What makes biomass energy so environmentally friendly?
Before the industrial revolution more fuel came from biomass energy than any other source. In this article we discuss why that is still a viable source of energy today.
Biomass energy is a source of energy produced from organic matter, often plants or manure. Being carbon neutral is just one of the many advantages of biomass energy.
Biomass energy has a minimal carbon footprint when you compare it to foosil fuels. In fact you wont add any additional co2 if the plant is grown in the location where it is used. You do not create any carbon emissions when you actually use the fuel. As using biomass energy produces only tiny amounts of sulphur (unlike fossil fuels) they also combat acid rain.
Methane is reduced by use of biomass energy too which further goes to combat global warming. The decomposition of organic materials does release methane, but this is captured to yield energy. Thus the ozone layer is protected at the same time as fuel is being created. As the source of the fuel is waste (both animal and plant) this is a very environmentally friendly fuel. Using this waste as energy means we will need less landfill sites to dispose of it.
So as advantages of biomass energy go, the fact that it is easily available has to be high on the list. Ironically this is just a case of going back to past ways of generating energy, before the industrial revolution most energy came from biomass. As it is so easy to do, in the developing world around a third of all energy still comes from biomass. The only real place where biomass material isnt available is in deserts. The plants that are the source of much biomass energy can easily be sent to wherever they are needed. They can be grown in small, remote areas unlike other power sources with require large facilities.
As biomass crops can be grown here in the UK, it removes our significant dependence on foreign sources of energy. A home grown source of energy injects money into our own economy instead of sending it abroad. Biomass crops become an attractive prospect for famers who can grow them on land that is currently not being used.
Biomass energy can be available continuously without interruption in productions. It is totally unaffected by weather, unlike solar and wind power which are limited by weather conditions. You can produce biomass energy all day everyday without interruption.
Looking at all of these advantages of biomass energy, it becomes clear that it has long been an underappreciated and convenient source of energy. Biomass energy can only go from strength to strength as new technology harnessing its power is being created.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Haines is incredibly supportive of moves to generate green energy and has a particular interest in the advantages of biomass energy.