What is Biomass Energy?
Bioenergy use falls into two main categories: “traditional” and “modern.” Traditional use refers to the combustion of biomass in such forms as wood, animal waste and traditional charcoal. Modern bioenergy technologies include liquid biofuels produced from bagasse and other plants; bio-refineries; biogas produced through anaerobic digestion of residues; wood pellet heating systems; and other technologies.
Biomass energy is recognized as a source of sustainable energy, which can be used without polluting the environment. Biomass is considered to be an affordable and major source of energy, as it is an inexhaustible resource; it is universally available; and it supports socioeconomic development particularly in rural areas.
BIOMASS ENERGY USE IN THE WORLD
Biomass accounts for approximately a third of total renewable energy use around the world, and more than half of it comprises conventional use of biomass. In 2015, bioenergy constituted approximately 10% of total final energy consumption and around 1.4% of global energy production. It has a substantial potential for enhancing energy output in populous countries with a growing demand for energy, including Brazil, India and China. It can be combusted directly for heating or electric generation, or converted to oil and gas substitutes. About three-quarters of the world’s renewable energy use involves bioenergy, with more than half of that consisting of traditional biomass use. Bioenergy accounted for about 10% of total final energy consumption and 1.4% of global power generation in 2015. Biomass has significant potential to boost energy supplies in populous nations with rising demand, such as Brazil, India and China. It can be directly burned for heating or power generation, or it can be converted into oil or gas substitutes. Liquid biofuels, a convenient renewable substitute for gasoline, are mostly used in the transport sector. Brazil is the leader in liquid biofuels and has the largest fleet of flexible-fuel vehicles, which can run on bioethanol – an alcohol mostly made by the fermentation of carbohydrates in sugar or starch crops, such as corn, sugarcane or sweet sorghum.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
It is a fact that energy production using sources of fossil fuel causes substantial harm to the environment. Global environmental problems are directly correlated with the consumption of energy and the use of fossil fuels containing high rates of sulfur and other harmful substances. Because increasing biomass energy output requires increasing farming labor, biomass energy represents an ideal option for creating jobs particularly in rural areas; it may also help prevent urban migration, which is a key issue for the developing countries. Biomass is also highly important in that it can grow in arid regions, allowing use of previously unusable areas and increasing utilization of rural areas for growing. Biomass energy is a renewable and environment-friendly source of energy. It does not contribute to the greenhouse effect, nor cause environmental pollution or acid rains. It is suitable for growing almost everywhere, easy to store and compatible with energy yield at any scale, which are the main reasons that make it a preferable option.
BIOMASS ENERGY IN TURKEY
Turkey has an annual biomass production capacity of approximately 117 billion tons, corresponding to 32 Mtoe annually. Annual plants account for the highest share in this capacity (14,5 Mtoe), followed by forestry waste (5,4 Mtoe), and perennial plants (4,1 Mtoe). Turkey has an estimated biogas production capacity of 1,5-2 Mtoe, from animal excrements.
As a renewable source of energy, biomass has a great potential for use in Turkey. Biomass sources of Turkey include agricultural, forestry and organic municipal waste and animal excrements. As an agricultural country, Turkey has vast resources in terms of agricultural waste and product waste, representing a total estimated energy capacity equivalent to 9,5 million tons of petroleum.
In Turkey, solid waste from crops is estimated at 39,2 to 52,3 million tons, corn waste 3,8 to 4,8 million tons, sugar beet 1,3 to 1,5 million tons and cotton waste 522 to 617 thousand tons. Total agricultural solid waste amount is 40 to 53 million tons in Turkey, corresponding to an annual energy equivalent of 50 to 65 million tons of petroleum, which can be processed in various ways for use as biomass fuel.
Turkey has a rich agricultural potential with 23,7 million hectares of cultivable agricultural lands. 18,11 million hectares of this land is cultivated and the remainder is unsown. Such vast agricultural capacity of Turkey highlights a capability for producing energy from biomass. Also, changes in the global energy markets uncover new opportunities for bioenergy and renewable energy, which continues to grow as a clean way, driven by the rising demand for energy and declining fossil fuel reserves.
COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT BIOMASS
MISCONCEPTION-1: “BIOMASS ENERGY IS HARMFUL TO THE ENVIRONMENT.”
Biomass energy is derived from natural sources, such as plant waste and agricultural waste, which are optimal materials for this type of energy. Also, wood, animal manure and domestic waste can also be used to produce biomass energy. In particular, conversion of domestic waste for this purpose is not harmful to the environment.
MISCONCEPTION-2: “BIOMASS ENERGY POLLUTES THE AIR.”
Biomass energy production involves combustion of natural waste. There are concerns that the fumes emitted from combustion may render the air unbreathable. Yet, the combustion of these materials does not produce any waste which may be harmful to human health or the environment. The combusted materials are not chemically synthesized substances.
MISCONCEPTION-3 “BIOMASS ENERGY IS HARMFUL TO FARMLANDS.”
Biomass energy does not pollute farmlands or water. Areas in vicinity of a biomass power plant are perfectly cultivable. In fact, the waste from agricultural produce can be used as a source for this type of energy, providing a source of income for people living in the area.
MISCONCEPTION-4 “BIOMASS ENERGY COSTS A LOT.”
According to the World Energy Council (WEC), harvesting and burning gaseous methane from biomass and organic substances decomposing in landfills represents one of the cheapest sources of alternative energy.
MISCONCEPTION-5 “BIOMASS ENERGY IS NOT A CONTINUOUS SOURCE OF ENERGY.”
Biomass sources are available almost everywhere, both on land and in the sea. Naturally-occurring forests, animal excrements and plant waste have been the main sources of biomass used by the developing countries for years.