Biomass is a renewable energy source extracted from natural materials, particularly plant and animal waste.
This organic energy has been around for centuries and has been used for various domestic and industrial applications, including cooking, water heating, space heating, and electricity generation.
Since it is hard to store renewable energy, one may wonder, can biomass energy be stored for later use?
Read on to find out!
Can Biomass Energy Be Stored?
Yes, we can store biomass energy for later use. Unlike other renewable energy sources like solar and wind, biomass energy remains within the organic material, and you can harvest it whenever you need it.
You can also collect biomass in its natural form and store it in a protected area for future use.
Biomass already contains stored energy, and we can store it naturally or after processing it through chipping and palletization in open or enclosed structures.
The ideal period for biomass storage ranges from two to three weeks since organic matter usually decomposes over time unless processed and kept away from agents of decay.
How to Store Biomass Energy?
Biomass storage is not a massive challenge, thanks to the numerous available options.
For instance, you may choose to convert biomass feedstock into chips and pellets or process biomass into liquid fuels for storage in fuel containers
You can store biomass energy in an open or enclosed structure such as a field, warehouse, garage, or biodigester tank.
Is Biomass Better Than Oil?
Biomass is better than oil since it is a renewable energy source, unlike the latter, which is non-renewable.
Biomass is easily replenishable and has a neutral carbon footprint, unlike oil which pollutes the air and largely contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
Using oil as a primary energy source is expensive since it is a rare commodity that has to be imported from producing nations, while biomass is naturally available around the world.
You can use biomass in its natural form through direct combustion without processing it, unlike oil which has to undergo various refining processes.
Opting for biomass preserves natural resources, conserves the environment, decarbonizes energy supply, and minimizes dependency on fossil fuels.
Read more: Do Solar Panels Use Fossil Fuels?
How Efficient Is Biomass Energy?
Biomass can produce eight times more energy than what was absorbed.
Biomass supplies slightly over 1.5% of electricity in developed countries and its overall efficiency based on combined heat and power (CHP) is 70% to 90%.
Biomass is energy efficient because of its neutral carbon footprint and renewability, and it is storable, unlike other renewable energy sources.
However, not all forms of biomass are efficient. Biofuels such as ethanol are not as efficient as gasoline and have to be blended or fortified to increase their efficiency.
Read more: Can Biofuels Replace Gasoline in the Future?
Does Biomass Create Pollution?
Although biomass is carbon neutral, it can create a small percentage of pollution, consequently damaging the environment.
Burning solid plant and animal waste through direct combustion escalates the release of methane, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and other particulate matter harmful to the environment.
Exposure to these gases and pollutants can also lead to health concerns in animals and humans.
The main difference – when compared to other energy sources – is that biomass only releases the same amount of carbon as absorbed
Biomass can also help mitigate climate change, prevent soil and water pollution, and minimize acid rain.
That’s why new methods are being created to use biomass in transportation, among other fields.
How Much Electricity Is Produced By Biomass?
According to the U.S Energy Information Administration, biomass and other biofuels can generate up to 71.4 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, accounting for 2% of total electricity generation in the United States.
Wood, including logging and mill residues and discarded timber products, accounts for 33% of electricity generated from biomass.
Wood-derived fuels such as black liquor and waste fuels such as sludge and wood-waste liquids account for 27% of biomass-generated electricity.
Municipal solid waste, including paper, rubber, food, wood, and yard trimmings accounts for about 20% of biomass-generated electricity.
Will Biomass Energy Last Forever?
Biomass is a renewable energy source, meaning it can last forever as long as we make efforts to replenish it.
Even without replacing cut-down trees and plants, biomass can regrow on its own since its inherent energy originates from the sun.
Plants and trees produce biomass energy through photosynthesis by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
When the plant dies, the carbon goes back into the air for other plants to absorb, and the cycle continues.
Unlike fossil fuels that take millions of years to form, biomass grows and regrows in a relatively short time, ensuring the supply lasts forever.
How Is Biomass Energy Recovered?
Biomass can be recovered through various biochemical and thermochemical processes to extract stored energy and make it usable.
We can also recover biomass from solid waste using steam and high pressure to separate and clean the remains into high-quality biomass.
Biomass recovery reduces the burden on our landfills since less than 20% of the remaining waste finds itself in these dumping grounds.
The process also facilitates the recycling of reusable materials, helping preserve natural resources and conserve the environment.
Is Biomass Available Around The World?
Yes, biomass is available worldwide, but the only difference is that some countries rely more on this organic, renewable energy than others.
According to stats, biomass covers approximately 10% to 15% of the global energy supply, accounting for about 500 to 560 billion tonnes of the total biomass worldwide.
Most developing countries, particularly in Asia, Africa, and South America, rely on biomass for their domestic and industrial needs.
Biomass energy is used for cooking, water heating, space heating, and industrial purposes in most developing nations.
The best part is that biomass is easily and readily available, making it the preferred energy source in third-world countries.
Read more: Can Biomass Energy Be Replaced?
Biomass is the only renewable energy source that can be stored for future use, making it an ideal energy alternative.
Learning how to store and recover biomass energy can go a long way to help reduce energy deficit.