Summary: Using biomass energy instead of nonrenewable sources for transportation and electricity is becoming more common, but it comes with its own benefits and drawbacks.

Fremont, CA

Biomass is an organic and renewable energy source that several people believe will act as a reliable "transition" from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources like solar and wind. Biomass is the energy that plants get from the sun as they photosynthesize to grow. Humans can then use the energy by burning the plants, which could be wood or wood waste, crops and waste materials, or any other natural thing. The energy produced by burning plants can be utilized immediately for heating and cooking, or it can be processed and turned into liquid or gaseous energy. It was the most common way of energy consumption until the mid-nineteenth century, and it is still used as a source of energy in developing countries around the world.

Benefits of Biomass Energy

Biomass is a type of renewable energy that is both cleaner and organic. Plants and algae can mature in a short period of time, while other sources, such as timber trees, can be made available consistently and in an environmentally beneficial manner if cultivated and cared for in a sustainable manner, according to National Geographic. Sustainably-farmed crops, plants, and trees can also help to reduce carbon emissions by absorbing carbon dioxide on their own.

Switchgrass, for example, is inexpensive and easy to grow, and may be used as a feed source for cattle. Harvesting biomass is also less complicated and more efficient, as a set quantity can be used as needed without wasting any.

Disadvantages of Biomass Energy

Though biomass is certainly cleaner than nonrenewable sources, it has a number of drawbacks. For example, according to Syntech Bioenergy, certain types must be fortified with fossil fuels because they aren't strong enough on their own, and burning materials releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Meanwhile, many people are concerned that relying on it too heavily would lead to an increase in deforestation, which is another major contributor to global warming. Hopefully, we will be able to make the shift to solar and wind energy sooner rather than later, but in the meanwhile, biomass energy could be a viable transitional energy source.