A high demand for energy combined with the need to support environmental considerations means that there is a need to draw on some alternative sources of electricity generation available in Ontario. Renewable/Green Power is energy that can be generated from renewable resources, rendering only a minimal impact on the environment. There are several types of renewable energy sources available in Ontario.
What is Biomass?
Biomass is organic matter that can be converted into fuel and used as a source of energy. In using biomass energy from the sun is captured through photosynthesis. Canada has access to vast amounts of biomass, much of which remains unused. Typical sources of biomass can include plants, insects, and other micro-organisms.
There are two types of biomass: Raw biomass and secondary biomass.
- Raw biomass
Raw biomass consists mainly of trees and shrubs from forests, or crops such as grasses, legumes, oilseeds, cereal grains, rushes etc. It can also be aquatic materials such as kelp, seaweed or algae. It can even be animal manure. Raw biomass is also obtained from energy crops that are grown specifically to provide biofuels. Typical energy crops include hybrid poplars, willows, grasses.
- Secondary biomass
Secondary biomass is any material that was derived from raw biomass but has undergone significant chemical and physical changes. Secondary biomass includes paper and cardboard, leather, pulping liquors, cotton, linen, hemp, natural rubber products, cellulose-derived casings, used cooking oils, tall oil, cheese whey, etc.
How Does Biomass Create Electricity?
Biomass can be converted readily into solid, liquid or gaseous fuels. All forms of biomass can be burnt to raise heat (such as hot water or steam) or to produce electricity.
What are the benefits of using Biomass?
Using biomass as opposed to fossil fuel-powered plants can help to reduce global warming; this is because the plants used for biomass store carbon dioxide (CO2) when they grow – this CO2 is then released when the plant material is burned or decays. By replanting the crops, the new plants can use the CO2 produced by the burned plants; therefore, using biomass and replanting helps close the carbon dioxide cycle. In other words, using biomass is environmentally friendly because the sources are reduced, recycled and then reused.