BIOMASS THE DISADVANTAGES
Although 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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.