Biomass is a renewable energy source, generated from burning wood, plants and other organic matter, such as manure or household waste. It releases CO2 when burned, but considerably less than fossil fuels. We consider biomass a renewable energy source, if the plants or other organic materials being burned are replaced.

As the UK moves away from fossil fuel, it’s interesting to note which are the most prevalent energy sources replacing coal. Biomass only contributed around 4% during the UK’s longest spell of electricity generated without coal to date, while other ‘green’ options like wind and solar accounted for 12 and 11% respectively.

However, The Renewable Energy Association’s June 2019 report suggests that bioenergy could triple from the levels we see today to 16% by 2032 – and could play a role in getting the UK back on track with emissions reduction targets. Another report from International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has suggested that biomass could provide 60 per cent of global renewable energy by 2030.

A fuel for all needs?

Biomass is known for its versatility, given it can be used to generate heat, electricity, be used in combined heat and power units and be used as liquid fuel. In domestic settings, it tends to be found in the form of wood-fuelled heating systems.

It is important to note, though, that biomass is only considered renewable if it comes from a sustainable source, where new plants are grown in place of those used for fuel. It’s also important to make sure that there are no unwanted negative impacts from producing the fuel, such as loss of valuable ecosystems.

If you’re burning logs to heat your home, then the chances are that your fuel is from a sustainable local source. If you’re burning pellets, you need to make sure you’re buying sustainable pellets from a registered supplier.

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