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Energy Forum 31: Biomass to Energy

Researchers
Prof. Gershon Grossman , Idan Liebes
Cite As:
Grossman Gershon , Liebes Idan . Energy Forum 31: Biomass to Energy Haifa Israel: Samuel Neaman Institute, 2014. https://www.neaman.org.il/EN/EF31-Biomass-to-Energy

Biomass is an available renewable energy source. Unlike the burning of fossil fuels, burning biomass – either directly or indirectly – does not generate excess carbon dioxides and does not change earth's ecological balance, since growing it essentially sequestrate the same amount of carbon emitted when it is burned. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, biomass accounts for 4% of the world's energy demand, alongside 3% from hydroelectric and 6% from nuclear sources, and the remaining 85% served by fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas; only about 2% of the energy comes from the remaining renewable sources – sun and wind.

There are varied biomass source at the disposal of Israel, especially farming and municipal wastes, as well as industrial waste to some extent. Utilizing biomass to energy solves two problems at the same time: saving on prime energy as well as elimination of environmental hazard.

The most common method of using biomass for energy is direct incineration in controlled industrial facilities, either to generate heat or electricity. Alternately, biomass can be digested into biogas, gasified, go through pyrolysis, etc. The resulted biogas or syngas can then be stored or burned in a process cleaner then direct incineration; it can also be used to produce biofuels as an alternative to conventional fuels.

Using biomass to generate electricity was recognized by the "Public Utilities Administration – Electricity" as a renewable source, and assigned with a feed-in tariff. Compared to wind and solar, biomass carries the advantage of being a stable energy source, in a similar fashion as coal. Nevertheless, the matter of using biomass remains underutilized, in spite of its benefits in both the electric and waste markets, as well as additional positive externalities. Israel is far behind the OECD countries in the utilization of biomass, to a large degree due to unsupportive regulation which limits progress in this field. An OECD report from March 2014 ranked Israel last regulation-wise. This calls for an holistic, system-wide approach to consider all implications of the enacted policies.

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