Biomass energy comes from burning any organic material. On a small scale it could be wood, yard clippings, bark, sawdust, livestock manure, etc., but on a large scale it requires large amounts of timber and other sources to be “harvested”, which means forests are cut down.
While it is a renewable fuel and can be domestically produced, the problems with it clearly outweigh the benefits. It is energy intensive to produce, the land utilization can be considerable and lead to deforestation. It requires water to grow, is not totally clean when burned and it reduces the forest’s natural carbon absorbing properties, which if left in place, could lower the amount of greenhouse gas that escapes into the atmosphere. It requires significant infrastructure, the process is expensive and it’s not easily scalable.
Burning biomass has been a traditional method, particularly in the developing world, where it is unfortunately responsible for many respiratory illnesses and death, but it is not a viable option for our large-scale energy needs for the future.
For more information on biomass energy, please go to websites of our Beyond Extreme Energy Collaborative partners who are fighting it on the front lines.