While the human race has undergone many transformations through the millennia, major technological advances have taken place in the last couple of hundred years. The discovery of major energy sources - coal and petroleum greatly changed the face of how things are accomplished. Unfortunately, these valuable fossil fuels are limited in their availability making it necessary for humans to explore other energy options and one such option is biomass.

Introduction

In our global society, clean energy simply means energy that is procured from sources other than the primary fossil fuels. From home heating to electricity and mass transportation, we have mostly depended on coal, oil and natural gas for all our energy needs leading to their exhaustion.

The problem here is that fossil fuels are non-renewable; limited in availability and supply. It takes hundreds of millions of years to re-form fossil fuels from buried plants and animals. The earliest known fossil fuel deposits are from the Cambrian Period about 500 million years ago. The later fossil fuels that provided more substandard fuels such as lignite coal started forming as late as five million years ago. The rate with which we are consuming these fossils, it is impossible to get them back quickly to meet our current or future energy demands. According to some studies, fossil fuel reserves on Earth will be depleted by the next 50 years.

Here’s where the alternative source of energy comes into play.And among the various alternative sources of energy, Biomass tops the chart. Have a look, why biomass is efficient than fossil fuels.

Advantages of Biomass over Fossil Fuels

 
  1. Available in Abundance
By definition, biomass is biological material obtained from recently died or living plants and animals. As such, it is one of the most abundant resources on Earth. This means that every single square centimeter on Earth contain some form of biomass to be converted to energy.

  1. Renewable Source of Energy
Biomass is renewable. This is because there would be no end to life on Earth. By implementing proper conservation methods, any form of biomass can be harvested to produce energy and substituted over a period of time. However, the time required depend son the exact biomass used. For instance, while trees would take longer to replace corn plants, fossil fuels exist in finite quantity and can never be replaced.

3. Easy Conversion

Unlike fossil fuels, biomass can be easily transformed from its organic form to concentrated and high energy fuels like alcohols or biogas - a form of gas virtually identical to natural gas.

4. Cost-Effective

While the entire process of extraction, filtration and conversion of fossil fuels is extremely expensive, the cost of producing biomass to be used as fuels and energy sources is very cost effective. This is because the cost of finding fuel is eliminated here as biomass can be easily obtained from organisms and their waste. In addition, extraction is usually cost effective than harvesting crops for food.In certain cases, cultivating and harvesting crops for biomass is inexpensive than raising food crops.

5. Biomass Power is Carbon Neutral

While combustion of fossil fuel releases immense carbon, biomass power is believed to be carbon neutral. According to the Biomass Power Association, biomass power minimizes carbon dioxide emissions by more than 15 million tons a year.Any carbon released during biomass combustion is re-absorbed by the trees from the atmosphere.

  By using proper conservation in cultivating, harvesting and replacing the biomass crops to be used as energy source or fuels, the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere could be decreased as the new vegetation would absorb it to yield energy for their own growth. As a result of this, the threat of global warming would come down and help in restoring the balance to the carbon cycle.

  Conclusion

These are only a few biomass advantages over fossil fuels. With each passing day, new advantages are being discovered as scientists are still exploring alternate sources of energy.

Image credit: José Reynaldo da Fonseca

About The Author

Conor McGuire

Conor McGuire is the author and co-founder of Green Energy Scotland Limited. He has vast experience through working with some of the leading organizations in the carbon reduction, renewable and waste solution industries. You can also follow them on Twitter (@greenenergyscot) to get more updates.