How Biomass Energy Provides A Useful Stepping Stone To Sustainability

Biomass energy is derived from plant or animal sources, and it is burned in a similar way to the way in which fossil fuels are burned. Despite this, biomass can be used to reduce the amount of carbon emissions which are inflicted upon the planet, and it is therefore a useful stepping stone from using traditional fuels to using renewable energy. Any time a fossil fuel source can be exchanged for biomass, the Earth will benefit from that change.

The key to the effectiveness of biomass lies in the fact that the material which is burned, usually plant based material, absorbs carbon dioxide as well as giving it off. It is not that the burning of biomass is carbon dioxide free or that there is any great advantage to it, but that there is no great harm being done over a period of time. The difference between burning biomass and burning fossil fuel is that fossil fuels have absorbed carbon dioxide many years ago, and so the carbon dioxide which is produced is extra gas for the atmosphere to deal with.

A sustainable biomass energy system is different. Yes, burning the material will still create the same amount of carbon dioxide, but if the plant material is derived from a source where it is replaced and the cycle begun again, the new plant material will be absorbing an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide as the old material is giving off. So, there exists the potential to create a fuel source which leaves no net production of carbon dioxide. Biomass energy is no perfect answer to the world fuel crisis, as it demands a large amount of land to be given over to its production, but it is a useful stepping stone.

There is no doubt that the future of the world's energy system should be based around fully renewable sources which do not take up any of the available land which is needed for food production. Solar energy installations can be located in desert areas where there is no possibility of any food being grown. Wind turbines can be located at sea, where the evidence shows they are actually beneficial to sea life and fish stocks.

Biomass has its limitations, and at a time when the world's population does not have enough food there are plenty of voices against it. These, however, are political problems, and the truth is that biomass energy can be a useful stepping stone if it is used in the right way. It allows for machinery to be used without the burning of fossil fuels, and without the need for the machine to be substantially altered. In the long run, the future of biomass may be uncertain, but for now the world can derive a significant benefit from a properly controlled use of biomass energy.

 

 

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