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Biomass Energy Pros and Cons

Suvamita Ghosh Feb 20, 2020
The concept of biomass has been known to us since the time our ancestors started using it as a source of energy. Today, it is an abundant source of energy. Just like other resources, biomass energy has both advantages and disadvantages.
The need for natural energy resources has increased manifold in the past few years. Natural energy resources like gasoline, diesel, natural gas, kerosene, coal, etc. are non-renewable resources. This means their supply is limited and overuse will lead to loss of these resources.
Also, these natural energy resources lead to a lot of air and to some extent water pollution. In order to limit their use and supply, one has to look for alternative source of energy. These include solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, hydro energy, nuclear energy as well as biomass energy.

What is Biomass Energy?

Biomass is composed of organic material obtained mainly from plants and animals.
Carbon is the main constituent of biomass energy. Other than carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, heavy metals and alkaline earth are also present in biomass energy. It can be generated from plants and animal wastes, wood, leaves of plants, agricultural wastes, organic wastes, waste paper and wastes from food processing industries.
If one thinks about use of solar or wind energy, the problem lies with costs.
This means elaborate setups are required to capture and convert solar energy into a usable form. Tidal energy tends to have very low potential commercially and nuclear as well as hydro plants may have many dangerous consequences. In such a situation, the most economical as well as safe form of energy is biomass energy.
However, biomass energy has its pros and cons that one should weigh carefully before deciding if this is the most suitable and viable energy resource.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Biomass Energy

Biomass is an organic form of energy that can be used as fuel. It can help cut down the ever-rising costs of gas as well as electricity. Apart from its many advantages, there are a few cons as well.

Biomass Energy Pros

One of the biggest advantage of biomass is that it can be easily stored for future energy generation, unlike wind and solar energy.
Biomass is virtually an inexhaustible source of renewable energy. The products obtained are biogas and biofuel. Heat and electricity are generated during biomass energy production.
There is plethora of organic waste and agricultural waste generated everyday. Biomass is produced from these wastes, which makes biomass an easily available resource.
Biomass helps in solid waste management. If the use of biomass is compensated for, by growth of new plants, the effects of carbon release that occurs during biomass energy production are nullified.
Biomass energy can be produced locally, and decreases the dependence on fossil fuels, thus paving the way to become energy independent.

Biomass Energy Cons

Some of the gases like carbon-dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are emitted into the atmosphere during biomass production which may contribute to global warming.
The process of extraction of biomass is expensive. This is the reason why projects of biomass energy extraction are never completed in many cases.
The accumulation, harvesting and storage of raw biomass materials is quite expensive compared to that of fossil fuels.
The set up of a biomass power plant requires huge space and the recycling of wastes requires a large amount of water.
Biomass energy produces ethanol during the process, this may increase the levels of nitrogen oxide in the atmosphere.
Although biomass can produce 10 times more energy than the sun or wind, it is also known to release the highest levels of gases that contribute to global warming.

Interesting Facts about Biomass Energy

Biomass is a ubiquitous resource.
In rural districts, people use biomass as a source of heat for cooking and heating purposes.
People living in rural areas use the fuel obtained from biomass for their agricultural activities like crop-drying.
Biomass is used for the production of natural gas called biogas.
Biomass can replace the use of fossil fuels thus contributing to a reduction in air pollution.
Biodiesel is obtained from biomass which is a low-net-carbon fuel for vehicles.
Biomass has the potential to supply 10 times more energy than that produced from the wind and the sun. More effective methods of using biomass have evolved in recent times. Biomass will always remain a useful energy source as it is environment-friendly. However, the cons cannot be ignored.