Biomass for energy – managing the risks, recognizing the benefits
Biomass refers to all organic matter of vegetable and animal origin such as forestry and agricultural residues, organic matter from sewage, organic solid waste and other organic wastes from industrial processes. It is a versatile form of renewable energy and the most widely used form today.
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It is used to generate electricity, to supply heat for industrial processes and buildings, and to provide liquid or gaseous fuel for transport. Unlike variable renewable resources such as wind and solar, biomass can provide controllable and flexible power. When converted to biofuels for transport, biomass can be stored and shipped over long distances, replacing petroleum in global energy markets.
Biomass can also be converted to biomethane and substitute natural gas. Via biorefineries biomass can be converted into a portfolio of biobased products (i.e. food and feed ingredients, chemicals and materials) and bioenergy (fuels, power, heat) (Bos et al, 2017).