Economic and Ecological Analysis of Bioenergy and Steps in Starting a New Business

Economic and Ecological Analysis of Bioenergy and Steps in Starting a New Business

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3625-3.ch005


This chapter explains the main concepts related to bioenergy and analyses the high potential of biomass and its forms for producing energy. The importance of this field is illustrated due to the continuous innovation process regarding the conversion technologies for obtaining energy from biomass. The complexity of these conversions technologies is very high and includes thermochemical (esterification), physical or chemical or even biochemical (fermentation) processes. From an economic point of view, the decision to invest in a specific bioenergy technology is influenced by the bioenergy pathway, that includes several activities: biomass production, collection or harvesting, pre-processing and storage, transport, storage after transport, conversion of biomass to energy or energy carrier, transport of energy carrier and energy consumption. From an environmental point of view, this chapter analyzes also the indirect effects off biofuels on the environment. The main objective of this chapter is to understand the role of biomass in the low carbon economy and to reflect on the principles for producing energy from biomass under taking into account the energy efficiency and also its environmental impact.
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Bioenergy As A Business Opportunity

The Oxford Dictionary defines biomass as the total quantity or weight of organisms in a given area or volume. Further we can say that all organic matter, produced by photosynthesis that exist in the earth’s surface can be referred to as biomass. Accordingly, biomass includes also feedstock generated by animals or plants, such as organic waste from industry or households and agricultural crops.

The use of biomass is connected to the evolution of human being. Biomass was and it still is a form of energy which is useful exploited in many countries for domestic energy needs.

Biomass can be used for heating, for producing electricity and for transport bio-fuels.

Biomass occurs in our environment in different forms: solid (plants, wood, straw), gaseous (from organic waste, landfill waste) and liquid (generated through processing of crops such as wheat, rapeseed, soy, or of lingo-celluloses material).

Each form of biomass represents a source of energy. The amount of energy that a material has is estimated by the gross calorific value (GCV) or high heating value. The gross caloric value is the absolute value of the specific energy of combustion, in joules, for unit mass of a solid biofuel burned in oxygen in a calorimetric bomb under the conditions specified (CEN/TS 14918:2005).

Biomass energy can be described as an indirect method of using solar energy. The Biomass-Energy medium is compost. The main source is wood, straw, grass, cereals and bio waste products from houses and industry. It relies on biological material that use or recently used photosynthesis to produce chemical energy from solar energy. This chemical energy can then be used as fuel for electricity generation. The use of biomass as a renewable energy source can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and is therefore recommended and encouraged by many developed economies (Best, Christensen, 2003). Biomass energy is also called bioenergy. According to the European Commission bioenergy can be defined as the renewable energy source derived from different types of organic matter: energy plants - oilseeds, plants containing sugar, forestry, agricultural or urban waste including wood and household waste.

Depending on the form, a common classification to bioenergy is: solid biomass, biogas and biofuels. This category includes subcategories that can be labeled “traditional” and “advanced” biofuels.

The direct use of solid biomass for energy production is the most spread way to use renewable sources. The traditional biofuel has the longest tradition, considering that our forefathers have used it for heat generation and food processing and it is still in use today. Today about 80% of the solid biomass is produced and consumed in countries outside the OECD. However many developed countries also rely in their energy mix on solid biomass. Romania counts, along with far more developed economies, among the main biomass-energy producers in the EU (see Table 1).

Table 1.
Primary energy production of solid biomass in the European Union (in Mtoe)
Czech Republic20942057229328422954
European Union81.12778.755872468625489511

Source: Eurobserver Solid Biomass Barometer 2012, Eurobserver 2015, Solid Biomass Barometer 2016.

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