What is biomass?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The following are some consensus definitions of biomass at European and International level:

  1. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
    Definition of renewable biomass: "The biomass is the non-fossil fraction of an industrial or municipal waste."
  2. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
    Definition of solid biomass: "Biomass is defined as any plant matter used directly as fuel or converted into other forms before combustion."
  3. EU's Waste Framework Directive:
    "bio-waste" means biodegradable garden and park waste, food and kitchen waste from households, restaurants, caterers and retail premises and comparable waste from food processing plants"
  4. International Energy Agency (IEA)
    Definition of Biomass: "Solid Biomass products, gas and liquids derived from biomass and the renewable part of municipal waste."
  5. European Biomass Association (AEBIOM)
    Definition of Biodegradable Waste: "Biodegradable waste is the biomass that can cover several forms of waste such as organic fraction of municipal solid waste, wood waste, refuse-derived fuels, sewage sludge, etc."
On the other hand, among definitions of biomass which can be found in government agencies, research institutions and universities in Malaysia are:
    • Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) School of Physics
      Definition of Biomass: "The term, biomass should be used not only to refer to lignocellulosic materials but to encompass all plant and animal matter i.e. any organic matter. However as the contribution from animal matter is only a small percentage of the total, the term biomass is generally used to refer to organic matter from plants."
    • Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB)
      Definition of Biomass: "Biomass is a cellulose material which can be broadly classified as woody and non-woody. Non-woody biomass that can be used as a fuel include agricultural residue such as bagasse, straws, husks, and pits. Also, manure can be used as a fuel. Wood fuel includes round wood (cord wood), limb wood, wood chip, bark, sawdust, forest residues, charcoal, pulp waste, and spent pulping liquor."
    • Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Energy Research Alliance (ERA)
      "Biomass is a form of biological matter that can be utilized as a kind of fuel or in other industrial processes. The most common types of biomass are wood, grass or agricultural crops."
Is there biomass industry?
The biomass industry represents several different industries brought together by the utilization of renewable organic matters including timber waste, oil palm waste, rice husk; coconut trunk fibers, municipal waste, sugar cane waste, etc. These organic materials have the potential to be used in the manufacturing of value-added eco-products composites, bio-fertilizers, bio-pellets, etc.) and the generation of renewable energy.

Biomass in Malaysia remains untapped despite its abundant resources in our country. Every year, a minimum of 168 million tonnes of biomass are produced. There are also hundred types of biomass-related research an activities currently undertaken by public research institutions.
  1. A lot of policies developed to facilitate the uptake on biomass and renewable energy among SMEs are still underway, limiting the efficiencies of coordination among local agencies and biomass industry in Malaysia.
  2. There is no reliable and clear data on the potential of biomass in the market
  3. Limited incentives and funding support are provided to bear the high cost of initial investment
In response to the global fight against climate change, biomass definitely has a firm position in the national agenda. As such, the commercialisation of biomass resources is no longer about simply profit-making. The issue is growing to be more complex and more diverse, therefore it opens an opportunity for engagement between different stakeholders which are inclusive of government, industry and research institutions.


Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy is readily available and easy to extract. For the country, biomass utilization leads to substantial economical and environmental gains. For businesses, exploiting renewable resources enhances profit margins and eliminates waste disposal costs. The potential to utilise huge biomass reserves and solar resources allows progressive companies can generate electricity exports, seek regional markets and expand opportunities from lower manufacturing costs.

In the Eighth Malaysian Plan, Renewable Energy was announced as the fifth fuel in the energy supply mix. Renewable Energy is being targeted to be a significant contributor to the country's total electricity supply. With this objective in mind, greater efforts are being undertaken to encourage the utilization of renewable resources, such as biomass, biogas, solar and mini-hydro, for energy generation.

The Government has launched several fiscal incentives to stimulate the emergence of RE activities and technologies. Palm oil mills, sawmills, manufacturers and large institutions can start to benefit immediately by using local technology to generate income and reduce operating costs. Renewable energy resources are available in two primary forms: biomass residues from agriculture wastes (palm oil waste, wood waste, rice husks, etc.), municipal solid waste and energy from the sun.

Many companies are already taking advantage of renewable energy technologies to begin reaping energy cost savings and revenue:

  • TSH Bio Energy Sdn. Bhd. – As the first biomass RE project using empty fruit bunches as fuel, the company sold electricity to TNB at 21.25 sen/kwh.

  • Jana Landfill – By producing biogas and converting it to electricity, this project, the first RE grid-connected project in Peninsula Malaysia, eventually sold power to TNB at 16.7 seb/kwh.

  • Bekok Kiln Drying and Moulding Sdn. Bhd. – By converting a fuel oil boiler to one that burns wood waste, annual fuel savings alone amount to RM 2 million.

  • Awana Kijal Golf & Beach Resort – By installing a solar water heating system to supply up to 35% of its consumption needs at a cost of RM 400,000, the resort continues to save on energy and maintenance and paid back its investment in only six years.

For Malaysia, embarking on renewable energy provides benefits that enable the country to remain strong. Among these include an improved balance of trade, foreign exchange savings, more competitive industries, new export markets, employment opportunities, lower consumer prices and a better environment.

Renewable energy is a commodity just like any other form of energy. It has a major role in meeting energy demand needs and combating global warming. Presently, RE represents a prime opportunity to seek alternative energy options. Getting on board with RE today, secures your energy needs for the future.

(Source: Kettha)


Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is energy generated from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable (naturally replenished). (From Wikipedia)

Energy Development

Energy development is the ongoing effort to provide abundunt and accessible energy, thorough knowledge, skills and constructions.

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