In discussing biomass there's a great deal of talk regarding which agricultural plants and other organic materials might be used in harnessing this great source of energy. Unfortunately, until the Cost of Biomass, in providing this energy, is under control there will be delays.
Sometimes it's difficult for people to see what is around them. Looking at the the same thing every day that is commonplace, there is no connection with how it might be important to one's everyday life. That is what has happened with biomass. It's been around forever and while its importance's been recognized for firewood, power for boilers in industry and so forth no thought was given to having it as a source of indefinite power to take the place of the fossil fuels that are being used today.
Studies have been made for some time regarding the 'greenhouse effect' of carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere by the burning of coal, oil and other fossil fuel derivatives. The claim is that the emissions from these products to into the atmosphere where they will remain for hundreds of thousands of years. Thus forming a layer of carbon separating the sun from the earth and acting much the same as a greenhouse, causing the earth to become warmer.
The aim of science, backed by the government, is to find a way to have energy without affecting the atmosphere. This they feel they have found in biomass. Unfortunately, while it's been recognized as a viable option, i's far from reaching its potential.
It's agreed, by all connected with the many projects underway, that using biomass allows for the creation of a renewable energy source. This product has many advantages from the fossil fuels that are in use worldwide today. It's clean, it's plentiful and can be planted as crops to go on indefinitely.
Despite many years of government sponsorship, starting in 2000, the advancement of biomass has been rather slow. What has looked good on the drawing board has not panned out in actual operation. There are certain facts that have not been taken into account. Currently, it is estimated that it costs approximately $1.10 per gallon to make one gallon of ethanol, while gasoline 's wholesale price is 90 cents per gallon. Ethanol does not have as much energy as gasoline so it takes more to produce the same amount of energy. This fact's been found to be true in all the methods attempted to turn biomass into a salable product.
It is true, the basic product, biomass, is in great supply and can be developed as an agricultural crop. True, that scientists know all the compounds that make up the various kinds of this product. However, breaking those compounds down and processing to an inexpensive degree has proved difficult. In addition, to the cost of the raw materials one has the transportation, processing, and the costs of distribution.
The huge amount of expensive enzymes needed to break down some of the fibrous cellulose matter for fermentation has been prohibitive. When this is added to the transportation, labor and other Costs of Biomass, it become prohibitive. The product needed for the conversion is plentiful but until a better method is determined to turn this product into usable energy it will be used as it is today, very little.