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Biomass energy: what it is, how it works and its advantages

Human beings generate waste, and we have been doing so ever since we inhabited the Earth. Think about it. In our daily lives, we consume products that contain elements that we need to get rid of. In many cases, we can opt for recycling, in others, there is a very interesting alternative: creating energy.

The concept of biomass may sound strange to you, but if you continue reading our article you will be surprised at how common its use is throughout the world because of its transformation. We invite you to learn about a different way to contribute to a more sustainable planet, with another very interesting renewable energy: biomass energy.


What is biomass energy?

Biomass energy is obtained from the combustion of organic matter. The source from which we get it is biomass that originates from a number of biological processes that occur in our daily lives. For example. Animal droppings in livestock farms, residue from tree pruning, certain cereals, remains of industrial oil, etc.

As you can see, we get if from a number of different sources. This energy opens up endless possibilities, as it enables us to obtain different kinds of products, such as charcoal, liquid fuels and gases.

We can use biomass energy to get heating, electricity and fuels. Due to the preponderance of fossil fuels, their use has been reduced considerably. However, the intention to set aside these polluting fuels and this will make biomass energy one of the most logical alternatives for everyday use.

In Spain, biomass energy consumption accounts for barely 1% of the total, but its potential is very important. Only Sweden and Finland have greater forest biomass resources, and Spain is also the main producer of pigs in Europe (more than 50 million tons of organic waste are generated per year). All this material can have a very positive impact on the creation of sustainable energy.

Some of the most important biomass plants in Spain are located in Cartagena, in towns like Pinto and Alcalá de Henares in the province of Madrid, in Navarre and in Segovia. These plants produce electricity, heating, biofuels and their additives.

“In Spain, biomass energy consumption accounts for barely 1% of the total, but its potential is very important.”

How does biomass work?

Biomass can be transformed into electrical energy or heat. This process is undertaken both on a small scale, either with boilers in homes and buildings, as well as in industrial plants by means of biological and thermochemical procedures.

In the case of electricity, specialised plants use wood as fuel. Operators heat large containers of water with this material which is used to drive electric generators with the resulting steam. As you can see, this is a process similar to what we find in other types of renewable energies.

The interesting thing about this electricity is that, as biomass is available on a daily basis, there will not be any problem to get a supply of materials for transformation. Biomass is all around us and it is very easy to obtain and use in the process of creating energy.

We can also generate liquid and gaseous fuels from biomass. Hydrogen is obtained by breaking down molecules composed of water and carbon using steam with the help of a catalyst. This enables us to charge batteries for vehicles and by using this gas we reduce the consumption of polluting fuels.

Liquid fuels from biomass can be used as substitutes for traditional fuels, or as additives for fuels. They are obtained from vegetable oils and organic remains. Can you imagine a car smelling of oranges instead of petrol? With fuels like biodiesel, anything is possible.

This is how we obtain products that can have all kinds of uses: from industrial to transport and domestic chores.


Is biomass renewable or non-renewable?

Many of you will ask the question of whether biomass energy is really renewable or not, since you get the feeling that some materials from which energy is obtained do not appear to be so. The answer to this question is yes, biomass energy is renewable, as well as clean. So here we have a very valid form of energy generation and it should be taken into account as an alternative to fossil fuel methods.

But, what is the essential factor for biomass production to be considered a suitable way to obtain energy? Sustainability.

Let's take the example of forests. We use firewood to produce biomass energy that provides us with heat. Not surprisingly, this comes from an environment that needs time to regenerate. If production gets ahead of schedule, there will be a supply problem, the product will become more expensive and pollution will have a direct impact on the environment.

Biomass energy: advantages and disadvantages

Disadvantages of biomass:

As we have seen, one of the disadvantages of biomass is the possibility of overexploitation, but with good planning problems can be avoided. The distribution channels for biomass and the storage systems could also be improved over time so the correct supply of material can be achieved.


Advantages of biomass:

Here we have energy that is very cheap and profitable. It favours re-use so it is part of the circular economy, which is how we give a second life to all kinds of used products. It is inexhaustible as there is a surplus of biomass on the planet and it contributes to the maintenance of natural areas such as forests and mountains.

Finally, the wide variety of services provided by biomass contributes to great professional diversity, with sectors increasing in importance, the creation of all kinds of skilled jobs and the aim of promoting green energies.

“It is an energy whose production is very economical and profitable, and it is also inexhaustible.”

Now that we have a better idea of what biomass energy consists of, we can be more aware of our environment and the possibility of protecting it with the use of this kind of energy.

When the cold comes, you will want to be able to heat your house in an efficient and sustainable way, with green energies like those provided by Endesa Única. Once you have peace of mind because our everyday activities are undertaken using clean and renewable energies, you will begin to feel part of a much more sustainable world project.

We hope you will accompany us on the path towards a new way of using the energy that is all around us. We would like you to be at our side and remain interested in learning all about the great variety of green options for our planet to be able to supply us with energy.

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