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Ten Advantages of Biomass Energy – Oldest Alternative Energy Form gets back in vogue

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Biomass Energy is highly under-appreciated as a renewable source of energy despite being the most important source of energy during most of human history.Till the 19th century biomass energy used to account for 70% of the world’s energy consumption and still accounts for around  10% of the world consumption.In developing countries the share of biomass energy is still quite high at 30% and it is the major source for energy for rural and backward communities.Biomass primarily consists of

a) Wood Fuels

b) Crop Residue

c) Animal Waste.

Biomass energy is used mainly for cooking and  heating in rural areas.Now it is increasingly being used to generate power as  the technology for biomass energy has advanced.Here are some of the main advantages of Biomass Energy


1) Carbon Neutral– Note Biomass Energy results in no new net GHG emissions as it is part of the carbon cycle.Unlike coal and others forms of fossil fuel which have been buried millions of years ago and burning them adds to carbon in the atmosphere,responsible biomass energy generation results in no new carbon emissions or pollution

2) Use of Waste – Biomass Energy is an Efficient Process which results in the use of mostly animal and crop waster which would be converted into carbon dioxide anyway.To use to as energy before the conversion is an important use of the millions of tons of waste that is generated by human activities

3) Continuous Source of Power – Biomass Energy can be generated almost 24×7  unlike other forms of renewable energy like wind and solar that are intermittent in nature

4) Large variety of Feedstock – Biomass Energy can use a large variety of feedstock such as wood pellets,rice husk,bagasse etc.

5) Low Capital Investment – The capital investment required for biomass based power plants is relatively less at $1-2/watt of biomass capacity.Note wind energy is slightly higher while solar is even higher.Biomass Energy has similar capex characteristics as  other forms of conventional energy like coal,gas,oil etc.

6) Distributed Nature – Biomass plants can be built in remote areas and used as a distributed form of power generation

7) Can be built on small scale – Biomass plants can be built in 1 Mw sizes unlike other types of power which require much larges scale.For example nuclear energy requires a typical plants size of at least 500 MW to make it economical

8) Reduces Methane which is a major GHG gas – Decomposition of organic matter releases methane. Capturing this methane yields energy while protecting the atmosphere.The animal industry and landfills produce significant amounts of methane.

9) Easy Availability – Biomass is readily available in almost all parts of the world except the desert areas where finding biomass is difficult

10) Low Cost Resource – Biomass Energy can be produced cheaply if there is a good availability of feedstock


Biomass  Energy has long been neglected and under appreciated as a source of clean and green energy due to the convenience and cheapness of fossil fuels.However that is changing and with technology advancements in biomass energy production,it is getting more attention.Biomass Energy is growing at a rapid pace though not as fast as wind and solar power.However its use in reducing GHG emissions and as a viable sustainable source of energy is undeniable


Abhishek Shah

2 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Zona Jones

    The time has come. Nuclear power is on its way out. This is the chance for actual change.

    Oh, and congratulations Germany for going green!!!