Biomass refers to living organisms which can be burnt to provide energy. Some of the most popular biomass sources are short rotation coppice, willow, poplar, oilseed rape and various types of grasses.
Most importantly, the process is fundamentally different to burning fossil fuels because biomass is a sustainable, renewable method of energy production. The process is sometimes considered to be carbon neutral – this is to do with the fact that trees and plants take carbon dioxide out of the air whilst growing. However, there has been a lot of debate on this topic and the conclusions are not definitive. Therefore, the easiest way to make the process as environmentally friendly as possible is to replant, replenishing the trees and plants which are being used as fuel.
There are a number of ways to use biomass energy within homes – sometimes people are already doing so without even realising. The simplest is to use a log burner or stove to heat your home, as this can be an attractive design feature as well as being environmentally friendly.
Stoves can also be fitted with a back boiler which will heat water. The boiler burns wood in the form of logs, chips or pellets, and can generate heat and water for the whole house. This heating method can also result in significant cost savings.
Sometimes, more than one property is communally heated using a biomass boiler system, though this is more common in some countries than others. Boilers to burn wood tend to be larger, so they can be useful for heating groups of properties like blocks of flats.
Large-scale use of biomass energy has its downfalls as well as its advantages, but it’s a simple and pleasant way to heat individual homes, as well as being cost effective.