Biomass is the term for substances which have grown from animal or vegetable matter. Energy from biomass fuels is renewable and can make significant greenhouse gas emissions savings compared to fossil fuels.
Biomass can be used for:
Combined heat and power
Production of other fuels
Wood fuel includes logs, woodchip or pellets. The source can be directly from forestry, residues from processing or discarded materials from other sectors such as construction.
Crops grown for the purpose of use in renewable energy technologies are playing an increasingly important role in sustainable development and agricultural diversification. There are two main energy crops currently used for power generation: short-rotation coppice (SRC) and miscanthus. Other purpose-grown crops are used to produce transport biofuels and can also be used to produce biogas.
Wastes and Residues
The biomass in wastes and residues can also be used for energy, from households or the commercial and industrial sector. This includes municipal waste and that from the commercial and industrial sector. Click here to learn more about Energy from Waste.
Sewage gas is biogas produced by the digestion and incineration of sewage sludge from waste water plants. The anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge involves fermenting it in tanks at a temperature between 32 and 36°C for about 25 days. The resulting sewage gas is a mixture of methane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen and hydrogen sulphide. This mixture must then be compressed and purified before it can be transformed into mechanical and thermal energy. It can also power a generator to produce electricity.
Biomethane is the purification of biogas through the removal of any residual carbon dioxide to create pure biomethane. This naturally produced biomethane can then be injected into the gas grid.
For more detailed information and to find out more about this technology please see the REA’s Biomass Heat Sector Group and the Biomass Power Sector Group . As Biomass can be used in various other renewable technologies, other REA Sector Groups may be of interest, please see the Waste to Energy Sector Group, Biogas Sector Group and On-site Renewables Group.
In August 2011, the REA launched the “Back Biomass” Campaign to urge Government to support biomass heat and power technologies in its proposals on the incentives regime for renewable electricity. To find out more about this campaign click here.