Biomass Energy

What is Biomass?

The rapid increase in population and industrialization has brought about the need for energy. Among the sources to be used to provide sustainable energy without causing environmental pollution, biomass energy comes first.

Biomass energy is seen as a suitable and important energy source because it is an inexhaustible resource, can be obtained everywhere, and particularly helps socio-economic developments in rural areas.

Specially grown plants such as corn and wheat, grasses, algae in the sea, animal waste, manure and industrial waste, and all organic waste discarded from homes (fruit and vegetable scraps) are sources for biomass. Due to the limited availability of depleting energy sources like petroleum, coal, and natural gas, and their contribution to environmental pollution, the use of biomass is increasingly gaining importance in solving energy problems.

Biomass, originating from plants and living organisms, is generally referred to as plant organisms that store solar energy through photosynthesis. Biomass can also be defined as the total mass of living organisms belonging to a species or a community of various species at a given time.

While synthesizing organic materials that are energy sources through photosynthesis, they also release the oxygen necessary for the respiration of all living beings into the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide released by burning the produced organic materials is previously absorbed from the atmosphere during their formation, thus protecting the environment in terms of CO2 emissions during energy production from biomass. Plants are not only a food source but also an environmentally friendly, inexhaustible energy source.

Fossil fuels, formed by plants remaining underground for millions of years, share the same characteristics as the biomass described above but undergo changes due to underground temperature and pressure, releasing many harmful substances into the air when burned.

Moreover, burning this accumulation, which formed over millions of years, in a short period disrupts the carbon dioxide balance in the atmosphere, leading to global warming.

Advantages of Biomass Energy

It is known that energy production using fossil fuel sources harms the environment. Nowadays, any energy source to be used is evaluated along with its environmental impact.

Global environmental problems are directly related to consumed energy, specifically the use of fossil fuels containing high levels of sulfur and other harmful substances. Over the last century, while energy consumption has increased 17 times, harmful gases like CO2, SO2, and NOx originating from fossil fuels released into the atmosphere have increased at the same rate.

With the regional and modern operation of biomass, it is possible to create settlements, especially in areas far from energy lines, that develop and obtain their self-sufficient energy.

Since more agricultural labor is needed to obtain energy from biomass, the topic of bioenergy is an ideal option, particularly in terms of creating job opportunities in rural areas. This can also help prevent the migration from rural areas to big cities, one of the biggest problems faced by developing countries.

Growing biomass in quite barren areas holds great importance for utilizing previously unused lands and evaluating rural areas for cultivation.

Advantages of Using Biomass as Raw Material in Energy Production

  • Can be grown almost anywhere
  • Well-known production and conversion technologies
  • Suitable for energy efficiency at all scales
  • Adequate under low light intensities
  • Can be stored
  • Requires temperatures between 5-35°C
  • Significant for socio-economic development
  • Does not cause environmental pollution
  • Does not cause the greenhouse effect
  • Does not lead to acid rain

Biomass Cultivation

The aim of biomass cultivation is to obtain modern biomass fuel raw material through energy forests and energy agriculture. This cultivation, based on forestry and agriculture, involves plants storing solar energy through photosynthesis, focusing on plants that grow quickly due to rapid photosynthesis.

Among the energy sources, wood is the most well-known and first-used. When wood, as biomass energy, is obtained by cutting down trees that take many years to grow, it leads to deforestation and major environmental disasters.

Today, it is possible to classify biomass energy into traditional and modern categories:

  • Traditional Biomass Energy: Simple burning of wood obtained from tree cutting and dung composed of animal waste
  • Modern Biomass Energy: Various fuels such as biodiesel, ethanol obtained from energy plants, energy forests, and wood industry waste, plant and animal waste in agriculture, urban waste, and agricultural-based industrial waste

Modern Biomass Production can be Classified as Follows:

a) Energy Forests b) Energy Agriculture (high-yield energy plants)

Energy Forests

Today, trees like black poplar, balsam poplars, trembling poplars, willow, eucalyptus, and semi-arid area plant cynara are grown for energy purposes worldwide.

These trees can grow in quite different climate and soil conditions, with growth rates 10-20 times faster than other trees. Today, biotechnological methods can further increase the growth rates of energy trees. Generally, these trees are pruned every five years to encourage regrowth, and the harvested branches are used as biomass sources. The average annual yield obtained from energy forests is about 22 tons of biomass per hectare. With energy trees, both the conservation of existing forests and the reduction of environmental pollution are possible.

Energy Agriculture – High-Yield Energy Plants

In recent years, studies on energy plants with high growth rates and the ability to grow even in very infertile soils have intensified. With these plants, a new type of agriculture, called energy farming, has been developed, which can be done with annual or perennial plants. Some seeds of the plants used in energy farming are being developed with the help of genetic engineering.

Energy plants are known as C4 type plants (Panicum, Pennisetum, sugarcane, corn, sugar beet, sweet sorghum, and Miscanthus group, which is not well-known in our country).

General Characteristics of C4 Plants

  • Require high temperatures
  • Need less water
  • Resistant to seasonal drought
  • Initially bind organic molecules containing 4 carbon atoms
  • Have a high ability to utilize light intensity

Some plants cannot respire when the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air falls below a certain level. However, one of the most important features of C4 plants is their ability to absorb every carbon dioxide molecule in the atmosphere. They can better utilize carbon dioxide (CO2) in photosynthesis compared to other cultivated plants.

Consultations are provided for investors who want to establish energy production facilities using different sources to determine whether the source can be evaluated within the scope of biomass. Additionally, meetings are held with investors to identify the challenges encountered in biomass investments and develop solution proposals. Site visits are also conducted to learn the current status of existing biomass facilities in our country and to identify operational problems.

BEPA – Turkey Biomass Energy Potential

With the Turkey Biomass Energy Potential Atlas (BEPA), the existing biomass potential in Turkey has been identified on a provincial and district basis. BEPA has determined the agricultural, animal, forest, and waste potentials of our country, the amounts of waste that can be obtained from these potentials, and the electricity production potential that can be obtained from these wastes. BEPA is a GIS application that can dynamically present the concentration of these potential detections in the country graphically and numerically on a map. With BEPA, different biomass potentials can be analyzed together on both a provincial and district basis.