What is the future for bioenergy

Bioenergy in the future

The energy transition essentially means the switch to renewable and climate-neutral energies. In addition to wind and solar energy, it is also about bioenergy, which in principle is nothing more than solar energy and occurs in the form of wood and energy plants, residues such as straw, liquid manure or organic waste. Biomass is now available in gaseous, liquid or solid state, which makes it particularly flexible to use for heat and power generation as well as for the production of fuels. Bioenergy will certainly play an increasingly important role in the energy mix of the future.

Biomass as an inexhaustible source of energy

In contrast to fossil (geological) energy sources such as coal, crude oil and natural gas, the energy-containing biomass is obtained from plant and animal materials, which are produced in large quantities every year. Your decisive advantage with regard to the impact on the climate is that when biomass is burned, a maximum of as much carbon dioxide is produced as was previously withdrawn from the atmosphere for the growth of the plants. So when we talk about climate neutrality, we mean precisely this zero balance in the sense of an "eternal" circular economy.

Fossil fuels, on the other hand, are covered by massive geological layers. If they are extracted from the depths and burned, this means a direct increase in CO2 and at the same time a decrease in the oxygen content in our sensitive atmosphere.

There are the following forms of biomass:

  • Forest wood
  • Field trees
  • old wood
  • Waste wood
  • Farm manure such as manure or liquid manure
  • Crop residues
  • Waste from catering or food industry
  • Green waste from gardens and households

Wood-based biomass is primarily burned and used to generate heat. The less lignified biomass, on the other hand, can be fermented into biogas. This takes place in the biogas plant. This gas can then be "converted into electricity" in the block-type thermal power station, processed into fuel or simply converted into heat.

A couple of convincing numbers

So-called alternative energies were already involved in electricity generation with around 20 percent in 2011. Biomass plants followed immediately after the wind energy share with a total of six percent. Only three years later, in 2014, the proportion of biomass was already eight percent, which meant a relative increase of at least one third. Today, the share of renewable sources in electricity generation is 32 percent, and the trend is rising, with wind energy making up the lion's share of almost half. But bioenergy is also catching up, accounting for a quarter of this.

The energy transition is in full swing

For better or worse, the economy is reacting to the challenges that were and still are associated with the cross-party energy transition. With the national biomass action plan of the federal government, biomass was firmly anchored in political planning. In 2020, the share of green electricity from biomass should be at least eight percent of total electricity consumption. By then, at least 240,000 jobs will most likely be directly related to “bio-electricity”. However, agricultural land in Germany is limited, which means that biomass will even have to be imported in the future. On the other hand, research and work are underway on increasing the efficiency of the system technology.

Future proportion of biomass in green electricity

What used to be just waste, which in some cases had to be disposed of at high costs, is now considered biomass-compatible waste that even brings in money, and to a not inconsiderable extent. So times change, the cards are being reshuffled. This directly entails the construction and operation of the corresponding facilities, and entire branches of research and industry are reorganized. In the branch of the future that is currently being established, many qualified jobs are being created from which society as a whole and social systems benefit.

In this context, however, it is also important to be willing to decentralize so that small systems create the economic basis for small and medium-sized companies. Many farmers are already benefiting from the sale of their energy crops, some of which they are already using in their own plants.

The market research company "GlobalData" is assuming a bright future for bioenergy. In 2015, their installed capacity was a good 106 gigawatts. Ten years later, it is forecast at 165 gigawatts, i.e. around 60 percent growth. Of course, this does not work without financial (tax) incentives, which we can be sure of in these times of accelerated climate change. In the meantime, many industries have their own biomass power plants, precisely in order to generate income from their waste instead of disposal costs.

Electricity from bioenergy in the electricity provider comparison is also available when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing, which in principle makes this technology a reliable component for basic supply.