass products during winter months in the United States.
As a result, biomass energy is more effective in warmer areas with longer growing seasons.
You can generate more biomass energy by harvesting multiple crops yearly rather than just one.
Summary (biomass energy pros and cons)
|Valuable Byproducts- methane or alcohol|
|Reduced Dependence On Fossil Fuels|
|Air Pollution And Harmful Emissions|
|Relies On Natural Materials|
|Can Lead To Deforestation|
While Biomass appears appealing at first glance, considering that it is renewable and can be generated locally, it has several limitations that make it far from an ideal alternative.
As our population grows, the struggle for arable land and water required for food production will render many of these solutions unworkable.
That is not to say that Biomass would not mitigate our foreseeable future energy landscape.
As with every fuel source, there are advantages and disadvantages, but as you can see, the advantages of bioenergy much exceed the disadvantages, particularly when compared to fossil fuels.
Now you have converted your household waste to biomass energy, What to do with other plastics and glass bottles? Of course, Recycling. Don’t know its pros and cons? Click here.
(Last Updated on October 11, 2022)