What exactly is bio power?
Bio power supplies almost 15 times as much energy for the U.S. as wind and solar power combined, but there is still confusion about this renewable source of energy.
Bio power is energy produced using biomass. Biomass comes from a variety of sources including tree and grass crops and forestry, agricultural, and urban wastes. There are two types of biomass:
- Energy Crops – crops grown specifically for energy production such as trees and grasses, or
- Biomass Residues – leftover waste from plants that have been used for other purposes, including sawdust and urban waste such as garbage and sewage.
What makes bio power renewable?
Compared to fossil fuels, biomass reduces carbon emissions by 90 percent. It also reduces a variety of other pollutants substantially, such as sulfur dioxide, reducing both air and water pollution.
While biomass does emit carbon, the effect on the environment is significantly reduced because biomass is a part of a balanced carbon cycle. When a plant dies or is burned, it releases carbon into the air, which is then reabsorbed by other plants through photosynthesis. This is part of a natural, healthy cycle.
Because fossil fuels are made up of plants that grew millions of years ago, when they are burned, the carbon cycle is knocked off balance. The carbon they absorbed millions of years ago is released now, and there are no new plants to absorb the excess carbon. The carbon emitted by fossil fuels is extra, whereas carbon released by biomass is part of today’s natural carbon cycle.
WBIA Fact Sheets for Download:
What is biomass? What are biofuels? What is a biorefinery? The basics of bio power.
About Bio Power [PDF]
How exactly can bio power help the environment and the economy? Quick facts and figures on bio power’s benefits.
Bio Power Benefits [PDF]
How Biomass Energy Works [PDF] from the Union of Concerned Scientists
U.S. Department of Energy – Biomass Program
U.S. Energy Information Administration – Energy Kids: Biomass
National Renewable Energy Laboratory: Bio Power