Biomass Energy Pros & Cons

As more information about the various problems caused by our use of fossil fuels becomes available, more efforts are being made to find suitable alternatives.

While large-scale alternatives such as solar power, wind turbines, and other large-scale alternatives tend to garner the most attention, there are a variety of smaller-scale fuel sources that have great potential as well.

Many people believe that biomass energy falls into the latter category. As a carbon-neutral fuel source, it mitigates the effects of climate change associated with fossil fuels while also providing a number of additional benefits. On the surface, it appears to be the ideal solution to many of the problems that have arisen as a result of our reliance on nonrenewable energy sources.

Thus, the question of why biomass energy has not been implemented on a larger scale arises.

Advantages of Biomass Energy Disadvantages of Biomass Energy
It is Renewable It’s Not Completely Clean
Carbon Neutrality High Costs In Comparison To Other Alternatives
Less Dependency On Fossil Fuels Possible Deforestation
It Is Versatile Space
Availability It Requires Water
Low Cost In Comparison To Fossil Fuels It Has Inefficiencies
It Reduces Waste It’s Under Development
Domestic Production
We hope to provide an answer by examining the advantages and disadvantages of biomass energy in this article.

The Advantages of Biomass Energy

Various forms of biomass energy have been used for a long time, long before anyone was talking about energy efficiency or alternative sources of energy.

This would not have been the case if the benefits of using this type of energy had not been recognized. The availability of biomass fuels has always been a significant factor in their use, but there are numerous other factors as well.

As the search for alternatives to fossil fuels continues, biomass energy has risen to prominence as a promising contender for a viable replacement.

The following are the reasons for this.

1. It Is Renewable

Renewable energy sources are those that can be replenished after they have been consumed. A large proportion of biomass fuels – such as wood and plant life – can be regrown, making it a truly renewable source of energy.

As long as efforts are made to maintain the resources used for biomass energy through dedicated replanting and replenishment, biomass energy has the potential to outlast traditional fossil fuels by a significant margin.

The most significant distinction between this and other renewable energy sources, such as the sun and water, is the requirement for maintenance on this system. While plant life is abundant, using it without making efforts to replenish stocks can result in large amounts of it still being wasted, as we see with deforestation and other environmental degradation.

2. Carbon Neutrality

The amount of carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere is a significant contributor to global climate change, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. Biomass fuel helps to reduce this because, unlike oil and other fossil fuels, it is a naturally occurring component of the carbon cycle.

The only carbon that is released into the atmosphere as a result of the combustion of biomass fuels is that which was absorbed by the plants during their lifecycles.

As these plants are replenished, the new ones absorb the same amount of carbon as the old ones, resulting in a state of neutrality in which no new carbon is produced at all. Biomass fuels are exceptionally clean as a result of this.

3. Less Dependency on Fossil Fuels

The greater the amount of biomass energy we use, the less we rely on fossil fuels, which are major contributors to climate change and other environmental problems.

Furthermore, the abundance of biomass materials available far outweighs the availability of fossil fuels, making biomass a more readily available fuel source.

Even better, if nonrenewable resources, such as oil, are not used for fuel, the limited supplies that we have can be put to better use in other areas.

4. It Is Versatile

Biomass energy is also one of the most adaptable sources of energy currently available. It can be converted into a variety of different fuels, each of which has a different set of applications, including electricity.

While biomass can be processed to make biodiesel for vehicles, it can also be used to farm methane gas and a variety of other biofuels, as well as to generate electricity.

Wood can also be used to generate heat, and the steam produced by some forms of biomass can be used to power turbines, which can then be used to generate electrical energy.

5. Availability

Biomass fuels are readily available. They are as ubiquitous as the sun and water in that they can be found almost anywhere on the planet.”

We will not have the availability issues that we currently have with fossil fuels because of the abundance of renewable energy sources.

It is, however, critical that this abundance be preserved in perpetuity. While biomass fuels will always be available due to the fact that they are a natural part of the planet’s lifecycle, this should not lead to irresponsible behavior when it comes to their use.

6. Low Cost in Comparison To Fossil Fuels

Comparatively speaking, the costs associated with collecting biomass fuels are extremely low when compared to the costs associated with drilling for oil or building gas pipelines.

This low cost can also be passed on to consumers, whose energy bills will no longer be affected by issues such as availability and the decisions of the companies that provide energy.

These low costs also make biomass more appealing to producers, who can earn higher profits for producing less volume as a result of the low costs.

7. It Reduces Waste

Most of the waste that we generate is biodegradable or plant matter, which could be put to better use in other parts of the world.

When it comes to biomass energy, it is frequently able to make use of the waste that would otherwise sit in landfills and rot. This lessens the negative impact that such sites have on the natural environment, which is particularly noticeable when it comes to contaminating local habitats and causing wildlife to become extinct.

As a result of the reduction in waste, more space is available for human habitation, as less space is required for the construction of landfills.

8. Domestic Production

Biomass fuel has the additional benefit of removing control of energy production from the hands of large corporations. Individuals will no longer be obligated to power companies and their fees as a result of this development.

Given the nature of biomass, it is practically anyone’s responsibility to produce and use it on a domestic level.

While it will take some effort, even something as simple as burning wood instead of using a central heating system can help you save money while also having a positive impact on the environment and the environment’s health.

The Disadvantages of Biomass Energy

Despite the fact that biomass has a plethora of advantages, it is not a perfect energy source.

As with any source, it’s important to consider the drawbacks as well as the advantages. This is critical if they are to be properly confronted in order to allow biomass energy to work for the people who require it to function properly.

Certain disadvantages of using fossil fuels are directly related to its use; however, other disadvantages are indirect consequences of the fuel’s production or use in other applications.

All of these considerations must be kept in mind in order to have a complete picture of the usefulness of biomass energy sources.

1. It’s Not Completely Clean

Despite the fact that biomass is a carbon-neutral fuel source, it is not entirely clean.

In addition to carbon dioxide, the burning of wood and other plant life releases a variety of other pollutants. It is possible that they will pollute the local environment, even if the consequences are not as severe as those resulting from the use of fossil fuels.

Biomass fuels, according to some organizations such as the Partnership for Policy Integration, are a major source of air pollution. It is a significant disadvantage when compared to other renewables such as water because of the lack of clean emissions.

2. High Costs In Comparison To Other Alternatives

While the cost of extracting biomass fuels is lower than the cost of most types of fossil fuels, it is still higher than the cost of many other forms of renewable energy in the majority of instances.

In some cases, biomass projects are deemed unprofitable due to the high cost of construction, particularly when there are cheaper alternatives such as solar, water, and wind energy.

This cost is incurred as a result of the need to maintain biomass resources and the need to replant biomass that has been harvested. Furthermore, the cost of the machinery used in the extraction process, as well as the cost of transporting the biomass, are important considerations.

3. Possible Deforestation

Despite the fact that biomass fuels are renewable, they still require maintenance. If this is not done, it could result in widespread deforestation.

This is a significant environmental concern. It significantly reduces the amount of habitable land available to a wide range of wildlife species, resulting in their extinction.

Because of this, biomass fuels are unlikely to be used on a large scale in the foreseeable future, as replanting efforts will likely fall short of the amount of fuel required.

4. Space

In order to grow the materials that are used in biomass energy, a significant amount of space is required. This type of space will not always be available, particularly in densely populated areas such as urban areas.

This also restricts the areas where biomass energy power plants can be built, as they must be located close to the sources of the fuel in order to reduce transportation and other costs associated with the fuel.

Because of this, they are less attractive when compared to solar energy, which requires less space and can be installed in cities and other densely populated regions. Finally, the land that was used could have been put to better use by growing crops, which is especially important given the large population of the world today.

5. It Requires Water

The amount of water required in the production of biomass energy is a disadvantage of biomass energy that is often overlooked. Water is required for the survival of all plants, which means that sources must be readily available at all times.

Not only does this result in increased costs for irrigation, but it also has the potential to reduce the availability of water sources for people and wildlife in the future.

Furthermore, given that water itself is a renewable source of energy that is also significantly more environmentally friendly than biomass energy, it begs the question of why it isn’t being used for that purpose instead.

6. It Has Inefficiencies

While biomass fuels are renewable and environmentally friendly, they are not as efficient as refined fossil fuels such as petroleum and gasoline.

In fact, biodiesel and comparable biofuels are frequently blended with small amounts of fossil fuels to increase their efficiency.

As a result, the effectiveness of these biofuels as a means of reducing the consumption of fossil fuel resources is diminished.

7. It’s Under Development

More work needs to be done in order to fully realize the potential of biomass energy. Many of the disadvantages listed here, however, prevent it from becoming a viable alternative fuel source in the near future.

If you compare biomass to other renewable energy sources such as solar and water, it is inefficient and understudied.

In fact, scientists are still looking for ways to improve its efficiency at this time. It is unlikely that biomass energy will be adopted as a viable alternative fuel source on a large scale until that barrier is overcome.

The Final Word

The potential of biomass energy is clear to all who look into it. It is a carbon-neutral fuel source that has lower costs than fossil fuels while also being extremely diverse in terms of usage and application.

But there are a number of issues that are preventing it from becoming more widely adopted. The issue of efficiency as a fuel, as well as issues like space and cost, need to be addressed in greater detail, in particular.

Until this occurs, it is unlikely that biomass energy will become a viable alternative to fossil fuels, though this does not rule out the possibility of its application in certain circumstances. Energy bills can be reduced significantly if biomass energy is used at the household and community level, among other things.

Do you have any thoughts or feelings about biomass energy and its potential for the future? Please let us know in the comments section below, or share this article on social media to start a conversation with your friends and family.


Featured Image Credit: Idaho National Laboratory @ Flickr