Before the Industrial Revolution, biomass was the most important source of energy for human life. However, with the arrival of fossil fuels, this took a back seat. Nowadays, with the concern for the environment due to the climate crisis, ways are being sought to obtain energy through energies that are more respectful of the planet. Biomass energy could be a solution as long as it is obtained in a clean and renewable way.
What is biomass energy and its types
What is biomass and the energy obtained from it? The biomass energy is a type of renewable energy using as energy source the organics animal or plant, being a natural or industrial process being formed in biological processes or mechanical controlled. Within the types of biomass energy we can find three:
- Natural biomass: it is that which is produced in natural ecosystems without human intervention.
- Residual biomass: refers to the organic waste generated by the activities carried out by people, such as solid urban waste, forest waste, woody and herbaceous agricultural waste or industrial and agricultural waste.
- Produced biomass: crop fields are used where specific species are planted with the sole purpose of being used to generate energy.
Advantages of biomass energy
There are many applications of biomass, since it is used for thermal and electrical production, for transportation, among other activities. But did you know, what are the advantages of biomass energy ?
- It is a renewable energy source, since the energy it has comes from the Sun and the life cycle, so it is practically inexhaustible because biomass is constantly produced as a consequence of plant and animal activities.
- Its pollution compared to the burning of fossil fuels is less, so its use reduces CO2 emissions having less impact on the ozone layer.
- Biomass is present anywhere on the planet and is cheaper.
- It offers a new opportunity to the agricultural sector, since energy crops replace those crops that have been abandoned or that can no longer be used for their initial activity, thus avoiding erosion and soil degradation .
- There is a great variety of types of biomass.
- It hardly generates emissions of solid particles, not pollutants such as nitrogenous or sulfurized.
- It contributes to an economic increase in rural areas, as well as the generation of new jobs.
- It is true that to take advantage of this type of renewable energy from biomass that comes from energy crops, a combustion must be carried out, with the consequence that CO2 emissions are produced into the atmosphere and this could be seen as a disadvantage. However, in energy crops, during the growth of the plants found in them, they capture CO2, thus offsetting the emissions derived from combustion.
- The use of waste from other activities, which is what we call residual biomass, are contributing to recycling and waste reduction. In the end, both organic and inorganic waste are being eliminated, taking advantage of it with another utility.
- The use of this energy reduces dependence on fossil fuels .
Once we have seen which are the most relevant environmental and socioeconomic advantages of biomass, this section will show what are the disadvantages of biomass energy , as well as the environmental impact that some of them have:
- Sometimes, the biomass has moisture content, being necessary to dry it in order to burn it. This in the end supposes an increase in the cost of energy when having to add one more process.
- It takes a greater amount of biofuel compared to fossil fuel to produce the same amount of energy, that is why larger spaces are needed to store it.
- If biomass is obtained through a bad procedure, that is to say abusive and badly focused, this could lead to the destruction of natural habitats and the deforestation of forests.
- We are facing a resource that has emerged recently and there is no advanced technology for efficient use, as is the case with liquid and solid fuels.
- The costs of using biomass increase when there are difficulties in transport and storage.
- If the burning of biomass produces toxic substances, its combustion must take place at a temperature greater than 900 ºC.
- Although biomass can be found all over the planet, there are no suitable places to take advantage of it since large spaces are needed.