What are the advantages of biomass?
Biomass fuels come in many forms including waste food, sustainable forests, agricultural residues, food industry by-products and recycled materials. All these fuel sources are carbon neutral because they are derived from plants that removed CO2 from the atmosphere when they were growing – therefore they contribute no additional CO2 to the environment.
As businesses move towards sustainable operations, biomass energy stands as a promising alternative to fossil fuels. However, it is crucial to understand both the benefits and challenges of this renewable energy source. Let's explore the advantages and disadvantages of using biomass energy for businesses.
Renewable and Sustainable
Unlike fossil fuels, biomass fuels are renewable, sourced from organic matter that regrows over time. This ensures a constant, sustainable supply of energy for businesses.
When burned, biomass releases the same amount of carbon dioxide that plants absorbed during their growth, making it a carbon-neutral energy source. This can help businesses reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to climate change mitigation.
Biomass energy offers a practical solution for waste management. By converting organic waste into energy, businesses can tackle waste disposal issues while generating electricity, contributing to a circular economy.
How can biomass be used?
The most common method of producing heat from biomass is by direct combustion in a furnace which heats water to generate hot water or steam. Small scale applications typically use fuel in the form of wood chips or wood pellets.
Other methods also available, albeit less common, include Gasification, Pyrolysis, Torre faction, and Anaerobic Digestion. Veolia, drawing on our experience and expertise, works with our customers to co-develop solutions to best meet their specific needs.
Most industrial processes have a requirement for heat and look for environmentally friendly, cost efficient means to meet that heat demand. Biomass boilers are an excellent option to provide the saturated steam or hot water for needed by the production process.
Where a year round heat demand exists combined heat and power is a highly efficient solution to satisfy the base load. Biomass CHP can be an option for industrial sites with high steam and electrical loads.
In many other parts of Europe community energy or district heating schemes are commonplace – biomass makes it a practical solution for the UK. In many other European countries people have long realised the benefits of economy of scale by operating a centralised facility that serves hundreds or even thousands of homes – in some cases entire cities.
In areas such as social housing, high running costs and the issue of fuel poverty are real issues for lower income groups. District heating can help mitigate this by providing a green, cost-effective solution via a heating network that can guarantee heat and electricity supplies that are cheaper than anywhere else on the market. And unlike conventional boiler systems, there is no requirement to have access to homes for annual maintenance or breakdown repairs.
A district heating scheme fuelled from a renewable source also provides flat-line budgeting with a monthly fee unaffected by seasonal spikes in demand according to weather conditions.
Generating power from renewable sources is highly desirable in order for governments to meet environmental commitments as such incentives are available under Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) The level of incentive is dependent on the technology employed.
CHP is a financially and environmentally attractive way of meeting our energy needs and is twice as efficient as conventional power stations because the heat produced is used, giving significantly fewer carbon emissions. By using biomass alternatives Veolia retains the high efficiency combined with a carbon-neutral fuel.