Electricity prices in many US states are skyrocketing, partly because the price of natural gas has gone up drastically. Since solar and wind energy are not readily available energy in all of the nation there is growing number of biomass advocates who believe that biomass might just be the right solution to tackle the growing natural gas prices.
However, as many environmentalists will gladly point out, biomass releases lot of CO2 into the atmosphere, in some cases even comparable to coal power plants. Biomass is still classified as carbon neutral because of the presumption that the new trees will grow back and absorb the carbon released by trees burned in the process. However, time for the trees to grow up can span to several decades, and climate change effects could soon become irreversible.
Some energy experts also argue that biomass power plants suffer from the same issue as solar power plants, namely the low efficiency, with many of them operating at 25-30% efficiency, meaning that three out of four trees burn practically for nothing.
However, biomass isn’t only about the trees, biomass can be made out of waste, algae, and several other interesting, and less harmful environmental options than burning trees. In some states biomass power plants have been also economic drivers and they are also good market for low-grade wood.
We must also consider that there is no long term guarantee that biomass will continue to be cheaper than natural gas. The cost of natural gas could go down in the future, if not before than certainly after the Russia-Ukraine situation, or perhaps other renewable energy sources like wind and solar could offer cheaper energy with the adequate technological development.
In any case, biomass remains an interesting energy option, but like already said before, not by burning trees but mainly by focusing at alternate sources such as waste or algae.