Biomass, also known as biofuels or bioenergy, is obtained from organic matter – either directly from plants or indirectly from industrial, commercial, domestic or agricultural products. The use of biomass is classed as a ‘carbon neutral’ process because the carbon dioxide released during the generation of energy from biomass is balanced by that absorbed by plants during their growth.
Solid biomass (including fuel wood, charcoal, agricultural and forest residues, and animal dung), is typically in rural areas of developing countries with traditional technologies such as open fires and ovens for cooking and residential heating. Often the traditional use of biomass leads to high pollution levels, forest degradation and deforestation.
In modern systems energy is derived from combustion of solid, liquid and gaseous biomass fuels in high-efficiency conversion systems, which range from small domestic appliances to large-scale industrial conversion plants. Modern applications include heat and electricity generation, combined heat and power (CHP) and transport.