In countries with no fossil fuels reserves. It is of common sense that the use of bioenergy – energy obtained from biomass – is a possible alternative, though partial, to the acquisition of fossil fuels and, as such, may be seen as a determinant factor in the solution for many of the environmental, energetic, economic and even social problems, normally associated to coal, oil or natural gas consumption…
The solar energy, available as radiation on the Earth’s surface, exceeds 11,000 times the energy currently necessary to Humankind. Biomass is a form of solar energy storage. Plants convert solar energy through photosynthesis, with an efficiency of 0,1%, and store it, for a long time, in the leaves, stalks, flowers, etc. In extreme conditions, energy may be stored in biomass infinitely, with no losses.
Biomass is the only renewable energy which may be converted into gas, liquid or solid fuels, by means of known conversion technologies. In this context, the universal bearer of renewable energy may be used in a vast range of applications in the energy sector.
The variety of uses of biomass, the advantage of a safe and harmless storage and the possibility of integrating local fuel suppliers, namely agricultural and forest industries, offer a wide range of sustainable applications. Using Biomass as a renewable fuel may reduce the ecological footprint of all nations regarding energy, and may be the solution for the minimization of climate change and other environmental problems.
Contrasting with the direct use of solar or wind energy, as a renewable energy bearer biomass is always available. Usually after its treatment, biomass is converted into three forms of energy: electricity, heat and fuel. This flexibility puts biomass in direct competition with the energy produced by fossil fuels.
There are many reasons to regard the heating of big buildings based on biomass systems, as well as the cooling of these building through the same system. It is not only a solution “environmentally friendly” and with proven technology, it may also be an economically attractive solution. It is important to mention that these fuels are an endogenous resource assuring a continuous supply.
While the use of wood is quite common all over the world, the use of briquettes, pellets, or wood chips in automatic boilers is still a quite unknown solution, despite its efficiency standards, emissions and comfort. Biomass boilers related technology has developed hugely over the last decade. The emissions have decreased substantially and its efficiency has reached the same level of gas or fuel boilers.
Industrial users using biomass boilers, to eliminate their waste, may have lower standards than the necessary ones for the systems to use in residential or services installations. A careful choice of a high quality boiler is an essential factor to the design of a successful project, in a public or residential building.
The biomass heating may be economically very attractive, as biomass is much cheaper than fossil fuels.
However, the investment costs related to biomass heating systems are substantially higher than the ones required by the conventional heating systems. It is also observable that the specific investment costs are especially low for the heating of big buildings with high thermal requirements. The option to promote the cooling of buildings using biomass systems is still not economically competitive in comparison to more conventional systems.