Biomass was traditionally used for cooking and space heating through low technology conversion systems; the poor environmental performance of such appliances resulted in problems of indoor air pollution, while the typically low efficiency contributed to the unsustainable exploitation of biomass resources, e.g. by causing habitat destruction of land degradation. These factors have contributed to create an image of biomass energy as environmentally negative and unsustainable.
However, it is clear that biomass – if adequately managed and exploited – is a truly renewable energy source , which can contribute to displace the consumption of non-renewable fossil sources; this is of particular importance as world’s energy demand is rising as a result of population growth, industrialisation of developing countries and increase in per-capita consumption.
The two main environmental benefits that combustion of biomass can provide, compared to the use of fossil fuels, are:
- lower to emission of noxious pollutants, e.g. sulphur compounds and particulate
- lower (or zero) emissions of greenhouse gases: growing biomass takes up in fact approximately as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as is released when it is combusted either directly or after being converted into biofuels
Competitiveness of biomass energy with fossil energy will depend on technology advances indifferent areas, including crop growth and harvesting, residues recovery, conversion technologies.
In addition, there is growing interest in the possibility of defining appropriate energy policy to support the adoption of biomass technologies, e.g. by factoring the environmental and social benefits of biomass use in its costs, thus further contributing to improve its competitiveness with fossil energy.
For further information contact Ausilio Bauen (email: email@example.com) from E4tech