Top 20 Biomass Energy Pros and Cons

biomass energy pros and cons
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Biomass Energy Pros and Cons: Biomass Energy is produced from organic materials which come from living organisms such as plants and animals. Fuel that is derived from the decomposition of organic material is also referred to as biomass fuel.


cycle of biomass energy

The energy from this fuel, in turn, is used as the source of renewable and maintained production of other forms of energy such as electricity.

Biomass energy has both positive and negative aspects. Learn the biomass energy pros and cons on this page.

Top 10 Biomass Energy Pros

Let us review some of the advantages of biomass energy:

1. Un-depleteable Source of Energy

Undepleteable Resources

Renewable sources of energy are those who can get replenished even after usage.

  • As it is known that biomass energy is produced from organic materials (i.e., dead plants, wood, organic garbage, and food waste), all these materials can be created again though not on a fast rate but still better than other sources.
  • As a result, biomass fuel or energy is not under threat of getting depleted.
  • This biomass fuel can be whether biogas or biofuel which can be used as conventional gas or fuel are usually used.
  • It is essential to understand that biomass will remain un-deplete able as long as we maintain original plants and wood, and also manage all of the waste production.
  • Until replantation and replenishment are made a habit, biomass will remain a renewable source of energy.

2. Feasibility For Sources of Fossil Fuels

Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels including petroleum, natural gas and coal are present in limited amount underground.

  • The rate at which the population is increasing and the need for energy sources is growing.
  • These fossil fuels no doubt have the most significant threat of getting finished.
  • Arranging new yet renewable sources for our future generations is critical. So, biomass is pretty much the best option except solar and hydro powers at this present time.

3. Better Environmental Conditions

Clean Environment

Fossil fuels are not only limited in amount, but they are also the major contributors to environmental pollution.

  • Biomass production and usage both yield less amount of waste as compared to one fossil fuel consumption alone.
  • Biomass production not only is less smoke hence air pollution producer but also helps with solid waste management also.
  • All the waste which is (recyclable, biodegradable, organic or even toxic) usually dumped on the ground can easily be reduced by converting it into biomass.
  • Landfills will no longer remain overfilled if biomass production is encouraged on a large scale.

4. Diversified Usage

Diversified Energy

Biomass has pretty versatile usage.

  • Biomass energy can be converted into biodiesel for special automobiles, can be converted to methane used as a source to cook food especially in rural areas where natural gas is not so frequently present.
  • Biomass energy can also be used to produce steam, which in turn can lead to electricity production.

5. Wide Availability

Wide Availablity

Biomass fuel has no limitation if we talk about the availability of energy sources.

  • All the organic materials or wastes out of which biomass energy is derived are widely available in every place in massive amounts.
  • Where ever plants and animals will exist, so will be the waste associated with them and so brighten will be chances to use the waste for biomass production.

6. Cheap Raw Materials

Cheap Raw Materials

Crude oil and natural gas both resources are present beneath the earth.

  • A large amount of investment and a huge setup of advanced machinery is required to pump them out. In the case of crude oil, handsome capital is necessary for refinery setup.
  • However, all these formalities are not required in case of biomass production.
  • For biomass production, raw material required is just organic waste!
  • No fancy machinery required, no special workforce needed for biomass manufacturing on a small scale as long as we have got simple techniques of degrading our waste.
  • So, this is the reason that biomass will cost much less to the consumer as compared to fossil fuel usage.

7. Self-Sufficiency Can Be Achieved

Self-Sufficiency

Biomass energy production if accepted by local communities can take out power game from hands of oil-producing units.

  • There can’t be a complete eradication of fossil fuel usage; it is nearly impossible.
  • However, biomass energy can somehow make up for these resources. If small communities or small societies start producing biomass from their own organic garbage a considerable reduction in need of gas or petrol can be achieved.
  • People will not have to depend entirely on the charges and availability depicted by power companies.

8. Biomass As A Fertilizer

Biomass Fertilizer

In case of obtaining energy from biomass by burning it, biomass ash is left behind.

  • This biomass ash is full of phosphates, and other valuable nutrients so can be used as fertilizers.
  • As originally biomass composition is all organic, biomass burnt residues are also rich in nutrients and can liberate farmers from buying expensive artificial fertilizers for their crops hence helping them in cost-cutting and obtaining a lot of profit by saving money.

9. Part of the Carbon Cycle

Part of Carbon Cycle

Carbon present in biomass is a part of the natural carbon cycle which means no excess carbon pollution can be feared from biomass.

  • Plants in their lifecycle take carbon nutrient and use it in their different procedures and store the excess carbon.
  • This very carbon goes into biomass from dead plants. So, when energy is extracted from biomass, carbon that is released in the air is not a burden but is part of natural cycle unlike fossil fuels, in which burning those produces large amounts of pollution causing carbon.
  • The carbon in biomass can continue to be exchanged in the carbon cycle.

10. Less Transportation Cost

Less Transportation Cost

As biomass can be grown anywhere, its production can be ensured near energy production setups.

  • Fossil fuels have to be transported from the site of digging to the site of production requiring a huge amount of money.
  • For large scale biomass energy production setup, the transportation cost would be less.

Top 10 Biomass Energy Cons

Biomass energy has various disadvantages or cons as well. Let us review some of them below:

1. Costly Large-Scale Setups

Expensive Power Plants

Small biomass setups might not be that expensive, but energy extraction from biomass on a large scale requires proper machinery, decomposers, furnaces, and incubators.

  • For all these facilities, a right amount of money is needed, and it is a common concept that biomass energy is not worth investing this much amount of money once combined with other demerits.

2. Requirement of Large Space

Large Space

The process of treating and producing energy from biomass requires properly spaced huge containers.

This process also involves the appropriate setup of energy extraction plants from biomass that cannot be performed without the availability of huge space.

3. Global Warming Effects

Global Warming Effects

Some gases like nitrous oxide, methane, and carbon dioxide may escape from containers during the production of biomass, into environment hence contributing to global warming.

  • As well as biomass is not exactly a 100% pollution free source.
  • Burning of biomass may yield pollution as bad as pollution produced from burning of coal or oil.
Suggested Reading: Types of Greenhouse Gases

4. Slow Raw Material Production

Slow Material Production

Biomass might be a renewable source of energy. However, the production of its raw material is pretty slow.

  • Biomass is produced from organic waste, dead plants, animal dung and wood, and production of all this stuff is slow as compared to the consistent supply of fossil fuels.
  • Alternatively, to speed up the biomass energy production, cutting trees will be an option; hence, this will yield into deforestation.
Suggested Reading: Do you know what insect relies on animal dung for its diet? Check out the answer here.

5. Reduced Efficiency

Less Efficient

It has been observed that biodiesels for vehicles have been proved less efficient as compared to petrol or gas.

  • Bioethanol is way less effective than gasoline.
  • It has been found that biodiesels somehow reduce engine efficiency as well.

6. Reduced Soil Potential

Reduced Soil Potential

Organic material must be introduced to the soil over time to maintain its nutrient level.

  • Dead or decaying matter act as natural compost and replenish soil efficiency naturally.
  • However, when these matters are removed from soil to grow biomass and extract energy from it, no natural compost will be available to the ground, and hence soil potential will decrease.
  • Although biomass ash can act as fertilizer, it might not be able to fulfill the nutrient requirement for such nutrient deficient soil.

7. Production of Unpleasant Odor

Unpleasant Odor

Biomass incineration produces a specific type of unpleasant smell which spreads quite rapidly in the surrounding area and so producing uncomfortable working conditions near the incinerator.

Many pathogens may also escape from the container.

8. Water Requirement

More Water Requirement

Large amounts of water are required for the processing and recycling of biomass. Studies of the future state of water availability and use need to include the possibility of new high demands for water from a growing bioenergy sector.

9. May Have Seasonal Production

Seasonal

Biomass raw material is more commonly present in warmer seasons.

  • Even in northern areas of United States, biomass products are not available in winter months.
  • It implies that biomass technique is more effective in areas of warmer regions. Moreover, warmer areas have more crop production as compared to cold regions.

10. Health Hazards

Health Hazards

Biomass from animal dung leads to spreading of harmful bacteria in its vicinity hence causing many diseases.

Without proper ventilation, biomass incineration can produce lung problems.

Biomass technique can undoubtedly prove to be an advantageous and beneficial method. However, to gain full potential of the processes, all the related obstacles and hindrances are to be removed.

Biomass productions on a small scale are beneficial and should be encouraged especially in rural areas where there is no energy supply already.

Cite this article as: "Top 20 Biomass Energy Pros and Cons," in Bio Explorer by Jack Kirsten, December 27, 2018, https://www.bioexplorer.net/biomass-energy-pros-cons.html/.

References

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  • “Fuel efficiency and exhaust emissions for biodiesel blends in an agricultural tractor” – By Y.X. Li, N.B. McLaughlin*, B.S. Patterson and S.D. Burtt. Accessed December 26, 2018. Link.
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  • “Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract – SPECIAL SUBMISSIONS Science of Odor as a Potential Health Issue | Digital Library”. Accessed December 26, 2018. Link.
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Top 20 Biomass Energy Pros and Cons
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