Biomass is considered a renewable source of energy because it can be generated from sustainable items. With good practices and growth standards, it has the potential to be a carbon neutral method of power generation. Under current conditions, however, there are environmental impacts of biomass that must be considered.
1. Croplands receive competition.
The lands that are being used for food products could begin to compete with lands that are being grown from energy consumption. This creates an ethical question as well: should land be dedicated to biomass when there are hungry people in the world?
2. It can be taken from unsustainable resources.
Once all of the waste and sustainable resources are consumed for biomass, what happens when more energy is needed? It is possible for biomass to be taken from non-certified forest resources, which would then potentially contribute to the global warming effect of the planet.
3. Not all emissions will be eliminated.
The transportation of biomass still requires the consumption of fossil fuels and contributes emissions to the atmosphere. There are also noise pollution concerns that are associated with the transportation of biomass.
4. Biomass crops often have high water consumption needs.
This means that certain croplands may not even be suitable to grow biomass, even if they have been dedicated to that effort. Where access to water is limited, biomass growth becomes a difficult proposition at best.
5. Biomass can divert items from landfills.
Agricultural and domestic waste typically makes up a majority of the items that are sent to landfills on a daily basis. By diverting this waste to biomass power plants, we save space and can dedicate landfill technologies to deal with the more problematic wastes that we have right now.
6. It can be used in current coal-fired power plants.
Many coal-fired power plants can be adjusted to accepted biomass as a burning option, which can immediately reduce the environmental impact that plant has on the atmosphere. It’s a very affordable way to make a big impact on the amount of Sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide that are released in the traditional power plant option.
The environmental impacts of biomass have generally positive effects, but there are some negatives that must be managed. By identifying these potential negatives early, biomass can be a power solution for the next generation.