What is Biomass Renewable Energy?
Biomass renewable energy involves extraction of the energy contained inside biomass through thermal, chemical, or biochemical methods. Once extracted, this energy can be converted into solid, liquid or gaseous power for a variety of municipal, commercial, agricultural and residential applications; including electricity, heat and transportation fuels.
As mankind’s oldest source of power, biomass renewable energy has been used for thousands of years to cook food, provide warmth and light. Up until the Industrial Revolution in the early nineteenth century, biomass renewable energy satisfied nearly all of man’s power demands. However, as demand for power grew mankind had to look for alternative power sources; finding them in fossil fuels such as coal and oil, which were abundant at the time.
Today, although fossil fuels provide most of the power used in Canada and the Unites States, opportunities for biomass renewable energy are growing. Technological advances and increasing environmental and economic concerns are encouraging governments, businesses and consumers to explore biomass renewable energy alternatives. These alternatives include combustion, densification, anaerobic digestion, gasification, pyrolysis and fermentation.
Understanding biomass, its characteristics and how it can be used to your advantage isn’t straightforward or obvious. There can be many types of biomass for you to consider, each one with a different heating value, moisture content, contaminants and ash characteristic that can support or limit applicability. Your biomass may also require pre-processing to make it suitable for and drive greatest value from a biomass renewable energy project.
Biomass volumes, location, availability, price and storage must also be assessed and fully understood. The same is true for biomass combinations, as biomass renewable energy technologies are often able to accept many different types of biomass and combining different types of biomass can greatly improve economic feasibility. Potential co-products and by-products must also be considered as these can generate significant revenue or cost.
Technical options, site location and energy generation pathways must be determined for your biomass renewable energy project. This should be based on type and availability of biomass, infrastructure, cost, energy demand and pricing. A regulatory review to ensure your biomass renewable energy project meets all necessary local and national regulatory and permitting requirements is also necessary.
Finally, whenever biomass renewable energy projects are close to existing communities, public consultation is often needed to enable stakeholder to learn about the project, how it will operate and what to expect when operational. This stakeholder engagement will ensure that your biomass renewable energy project achieves the necessary social license to proceed.
Undertaking a biomass renewable energy project in Canada and the Unites States can be a challenging and daunting prospect. At Hallbar Consulting we know biomass; through our partnership with the Swedish Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering we work with you to maximise your biomass renewable energy opportunities.