11 Advantages of Bioenergy Explained in Detail
Advantages of bioenergy are; versatility, sustainability, availability, fossil fuel alternative, low emissions, low cost, domestic production, revenue generation, waste management, electricity generation, and storage efficiency.
This article discusses the advantages of bioenergy, as follows;
1). Versatility (as one of the Advantages of Bioenergy)
Bioenergy is a highly versatile type of energy, in terms of its sources, conversion, and uses.
The storage medium for bioenergy is biomass, which is available in every ecosystem in various forms . These include plant, animal and microbial matter.
Various organisms are also capable of producing bioenergy. These include all chlorophyll-bearing organisms, such as green plants, and various species of cyanobacteria and algae .
Extraction of bioenergy from biomass is also a versatile process, that can occur in diverse forms and under diverse circumstances.
Processes of bioenergy extraction include ingestion, biodegradation, combustion, and biomass conversion.
There are also various methods of biomass conversion, including anaerobic digestion, pyrolysis, hydrolysis, and fermentation .
These conversion processes produce bioenergy either in the form of heat, or as stored energy in biofuel. Again, there are various types and physical states of biofuel; including biogas, bioethanol, firewood, and biodiesel; occurring in liquid, gaseous, and solid states.
The uses of biofuels are diverse, and cut across the residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural sectors. There are no geographic or ecological limitations to the availability and use of bioenergy, as it is accessible in grasslands, forests, tundras, and urban ecosystems.
These instances show that bioenergy is versatile and flexible in all its characteristics.
In agriculture, diversified systems and approaches can be utilized to facilitate bioenergy production . These include Integrated Food-Energy Systems (IFES) and agro-based biomass conversion plants.
2). Bioenergy is Renewable
One of the most prominent advantages of bioenergy is the fact that it is a form of renewable energy.
The primary source or origin of bioenergy is solar energy, which is converted through photosynthesis in green plants, algae and cyanobacteria .
Because bioenergy is stored in biomass, it is available wherever organic matter occurs.
Organic matter is itself a renewable resource. It is recycled naturally through biochemical and biological processes across the ecologic levels of the energy pyramid. Therefore, bioenergy, which is extracted from organic matter, is also renewable.
Aside being replenished and recycled naturally, organic matter can be accessed in the form of waste. This includes industrial, municipal and agricultural organic waste, that can be used as feedstock in a biorefinery, to produce biofuels that contain bioenergy .
The fact that bioenergy is renewable, means that the use of this type of energy is in line with the sustainable development goals, and the overall agenda to achieve sustainability in the environment, economy, and society .
However, in order to take advantage of the renewable nature of bioenergy, it is important to be careful about the rate of depletion and replenishment of biomass.
For example, where plant biomass is being used as feedstock to produce bioenergy, it is important to practice reforestation and revegetation in order to replenish biomass that has been used. This will mitigate the negative effects of deforestation and resource depletion.
3). Availability of Sources (as one of the Advantages of Bioenergy)
Bioenergy is derived from biomass, which can be in the form of animal and plant organic matter.
Trees, shrubs, agricultural crops, and algae are examples of plant organic matter that can produce bioenergy .
Animal organic matter includes waste materials like sewage and animal manure.
The production of these materials which serve as biomass sources, is a natural process that is self-sustaining, versatile and eco-friendly.
Organic waste is another source of bioenergy that is produced plentifully, and in a self-sustaining manner.
Generally, organic matter is widely available, reproducible, sustainable and abundant on Earth.
To ensure that bioenergy remains widely available and abundant, conservative practices like soil conservation, water conservation, sustainable farming, environmental remediation and landscape management must be implemented. These practices will provide optimal conditions for biomass to be used (in bioenergy production) and replenished without negative consequences.
4). Bioenergy is a Fossil Fuel Alternative
The replacement of fossil fuels as a major energy resource is unlikely to occur soon.
However, bioenergy is a potential replacement for fossil fuels, because it can be used for various purposes that are served by fossil fuels.
These purposes include electricity generation, operation of hybrid cars and other biofuel-driven vehicles, space heating, cogeneration and cooking.
While the energy density of biofuels is generally lower than that of fossil fuels, technological development can provide bioenergy systems with high energy efficiency to meet the existing demands.
The reason why this is one of the most prominent prospects and advantages of bioenergy is that bioenergy is renewable, unlike fossil fuels. Their potential to replace fossil fuels is also the potential transition to a renewable and sustainable alternative.
5). Lower Emissions (as one of the Advantages of Bioenergy)
One of the most common advantages of bioenergy is its low emissions compared to fossil fuels.
In some studies, biomass is described as a ‘net-zero’ emissions or carbon energy resource. This is due to the fact that the natural production and breakdown of organic matter, is in harmony with the natural carbon cycle.
Carbon which is contained in biomass is released as the material breaks down to produce bioenergy. A roughly equivalent amount of carbon is taken from the environment to replenish biomass. As a result, there are little to no net emissions when biomass is used to produce energy.
The carbon neutrality of bioenergy makes it a good option that is considered when making efforts to reduce atmospheric CO2 . It is also an option in the efforts to address issues of energy conservation and environmental degradation in the power sector.
6). Sources are Relatively Cheap
Again, compared to fossil fuels and other forms of energy like nuclear energy and geothermal energy; the sources of bioenergy are cheap.
The term; sources is used here to indicate that biomass is relatively cheap and accessible. On the other hand, the processes or methods of biomass conversion, and the products such as biofuels, are not always cheap.
However, the inexpensive access to organic matter is an advantage for bioenergy production. One reason why it is an advantage, is because a cheap primary source of energy reduces the overall cost of that form of energy. Biofuels would be even costlier if organic matter were not cheaply available.
Also, the low cost of organic matter means that there are good prospects for bioenergy to be cheap in the future, when conversion technologies are optimized and improved.
Cheap bioenergy sources implies sustainability, investor motivation, and versatility of development for this type of energy.
7). Bioenergy can be Produced Domestically
Because of the wide availability and accessibility of organic matter, bioenergy can be produced in every human-occupied part of the world.
This includes natural ecosystems, urban areas, rural areas, agricultural lands, and industrial sites.
The obvious benefit of this is that it eliminates dependence on energy corporations and utility grids as sole providers of energy. As a result, energy security and independence are established .
The concept of domestic biomass and bioenergy production, has a wide scope of relevance and application. It can be used to achieve energy sustainability in rural regions , as well as to tackle issues of poverty, world hunger and food insecurity.
Domestic bioenergy production can be an economically-profitable venture, as it reduces the need for long-distance energy transport in remote areas, as well as import of energy-related commodities.
8). Waste Management (as one of the Advantages of Bioenergy)
In addition to being a sustainable aspect of waste-to-energy strategy, bioenergy production provides a means to reduce waste and its hazardous impacts in the environment.
In terms of reducing waste volume, bioenergy production reduces the volume of waste in landfills and other dump sites, by diverting the organic fraction these materials, to biorefineries and other biomass-fired power plants .
Examples of waste materials that are diverted from landfills to use in bioenergy production are; food waste, biodegradable plastics, industrial organic waste, and garden waste.
By diverting organic waste from landfills, the rate of open biodegradation in these sites is reduced. As a result, the emission of greenhouse gases is also reduced , alongside the risk of pollution, natural hazards, climate change and global warming.
Other problems such as health challenges that are caused by improper management of waste; are also addressed when bioenergy production is used to remove biodegradable waste from the environment.
9). Bioenergy is a Potential Source of Revenue
The bioenergy sector is a potential source of revenue to at both local and national levels.
Through bioenergy production, dry biomass and organic waste become economically profitable, so that revenue can be generated as biomass is recycled in an environment-friendly manner.
Aside bioenergy itself, other byproducts of biomass conversion are economically relevant, due to their uses in agriculture and industry.
10). Electricity Generation (as one of the Advantages of Bioenergy)
Biomass and biofuel can be used with power-generation equipment and facilities like turbines, electric generators, energy management systems, cogeneration facilities, and power plants; to generate electricity.
It works in a similar manner to fossil fuels. Bioenergy is usually supplied in the form of heat, when biomass of biofuel is heated. This heat is converted to mechanical energy, which spins a turbine or rotor, and generates electricity by electromagnetic induction.
The possibility of electricity generation from bioenergy means that bio-based technologies can be said to have as much potential as solar panels, geothermal pumps, and other energy technologies.
11). Safety and Efficiency of Storage
Unlike other energy sources like liquid hydrogen, the sources of bioenergy are relatively safe and efficient in terms of storage.
It is necessary to store biomass feedstock and biofuel, since their supply and demand are not always constant.
No major technical requirements are involved in the storage of bioenergy, and it can be achieved at a relatively low cost. Also, because biomass and biofuels do not have high reactive characteristics, their storage does not pose any serious risk to health and safety.
Bioenergy can be integrated with carbon capture and storage technology; in what is referred to as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) . This integrated technology is useful to keep carbon away from the atmosphere.
Advantages or benefits of bioenergy are;
- Bioenergy is Renewable
- Availability of Sources
- Bioenergy is a Fossil Fuel Alternative
- Lower Emissions
- Sources are Relatively Cheap
- Bioenergy can be Produced Domestically
- Waste Management
- Bioenergy is a Potential Source of Revenue
- Electricity Generation
- Safety and Efficiency of Storage
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