Biomass is derived from organic matter. It comes either directly from plant and animal material, or indirectly from material left over from industrial, commercial, agricultural and domestic processes.

Biomass comes from various sources:

Waste materials - These are the co-products and waste left over from agricultural, industrial, commercial and domestic processes, such as:

  • Waste wood
  • Straw
  • Slurry
  • Food matter

Short rotation crops - These are fast-growing crops, which are grown specifically to generate biomass fuels. They include:

  • Coppice
  • Hemp
  • Miscanthus
  • Maize
  • Willow
  • Poplar

Multi-functional crops - These are crops which can be used to create different types of energy. They include:

  • Wheat - used to create bioethanol and biodiesel
  • Straw - used to create electricity
  • Oilseed rape
  • Barley
  • Sugar beet - used to create bioethanol

The intrinsic chemical energy content of biomass is known as bio-energy, which can be converted into heat or electricity in a number of ways.

Biomass energy comes in three forms:

  • Solid biomass - firewood and energy crops (including willow, miscanthus and straw)
  • Liquid biofuels - methanol, ethanol and biodiesel
  • Biogas - gas from landfill sites and anaerobic digesters, as well as from sewage waste

For more information on these forms of biomass energy, please follow the links on the left.

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