16 Biomass Facts Explained in Full Detail

 Biomass facts are as follows;

1). Biomass is Renewable

Being derived solely from organic sources, one of the essential characteristics of biomass lies in the fact that it is renewable [2]. This is obvious, since living organisms, organic processes and organic matter all occur and are continuously recycled in nature.

The renewable attribute of biomass has made it an important factor with regards to issues of renewable energy development, environmental conservation and sustainable development. It also implies that biomass is more reliable than other, non-renewable energy options.

2). Multi-phase/Multi-state Occurrence

This refers to the fact that biomass can occur as solid, liquid or gas. It is the only renewable energy resource that can occur in all three states.

Solid biomass includes plant and animal matter such as wood and bones. An example of the use of solid biomass as fuel can be cited in the practice of firewood burning, which basically produces heat energy that is used for domestic purposes.

Liquid biomass occurs in various forms, but the most relevant to this discussion include ethanol and biodiesel. These are common biofuels which are produced by fermentation (anaerobic decomposition) and transesterification, respectively.

Gaseous biomass fuel is exemplified by methane, which is the primary component of biogas, that serves as a fuel for various purposes.

The ability of biomass to occur in different states makes it a versatile choice of renewable energy resource.

3). Biomass is being used significantly for renewable energy generation

 Around the world, biomass serves as a notable source of renewable energy.

In less-developed regions, firewood (solid biofuel) is the more commonly-used form of biomass with respect to producing energy. More developed regions make use of advanced methods and facilities like waste-to-energy plants.

In Canada, biomass accounted for up to 3.1 percent of renewable energy-based electricity generated, and 2.0 percent of total electricity generated, in the year 2016 [5].

As at 2013, biomass accounted for about 10 percent of total energy supply globally. This includes firewood which constitutes roughly 66 percent of utilized biomass energy.

Countries high on the list of biomass energy (bioenergy) consumers include India, The United States and Brazil. This energy is mostly shared between the transportation an industrial sectors.

In 2011, up to 43 percent of total bioenergy usage in the United States was allocated to the transport sector, with ethanol being the major biofuel used to power vehicles  [7]


biofuel, ethanol, vehicle
A Biofuel(Ethanol)-Powered Vehicle (Credit: Schwen 2008 .CC BY-SA 4.0.)


The following table shows the distribution of bioenergy usage by sector in the United States in 2020 [3];

Sector Percentage Share of Bioenergy (%)
Industrial 50.0
Transportation 28.0
Residential 10.0
Electricity Generation (Power sector) 9.0
Commercial 3.0


In Europe, biomass constitutes a major source of energy. As at 2021, approximately 60 percent of renewable energy in the EU was provided by biomass [1]. This energy was mostly harnessed in the form of heat from burning wood. The total input of biomass to the energy budget of the EU is about 4 percent.

4). Biomass is one of the oldest known renewable energy resources

While biomass is essentially a natural store of chemical energy, the active use of biomass to produce energy can be traced back to the early human species around 1.5 million years ago [8].

The energy-generating attributes of ethanol (liquid biofuel) were noticed around the tenth century. Biofuel use has been generally marginal since the nineteenth century when it was utilized in automobiles. Recent developments include the mass production of biofuels mainly from plant biomass.

5). There are numerous viable options in the field of Biomass Energy

With regards to the production of energy, biomass provides diverse options. These include sugarcane, wood pellets, sorghum, switch grass, hemp. municipal solid waste, and agricultural waste.

This is further enhanced by recent innovative approaches like the cultivation of fast-growing trees and other plant biomass species.

6). The use of biomass provides a potential cost-effective solution to global energy needs

Because it is renewable, biomass serves as a cost-effective source of energy compared to non-renewable fuels. With the improvement of high-tech biogas production (biomass gasification) systems, the cost of biomass energy is likely to become as low as five cents per kilowatt hour.


Other facts about biomass are as follows;

7). Plant biomass, in the form of wood, is now being used in place of coal in many energy plants

8). Biomass energy use, has been identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) as one of the measures which can be used to achieve sustainability and mitigate global warming [9]

9). Active utilization of biomass energy benefits the environment by increasing the available amount, and the rate of production, of biomass

10). Up to 2.5 million jobs have been created in the private sector of forestry and biomass production, in the United States

11). The largest global producers of biodiesel and ethanol as of 2012 were the US and Brazil

12). Ironbridge (UK) and Alholmenskraft (Finland) are the two largest biomass energy plants in the world (as of 2022). The capacities of these plants are 740 MW and 265 MW respectively [4] and they are mainly used for electricity generation

13). Algae is also used as a raw material for producing biofuels like ethanol and methane

14). The commercial cultivation of plant biomass like sugarcane and switchgrass is helpful to soil by reducing the risk of erosion, while improving soil fertility (in most cases)

15). Most of the biomass needed for energy-generation in any region can be produced locally. An evidence of this fact may be observed in the EU, which produces up to 96% of its energy-generating biomass [6]

16). Because biomass production generally requires the cultivation of large expanses of land, issues of land-use have greatly limited the growth of bioenergy technology



Some of the distinctive attributes of biomass include the fact that it is renewable and can occur in multiple states.

As a result of these attributes, it is one of the most versatile and cost-effective renewable energy options. The use of biomass is a prehistoric practice, and has been carried out in the form of firewood burning, ethanol and biogas combustion, among others.

Biomass energy is an important form of energy in the world today, with the development of enhanced waste-to-energy technologies.

The biomass energy industries supports various sectors (such as the transport sector) around the world, and is also responsible for the creation of numerous job opportunities.



1). Catanoso, J. (2021). “Burning forests to make energy: EU and world wrestle with biomass science.” Available at: https://news.mongabay.com/2021/08/burning-forests-to-make-energy-eu-and-world-wrestle-with-biomass-science/. (Accessed 27 January 2022).

2). Cho, R. (2011). “Is Biomass Really Renewable?” Available at: https://news.climate.columbia.edu/2011/08/18/is-biomass-really-renewable/. (Accessed 27 January 2022).

3). EIA (2021). “Biomass explained.” Available at: https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/biomass/. (Accessed 27 January 2022).

4). Fahad (2020). “Biogas Power Plant, Biomass Power Plant, Biomass Electricity.” Available at: https://www.electroniclinic.com/biogas-power-plant-biomass-power-plant-biomass-electricity/. (Accessed 27 January 2022).

5). NRCAN (2021). “Bioenergy and Bioproducts.” Available at: https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/our-natural-resources/forests-forestry/forest-fact-book/bioenergy-bioproducts/21686. (Accessed 27 January 2022).

6). Scarlat, N., Dallemand, J., Taylor, N. and Banja, M. (2019). “Brief on biomass for energy in the European Union.” Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2019, ISBN 978-92-79-77234-4, Available at: https://doi.org/10.2760/49052, JRC109354. (Accessed 27 January 2022).

7). Schill, R. S. (2013). “IEA Task40: Biomass provides 10 percent of global energy use.” Available at: http://biomassmagazine.com/articles/9444/iea-task40-biomass-provides-10-percent-of-global-energy-use. (Accessed 27 January 2022).

8). Seidel, K. (2021). “The History of Biomass as a Renewable Energy Source.” Available at: https://cablevey.com/the-history-of-biomass-as-a-renewable-energy-source/. (Accessed 27 January 2022).

9). Stashwick, S. (2021). “What the IPCC Really Says on Forest Biomass & Climate Change.” Available at: https://www.nrdc.org/experts/sasha-stashwick/what-ipcc-really-says-forest-biomass-climate-change. (Accessed 27 January 2022).

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