Biomass energy is the energy which is contained inside plants and animals. This can include organic matter of all kinds: plants, animals, or waste products from organic sources. These sorts of energy sources are known as biofuels and typically include wood chips, rotted trees, manure, sewage, mulch, and tree components. Chlorophyll present in plants absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water from the ground through the process of photosynthesis. The same energy is passed to animals when they eat them. It is considered to be as renewable source of energy because carbon dioxide and water contained inside plants and animals are released back in to the atmosphere when they are burned and we can grow more plants and crops to create biomass energy.
Advantages of Biomass Energy
In many ways, biomass is a new source of power. While wood has always served as a fuel source for fires and ovens and conventional heating methods, biomass energy advancements are a few steps beyond that. Now these biomass fuel products are harvested and mass-produced and used in everything from engines to power plants.
1. No Harmful Emissions: Biomass energy, for the most part, creates no harmful carbon dioxide emissions. Many energy sources used today struggle to control their carbon dioxide emissions, as these can cause harm to the ozone layer and increase the effects of greenhouse gases, potentially warming the planet. It is completely natural, has no such carbon dioxide side effects in its use.
2. Clean Energy: Because of its relatively clean use, biomass energy, when used in commercial businesses such as airlines, receives tax credit from the US government. This is good for the environment and good for business. It does release carbon dioxide but captures carbon dioxide for its own growth. Carbon dioxide released by fossil fuel are released into the atmosphere and are harmful to the environment.
3. Abundant and Renewable: Biomass products are abundant and renewable. Since they come from living sources, and life is cyclical, these products potentially never run out, so long as there is something living on earth and there is someone there to turn that living things components and waste products into energy. In the United Kingdom, biomass fuels are made from recycled chicken droppings. In the United States and Russia, there are plentiful forests for lumber to be used in the production of biomass energy.
4. Reduce Dependency on Fossil Fuels: It has developed as an alternate source of fuel for many homeowners and have helped them to reduce their dependency on fossil fuels.
5. Reduce Landfills: Another benefit of this energy is that it can take waste that is harmful to the environment and turn it into something useful. For instance, garbage as landfill can, at least partially, be burned to create useable biomass energy.
6. Can be Used to Create Different Products: Biomass energy is also versatile, as different forms of organic matter can be used to create different products. Ethanol and similar fuels can be made from corn and other crops. With so many living things on the planet, there is no limit to how many ways it can be found and used.
Disadvantages of Biomass Energy
Besides above advantages, there are also some downsides to it. Let’s see below some of its disadvantages.
1. Expensive: Firstly, its expensive. Living things are expensive to care for, feed, and house, and all of that has to be considered when trying to use waste products from animals for fuel.
2. Inefficient as Compared to Fossil Fuels: Secondly, and connected to the first, is the relative inefficiency of biomass energy. Ethanol, as a biodiesel is terribly inefficient when compared to gasoline, and it often has to be mixed with some gasoline to make it work properly anyway. On top of that, ethanol is harmful to combustion engines over long term use.
3. Harmful to Environment: Thirdly, using animal and human waste to power engines may save on carbon dioxide emissions, but it increases methane gases, which are also harmful to the Earth’s— ozone layer. So really, we are no better off environmentally for using one or the other. And speaking of using waste products, there is the smell to consider. While it is not physically harmful, it is definitely unpleasant, and it can attract unwanted pests (rats, flies) and spread bacteria and infection.
4. Consume More Fuel: Finally, using trees and tree products to power machines is inefficient as well. Not only does it take a lot more fuel to do the same job as using conventional fuels, but it also creates environmental problems of its own. To amass enough lumber to power a nation full of vehicles or even a power plant, companies would have to clear considerable forest area. This results in major topological changes and destroys the homes of countless animals and plants.
5. Require More Land: Combustion of biomass products require some land where they can easily be burnt. Since, it produces gases like methane in atmosphere; therefore it can be produced in those areas which are quite far from residential homes.
These are all things that have to be carefully considered and weighed when determining if biomass energy is a viable alternative energy source.