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Renewable Energy from Biomass and Biofuel


Biomass is the general term for natural or organic fuel source. Biomass is produced from organic materials derived from recently living plant organisms or from metabolic by-products such as organic or food waste products.


The principle behind biomass is that as a tree grows it absorbs carbon dioxide which it stores in its woody tissue and when the wood is burned, the same amount of carbon dioxide is released back into the atmosphere making the process what is known as carbon neutral.

 Biomass fuels falls into two main categories:

Woody biomass - includes forest products, untreated wood products, and energy crops. When burned, the chemical energy in biomass is released as heat. If you have a fireplace at home, the wood you burn is a biomass fuel. Wood waste or garbage can be burned to produce steam for making electricity or to provide heat to industries and homes. For small scale biomass systems, the application of biomass fuels like woody chips, wood pellets and logs are used in domestic boilers and stoves.


Non woody biomass - includes animal waste, industrial and biodegradable municipal products from food processing and high energy crops for example: rape, sugar cane and maize.


You can use biomass to heat your home through:

Stand alone stoves which provide space heating for a room. These can be fuelled by logs or wood pellets. Stoves can provide a significant amount of heat (between 6-12KW) and with some systems, it is possible to attach a back boiler for hot water heating and central heating through radiators.

Biomass boilers are connected to central heating and hot water systems and can provide heating for an entire property. These are suitable for pellets, logs or chips and are generally larger than 15 kW.

There are many types of domestic boilers available, they include:

Log stoves/boilers which burn logs directly

Wood chip boilers which burn wood chips

Pellet stoves/boilers burn wood pellets

Multi-fuel stoves can burn a range of solid fuel types

Ceramic stoves burn wood products and store heat in thermally massive ceramic tiles for release throughout the day

Many boilers have dual fire for both wood chips and pellets. Wood pellets are a homogeneous fuel with high energy density; the boilers can be simpler and cheaper. Requirements for storage are smaller than for logs and heating comfort is equal to oil fired boilers.


What to consider before committing to a biomass boiler:

Storage space - Storage space is needed for supply of wood pellets, wood chips or logs and it must be easily accessible to the boiler.

Is there a local supplier for your supplies of wood chippings, pellets and logs.

Is your flue specifically designed for use with appliances that use wood as a fuel. Flues that don’t meet these requirements can be fitted with a lining tube.

Compliance with any regulations from your local authority in regards to biomass system installation for example, safety and building regulations and smokeless zones. Most biomass fuels are smokeless and so do comply with the Clean Air Act.

The costs of using a using a biomass system consists both of the cost of the boiler and the running cost of the fuel. The cost for boilers varies depending on the type and size of system you choose. Running fuel costs generally depend on the accessibility and nearness of your fuel supplier.

Biomass is a good alternative energy source over fossil fuel. It is renewable and it’s generally commonly available.



Biofuel is any fuel derived from biomass. Biofuel is a renewable energy source.

Agriculturally produced biomass fuels such as biodiesel and ethanol can be burned in internal combustion engines such as cars or boilers.

Biofuels can help reduce carbon emissions, greenhouse gas build up and dependence on fossil fuels. Biofuels are commonly used to power vehicles and cooking stoves.

Types of Biofuels are:

Vegetable oils



Biofuel can be considered as carbon neutral as the energy produced by biofuels does not contribute to any increase of carbon into the atmosphere. The reason is the plants used to produce the biofuel have removed CO2 from the atmosphere during growth whereas fossil fuel release carbon which had been stored beneath the surface for millions of years back into the air.