Biomass Advantages Over Fossil Fuels
The human race has undergone many changes through the millennia. Most of the advances in technology have occurred in just the last couple of hundred years. The discovery of coal and petroleum as energy sources changed the face of how we accomplish things like nothing else since the discovery of fire. However, these fossil fuels do not exist in an inexhaustible supply, making it necessary to explore other energy options. One such option is the use of biomass as a source of energy. Here are a few biomass advantages over fossil fuels.
First, biomass is one of the most abundant resources in the world. By definition, it is the mass of living or recently dead plants and animals, along with their wastes. This means that there is not a single square centimeter of Earth that does not contain some form of biomass that could be converted to energy.
Biomass is renewable. If people exercise proper conservation techniques, any form of biomass that is harvested to produce energy can be replaced over a period of time. How much time is required depends on the exact biomass used. For instance, trees would take much longer to replace than corn plants. Fossil fuels, on the other hand exist in finite amounts that will never be replaced.
Biomass can easily be converted from its natural form into concentrated, high energy fuels such as alcohols or a type of gas that is virtually identical to natural gas. These fuels are relatively clean burning when compared with the fossil fuels in use today.
The cost of producing biomass for use as fuels and energy sources is very cheap compared to the cost of finding and extracting fossil fuels. The cost of finding fuel is eliminated when one deliberately plants certain types of plants to be used in the production of biomass fuels. Extraction is generally no more expensive than harvesting crops for food. In some cases, growing and harvesting crops for biomass fuel use is cheaper than raising food crops.
Inactive areas of land can be put to use as sources of biomass crops and the growing of such crops can create new jobs in rural areas, reducing the unemployment rates. Additionally, new jobs can be created collecting biomass in its various forms, including dead plants, animal carcasses, and dung, to be composted along with solid waste generated by our daily activities. This could become a major source of methane gas.
If proper conservation is used in growing, harvesting, and replacing biomass crops used as fuels or in the production of fuels, the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere would see a net decrease as the new plants would absorb it to produce energy for their own growth. This could help to slow, or stop global warming and restore balance to the carbon cycle that was destroyed when man began large scale use of fossil fuels that had been out of the carbon cycle for millions of years.
These are only some of the biomass advantages over fossil fuels. New advantages are being discovered almost daily, as scientists continue to explore alternate sources of energy for a time when there will be no fossil fuels to consume.