Biomass refers to the use of organic material to generate energy. Bioenergy has emerged as one of the major alternative sources of energy over the past few years. This form of energy is produced from organic matter such as animals and plants.
It can be found in the form of living plants and biological wastes from industrial and home use. It can be used for various purposes either by converting biomass into fuels or directly through combustion to generate heat.
Likewise, it can be converted to methane gas or transportation fuels like ethanol and Biodiesel. Biomass can be converted into liquid fuels, which are also called biofuels that are used to power trucks, cars, and tractors.
Similarly, Biodiesel is created from leftover food products such as vegetable oils and animal fats. Moreover, ethanol is produced from fermenting different plants such as sugarcane, corn, mustard, and many more.
Biomass energy is a form of dead plants, trees, grass, leaves, crops, manure, garbage and animal waste. This energy can be a great source of alternative fuels that can be used to replace fossil fuels. Additionally, another advantage of using biomass is that it can reduce global CO2 emissions.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency report, biomass energy could reach about 60% of total global renewable energy use by 2030. Biomass has a broad platform of uses, such as to generate electricity with a steam turbine or directly as heat. Bioenergy is one of the most controversial forms of alternative energy.
Here we have listed out the major pros and cons of Biomass energy.
Pros of Biomass Energy
Carbon-neutrality is one of the considerable advantages of biomass energy. Carbon neutrality balances the atmosphere when the plants absorb carbon and again release back when they are burned in a biomass energy plant. Biomass energy achieves this process through a natural lifecycle. As different plants, crops, and trees grow, they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
When biomass is burnt or consumed in different ways, it emits the same amount of carbon that is absorbed while it was alive. Biomass doesn’t produce harmful carbon in comparison to fossil fuel.
Carbon neutral plays a vital role in helping to decrease the greenhouse effect, which leads to climate change. With the use of these energy sources, we will reduce the impact that our energy needs are having on the earth.
Renewable Source of Energy
Undoubtedly biomass energy is one of the best alternative renewable sources of energy. The positive part about biomass energy is that it utilizes renewable assets to generate power such as dead plants, garbage, finite fossil fuel, and many more.
Though the usage of some biomass sources like crops may take time to renew them. But, their other options as well in the absence of depletion of sources such as; wood waste, urban waste, industrial waste. While in some cases, replacing a biomass source can be done in a few months.
Reduced Dependency on Fossil Fuels
Biomass energy can be converted into both fuels and electricity. The main purpose of using biomass energy is to reduce the reliance on sources that cause harmful effects on the environment. It can easily replace other fuel sources.
By utilizing natural materials to supply energy, there is less interest for power created by non-renewable assets, for example, coal and gas. Moreover, the costs involved in collecting biomass fuels are extremely low than fossil fuels.
In comparison to drilling for oil or building gas pipelines, the costs involved in collecting biomass fuels are meager. This low price can also be passed onto consumers, who have to depend on the issues like availability and decisions of energy supply companies.
Energy harnessed from the biomass power plant is much lower in cost compared to coal, gas, and oil. Usually, it costs about 1/3 less than fossil fuels, which functions the same work. It means people can spend about years on heating home, and after 10 or 15 years, that adds up to a considerable saving.
Biomass energy is broadly available all over the world. Organic waste in the form of dead leaves, grass, and trees, animal carcasses are available everywhere that can be used to produce biomass energy.
This is another good way as the amount of waste that could have gone to landfills can be used as a source of energy. As long as organic matter from plants and animals is going to exist, we are never going to run out of biomass energy.
Many degradable and non-degradable products end up in landfills that create hazardous and toxic substances in the environment. It also depends on how these materials are managed that contaminates water, land, and air, which eventually leads to adverse effects in the environment and human health.
Landfills have many negative impacts on the environment, including contamination of nearby air, soil and water, and the emission of greenhouse gases. So, the reduction in waste will open up more areas for the human being to live, as less space is needed for landfills.
When organic substances in landfills decompose, it emits harmful gases in the atmosphere, such as methane, carbon dioxide, and other compounds.
Cons of Biomass Energy
Not 100% Clean
The most significant contention against biomass as clean energy is the pollution that is created from burning leaves, woods, and other natural things. Sometimes, it can be more harmful and dangerous than the burning of coal and other types of energy resources.
Several different compounds come from burning biomass. Even though biomass energy is considered to be renewable, it is hard to claim it is clean or efficient power energy.
One of the cons that often comes up is how costly this process is. The production of biomass plants is very expensive, and, in some cases, the costs are not even worth the benefits. Mainly it cost high in transportation and gathering the resources which required a massive amount of material every day. However, while comparing the process of biomass energy to fossil fuels, the cost is much higher.
A huge space is required to place the materials that are used in biomass energy. Frequently, companies also need to put these plants near their source of biomass to reduce transportation and storage costs. When compared to solar power energy, it is less favorable and challenging to produce power.
Additionally, most of the biomass plants are built around the urban areas, which means it can cause more pollution and traffic that can have an adverse effect on human health as well. Some power companies are growing trees and crops for the sole purpose of bioenergy rather than using agricultural waste. It might help to produce a large amount of electricity.
Producing electricity from biomass energy can also come with several environmental issues such as deforestation, air, water, and land pollution. To generate unsustainable electricity activity can result in deforestation over time. The power companies massively cut down the trees to provide materials for the biomass plants, which eventually disrupt the ecological system.
Clearing organic material from the planet can also impact the environment and even on the health of human beings. Moreover, growing plants or crops for the sole purpose of bioenergy needed a massive amount of water. Thus, the continuous irrigation of these resources can make the place more vulnerable to drought and also can lose fertility due to the use of pesticides.
Additionally, biomass energy is not 100% clean energy like solar and wind. It releases pollutants into the air, such as volatile organic compounds, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and more. The environmental problems can be minimized through many efforts, including more sustainable land-use practices, re-planting initiatives, and technological innovation.
Relies Heavily on Natural Materials
To generate biomass energy, a lot of natural materials are required. In this process, a massive amount of materials gets burned to produce a considerable amount of power. For instance, wood is a significant source of biomass energy that needs to be burned to provide electricity on a large scale. Using lots of wood can then lead to deforestation, which would then destroy the home of many plants and animals.
Biomass is the renewable source of energy that is produced from domestic, industrial, agricultural waste. These options can be used to generate electricity, recycled, and can be used for fertilization. Biomass energy is a carbon-neutral fuel source that offers a lower cost.
But, the major disadvantage of this source of energy is that it can create pollution and other environmental impacts as well. Besides, there is no doubt that the use of biomass energy on a local and domestic level can reduce the electricity bills.