Biomass is a biological substance, which is produced from living organisms and living processes. Biomass for energy could be plant, vegetable and animal derived materials. If to look on biomass from the chemical point of view, it is carbon based a set of organic molecules that contain hydrogen and some small quantities of other atoms, such as alkali, alkaline earth and heavy metals.
Biomass energy is an energy which is get burning biomass.
The biomass, that is used for getting an energy includes a wide range of materials such as food and industrial wastes, energy crop, agricultural residues and virgin wood.
Keywords: biomass, biomass energy, carbon
Nowadays there is no perfect energy source, because each and every has its own pros and cons. Biomass is not an exception to this rule.
One of the most important advantages of biomass usage is that it is fully inexhaustible energy source and it is easily available resource, which is widely distributed. It encloses low carbon percentage, reduces the level of expulsion of this element into the atmosphere and, thus, helps us to maintain the ecological balance of carbon in the environment. The authors of the book “Energy: Science, Policy, and The Pursuit of Sustainability” state, that using the biomass could lower American dependency on imported oil, which complicates U.S. foreign policy so much (p. 7). In the Chapter 6 they also emphasis that it is a duty of present generation to preserve a set of economic and social opportunities, it is not a specific goal so much as it is a process of continuous change and adaption (Robert Bent, Lloyd Orr, and Randall Baker, 2002). And biomass energy can be a first step towards this change. As the energy can be produced from wastes, we will, on the one hand, cut down on the environmental pollution, and on the other – receive some kind of a waste-free production, which will save resources and money. Biomass does not cost too much and it does not need special utilities for its usage. The energy obtained from biomass is much cleaner than that from fossil fuels.
The disadvantages of the biomass usage are also obvious. First of all, some harmful gases, such as methane, carbon-dioxide or nitrous oxide, when emitted into the atmosphere may cause the destruction of the ozone layer, which leads to the global warning. It is not easily scalable. The set up of biomass processing plants requires a huge space and a large amount of water for the waste recycling. Some materials are just seasonal or need some special transportation. It can lead to the land utilization and forest devastation.
Anyway, the practice of using the biomass for energy is getting more and more popular. A good example can be a state of California, which produces approximately 60 million tons of biomass annually. Out of this total nearly 5 million tons are used to produce electricity. This is mainly biomass from agricultural and forest residues, urban forest wastes and some other feed stock. The complete use of all these 60 million tons of biomass can make almost 2,000 megawatts of electricity, which is enough to provide with it more than 2 million homes.
Biomass is a significant source of energy in China today, especially in rural areas. The principal biomass resources are residues from agricultural and forest industries, animal manure from medium and large-scale livestock farms and municipal solid waste. Being highly populated country, China invests money into the developing of bio energy industry, which also includes biomass energy.
Biomass processing is really easy, the only thing needed is the set up of power plants and the material itself is rather cheap. Reasoning from economic reasons the biomass energy is really profitable and repaying.
So, the biomass energy has its own pros and cons, but being still a new source of energy it has all chances to gain its own place on the market of power supply because of its cheapness, accessibility and inexhaustibility. Today the opportunities of its use are still being discovered and improved.