Biomass is biodegradable part of products, waste and residues from agricultural production (of plant or animal origin), forestry and related industries. Energy from biomass comes in solid, liquid (such as biodiesel, bioethanol, biometanol) and gaseous state (eg biogas, gas from the gasification of biomass and landfill gas).
Biomass is a renewable source of energy and generally can be categorized as wood, non-wood and animal wastes, which are:
- wood biomass (forestry residues, waste wood)
- grown wood biomass (fast-growing trees),
- grown non-wood biomass (fast-growing algae and grasses)
- debris and waste from agriculture,
- animal waste and debris,
- urban and industrial waste.
The main advantage of using biomass as an energy source is a wealth of resources, ability to use not only of crops planted for that purpose but also waste from agriculture and food industry. Gases that are created when using the biomass, can also be used for energy production.
The advantage of biomass compared with fossil fuels are far lower emissions of harmful gases and waste generated. It is estimated that the load of the atmosphere with CO2 when we use biomass as fuel is negligible because the amount of CO2 released during combustion is equal to the amount of CO2 absorbed during the growth of plants.
Energy from biomass in Macedonia
Macedonia is an agricultural country and has a large amount of waste from agriculture, which now is unused at fields and usually is ignite, but from biomass and wastes from agricultural production could be produced from 20 to 30 percent of electricity needs in the country.
Eastern mountain region is the first in realizing the use of biomass as an energy source. According to the Study of energy production in the Eastern mountain region, made in 2010, as sources of biomass for getting energy would be agriculture, forestry, logging, cultivation of crops and waste. In addition, electricity could be produced in case of a 79% material from agricultural residues, 12% of residues from wood processing and 9% of the residue after harvesting. According to the Study, from all sources, electricity would have potential of 53 gigawatt hours of power that would be installed in total by 5.3 megawatts.
At the end of 2009 has started the project “From Biomass to Energy” by signing a memorandum of cooperation between the governments of Macedonia and Italy, and implement by paper plant from Kocani “Hartija” in partnership with the Italian company “Eureka.” Project is planned to bring many benefits – to protect the environment from large amounts of carbon dioxide, while farmers receive economic benefits. This project will help factory “Hartija” instead of fuel oil for production of technical steam to use rice shell; corn, wheat or rice straw, and wood, as renewable energy sources.
Macedonia has great potential for using energy from renewable sources, but must update existing technology for production of this kind of energy.