Biomass is using any natural substance to generate energy. Examples of biomass can include wood. We can use wood to generate energy by burning it, yet wood in general is a renewable energy source.
Biomass can be any renewable energy source. Cattle manure, corn, and hemp are all examples of biomass that we are currently using to generate renewable energy. We often think of solar energy from the sun and wind power from turbines, yet there are many other types of renewable energy sources we can use.
Fossil fuels are limited and not renewable. There is not an endless supply of oil in the ground. There is only a finite amount of fossil fuels. This is why biomass is so important because energy derived from biomass is renewable. There are many biomass energy pros and cons, but the fact that biomass is an easily renewable forms of energy is one of the biggest positive aspects of this technology.
As technology continues to evolve we are constantly finding not only new sources of renewable energies we can use, but also using current biofuels much more efficiently. As the technology increases the capital output needed for a system that relies on biomass for energy is greatly decreased.
By using more biomass fuels we can cut back on the dangerous greenhouse gasses that are released when we use traditional fossil based fuels.
The Negative Aspects of Biomass
A viable biomass set-up that is both affordable and able to power an entire home can be very expensive. Although the technology is there that would allow us to use our own feces as a source of energy, it is not affordable or clean. Technology is rapidly advancing, but for us to power our cars and homes most people need to rely on the traditional forms of energy.
There are numerous ways of converting biomass to a useable form of energy. Burning is a common method, but you can also do in a variety of other ways including letting corn ferment to produce ethanol.
More and more technologies are being used to develop biomass that is useable by a niche market. An example of this is the digesters that are starting to be used on a few dairy farms. The digester allows the cattle manure to be processed into a useable energy. Some dairy farms are powered entirely by the cattle manure. Although this is an excellent way to utilize a renewable energy source, the cost to install and a digester is extremely expensive. The cost makes this prohibitive to all but the largest of dairy farms. Once the cost goes down then digesters will be one of the biomass energy pros, but for now the extreme cost of a digester makes this a negative for the renewable energy movement.
The Future of Biomass
There are a lot of biomass energy pros and cons. As this biomass technology advances the cost of building biomass converters that are both efficient and affordable will become mainstream. Once this occurs we can look at potentially having every home in the United States powered by biomass generated within the home and yard.
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