Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What is biomass? Things to know about biomass

Biomass is renewable energy source.

Biomass includes different biological material from living, or recently living organisms such as wood, waste and alcohol fuels.

One of the main advantages of biomass is the diversity of biomass sources which means that biomass could be produced in all corners of the world.

Thermal conversion of biomass, chemical conversion of biomass, and biochemical conversion of biomass are the three main types of conversion used to transform biomass into useful energy.

Biomass conversion technologies still need to improve their costs and efficiency in order to challenge fossil fuels such as coal.

Biomass doesn't belong to energy sources free of carbon emissions. Some say that biomass is carbon neutral energy source but this theory is still open to debate (according to this theory biomass sinks carbon out of the atmosphere in the process of plant growth, and returns it back as it is burned). One of the most controversial studies came from the scientists at Massachusetts University who claim that biomass power plants that use wood as a fuel are even worse for the climate than coal plants.

Biomass currently accounts for approximately 4% of the energy used in the United States.

Wood is the most common source of biomass used in United States.

Unsustainable biomass production could lead to big deforestation in many parts of the world leading to even bigger climate change impact because trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere.

Biomass plants can also cause air pollution.

Increased biomass production can improve our energy security and energy independence by decreasing the need for foreign oil import. It can also lead to a creation of many new jobs.

Increased biomass production could increase food prices and lead to global food shortage because of the competition with food crops for land.

Sustainable biomass production would require strict regulation of what materials are harvested, where to plant them, and how are they burned.

The worldwide biomass capacity continues to grow and was 58 GW in 2011.

U.S. has total biomass power capacity of approximately 11,000 MW.

Florida is the home of U.S. largest biomass power plant, the New Hope Power Partnership power plant.

It would be perfect if waste would become top source of biomass in years to come. This would result in less waste and more useful energy. Hopefully, global biomass industry will try to develop itself in this direction.