Biomass energy — the energy from organic matter— has been used ever since people started burning wood for heat thousands of years ago. Today, wood remains our largest biomass energy resource. However, many other sources of biomass have emerged that include plants, agricultural and forest residue as well as organic components of municipal and industrial wastes. Even fumes from landfills can be used as a biomass energy source.
The use of biomass energy has the potential to greatly reduce the number of greenhouse gas emissions produced by today’s society. While biomass generates about the same amount of carbon dioxide as burning fossil fuels, the addition of new plants help with removing this gas from the atmosphere. In the end, the net emission of carbon dioxide is zero as long as plants continue to be replenished for biomass energy purposes. These energy crops, such as fast-growing trees and grasses, are called biomass feedstocks. The use of biomass feedstocks can also help with increasing the profits of the agricultural industry.
Some biomass energy applications include:
- Biopower- Burning biomass directly, or converting it into a gaseous fuel or oil, to generate electricity.
- Bioproducts- Converting biomass into chemicals for making products that typically are made from petroleum.
- Biofuels – Converting biomass into liquid fuels for transportation.
The Center supports the operations of the North Carolina Biomass Council, a stakeholder group composed of biomass energy generators, agri-business professionals and representatives from research institutions and the public sector. The role of the council is to facilitate biomass to energy deployment occurring in North Carolina.