Magniwork free Generator no need for solar or wind powerAlthough there are some very good aspects to the use of biomass, there has to be two sides to every story, and biomass is no exception. Despite being a cleaner and “greener” alternative to fossil fuels, biomass has its downfalls.

Biomass combustion poses the same problems as the burning of any other form of fuel. Black Carbon is a pollutant caused by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels and biomass-Black Carbon is possibly the second largest contributor to global Issues. Biomass resources, when burned, can also release Sulphur Dioxide and various airborne particulates, which can be harmful if inhaled.

Another problem facing the widespread production and utilisation of biomass fuels is the efficiency of the power stations themselves. Traditional methods using fossil fuels can produce electricity easily and at much lower costs. Although the technology used to convert biomass into a usable resource has improved, the net energy gainis still relatively small.   

Cost is a factor when thinking about the viability of biomass as a primary source of energy; biomass has the potential to be more expensive than fossil fuels when creating energy and power. Man power is needed to plant the crops that will be used in biomass power stations, and time and money are needed to transport the fuel to the power stations. It is a very expensive outlay to build a power plant to use biomass as a sole fuel, and maintaining the infrastructure can be very expensive and hard work. 

The cost can be minimised if a Co-Firing system is used, where biomass is burnt along with coal in traditional power plants. This is considered to be one of the most efficient ways of using biomass, and requires no new power stations to be built-but the usual problems of burning fossil fuels remain. 

Often one of the problems affecting the effectiveness of biomass power production is the proximity to resources. If the source of biomass materials is in a remote place, far from cities and grids that utilise the energy, then the use of biomass will not be nearly so effective. Transportation costs of the raw materials, and additional costs of building new power plants, must be taken into account.  

Another disadvantage of biomass is the possible opposition from the public. However pressing the need for cleaner greener fuels, people are quite often opposed to change, and let’s face it, no one wants a power station in their back yard! 

The use of biomass could potentially clash with the need for food. Land used for growing crops, fertilizers and animal fodder could be taken up with growing plants for use in biomass power plants. Using corn or sugar cane (for example) as biofuels can affect the human consumption of these products-it’s a “food or fuel” argument. 

Biomass crops are not necessarily available all year round. Corn, wheat, barley and other such crops are seasonal; and trees take a long time to grow. It also uses a lot of energy and man power to grow crops and plants; this could contribute to the inefficiency of biomass production. 

There is an obvious need for an alternative to fossil fuels. However, it is essential to assess the viability of all “green” technologies, and biomass is no exception. 

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