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Biomass Energy - Essay Example

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Bio-energy is a resource that has become increasingly significant as an energy carrier. Throughout history, in all its forms, biomass has been one of the most important source of human’s basic needs often referred to as the six “fs” namely feed, food, feedstock, fuel, fertilizer and fiber…
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Biomass Energy
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Download file to see previous pages For industrial nations it was the main energy source until the early 1900s and, in fact, many developing nations still rely on it to provide for most of their energy needs (Callé, et al., 1). This paper discusses the sources of biomass energy, its pros and cons and draws conclusions about its feasibility and economic viability.
Biomass refers to the organic matter found in agricultural crops, trees as well as other living-plant material. It is solar energy stored up in organic matter. Carbohydrates and organic compounds formed in growing plant-life make up biomass. In the process of photosynthesis, the sun’s energy converts carbon dioxide into carbohydrates (cellulose, sugars and starches). When living plants die, they decay, the energy stored in carbohydrates is released and carbon dioxide discharged back into the atmosphere. Since the growth of new trees and other plants replenishes the supply, biomass is a renewable source of energy (, 1&2).
Globally, people use biomass fuel for cooking in households as well as in numerous institutions and cottage industries, food processing industries, metal working industries, weaving industries, tile making and brick industries, bakeries among others. In recent times, people have set up many new plants to provide biomass energy directly through combustion, to produce electricity, or in combined heat and power facilities or ethanol through fermentation (Calle, et al., 2). In the Pacific Northwest, people have used biomass as a source of energy for meeting their needs ever since the region’s earliest occupants burned wood for heat in their campfires (, 1). Advantages of Using Biomass Energy The most important of the pros of biomass energy is that it is carbon neutral. It does not lead to any net increase in the emissions of carbon dioxide to the environment. Biomass is a constituent of the carbon cycle and as discussed earlier, during photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon from the atmosphere and once the plant is burnt or decays, the carbon returns into the atmosphere. Since it is a cycle, other plants absorb that carbon again, in such a way that a balance between the amount of carbon that plants extract from the atmosphere and the amount of carbon that biomass fuel releases into the atmosphere is attained. Biomass fuels are therefore clean – they do not lead to the risk of change in global climate (, 4). Moreover, as Ghosh explains, the electricity generated by biomass briquettes (substances that produce electricity) is far much cleaner compared to fossil fuel-generated electricity. Another advantage of using biomass energy is that it provides a way of disposing waste materials that would otherwise be environmental hazards (, 4). Biomass energy is also a renewable and inexhaustible source of energy. The products obtained are bio-fuel and biogas. Electricity and heat are generated during the production of biomass energy. The use of biomass energy also helps in the management of solid waste thereby keeping us free from pollution. Daily burning of biological wastes decreases the levels of carbon emitted into the atmosphere. It therefore ensures that there exists an ecological balance of carbon in the environment (Ghosh, 4). Compared to oil and coal, biomass energy is not expensive. They typically cost roughly 33% less than fossil fuels performing the same task. This means that every year, one can spend 33% less on heating his/her home, which amounts to a substantial saving in a period of 10 or 15 years. Moreover, biomass is readily accessible in large quantities all over the globe – there is overabundance of agricultural and organic waste ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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