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Any organic material that has stored sunlight in the form of chemical energy is referred to as biomass. Biomass energy refers to energy produced or generated by living or extinct organisms. Agricultural by-products such as wood, wood debris, straw, manure, sugarcane, etc. can be used as fuel. Biomass sources other than agricultural byproducts include industrial residues, animal residues, municipal solid waste, sewage, and forestry residues. Given its advantages, biomass has traditionally been a significant source of energy for the nation.
It is carbon-neutral, abundant, renewable, and has the potential to generate a sizable amount of jobs in rural areas. Additionally, biomass is able to produce stable energy. Bagasse, rice husks, straw, cotton stalks, coconut shells, soy husks, de-oiled cakes, coffee trash, jute waste, groundnut shells, sawdust, and other biomass products are used to generate electricity.
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Biomass Energy Sources
- Among the Biomass Energy sources include wood and waste products from wood processing, such as firewood, wood pellets, and wood chips, as well as sawdust and waste products from furniture and lumber mills and trash from pulp and paper mills.
- Corn, soybeans, sugar cane, switchgrass, woody plants, algae, and crop and food processing wastes are examples of agricultural crops and waste products.
- Biogenic materials in municipal solid waste, including food, yard and wood wastes, cotton, wool, and paper goods.
- Human sewage and animal manure.
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Biomass Energy Potential
According to a recent study funded by MNRE, India currently has access to around 750 million metric tonnes of biomass annually. According to the study, agricultural leftovers have an estimated surplus biomass availability of roughly 230 million metric tonnes per year or a potential of about 28 GW.
Aside from this, the 550 sugar mills in the nation could create an additional 14 GW of power through bagasse-based cogeneration provided they implemented the most efficient levels of cogeneration from a technical and financial standpoint.
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Biomass Energy Significance
- Organic Enriched Bio-manure: The digested slurry from biogas plants is a valuable supply of manure that will help farmers complement or decrease their use of chemical fertilisers.
- It is carbon-Neutral. Biomass fuels only emit as much carbon into the atmosphere during photosynthesis as plants absorb over the course of their lives. It reduces our reliance on fossil fuels. In addition to a limited supply, fossil fuels have negative environmental effects, such as high levels of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere and pollutants produced during extraction, transportation, and manufacturing.
- Less expensive than fossil Fuels: Biomass technology is significantly more affordable than fossil fuels, which require large capital investments for things like oil drilling, gas pipelines, and fuel collecting. Producers and manufacturers might make more money from smaller production.
- The use of biogas aids in delivering clean cooking.
- Co-firing in thermal power plants that use BioCNG for transportation in addition to biomass briquettes and pellets.
- The construction of biogas plants provides consumers with clean cooking fuel, illumination, and small amounts of thermal and electric power, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions, improves sanitation, empowers women, and generates jobs in rural areas.
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Biomass Energy Challenges
- Because wood is one of the most commonly used biomass energy sources, burning large quantities of wood and other waste materials is necessary to generate the necessary quantity of power, which can result in deforestation.
- Although there is currently adequate wood debris, there is a chance of future deforestation.
- Biomass energy is less efficient than fossil fuels: Some biofuels, such as ethanol, perform less well than gasoline. It actually needs to be strengthened by fossil fuels in order to be more effective.
- Using animal and human waste increases the number of methane gases, which are also harmful to the environment, even if biomass is carbon neutral.
- Additionally, pollution arising from the burning of wood, plants, and other natural resources can be compared to that produced by the burning of coal and other forms of energy sources.
- Construction of biomass power plants can be expensive since it requires more storage, shipping, and harvesting than other renewable energy sources like solar power.
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Biomass Energy UPSC
- India has a significant potential for the production of bioenergy because it can produce over 750 million metric tonnes of biomass annually.
- Since the 1980s, India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has promoted bioenergy as a way to utilise the surplus biomass, cow dung, industrial, and municipal biowaste that is produced there.
- The advantages of using extra biomass should trickle down to rural households through an additional source of revenue for farmers.
- The requirement at the time was to give inclusion an extra push by increasing the usual CFA (central financial aid) pattern for the northeastern area and Gaushala/shelter by 20%.
- As a result, it will generally support national commitments to attaining climate change targets, coupled with a decrease in the import of natural gas and crude oil, and provide as a safety net for changes in the price of crude oil and gas.