Biomass is biological material obtained from living or recently living animal or plant matter that can be processed into electricity, fuel and heat. Biomass is our most diverse energy source being a renewable sustainable source of energy. It differs from traditional fossil fuels in that it includes a wide variety of biomass fuel types and can involve a range of technologies for a number of end-uses.
Biomass is one of the most plentiful resources available globally, and demand for it is likely to increase substantially as the world looks to wean its dependence from fossil fuels and on-going commitments to reducing greenhouse gases and emissions.
Biomass could supply a large part of the world’s energy and the use of biomass is the fastest growing sector in renewable energy. With effective forest management, advanced harvesting techniques and bioenergy crops, together with new biomass plants, stoves, boilers and co-firing with coal powered power plants, biomass offers a sustainable opportunity to help meet the world’s growing energy demands.
Drivers for biomass include:
- The reduction of CO2 emissions via the substitution of bioenergy for fossil fuels
- Security of energy supplies
- Regional employment and development, especially through new rural industries
- Potential health benefits such as reduced particulate emissions
- Considerable interest and activity from all governments worldwide
The Australian Government’s Roadmap for Bioenergy and Bio based Products states:
“Biomass resources are a sustainable and environmentally friendly feedstock that can contribute significantly to a diverse energy portfolio.”
The European Union’s position is similar:
“In the face of Europe’s increasing dependency on fossil fuels, using biomass is one of the key ways of ensuring the security of supply and sustainable energy in Europe.”
Biomass and the Environment
Biomass absorbs carbon dioxide during growth, and emits it during combustion; therefore, it recycles atmospheric carbon and does not add to the greenhouse effect. In addition biomass contributes very little to acid rain as it produces only low levels of sulphur and ash. Nitrous oxide production can be controlled through modern biomass combustion techniques.
Increasing demand from the EU as well as growing demand from Asia has encouraged investment in the developing, processing and handling techniques. One technique that has continued to evolve over recent years is torrefaction which heats biomass without oxygen.
Asia holds one-third of the world’s attainable biomass
Asia is a key supplier of biomass feedstock products to markets such as Europe and the United States. Within the region, new opportunities and investments in biomass are emerging. Of the Asian countries, China, Japan, Korea and the Philippines currently lead the region in biomass projects due to a combination of a high level of technological capability and government targets on renewable energy sources.
Further south, however, Southeast Asia is fast becoming an attractive market for developing biomass as an energy source, given that it produces approximately 280 million tonnes of feedstock annually.
These resources are plentiful; particularly residues from forests, wood processing and agriculture which are readily available but are not being used, with the exception of feedstock generated by palm oil, fruit, rice and the sugar industries.
There is a tremendous market opportunity to utilise these wastes for commercial electricity and heat production to reduce the reliance on conventional energy sources, and to cater to the needs of the industries where demand is outstripping supply as well as benefiting urban and rural communities.
We have been growing our network to help drive the future success of biomass in SEA, and we expect to see an increase in investment levels and a corresponding growth in importance of biomass in the SEA energy mix.
Biomass Project Management
Our partner’s offer a comprehensive package of consulting and implementation services relating to biomass project development. We can help facilitate the successful development of renewable biomass projects through the following services:
- Project identification
- Technology evaluation
- Resource and energy demand assessment
- Statutory consents including planning
- Contract preparation
- Project management.