Biomass is one of the most sustainable alternatives as a source of energy by not causing greenhouse gases and not being of fossil origin, as happens with other types of conventional energy. Thus, in the middle of the climate crisis in which we find ourselves, biomass is presented as one of the most effective solutions.
The energy comes from organic matter that can be of plant or animal origin and the combustion of this type of fuel “has a zero balance of carbon dioxide, since what it emits when burned is offset by what the tree it comes from has absorbed”, highlights the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU).
In this sense, solid biomass is burned directly to produce heat and, for this, by-products such as wood fuels and natural residues such as olive pits or nut shells. According to the OCU, biomass can be converted into biogas or liquid biofuels such as ethanol or biodiesel:
What are its main advantages?
In addition to being sustainable and clean, the organization has compiled a list of advantages of biomass compared to other types of energy sources:
- It is a more economical energy and whose production cost is lower.
- It is used to clean rural areas and to reuse the waste generated.
- It is a renewable energy source with a reduced environmental impact.
- Its use reduces the production of fossil fuels, as well as energy dependence, recycling and waste disposal.
What are the forms of biomass that exist?
There are different types of biomass taking into account its origin. As indicated by the OCU, we can distinguish between residual and natural biomass. The first is that which comes from human-generated waste such as manure or straw, while the second comes from forests, plants or trees. These are the different forms of biomass classified by the organization:
- Wood and wood processing waste.
- Agricultural crops and waste materials.
- Food and wood waste in the trash.
- Animal manure and human sewage.
Regarding the fuel used to generate biomass, waste such as pellets, small wooden cylinders (sawdust) can be used “that come from the cleaning of forests and the lumber industry,” adds the organization. One of their advantages is that their composition is quite constant and they are highly effective. However, its price is higher than fuel from other biomass. Another widely used alternative is olive pits. It is a very economical and efficient fuel, although they generate a greater amount of ash.
Boilers or stoves: which is the best option?
In the market we can find biomass boilers and stoves, but what are the main differences? Which is better according to the need for heating? On the one hand, the boilers can be installed in homes and entire communities of neighbors, “since they can be found from 20 kW to more than 1 MW”.
The biomass stoves, for their part, they are similar to traditional firewood but “burn fuels made with natural waste.” The prices of a pellet stove they can be between 1,500 and 2,500 euros. The installation also has an approximate cost of 400 euros.
However, this type of stove may be insufficient to maintain heat throughout the home. “One solution would be to use a boiler with radiators, but if the house does not have that installation it can be very expensive.” For a house of 90 to 120m2, a 15kW boiler would have to be installed and the price would be around 4,000 euros, As minimum.