For most of the world, reusing our food waste is limited to a compost pile and a home garden. While this isn’t a bad thing – it can be a great way to provide natural fertilizer for our home-grown produce and flower beds – it is fairly limited in its execution. Biomethane from food waste is an interesting idea which can be implemented in communities notorious for generating food wastes on a massive scale. Infact, the European Union is looking for a new way to reuse the millions of tons of food waste that are produced ever year in its member countries – and biomethane could be the way to go.
The Bin2Grid project is designed to make use of the 88 million tons of food waste that are produced in the European Union every year. For the past two years, the program has focused on collecting the food waste and unwanted or unsold produce, and converting it, first to biogas and then later to biomethane. This biomethane was used to supply fueling stations in the program’s pilot cities – Paris, Malaga, Zagreb and Skopje.
Biomethane could potentially replace fossil fuels, but how viable is it when so many people still have cars that run on gasoline?
The Benefits of Biomethane
Harvesting fossil fuels is naturally detrimental to the environment. The crude oil needs to be pulled from the earth, transported and processed before it can be used. It is a finite resource and experts estimate that we will exhaust all of our oil, gas and coal deposits by 2088.
While it is true that biomethane still releases CO2 into the atmosphere while burned, it is a neutral kind of waste. Just hear us out. The biggest difference between burning fossil fuels and burning biomethane is that the CO2 that was trapped in fossil fuels was trapped there millions of years ago. The CO2 in biomethane is just the CO2 that was trapped while the plants that make up the fuel were alive.
Biofuel in all its forms has a bit of a negative reputation – namely, farmers deforesting areas and removing trees that store and convert CO2 in favor of planting crops specifically for conversion into biofuel or biomethane. This is one way that anti-biofuel and pro-fossil fuel lobbyists argue against the implementation of these sort of biomethane projects – but they couldn’t be more wrong, especially with the use of food waste for conversion into useful and clean energy.
Using biogas is a great way to reduce your fuel costs as well as reuse materials that would otherwise be wasted or introduced into the environment. Upgrading biogas into biomethane isn’t possible at home at this point, but it could be in the future.
If the test cities in the European Union prove successful, biomethane made from food wastes could potentially change the way we think of fuel sources. It could also provide alternative fuel sources for areas where fossil fuels are too expensive or unavailable. We’ve got our fingers crossed that it works out well – if for no other reason that it could help us get away from our dependence on finite fossil fuel resources.
There is immense potential of biomass energy in Southeast Asia due to plentiful supply of diverse forms of biomass wastes including agricultural residues, agro-industrial wastes, woody biomass, animal wastes, municipal solid waste, etc. Southeast Asia is a big producer of wood and agricultural products which, when processed in industries, produces large amounts of biomass residues.
The rapid economic growth and industrialization in Southeast Asian region is characterized by a significant gap between energy supply and demand. The energy demand in the region is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years which will have a profound impact on the global energy market. In addition, the region has many locations with high population density, which makes public health vulnerable to the pollution caused by fossil fuels.
Another important rationale for transition from fossil-fuel-based energy systems to renewable ones arises out of observed and projected impacts of climate change. Due to the rising share of greenhouse gas emissions from Asia, it is imperative on all Asian countries to promote sustainable energy to significantly reduce GHGs emissions and foster sustainable energy trends. Rising proportion of greenhouse gas emissions is causing large-scale ecological degradation, particularly in coastal and forest ecosystems, which may further deteriorate environmental sustainability in the region.
The reliance on conventional energy sources can be substantially reduced as the Southeast Asian region is one of the leading producers of biomass resources in the world. Southeast Asia, with its abundant biomass resources, holds a strategic position in the global biomass energy atlas.
Palm kernel shells is an abundant biomass resource in Southeast Asia
According to conservative estimates, the amount of biomass residues generated from sugar, rice and palm oil mills is more than 200-230 million tons per year which corresponds to cogeneration potential of 16-19 GW. Woody biomass is a good energy resource due to presence of large number of forests and wood processing industries in the region.
The prospects of biogas power generation are also high in the region due to the presence of well-established food processing, agricultural and dairy industries. Another important biomass resource is contributed by municipal solid wastes in heavily populated urban areas.
In addition, there are increasing efforts from the public and private sectors to develop biomass energy systems for efficient biofuel production, e.g. biodiesel and bioethanol. The rapid economic growth and industrialization in Southeast Asia has accelerated the drive to implement the latest biomass energy technologies in order to tap the unharnessed potential of biomass resources, thereby making a significant contribution to the regional energy mix.
Growing interest in renewables is rapidly changing how energy projects are financed in America and around the world.
One of the biggest shifts has been an influx in outside money into the industry in the form of “green financing” — bonds, loans and other assets earmarked for renewable energy projects around the world.
The rise of the green financing market shows how investors are starting to take renewables more seriously — and it could signal a major transformation of the renewable energy market over the next few years.
Green Financing May Accelerate Renewable Energy Projects
Green financing is a catch-all term for investment in financial vehicles related to renewables and other green industries. Assets, bonds and funds related to renewable energy and other green investments make up the green financing market. In recent years, a robust green financing market has become widely viewed as essential to accelerating the development of new renewable energy technology projects.
Green finance is growing fast. In 2012, the sustainable debt market — including “green” and sustainable bonds and loans — was worth only around $10 billion, according to data from BloombergNEF. In 2018, just six years later, the market was worth nearly $250 billion.
Most of these gains came in the form of new green bonds (sometimes also called “climate bonds”), which are fixed-income investments designed to raise money for new renewable energy projects.
The growth of green financing represents a slow but noticeable divestment away from fossil fuels.
The pivot may also represent a change in how businesses are structured. The growing popularity of bonds as an investment vehicle may enable community co-ops rather than corporations to become a more viable business model for renewable energy providers. For example, the Westmill Solar Cooperative in the United Kingdom has raised more than £6 million ($7.94 million) through bonds offered to investors.
While coil, oil and natural gas are likely to remain a good investment in the short-term, the strength of the green financing market does seem like a signal that, over the next 10 to 20 years, non-renewables will become less and less tempting for investors compared to renewable and sustainable investments.
How Green Financing May Change Energy Around the World?
As the green finance market grows, regulators are beginning to codify what counts as a green investment.
These new definitions and regulations may determine which industries receive major funding and which are left out of the green financing boom.
Nuclear energy, for example, is generally not regarded as renewable energy, but is sometimes considered sustainable. Nuclear power plants generate waste, but they also produce zero emissions, unlike fossil fuel-fired power plants.
Natural gas is also not considered renewable or sustainable, as it is a fossil fuel and produces significant carbon emissions when burned for power. However, some proponents of the energy source argue that it should be considered sustainable, as it produces significantly less carbon dioxide than similar fossil fuels.
In 2019, EU regulators reached a deadlock over whether or not nuclear and natural gas power plants should count as sustainable investments. In a final compromise, EU lawmakers ruled that both nuclear and natural gas projects were neither included nor excluded in the definition of sustainable by default. Instead, projects would need to prove that they “do no harm” on a case-by-case basis.
Similar rulings and legal challenges could shape the future of energy as governments around the world grapple with the challenge of shifting away from fossil fuels.
A Coming Sustainable Energy Revolution
The rise of the green finance market may change what alternative energy looks like around the world. Legal debates over what should count as “renewable” or “sustainable” may affect which projects receive funding, while bonds and loans may make community cooperatives that provide renewable energy more practical.
As fossil fuels become less attractive to investors and the renewable energy market grows, green financing is likely to have major impacts on the future of renewables.
In recent years, the world has seen significant economic progress, which greatly relied on energy fueled by coal and petroleum among others. With the continuously growing demand for energy, it is a fact that these energy sources may be depleted in the near future. Apart from this, there are several other reasons why humankind already needs to find alternative energy sources.
It is a known fact that different manufacturing processes and human activities, such as using vehicles, cause pollution in the atmosphere by releasing carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide traps heat in the earth, and this phenomenon is known as global warming. Global warming has several harmful impacts such as stronger and more frequent storms, as well as drought and heat waves. Renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, and biomass to name a few, all generate minimal global warming emissions.
Wind power, for instance, has the capability to supply energy with a significantly lower emission compared to burning coal for fuel. This is the reason why wind energyis more beneficial compared to carbon-intensive energy sources. Still, the emissions generated by wind power are even lower compared to other renewable energy sources such as solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric power sources. This makes a huge potential for wind power to sustain the world’s energy demands, while preserving the environment.
It goes without saying that the pollution caused by burning coal and fuel not only has an environmental impact, but it also has a significant effect on public health. Various diseases and ailments can be attributed to pollution, which usually affects the respiratory tract. Contaminated water also causes various bacterial infections. Wind power, solar energy, and hydroelectric systems have the capability to generate electricity without emitting air pollutants.
Additionally, wind and solar energy sources do not need water to operate, thereby, eliminating the probability of polluting water resources. Clean air and water that is free from pollutants, will have a significant positive impact on public health.
Constant Energy Source
While coal and fossil fuels are on the threshold of depletion, renewable energy sources are inexhaustible. Wind can be a constant energy source and no matter how high the demand for energy will be, the wind will not be depleted. In the same manner, as long as the sun shines bright on earth, there will always be an abundant solar energy source.
Fast-moving water that can be translated into hydroelectric energy, the earth’s heat that can be converted into a geothermal power source, as well as abundant plant matter that can be used as biomass, can all be constantly replenished. These can never be fully exhausted no matter how great the energy demand will be. The utilization of a combination of each of these energy sources will prove to be even more beneficial. Additionally, with its continued use, there will no longer be a need for combustible energy sources.
Lower Energy Costs
The cost of electricity continues to be a burden on the earth’s greater population. The use of renewable energy sources to light up the earth is considerably cheaper and inexpensive compared to the cost of burning fossil fuels for electricity and other energy needs. Apart from a cheaper cost, renewable energy sources can help stabilize to cost of energy in the long run, with an unlimited supply being able to cater to greater demand.
While it cannot be denied that setting up clean energy technologies comes with a cost, it can be noted that the cost of its operation is significantly lower. Conversely, the cost of coal and fossil fuels for energy consumption fluctuates over a wide range and is greatly affected by the economic and political conditions of its country of origin.
Fossil fuel technologies, often, revolve around the capitalistic market. Hence, the use of combustible fuels is often linked to unfavorable labor conditions, and even child labor and slavery. On the other hand, the use of renewable energy sources provides decent jobs, contributing to several economic benefits.
For instance, workers are needed to install and maintain solar panels. In the same manner, wind farms employ technicians for maintenance. Thus, jobs are created directly in parallel with the unit of energy produced. This means that more jobs will be produced if more renewable energy sources are utilized.
Clean energy sources, specifically wind and solar power, are less susceptible to large-scale failures. The reason behind this is that both wind and solar power both employ distributed and modular systems. This means that electricity will not be totally cut off in instances of extreme weather conditions because the energy sources powering up the electricity is spread out over a wider geographical area. In the same manner, there will still be a continuous supply of energy even if certain equipment in the entire system is damaged because clean fuel technologies are made up of modules such as a number of individual wind turbines or solar panels.
With all the reasons to check out alternative energy sources, it still holds true that there remain several barriers that hinder the full implementation of renewable energy technologies. Some of these challenges are capital costs because of reliability misconceptions, as well as a difficult market entry due to an unequal playing field.
Because renewable energy sources are cheap to operate, the bulk of the expenses in its implementation is building the technology. Thereby, the rate of return for capitalists and investors in the market entails a longer waiting period. Adding to this barrier is the hidden political agenda that most governments need to overcome.
Economic progress and advancement in technology are not at all bad. On the contrary, it has brought forth a lot of benefits such as cures for ailments and diseases, resources for deep-sea or space explorations, as well as meaningful collaboration and communication. However, this progress came with a price, and unfortunately, it’s the world’s energy resources that are on the brink of exhaustion. Hence, mitigation has been already necessary and finding alternative energy sources is just one of the probable solutions.
Throughout the entire contemporary age, human beings have been using fossil fuels to meet their energy needs and requirements. Natural gas, oil, and coal have made it possible for people to receive power in their homes as well as power machinery for many years, thereby pushing civilization forward. However, human development has undergone a steady acceleration, thereby making the unsustainability of such energy ostensible or apparent. There was deterioration of global fuel supplies which have had a major contribution in polluting the atmosphere. So, to guarantee a sustainable future, the search of renewable energy sources took effect.
The civilization of today stands at a precarious moment. People are on the verge of embracing clean energy at a level which has never been seen before. However, before people choose to adopt clean energy and renewable power continuing its hasty advancement, right decisions have to be undertaken. By the stats of essayzoo.org, the introduction of clean energy in the worldwide scenario has raised questions regarding its stability and scalability.
Unsteady guidelines and procedures for influencing future growth at a macro level underwent exacerbation because of lack of funding and technological immaturity. Nevertheless, there has been a vast growth and development of clean energy installations, irrespective of the slow pace, until a histrionic hike some few years ago.
The cost of alternative energy systems has dropped sharply in recent years
Today, a significant proportion of the globe’s electricity comes from renewable energy. Many countries have thus set up sheer volume installation targets to ensure they reduce the causes of pollution in their environment. Embracing various types of clean, renewable energy such as solar power, hydropower, and wind power help lessen the causes of pollution in a particular region. Thus, it is advisable that as many countries as possible choose to adopt renewable energy trends and get to enjoy and benefit from its merits.
Renewable energy is a warranty for human survival
As aforementioned, renewable energy helps reduce cases of pollution in an area. Traditional sources of energy such as kerosene lamps and diesel-run generators, cause air pollution as they generate huge volumes of pollutants, thereby creating poor air quality. This can lead to respiratory conditions among people as well as early deaths. However, renewable energy provides an ecological alternative. Also, industries emit gases which pollute the air, thereby putting human life at risk. But, renewable energy helps improve the situation.
Renewable sources of energy such as wind power, geothermal power, and solar power enable people from different communities to utilize natural resources in the production of green, clean energy. Hence, this enables people to manage their energy in an independent manner.
Renewable energy also helps reduce global warming. Human activities overload the air with carbon dioxide and other emissions from global warming. Renewable energy does not produce global warming emissions, albeit the processes it undergoes to produce clean energy. Hence, this helps keep the atmosphere clean and does not put the lives of many people at risk.
Renewable energy is also a warranty for human survival as it helps generate job opportunities for many people and other economic benefits. Renewable energy industries are more labor demanding, unlike fossil fuel technologies. Solar panels involve human beings for installation. Also, wind farms entail technicians for efficient maintenance. Hence, this implies that there is the creation of jobs during the generation of each electricity unit from renewable sources of energy.
Clean, renewable energy can improve the future
The future of clean energy shows a better environment and living conditions for many people. Human beings will not have to rely on other sources of energy to get their activities running. They will not have to ensure certain types of ailments, such as heart disease, cancer, and bronchitis, among other health conditions. Adopting renewable energy helps minimize the likelihood of these disorders happening.
Additionally, they will be able to create job opportunities for themselves when they embrace renewable energy rather than rely on fossil fuels for energy. Fossil fuels are not only capital intensive but also mechanical. Human beings will have to spend a lot of money on such a form of energy. Also, it does not require much of their effort to be put to use. On the other hand, renewable energy requires a lot of labor. There are various solar panels which require installation and wind farms which need maintenance from professional technicians. Thus, adopting renewable energy helps them to have jobs which can generate some income for them, thereby helping them to improve their living conditions.
Solar panels are becoming more accessible, for homeowners and businesses
Clean energy is also ideal for the future in that it helps reduce global warming. Human activities contribute to the overloading of the air with carbon dioxide and other discharges from global warming. But, renewable energy industries do not produce any global warming emissions. Hence, this makes the atmosphere safe and conducive for people to live in. It does not expose them to certain health conditions. Thus, they do not have to worry about their health now and then when using renewable energy.
Main types of clean, renewable energy
The energy trend shows that renewable energy is the future for humanity. Hence, this has had a major contribution in the discovery of various types of renewable energy. Some of them are as follows.
The production of this energy comes through the drilling of geothermal systems into the earth’s crust to reach deeper resources of geothermal power, thereby allowing broad access to geothermal energy. Geothermal plants are different in relation to the type of technology they use to cool and the one they use to transform the resource to electricity.
Channeling power from the wind is one of the most maintainable and hygienic methods to generate electricity. This is because it does produce any global warming discharges or toxic pollution. Additionally, the wind is affordable, infinite, and profuse. Hence, this makes it a feasible and all-encompassing substitute for fossil fuels.
Same to wind power, the sun offers a remarkable resource for generating fresh and maintainable energy.
Hydroelectric power incorporates small run-of-the-river plants and massive hydroelectric dams. Increasing capacity at these dams and river projects help generate some energy.
Nowadays the question of renewable energy is heard more and more often. It’s getting closer to us. Research work is being conducted in universities, students are preparing dissertations on this subject and even third part services can write your dissertation paper in short time with no compromise in quality. So the future of renewable energy shows to be promising. People will no longer have to rely on fossil fuels to get energy. They can embrace the utilization of renewable sources of energy, such as hydroelectric power, wind power, solar power, and geothermal power.
Furthermore, this proves to be a guarantee for human survival on the basis of the points above. Adopting renewable energy is an ideal choice many people and nations need to embrace. Moreover, this will help them identify and recognize renewable energy developments and how they can adopt them in their day-to-day activities hence improving their living conditions.
There’s no doubt that Covid-19 has taken a human and socio-economic toll over the course of the last six months, with more than 10 million cases and 500,000 deaths recorded so far. However, the pandemic has always provided moments of hope and economy across the globe, from the boom in ecommerce and the rise of remote working to the unexpected 8% emissions reduction reported in the UK. These trends have also been impactful across the globe, and there’s no doubt that they have the potential to sustain significant and positive change into the future.
What is a Green Economy and Why Should the World Care?
Of course, the Covid-19 outbreak came on the back of global environmental protests by organisations such as Extinction Rebellion, which sought to drive radical change and introduce a green economy that would make the UK carbon neutral by 2025.
This was deemed to be incredibly ambitious by some commentators, although the current Conservative government has pledged to create a greener, carbon neutral economy by 2050.
While regulations and multilateral agreements such as the Paris Climate Change Agreements take care of the first element of this, it’s socially responsible investment that drives the second.
The best example of the latter exists in the form of investment in renewable technology, which is arguably the single most important dynamic for future infrastructure spending throughout the global community.
Can Covid Trigger Increased Green Technology Spending?
With this in mind, the importance of green economics and increased renewable technology spending is clear, while the sharp decline in emissions during the coronavirus outbreak has raised hopes that a green global economy may be on the horizon.
Still, there’s no doubt that fossil fuel consumption is set to decline incrementally in the coming years, and this is definitely a factor when appraising the issues faced by oil of late.
Ultimately, these facts hint at a greener and more sustainable future, and it cannot be denied that most developed economies were investing in renewable energy sources at record levels prior to the pandemic.
The question that remains, of course, is to what degree the recent emissions reductions across the globe have been inspired by such changes? The answer is telling, particularly if it turns out the reduction in CO2 emissions over the course of the last two months was solely driven by the widespread lockdown measures that curbed road and air travel.
Regardless, now is clearly the ideal time to push a greener agenda and continue laying the foundations for a more sustainable future.
Even the fleetest of glances at global solar energy map shows Oman to be well placed to exploit the energy-giving rays of the sun. In fact, over the last few years, a gaggle of reports have been published extolling the virtues of exploiting this renewable energy source. However, with increasing and more urbanised populations consuming greater and greater amounts of energy, only now are governments across the Gulf and wider MENA regions seriously looking at harnessing solar power to help fill potential energy deficits.
Sealing and mounting application of epoxy resins increase the environmental tolerance of the solar equipment
Mr Jigar Shah, quoted in a recent article, said investors were “desperate to invest in the Middle East solar industry” and were waiting for clear instructions from the governments in the region. He said, “The economics of switching to solar energy are far better here than in South Africa, India, Brazil, China and the US. Now that the costs of developing solar technologies have significantly declined, it is time for the Middle East to turn talk into action.”
That there is huge potential in the solar industry was underlined in no uncertain terms by the announcement last year of a $2 billion project to develop solar power projects in Oman. The plans also envisage creating industrial plants for the manufacture of solar panels and aluminium frames, to be used by the power station and also for local consumption and export.
Knowledge and technology transfer were also critical contributors to the success of the project which also aimed to tie-up with major international technology companies and international universities with expertise in renewable energy education, to help train the local population in servicing this burgeoning industry.
David Heimhofer, Chairman of Terra Nex Group and Managing Director of Middle East Best Select Fund, said, “By attracting foreign direct investment in the growing renewable energy sector and using German expertise, Oman will become not just a regional leader in the field, but also benefit from the great intrinsic value within the complete value chain associated with this economic sector. He says“In addition to generating new jobs for the Omani people and boosting exports, this project creates an entire industry that Oman can be proud of.”
The project is expected to deliver more than 2000 jobs for Omanis across a diverse range of industrial sectors and services. In order to increase the skill set of the local population to help service these new jobs, the University of Zurich proposed the setting up of an educational institution in the Sultanate specialising in the field of renewable energy engineering.
Biogas is an often overlooked and neglected aspect of renewable energy in India. While solar, wind and hydropower dominate the discussion in the cuntry, they are not the only options available. Biogas is a lesser known but highly important option to foster sustainable development in agriculture-based economies, such as India.
What is Biogas
Briefly speaking, biogas is the production of gaseous fuel, usually methane, by fermentation of organic material. It is an anaerobic process or one that takes place in the absence of oxygen. Technically, the yeast that causes your bread to rise or the alcohol in beer to ferment is a form of biogas. We don’t use it in the same way that we would use other renewable sources, but the idea is similar. Biogas can be used for cooking, lighting, heating, power generation and much more. Infact, biogas is an excellent and effective to promote development of rural and marginalized communities in all developing countries.
This presents a problem, however. The organic matter is putting off a gas, and to use it, we have to turn it into a liquid. This requires work, machinery and manpower. Research is still being done to figure out the most efficient methods to make it work, but there is a great deal of progress that has been made, and the technology is no longer new.
Fossil Fuel Importation
India has a rapidly expanding economy and the population to fit. This has created problems with electricity supplies to expanding areas. Like most countries, India mainly uses fossil fuels. However, as oil prices fluctuate and the country’s demand for oil grows, the supply doesn’t always keep up with the demand. In the past, India has primarily imported oil from the Middle East, specifically Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
Without a steady and sustainable fossil fuels supply, India has looking more seriously into renewable sources they can produce within the country. Biogas is an excellent candidate to meet those requirements and has been used for this goal before.
Biogas in India
There are significant differences between biogas and fossil fuels, but for India, one of the biggest is that you can create biogas at home. It’s pretty tricky to find, dig up and transform crude oil into gas, but biogas doesn’t have the same barriers. In fact, many farmers who those who have gardens or greenhouses could benefit with proper water management and temperature control so that plants can be grown year round, It still takes some learning and investment, but for many people, especially those who live in rural places, it’s doable.
This would be the most beneficial to people in India because it would help ease the strain of delivering reliable energy sources based on fossil fuels, and would allow the country to become more energy independent. Plus, the rural areas are places where the raw materials for biogas will be more available, such animal manure, crop residues and poultry litter. But this isn’t the first time most people there are hearing about it.
Biogas in India has been around for a long time. In the 1970’s the country began a program called the National Biogas and Manure Management Program (NBMMP) to deal with the same problem — a gas shortage. The country did a great deal of research and implemented a wide variety of ideas to help their people become more self-sufficient, regardless of the availability of traditional gasoline and other fossil fuel based products.
The original program was pioneering for its time, but the Chinese quickly followed suit and have been able to top the market in biogas production in relatively little time. Comparatively, India’s production of biogas is quite small. It only produces about 2.07 billion m3/year of biogas, while it’s estimated that it could produce as much as 48 billion m3/year. This means that there are various issues with the current method’s India is using in its biogas production.
Biogas has the potential to rejuvenate India’s agricultural sector
The original planning in the NBMMP involved scientists who tried to create the most efficient biogas generators. This was good, but it slowed people’s abilities to adopt the techniques individually. China, on the other hand, explicitly worked to help their most rural areas create biogas. This allowed the country to spread the development of biogas to the most people with the lowest barriers to its proliferation.
If India can learn from the strategy that China has employed, they may be able to give their biogas production a significant boost which will also help in the rejuvenation of biomass sector in the country. Doing so will require the help and willingness of both the people and the government. Either way, this is an industry with a lot of room for growth.
Biomass is material originating from plant and animal matter. Biomass energy uses biomass to create energy by burning organic materials. The heat energy released through burning these materials can heat homes or water. Heated water produces steam, which in turn can generate electricity. Using organic materials to create heat and power is an eco-friendlier alternative compared to using fossil fuels.
The majority of the world’s energy comes from burning fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are a finite resource. Once fossil fuel resources run out, new fuel sources will be needed to meet global energy demands. Biomass offers a solution to meet this need.
Organic waste material from agriculture and logging operations, animal manure, and sludge from wastewater treatment are all viable fuels for generating biomass energy. As long as the earth is inhabited, these materials will be readily available.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Waste organic material that would typically be disposed of in landfills could be redirected for biomass energy use. This reduces the amount of material in landfills and slows the rate at which landfills are filled. Some of the most common waste products used for biomass energy are wood chips and agricultural waste products. Wood materials can easily be converted from already existing wood structures that will be destroyed, such as wooden furniture and log cabins, preferably both would also come from responsible logging and practices as well.
As more organic material is diverted from landfills, the number of new landfills needed would be reduced. Older landfills are at risk for leaking leachate. Leachate contains many environmental pollutants that can contaminate groundwater sources.
Burning fossil fuel releases carbon into the atmosphere which was previously trapped below ground. Trapped carbon isn’t at risk for contributing to global climate change since it can’t interact with air. Each time fossil fuels are burned, they allow previously trapped carbon to enter the atmosphere and contribute to global climate change. In comparison, biofuel is carbon-neutral.
The materials used to create biomass energy naturally release carbon into the environment as they decompose. Living plants and trees use carbon dioxide to grow and release oxygen into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide released by burning organic material will be absorbed by existing plants and trees. The biomass cycle is carbon-neutral as no new carbon is introduced to the system.
Smaller Carbon Footprint
The amount of unused farmland is increasing as agriculture becomes more efficient. Maintaining open land is expensive. As a result, farmers are selling off their property for new developments. Unused open agricultural land could be used to grow organic material for biofuels.
Converting open tracts of land to developed areas increases the amount of storm-water runoff. Storm-water runoff from developed areas contains more pollutants than storm-water runoff from undeveloped areas. Using open areas to grow biomass sources instead of creating new developments would reduce water pollution.
A quick glance at popular biomass resources
Forested areas also provide sources of biofuel material. Open land converted to sustainable forestry would create new animal habitats and offset carbon emissions from existing fossil fuel sources as more plants and trees would be available to absorb carbon dioxide.
Burning fossil fuels releases sulfur dioxide, mercury and particulate matter into the atmosphere which can cause asthma, cancer and respiratory problems. Biomass energy emits less harmful byproducts compared to fossil fuels, which means cleaner air and healthier people.
Biofuel can improve rural economies by providing more people with unused land the opportunity to grown biomass material for energy use. Workers would be needed to harvest and process the materials needed to generate biofuel.
Increasing biomass energy usage can reduce forest fires. Selectively reducing brush can still reduce the risk of wildfires spreading. Exposing underbrush and groundcover to rainfall decreases the change of it drying out and creating optimal, fire spreading conditions.
The Danish Energy Agency has developed a plan including four scenarios that will help Denmark become fossil fuel free by 2050. The biomass scenario involves CHP for electricity and district heating, indicating that biomass energy is important in Denmark’s energy sector today and will play an increasingly important role in the future.
Biomass offers an eco-friendly and renewable method of reducing pollution and the effects of global climate change. And, like other forms of renewable energy, the products needed to develop biomass energy are readily available.
With increasing concern and awareness of climate change, there has been a growth in the renewable energy sector through government subsidies and private investment, allowing for the replacement of current sources of energy with less carbon-intensive fuels. However, renewable energy technologies are yet to topple the traditional fossil fuel-powered electricity market. With the increasing trajectory of global emissions, climate research has been exploring other methods of climate mitigation, for instance, through the use of large-scale geoengineering technologies.
A quick glance at popular biomass resources
Of particular focus are the carbon dioxide removal techniques, namely Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) that have been prominently featured in emission scenarios of climate models, particularly for their direct influence in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. CCS involves capturing carbon dioxide emissions from industries and storing them under geological reservoirs either on shore or offshore. You can read more about this technology on a previous EcoMENA article.
What is Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage
One of the main concerns about CCS is the use of fossil fuels for its operations. In the pursuit for greener climate mitigation technologies, Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) has emerged as a climate saviour, featuring in prominent emissions scenarios and climate models to achieve the 1.5-degree target.
In the place of fossil fuels, biomass is instead used as the primary fuel source for BECCS as seen in the picture below. The two-step absorption of carbon dioxide, first during the growth of the biomass, and second through capturing of the biomass emissions, makes BECCS, in theory, a net negative emissions technique.
Source: Can we deploy enough BECCS to achieve climate targets? AVOID 2
Of the 116 climate scenarios suggested by the IPCC, BECCS was seen to have a significant role in 101 of the scenarios to help prevent global temperature rise above the 1.5-degree target. In fact, UK electricity generator Drax, has chosen to invest in the BECCS technology and started its first trial earlier this year, making it the first of its kind in Europe.
Risks associated with BECCS
While the combination of bioenergy and CCS provides an ideal carbon negative mitigation strategy, it also combines the existing risks associated with both technologies. In addition to lack of investment and long-term economic policies for CCS, large scale deployment of BECCS is hindered by uncertainties such as land, water and resource availability. Studies have shown concerns regarding the carbon intensity and the scale of land and resources required to sustain the bioenergy component required for BECCS.
While the net negative aspect of BECCS may work in theory, studies have revealed significant proportions of emissions associated with indirect land use change for biomass production for BECCS. In addition to technical challenges, one of the key constraints for the deployment of such climate technologies is social acceptance, where sections of the general public, or specific stakeholders, remain unconvinced with certain aspects of the technology due to ethical or political reasons.
As such, while CCS and BECCS may offer the ideal climate saviour solution to reduce overall carbon dioxide emissions, the technologies are still overcast with various technical and social challenges that limit their commercial usage for climate mitigation.
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