Looming future for biomass generation

This following is based on a biomass article sourced from the Chronical Journal.

Biomass is one of the oldest forms of renewable energy with a low carbon footprint. Plants absorb energy from the sun and carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis. When biomass is burned, this stored energy is released as heat, and the CO2 is returned to the atmosphere. This maintains a closed carbon cycle with no net increase in atmospheric CO2 levels.

However, life cycle CO2 emissions still occur, depending upon production techniques, transport distances and boundary conditions for analysis. For example, CO2 emissions from wood chips is 2 Kg/Gigajoules (GJ) compared to 115 Kg/GJ from coal.

Other potential opportunities and advantages of biomass utilization cited are low air quality impact, reduced municipal waste, and enhanced economic development, especially for remote and rural areas.

medium_Collection of branches.jpgBiomass resources can be very diverse, ranging from wood, bark, agricultural residues, grasses, forages, animal waste, and byproducts of some industries. Despite the diversity, the composition of most biomass materials is relatively uniform in terms of heating value, especially after the moisture is removed, but handling is quite different.

A recent report from the NSW Department of primary Industries "Greenhouse footprint of native forest management" has noted that large volumes of forest and wood-processing residues are available [from North Coast Forests] and that greater and smarter usage of residues will significantly improve carbon opportunites

Biomass is yet to find a major place in Australia's electricity mix but with the right policies in place a new era of biomass power generation looms.