Monday, October 8, 2012

Biomass pros and cons

With the increasing fears about the growing climate change impact as the direct consequence of fossil fuel burning world is forced to look for other, less harmful energy sources. One of these sources is also biomass and throughout this article I will talk about pros and cons of using biomass.

Biomass pros:

- Biomass is a renewable source of energy meaning it cannot be exhausted like fossil fuels can because plants can be re-grown time and time again on the same piece of land

- Fossil fuels are not only bad for our environment, they also have negative impact on our energy independence and our energy security by forcing us to expensive foreign fuel import. If we were to replace fossil fuels with biomass this would therefore not only lead to environmental benefits but would also improve our energy security and energy independence.

- Biomass can be also produced from waste. The amount of waste is rapidly increasing in many parts of the world and if this waste were to be turned in useful source of energy this would not only lead to economic benefits but also to less pollution in the world.

- The sustainable biomass production could lead to significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (if plants are not burned directly), and this could prove to be extremely helpful in our fight against climate change.

- Biomass technologies are numerous and proven, and are able to give instant results which isn't the case with several other energy sources.
- Biomass has a variety of different sources, which can be found in all countries in the world. 

Biomass cons:

The unsustainable biomass production could lead to deforestation, and even more greenhouse gas emissions because wood is still the main source of biomass (in United States 90% of biomass comes from the wood).  This scenario can be avoided by focusing primarily on wood waste and by imposing very strict regulation on how much wood gets harvested and how is this wood burned.

The increased biomass production would likely lead to large land requirements and this could lead to even more food vs. fuel debate as less land to grow food crops could lead to spike in food prices and more hunger in the world.

As already said above biomass technologies are numerous but many of them are still not efficient enough and are also connected with significant costs, meaning that there is still a lot of room for further improvement.

The biomass production could lead to same levels of greenhouse gases like fossil fuels if plants are burned directly. This means that any large scale biomass production needs to be planned very carefully in order to result in more positive environmental impact than sticking with fossil fuels does.