How sustainable is biomass as a renewable energy source?

GMI Energy Expert

Researching the use of biomass in energy production I have found a lot of contention and passionate views on the sustainability of this energy source, particularly where large power stations including the likes of Drax are in the process of switching a significant proportion of their fuel to biomass. As always the situation is a lot more complex than it first appears…

Before we launch into the debate lets first take a look at what ‘biomass fuel’ encompasses and what makes it ‘renewable’

TreesBiomass can be extracted from a variety of sources including crop residues (straw etc.), woody biomass (sawdust etc.), urban waste (untreated wood and paper), forest residues, and short rotation (re-planted or coppiced forest). Some biomass can be directly burned to produce energy; some can be converted into another energy product like biofuel and some can be anaerobically digested to produce methane, which can then be burned to…

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