Biomass, the simple, renewable energy resource, has many advantages over fossil fuels. However, it is associated with some disadvantages too. Read on and learn about the pros and cons of biomass.

Pros And Cons Of Biomass

Have you heard about biomass? Well, if not, just look around you; there is lots of it around you. In simple words, biomass is organic matter obtained from plants and animals. You may already know that the Sun is the ultimate source of energy. Energy from the Sun is stored in plants through a process called photosynthesis. From plants, this energy reaches animals. Eventually, when these plants and animal perish, the energy dissipates into nature. We can harness this energy for useful purposes and create an energy called the biomass energy. We can use biomass for several purposes such as domestic uses, electricity generation and many more. Biomass has been used as an energy fuel for a long time; in fact, it was the first fuel man ever used. Any guesses? Yes, you guessed right! Wood is the most common biomass and the first fuel man used. We still depend on biomass for energy. However, there are some disadvantages associated with it. Read this write-up to ill explore the advantages and disadvantages of biomass.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Biomass


Pros Of Biomass

  • Biomass can be collected easily and can be converted into energy locally. It is locally available everywhere.
  • Biomass is a renewable source of energy and its renewal is also very fast; it takes only as much time as it is required to grow or gather the source and that can be as little as months or a few years. Remember, fossil fuels take millions of years to replenish.
  • Biomass processing is identified as an excellent way for energy-efficient waste disposal. It helps in converting biological waste to energy, which can then be used for various purposes. Thus, it is a combined practical solution for waste disposal and a solution for the concerns over depleting fossil fuels.
  • Biomass can be used as manure in agriculture. It is totally natural and hence, helps avoid the cons associated with chemical fertilizers. 
  • It is carbon neutral, which is a very important advantage associated with it. Biomass is an important part of carbon cycle in which atmospheric carbon is absorbed by the plants in the form of carbon dioxide and is incorporated into the plant bodies. This carbon is then taken by animals. When plants and animals perish, the accumulated carbon is released back into the atmosphere.
  • Biomass is cost-effective. Biomass is found everywhere and you need not import the raw materials from anywhere else. This helps in generating energy locally and avoids the need of investing in installation of large pipelines. It is way cheaper than other common energy sources like coal and oil.
  • Biomass, unlike other renewable energy sources like wind and solar energy, can be stored for future use. 
Cons Of Biomass
  • Agricultural wastes of certain crops, which are used as raw materials for biomass energy production, are not available all year around. This makes the production season specific or discontinuous which is the biggest disadvantage associated with biomass.
  • The nature and characteristics of biomass depends on the geography and this limits the types of biomass used to create energy.
  • The over-use of biomass may lead to deforestation and other environmental problems. This is not an exaggeration; this has happened in less developed countries that depend a lot on wood for their primary fuel requirements.
  • Some of the gases like carbon-dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, which are emitted into the atmosphere during biomass production, may damage the ozone layer.
  • Extraction of biomass, in certain cases, can be very expensive. In many countries, especially developing countries, the plans for biomass energy are never completed due to the immense expenses involved.
  • The accumulation, harvesting and storage of raw materials is way more expensive for biomass as compared to fossil fuels.
  • Large space is required to set-up a biomass power plant and the process of recycling requires a large amount of water.
  • The process of biomass energy production releases large amounts of ethanol. This may lead to an increase in the levels of nitrogen oxide in the atmosphere. Biomass is notorious for releasing large amounts of other greenhouse gases also which, in effect, contribute to global warming.
  • Other harmful gases released during the utilization of biomass are nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4). The problem associated with these gases is that they, unlike carbon, cannot be reabsorbed by simply replanting the biological material that was used.
  • Usage of biofuels like corn, soybeans etc. have resulted in driving food prices up because, using them for energy requirements means very low supply of these for consumption purposes.

Biomass is doubtlessly the most dependable source of energy which, if utilized wisely, can be a practical replacement for the over-burdened and quickly exhausting fossil fuel resources. It has multiple benefits associated with it, though there are certain cons as well. However, important benefits like renewable and clean energy sources cannot be overlooked.

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