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Biomass Pros and Cons

14 Disadvantages of Biomass Energy You Should Know

There are a ton of disadvantages of biomass along with the benefits biomass provides by biomass. Before we discuss how biomass is affecting the world, we should know about it. So, let’s start

”Biomass energy that is also known as bioenergy is considered a renewable source of energy”.

It includes all plants, animals, and waste products from organic material. Biomass is used as a source of energy production for hundreds of years.

This renewable source of energy is used in almost all fields of life to provide you a sufficient amount of energy and reduces the need for fossil fuels. Although it’s beneficial and gives you several benefits, on the other hand, there are several disadvantages to Biomass.

How Biomass energy is Harmful?

As compared to all other alternatives of fossil fuels, Biomass is considered an unreliable source of energy production. Organic material is used, and methane gas emits during combustion.

It leads to many health hazards. Moreover, the high cost is needed for it. Due to these factors, Biomass is not a recommendable source of energy.

14 Major Disadvantages of Using Biomass
1. Not efficient as fossil fuels
2. Biomass is not a Clean Energy
3. It Can lead to deforestation
4. Biomass requires a lot of space
5. High cost as compared to other alternatives
6. Required a lot of water
7. Biomass Energy is Harmful to the environment
8. Energy Expenditures are very high
9. Affecting Biodiversity
10. It’s under development
11. Cause Serious Health Hazards
12. Biomass energy has inefficiencies
13. Nutrient Depletion by Biomass
14. Causes Water Pollution

1. Not efficient as fossil fuels

  • Biomass energy sources like Ethanol is not sufficient as compare to Gasoline. For this purpose, fortification is done to increase efficiency.

2. Biomass is not a Clean Energy:

  • Biomass is not a completely clean source of energy because it is a carbon-neutral fuel source. Methane gas emits during the combustion that damages the environment.
  • Moreover, burning wood or other organic matter creates carbon in the emission that pollutes our environment.
  • Lack of clean and safe emission is one of the main disadvantages of biomass energy. There are also diseases due to land and air pollution.

3. It Can lead to deforestation:

  • Forests play an essential role in the survival of humans. They provide watershed protection and prevents soil erosion.
  • But now the world is going towards deforestation due to the consumption of Biomass as fossil fuel. Replanting plants cannot fulfill this loss.

disadvantages of biomass energy

  • A massive amount of wood and waste products are needed to get the required amount of power, so there is a risk of deforestation.
  • This disadvantage of biomass fuel is also harmful to wildlife. They may lead to endangered or extinct species.

4. Biomass requires a lot of space:

  • In the cons of biomass energy, one of them is occupying a lot of space. It is tough to place it in urban areas due to limited space. There is a need for ample space to grow biomass energy material.
  • If you are building the power plant just near the sources, then you have to cut down the transportation towards that area. It causes difficulty for other people.
  • When we compare Biomass with solar energy, this becomes less favorable. The land used for the installation could also be used for cultivation

5. High cost as compared to other alternatives:

  • Biomass projects like solar, water, wind, and water are considered a cheap alternative for fossil fuels. But Biomass needs more expenditure.

disadvantages of biomass

  • Moreover, the cost of the whole machinery that is used for energy extraction is also counted in it.
  • Transportation and resource gathering of biomass energy also needs to be counted in it. In this way, it also affects the economy of the country.

6. Required a lot of water:

  • In the list of disadvantages of biomass renewable energy resources, the need for water is often unseen. Water is essential for all plants for survival, and ultimately, sources can be utilized at any time.

Disadvantages of biomass

  • It increases the cost in terms of irrigation.
  • Uses of more water lead to less availability for wildlife. Moreover, water itself it an excellent ultimate source of energy. So why cannot be used as energy production as compared to Biomass?

7. Biomass Energy is Harmful to the environment

  • Biomass energy is harmful to the environment due to the emission of methane gas during combustion. This gas is not only toxic to humans but also animals.

Disadvantages of biomass

  • The emission of Methane Gas shows the terrible impact on human health. A large proportion of methane causes oxygen deficiency that may lead to dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and headache.

8. Energy Expenditure:

  • There is a lot of need for expenditures in biomass energy. Maintenance of plants and animals required extra energy. Fertilizers used in fields required proper processing before use. Advanced equipment is needed for it.
  • For this purpose, lumber is used as fuel for Biomass, which is clearing the wooden areas whereas these areas are the habitat of wildlife. It is a threatening situation for these animals.

9. Affecting Biodiversity:

  • Biomass is also changing the biodiversity day by day. When any crop is cultivated inland in a specific region, it shows the effects on many other areas in terms of pollution.
  • It affects the wildlife and marine life directly which leads to the chances of extinction of many plants and animals.
  • The negative effect on biodiversity also leads to fragmentation, habitat loss, and extinction of various species.
  • In the end, no biomass source will be left if biodiversity exhausted.

10. It’s under development:

  • There is a need for a lot of innovations in the biomass system to generate safe and clean energy. Solar, water, wind, and nuclear energy product are the more reliable and cheapest way of energy production as compare to Biomass.
  • Scientists are working on it make it the best alternative of renewable resources to make it more efficient.
  • Many barriers have been crossed to produce Biomass as a viable source of energy on a full scale.

11. Cause Serious Health Hazards:

  • The burning of carbon leads to environmental pollution that cannot be neglected. Biomass energy contributes to several health hazards. It leads to skin cancer, dizziness, severe headache, nausea. In some cases, the premature death of babies is reported.
  • Benzene and formaldehyde are cancer causes agents that lead to ovarian cancer, skin cancer, and eye cancer.
  • Waste products produced in the result of energy are very harmful and cause some respiratory disorders in humans.

12. Biomass energy has inefficiencies:

  • Although biomass fuels are natural, they are not as efficient as other processed fuels like Gasoline and Petroleum. These are needed for some changes to make it more effective.
  • The economy of the country is also affected by Biomass. It uses plants and other organic matter that disturbs the overall balance of the state.

13. Nutrient Depletion by Biomass:

  • In the list of biomass disadvantages, nutrient depletion is widespread. Significant nutrients like magnesium, zinc, calcium, phosphate, sulfur, and much more lead toward deficiency.
  • Soil erosion due to Biomass is the leading cause of nutrient depletion.
  • Nutrients deficiency shoes a significant effect on cropping. It reduces the overall yield and quality of the crop. Farmers have to face the number of problems in this condition. Fertilizers are used for this purpose, but they cannot provide the same benefits.

14. Causes Water Pollution:

  • Water pollution is the main con of Biomass. Carbon and benzene particles mix with the water and cause pollution. This water is consumed by humans, plants, and animals that cause various kinds of diseases.

Disadvantages of biomass

  • Biomass is also affecting marine life day by day. Waste of organic matter is thrown into the sea and rivers that cause oxygen depletion in seawater.
  • Sea animals face difficulty to live, and many species are becoming endangered due to it.

FAQs

  • Should we use biomass energy?

As we all know, we can get biomass energy from burning animal and plant waste. The good thing is that it is a renewable source of energy. Keep this thing in mind that all Industries such as forestry, agriculture, university, hotel, resorts, and much more are producing the waste which can be converted into heat and electricity.

We should use biomass energy as it is a renewable source of energy, as well as it is carbon neutral. It reduces the overreliance of fossil fuels as well as it is less expensive than fossil fuels. Biomass energy is also facilitating the producers of waste where they channel their garbage and get more profitable use in the form of biomass energy.

  •  Is biomass harmful to humans?

I also discussed earlier that biomass is giving a lot of benefits to humans, and it is also a good replacement for fossil fuels. But still, biomass is harmful to humans to some extent. This is because when you burn biomass then it produces the harmful pollutant known as soot.

Along with soot, another harmful pollutant is released named carbon monoxide. You know very well how much it is dangerous for our health. So when carbon monoxide adds to the environment, it will have many side effects such as nausea, dizziness, and headaches. Unfortunately, if carbon monoxide is released in higher concentrations, then it will lead to premature death.

  • What is the cost of using biomass?

Biomass is considered to be a very competitive power generation option, according to the experts. So you can also get low cost agricultural or forestry residues and wastes. Fortunately, many low-cost feedstocks are also available where the biomass can often compete with many conventional power resources.

Through direct combustion, the heat is produced from biomass, especially in the United States. However, many small scale biomass electric plants are also available with a total cost of 3000 to 4000 per kilowatt. 

If we levelized that cost of energy, then its cost is only 0.8 dollars to 0.15 dollars per kilowatt-hour. The usual range of biomass-fired power plants is from 6 to 29 cents per kilowatt-hour. This range is based on capital costs and feedstock costs. Consequently, feedstocks are expensive, and still, biomass is more competitive than the diesel-fired generation. So biomass is considered to be the ideal solution for producing the off-grid or mini-grid electric supply.

  •  How much biomass is left in the world?

The total biomass left in the world is about 550 to 560 billion tonnes C. However, if we talk about the total annual primary production of biomass then it is just over 100 billion tons C per year. The biomass produced by the bacteria is almost the same as that of the plants and animals. However, animals and plants are contributing to less biomass.

Unless we talk about humans, it accounts for only 36% of all mammals’ biomass. On the contrary, the biomass produced by cows and pigs accounts for 60%. Most surprisingly, the wild mammals produce biomass off only 4%.

Now the question arises in your mind which species produces the biomass to a larger extent. The answer is copepods. However, some people do not know about copepods. They are actually a group of small crustaceans that you will find in nearly every freshwater and saltwater habitat. 

  •  Do ants have more biomass than humans?

It is exciting to know that humans can have more biomass than humans. Most surprisingly, these ants are billions and billions of tonnes up against humans. All this is due to the population difference between humans and ants.

The population of humans is fewer than 500 million. However, most amazingly, the population of ants all over the world is almost 500 trillion.

It does not mean that a single ant is more massive than the human. The main reason is that ants are present in more significant numbers than humans.

So when they compile up, then obviously their biomass is greater than the humans. So, on average, if we compare humans and insects’ weight, then the human’s weight is a million times more than the ant.  However, the total weight of ants is greater than humans.

  •  Why does biomass decrease?

When you look at any food chain, you also see the arrowheads between the plant or animal. These arrowheads actually show the transfer of biomass from one organism to another. So this is actually the transfer of energy which is transferred from one species to another. 

It is interesting to know that not all biomass is transferred to other plants or organisms. Only 10% of the biomass is transferred from each trophic level to the next. So there is 90% of biomass which is remaining and is used by the organisms in the trophic level to complete different life processes.

To conclude, 90% of the biomass is actually lost due to the different processes in our body, such as respiration, excretion, aerobic respiration, and egestion.

Conclusion:

  • Biomass energy that is a renewable source of energy is used to produce a sufficient amount of energy. It is generated from plants and other organic matters.
  • Although it provides power, it is not considered a safe alternative to fossil fuels.
  • The disadvantages of fossil fuels, lead to deforestation, water pollution, air pollution and causes many health hazards.
  • Biomass energy is also expensive and required more space for a generation. In this way, it also affects the overall economy of the country. It also affects wildlife.

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