In the past, wood waste and other organic matter were wasted or burnt without considering the greenhouse gases it emits and the adverse effects on our environment. There was also the risk of fires starting from leftover brash from deforestation. That is why brash removal is now necessary and is often turned into wood pellets or chips. Fossil fuels still dominate our energy mix today, but we want to produce cleaner renewable energy to reach our climate change targets. This article will focus on the importance of biomass power in 2021, including what it is, why it is better than fossil fuels, and many more benefits.
What is Biomass Power?
Biomass is a renewable energy source generated from organic matter. It is carbon neutral, and it uses waste that would usually end up in landfills or burnt causing greater carbon dioxide emissions.
Is Biomass Power Generation Better Than Fossil Fuels?
The straightforward answer is yes! But let’s dig deeper. The non-renewable energy created include burning coal, oil, and natural gas. Although creating biomass energy includes burning these fuels and biological matter, therefore, they both emit CO2, a couple of fundamental differences make biomass energy better.
Let’s take coal as our example of non-renewable fuels. Coal is a very efficient fuel source for us, and it provides more energy than biomass per kilogram. However, coal is not a renewable resource. Coal is mined from carbon sinks, releasing CO2 just from mining and then more when the fuel is burnt.
On the other hand, biomass energy comes from wood and other organic materials. Trees can draw out CO2 from the atmosphere, and it is held in them. Trees begin drawing the CO2 out of the atmosphere after a year of growing, so when harvested areas are replanted, it is guaranteed to make up for the trees that have been cut down for biomass energy. Also, younger trees that are still growing draw in the most carbon dioxide!
Biomass Power and Climate Change
Biomass is becoming a part of the climate change solution for getting away from fossil fuel use, especially for heating and electricity generation. The energy industry is trying to keep up with the global sustainability goals (you can read more about affordable clean energy and sustainable cities and communities in our other blog posts), so we have seen many different biomass power plants pop up to help with our climate crisis and convert biomass into renewable sources of energy. Already, the use of waste wood pellets in biofuel has lowered greenhouse emissions by 80% compared to coal being burnt. This includes the emissions within the supply chain, such as harvesting, manufacturing, and transportation.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has also recognised the potential of biomass energy in our society and how it will be good for sustainable development and efficiency. This is a strong argument for the importance of biomass fuel in 2021 here in the UK. UK forests are highly regulated to ensure our trees are not depleted over time and remain in carbon neutrality while using biomass energy and producing it in a power plant.
The Benefits of Biomass Power
Some benefits have already been mentioned, but there are more. We will go more in-depth about why biomass power is beneficial for us and why it is crucial.
Although it has been argued in the past whether biofuel can truly be a renewable form of energy in the carbon neutrality group. Carbon emissions may be released when burning organic matter for biomass. Still, replanted trees from forest biomass can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis in their lifetime (also known as carbon sequestration).
As previously mentioned, for biomass to remain carbon neutral, the key is responsible and sustainable forestry and crop management. This is also known as carbon accounting, because workers are held accountable for their actions against the environment and heighten the net emissions. If this is maintained, biomass energy will hold up the carbon neutrality claim, a perfect way to begin reversing our greenhouse gas emissions.
Luckily, biomass power plants are becoming more efficient and have been devising better storage and effective carbon capture technologies, so maybe one day, biomass energy can be carbon negative in the future.
The essential part of biomass achieving full carbon neutrality is ensuring sustainable forestry. This is so the carbon stock in forests stays stable or continues increasing and being a renewable energy. Usually, forests are split up into sections to manage and take stock of trees in a specific area. When one plot is harvested, others are being planted. There is also brash removal in other places (something we can help with!), allowing trees to grow faster.
Sustainable forestry doesn’t just involve replanting what has been harvested for forest carbon counting; it also includes other maintenance such as upholding biodiversity, cultural heritage, and recreation in areas.
We have already discussed sustainable forestry, which isn’t the only organic matter used for biofuel. Plants, manure, and food waste count as well, and none of them is diminishing. Food waste and manure from animals will always continue to be produced, and it will be a lot quicker than it takes for trees to cultivate. So these renewable resources are added along with wood chips and pellets.
Reduced Fossil Fuel Dependence
By using biofuel, we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Energy suppliers are converting to more sustainable energy methods. That is why there are now only two coal mines left in the UK. Governments worldwide have joined forces to address our climate change problem, so new energy sources are needed to fill the gaps of the non-renewable fuels; biofuel could be perfect.
Renewable technologies such as wind and solar power dominate our renewable global energy mix (read our article about the worldwide energy mix here). Biomass seems to be doing a great job in the transitioning period because these technologies take a while to manufacture and a lot more funds. Biomass energy had the benefits of running from the old coal plants because it was simple to convert the existing equipment for electricity production using biomass.
Biomass could very well be the alternative energy source to run transportation, industrial processes, and heating instead of petroleum and diesel.
It is indeed no surprise that burning biomass will significantly reduce the amount of waste generated. Poor waste management is becoming a severe problem in many countries, so biomass power can utilise a lot of that waste is a great solution. Suitable discarded biomass materials are being sent to biomass power plants instead of the landfill, ensuring that much less space is used up for our waste and gaining a source of energy for ourselves in the process.
The availability of plant and animal waste is an important aspect of sustainability goals in the future because our production and consumption levels are still rising, but reusing them to produce biomass energy is a sustainable alternative to landfills and aid in lowering global warming.
Can Woodyfuel Help With Biomass Power?
At Woodyfuel, we are a biomass fuel supplier, and we ensure the entire process is sustainable. We care for the environment and want like-minded customers to jump on board and help with our climate change crisis. Whether you are looking for a supply of wood fuel or help with brash removal, we at Woodyfuel would be happy to help. Contact us today for high-quality service and to discuss biomass power more.