Pros and Cons of Biomass Energy

One thing we can agree upon is that the perfect energy source simply doesn’t exist yet. Each and every one source of energy we have out there has its own promises and disadvantages, but they may vary from type to type. This article will cover the details of biomass energy and what it has to offer.

Biomass has been used and around for a long, long time, before anyone actually spoke of alternate energy or renewable resources. At one point wood was the primary energy source for cooking, heating and other solutions. It still happens to be used today in many countries around the world, though in less locations in the west as it stands. Cleaning it also takes quite a bit of effort unless used in productive ways, as the following examples will point out. When we mention biomass today, we talk about a few applications used today:

Direct burning to create heat

This is the usual, traditional method of burning fossil fuels we are all very familiar with, meant for cooking and heating. It is still widely used around the world, but also responsible for plenty of greenhouse gases, respiratory illnesses and worse.

Generation of electricity

Biomass can be used to feed a boiler, which in turn will provide steam to a turbine generator. Feedstock is usually made from wood residue, as well as industrial and urban waste wood. This type of generation of power can also be improved with a co-generation solution that uses the heat of the process to improve efficiency for a combined arrangement.


The biomass is used and heated in an environment that allows it to break down into flammable gas. Once the gas has been filtered and cleaned, it can then be reused as a natural gas in a combined cycle turbine. The feedstock used is made of agricultural and forest residue.

Anaerobic Digestion

Biomaterials used in a fermentation process that works on converting the organic compounds into biogas, composed of roughly 60% methane and 40% carbon dioxide. The methane is converted into CO2 and water by being burned still has a net positive from a greenhouse gas perspective, as methane is a more tenacious greenhouse gas than CO2.

Pros of using biomass:

  • Renewable fuel source
  • Low cost
  • Ample supply
  • Domestically produced
  • Low carbon contents
  • Convertible into energy to keep waste low

Cons of using biomass:

  • Energy intensive for production purposes with little gain
  • May lead to deforestation
  • Needs water supply
  • Not entirely clean when burned
  • May compete with food production
  • Seasonal fuel sources
  • Process of creation is still fairly expensive
  • Methane and CO2 emitted during production
  • Heavy feedstock requires energy to transport

When it comes down to it, biomass seems compelling at first, considering its renewable source and it may be produced on domestic soil, but there are also plenty of drawbacks that make it an eco-unfriendly solution in the end. As population keeps growing, the competition between arable land for food production and water will make this type of option work poorly in the days to come. The other option that would work better is that much of the materials used to create biomass may also be used for composting and food production, which is a cleaner alternative although not directly tied to energy production.

This post is by Guest Energizer Sofia Lewis for Cleaners House Ltd. who offer eco-friendly house and office cleaning services. Sofia is a passionate freelance article writer and blogger. She is inspired by home improvement and gardening projects and writes mainly about domestic cleaning, green living home solutions and gardening.