Biomass Energy and the Environment
Biomass Energy is defined from any organic materials that can be burned and used as a renewable source of fuel.
Biomass is a commercially accepted clean source of renewable energy used to generate electricity and heat. A modern “state of the art” biomass generating facility is widely considered to be clean, efficient and reliable.
When a plant dies and decays (or is converted to useful energy) it releases carbon dioxide ("CO2") into the atmosphere (atmospheric CO2). A young growing plant requires CO2 to mature. This is commonly referred to as the earth’s natural carbon cycle.
This is sharp contrast to the CO2 that is released when fossil fuels are converted to energy. The combustion of coal, natural gas and oil reintroduce CO2 into the atmosphere that was produced eons ago. The introduction of this previously stored carbon into the atmosphere is responsible for increasing the levels of CO2 commonly attributed to global warming with the associated climate change that is occurring around the world today.
One of the most important advantages of creating electricity and heat from biomass is the reduced level of air pollution. Biomass contains no mercury and far less sulfur than coal and oil, and its ash byproduct is an excellent source of potash, which is used by farmers as a soil enhancement.
Biomass Energy and Forest Health
In the northeast the use of biomass to generate electricity has proved to benefit the forests by creating new markets for the waste products and inferior “weed” trees. Forests are the only energy source in the world that, if left unused, degrade the environment. The use of biomass for energy is an economic driver that improves overall forest health and reduces the breakup of timberland for development. In other parts of the country when agricultural byproducts and clean urban wood waste are used, open burning is eliminated improving air quality and landfill space is preserved.
Click to see what the experts have to say...
NREL - National Renewable Energy Laboratory Report
EERE - U.S DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Report
MA DOER - Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources
Green Power Institute - The Renewable Energy Program of the Pacific Institute
U.S Department of Energy - Bioindustry Creates Green Jobs
U.S Department of Energy - Biomass Multi Year Program Plan 2010
NREL - Biomass Data and Resources