Biomass energy: advantages and disadvantages

No source of energy is perfect, including biomass. Although renewable, generating electricity with biomass power plants has its advantages and disadvantages . In this article, we will review just some of the pros and cons of using biomass for electricity generation followed by more information regarding the use of it in our daily lives.

Advantages of biomass
Disadvantages of biomass
  • It is a renewable source (therefore quite infinite)
  • It is a reliable source of energy
  • Biomass fuel is carbon neutral
  • It is more affordable than fossil fuels
  • It is more efficient and less destructive than fossil fuels
  • Helps reduce landfills and waste in general
  • Reduces CO2 contributions from households
  • They need a very large area to operate and store
  • Not as efficient as fossil fuels
  • It uses more energy to burn organic matter than it ends up producing
  • Biomass is not absolutely clean, in fact it is far from it
  • The use of wood can lead to deforestation
  • Biomass construction plants are not cheap

What is biomass energy?

Biomass means all materials that come from living organisms . For example, waste material and plant and animal remains, wood, agricultural waste, among others. Since all living organisms contain carbon compounds, biomass has energy stored in the form of chemical compounds .

The method of harnessing the energy of each of them could be different. The direct burning of these materials generally cause pollution, but could be the cheapest form of energy. For example: Using cow dung cake or wood as fuel creates a lot of smoke. However, if cow manure is used in a biogas plant, clean fuel can be generated. Especially in villages, all types of biomass are traditionally burned to produce heat. And if modern methods are used, they can be put to good use.

Advantages and disadvantages of biomass energy

Advantages of biomass energy

  • Biomass is a fairly infinite source of energy , since it is a by-product of all the processes that we already use. From agriculture to forest management to food waste, there is always fresh material, so it is renewable !
  • And that material is a waste product, which means it is reliable , found almost everywhere in the world, and extremely low in cost.
  • Biomass fuel is carbon neutral . It does not create additional carbon because it has already gone through the natural process of photosynthesis, which means that it has already done its job of absorbing CO2.
  • Being more affordable than fossil fuels gives biomass the upper hand. The new technology means that biomass energy production is more efficient and less destructive than fossil fuels.
  • The fact that it is cheaper to manufacture and made from waste means a high profit margin for biomass producers.
  • Reducing landfills and waste in general is key to managing carbon levels. In fact, it is said that up to 90 percent less waste could go to landfill if biomass becomes more common. That means less CO2 by transporting it all there too.
  • Installing a biomass boiler reduces household CO2 contributions by up to 9.5 tons each year, making it an incredibly eco-friendly way to run your home’s heating.

Disadvantages of biomass energy

  • Biomass production plants need a very large area to operate and store , which is limiting for any urban area. When biomass plants grow their own matter, they require even more space, which means a higher cost to the surrounding landscape. That said, technologies for creating biomass energy are improving all the time, so the need for so much space could change.
  • Biofuel alone is not as efficient as fossil fuels and, in some cases, uses more energy to burn organic matter than it ends up producing. It often has to be mixed with gasoline and diesel to speed up its efficiency. This alone means that biomass is not available for use on a large scale.
  • Thanks to the methane gases that are contained in animal waste, biomass is not absolutely clean , in fact it is far from it. Methane is around 30 times more potent for global warming than carbon dioxide. The combustion of natural materials such as wood also emits environmentally harmful pollutants, such as nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide, into the atmosphere. Even though biomass is carbon neutral, it continues to release carbon dioxide into the air, putting it behind zero-carbon technologies like wind.
  • Using wood to create biomass means higher demand, which in turn can lead to deforestation . Despite the abundance of waste wood, there are concerns about the requirement that deforestation satisfy more. When biomass production plants carry out monocultures, they remove nutrients from the soil and eliminate biodiversity . When algae are used to produce biomass, they rely on phosphorous fertilizers that damage the water supply for the surrounding area.
  • Biomass building plants are not cheap . Harvesting, transporting and storing organic matter can be expensive and go beyond what other renewable sources, such as solar energy, need. Regardless, biomass is still less expensive than extracting fossil fuels.

Uses today

The main uses of biomass energy today are to produce electricity through turbines and provide biofuels for transportation, such as biodiesel and ethanol . Although there are some disadvantages to using biomass energy, the benefits outweigh them compared to other energy sources such as fossil fuels. It is for this reason that countries around the world are developing programs to increase biomass energy production. Read on to learn about other ways to use biomass on a household scale.

Use of biomass on a domestic scale

The heating by biomass is definitely suitable for homes and is a smart choice for those who are considering a long – term investment. Government initiatives such as the “Renewable Heat Incentive or Green New Home Grant Program” provide significant support for green-minded homeowners.

The biomass boilers cost about £ 4,000 for a small home and from £ 10 to 19.000 for a boiler fed pellets automatically, including installation costs and delivery. Although the price can make one swallow hard, the Renewable Heat Incentive allows you to buy with confidence, as the government repays a large part of the investment in installments over a period of 7 years (In some countries belonging to the European Union).

Pricing is based on size, fuel, and storage, and there are several different biomass boiler options on the market. These include automatic pellet boilers, wood fired boilers, and biomass stoves , all of which are powered by biomass energy.

A biomass boiler is considered cheaper than oil or gas boilers because they make a long-term financial gain due to cheaper fuel costs, which consist of biomass pellets. If you are thinking of installing one in your home, it is worth knowing that you will need more space than a typical gas boiler occupies. Not only is the system larger, there is a need to store wood pellets. It is essential that the biomass fuel remains absolutely dry to achieve greater efficiency, so storage must be airtight. Without an automatic feed tray (called a hopper), it is up to you to make sure the heating system receives fresh pellets and is kept clean. Newer models make this process a lot easier than it used to be and some even do it automatically!

The future of biomass

Looking at the advantages and disadvantages of biomass means that, as with most solutions offered to combat the climate emergency, biomass is not a complete solution, but part of it . As we approach the deadline for a zero pollution world by 2050, there is a great need for us to explore all the availabilities, including renewable energy within our own homes.

If you have yet to explore how renewable energy can benefit you, while saving up to two-thirds on your energy bills, let the experts in the field help. Search Google for all existing home use alternatives and start making an environmental change from the comfort of your home. Contribute your grain of sand to the cause and stop doubting it, together we can achieve it.

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