The world is constantly seeking alternative energy sources to replace fossil fuel supply, which is getting depleted faster than the rate at which it is created. Advancements have been made when it comes to utilizing other fuel sources. Biomass is an energy source created from the incineration of biological materials both living, such as plants and the non-living such as biodegradable wastes. This energy source raises a number of advantages and disadvantages in relation to its use.
Biomass as a fuel source provides an alternative energy source to the conventional fossil fuels, which have been relied on over the decades. The energy source is renewable as opposed to fossil fuels, which are formed through complex degradation processes over long periods. It is therefore possible to generate more supplies of this fuel. The fuel is man-made and its generation can be manipulated to desired requirements. The biomass fuel can be obtained from certain crops.
Advantages of Biomass
Growing these crops in abundance has the effect of reducing the carbon dioxide levels available in the environment. This is achieved through the natural photosynthesis process of plants, which sees them take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the environment. This process helps in reducing global over warming considerably.
The Ozone Layer formation is a natural process required to provide a blanket of warmth to earth making it habitable. However, when carbon dioxide levels are excessive in the environment they create holes in the ozone layer, which subjects earth to the direct rays of the sun resulting in global over warming.
The process of biomass creation utilizes wastes, which places into use the substances that would otherwise be occupying landfills. The world is faced with the problem of getting rid of wastes permanently using appropriate methods. Using the wastes to generate biomass fuel provides a solution catering for part of the world's waste disposal needs.
Incineration is required to generate energy from this fuel sources. It has been argued that the incineration process produces carbon dioxide, which is eventually released into the environment. The flip side of the argument is that growing biomass crops in large numbers ensures that the levels of carbon dioxide available in the environment are kept in check since the plants utilize the gas in their growth process.
Biomass fuel has been presented as a cost effective means of acquiring energy as opposed to acquiring energy from oil supplies. Not every country is blessed with their own supply of oil and most countries source for oil from countries that produce it. With oil supplies being depleted, the commodity has also become increasingly costly.
Disadvantages of Biomass
On the contrary, biomass crops are seen as occupying land, which could have been utilized in growing food crops. Hunger is still an issue that plagues most countries in the world. When it comes to prioritizing between feeding the nation and producing biomass fuel, feeding the nation will always win. At the same time, the production of the fuel is still quite costly since the technology is relatively new. Improved methods of generating the fuel efficiently and at reduced costs are still being looked after.
The incineration required by the fuel in its transformation process to energy still raises a few questions. The process releases carbon dioxide into the environment and it cannot be left upon the biomass crops to rid the environment of the excessive gas levels. The incineration process also poses a source of air pollution since like with any other burning process it involves the release of smoke into the environment.
The product of the incineration process may also have detrimental effects to the environment. The energy source requires a lot of effort to be placed into it. However, a lot of resources are extended to the fuel's generation, which would otherwise have been saved using other fuel sources.