Biomass power is redefining how we use nature to generate electricity in a better and effective way so that we are ready with a replacement of the fossil fuels. But what is this biomass and what is the hue and cry all about?
Biomass power comes from plants. It can be forest or crop residues, perennial grasses, corn kernels, stalks and quick growing trees like poplars. These plants can be used to make liquid biofuels that can be used as an alternative to oil. One can also use it to produce electricity or heat that can be used in our homes. In the United States, biomass accounts for nearly half of the renewable energy used, more than any other county across the globe.
Biofuel is an all-inclusive term that encompasses all renewable resources that can be used to generate energy. The keyword that needs to be emphasized here is “renewable” which means that one can use it more than once.
One of the major reasons why this form of energy is gaining popularity is because it helps to reduce global warming unlike the other sources of energy. But there is a catch to it. Biomass is a double-edged sword. It can help to clean up the air, water, soil and will also help to protect the wildlife but, if it is not produced in the right way, it can degrade and damage the lands, forests, water and even threatens biodiversity.
How Biomass Energy Works?
In our class six science books, we have been taught how the plants capture the sun’s rays to produce chlorophyll. And in biomass energy production this energy is used to produce power. One can treat the plants in different ways to produce fuel and energy. Some popular methods include:
• Burned in power plants that will produce the required energy in return. It is a less harmful way compared to the harmful emissions that come out of coal.
• One can ferment the plants to produce fuels that can be easily used in cars and trucks. Say for example ethanol.
• They can also be used to produce methane gas that is extremely useful for powering turbines.
• These plants can also be heated under specific conditions so that they break down into different gases that can be used to make a host of products ranging from diesel to gasoline to electric.
Is biomass absolutely safe?
To a large extent, yes, but the question of sequestration remains. We all know that trees breathe in carbon dioxide from the air and breathe out oxygen, which is an absolute must for survival. And the burning of trees gives out CO2 in the air.
Moreover, the question of re-forestation arises. However, if the necessary precautions are followed, then the situation can be kept under control. In order to ensure that re-forestation is possible, one has the make sure that 100% of the residues are not removed after every harvest. So to conclude, as per the different aspects, trees are the future of renewable energy and in the long run, more and more countries will use biomass as part of their electricity resource.