Just like anything, there are advantages and disadvantages of biomass energy. Biomass based power generation plants are growing all over the world. They have some advantages, linked to the cycle of exploitation of agricultural by-products and biodegradable waste and to dispatching. However, not everyone is in favor of this type of energy source, considering the reasons that we will present shortly.
In fact, the onset of chronic diseases and the multiplication of cases of asthma have immediate repercussions on the GDP of nations.
What is Biomass Energy
First of all, we have to ask ourselves what is meant by biomass and how does this energy-based electricity system work. In terms of biomass, biomass contains all biodegradable organic matter that comes from agricultural, industrial and human cycles and is characterized by the accumulation of energy through the photosynthetic process of chlorophyll. Therefore, the definition of biomass mainly includes vegetables, plants and fruits and their residues, but also types of animals, with the exception of fossil fuels, petroleum-based plastics, and other active ingredients also of organic origin.
Therefore, biomass includes materials such as firewood, waste from agricultural and forestry production and processing, but also vegetable oils and agricultural residues; In addition, in recent years, ad hoc crops such as trees and seeds have been increasingly used for this type of burning to increase the use of this energy source. Biomass has undergone changing circumstances in terms of energy production: burning wood has traditionally been preferred since the beginning of time, but has been replaced by the discovery of fossil fuels, which are much more energy-efficient. However, in recent years, the acquired sensitivity to environmental problems has led to awareness about energy production, making the use of biomass for this purpose again in vogue.
The Advantages of Biomass Energy
Given that agricultural, industrial, and urban wastes are used extensively in the production of electricity from biomass, electricity generation is linked to the problem of recycling, which allows waste to be reused and several related problems have to be resolved. Their storage or, conversely, eliminates the need to destroy them with an incinerator. There are also benefits to the environment: The biomass plant uses combustion and therefore releases pollutants such as carbon dioxide into the air.
However, the latter is the same as what plants absorb from the atmosphere through the photosynthesis of chlorophyll during the production cycle, so that levels of natural greenhouse gases do not actually increase because biomass is already part of the normal carbon cycle. This is different from what happens when burning fossil fuels, which release new pollutants that were previously trapped in the intestines. Therefore, biomass does not affect global warming and, in general, the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.
There are also advantages when it comes to dispatching. In contrast to other renewable sources such as solar and wind, energy production from biomass can be regulated and programmed simply by reducing or increasing fuel consumption as needed. The result is a production rate similar to that of a fossil fuel power plant. Besides, they don’t need any special technology.
Disadvantages of Biomass Energy
However, there are arguments against the use or increased use of biomass. The first has a strict logistical character; To offset the amount of electricity currently generated by electricity generation from fossil fuels (eg natural gas), a large amount of biomass is required that is currently not available. Another problem is environmental concerns, which have been addressed by EU policies recently: only a few years ago crops could be used intact to generate electricity, even to compete with agricultural land for the animal feed and animal feed sectors. This practice is prohibited. Therefore, energy targets are only allowed for agricultural byproducts, which come from waste from agricultural or food activities.
In addition, the current biomass power plant has also examined the possibility of redesigning its production process in recent years by shifting away from current power plants to converting biogas to biomethane and use it for the automotive sector. In this way, biodiesel will contribute to national and EU targets to reduce dependence on traditional fossil fuels (gasoline and diesel) by replacing them with 100% renewable fuels.
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