Biomass

Biomass is defined as a matter of biological i.e. organic origin. It derives from various sources. ‘’Immediately available biomass’’ consists of solid and liquid waste (effluents) from large agricultural undertakings (e.g. kernel olive-oil plants, ginneries, farming units), of animal origin from intensive farming (e.g. chicken farming , pigsties , slaughterhouses), and forestry industries (e.g. sawmills, pulp and paper industries). ‘’Indirectly available biomass’’ consists of the residues of agriculture crops (e.g. straw, maize and cotton stems) and forestry exploitations (remains from forestry cooperative activities that are not collected). Future available biomass or “new biomass’’ refers to energy crops (plantations of short rotation e.g. eucalyptus, pseudoacacia etc, or non-wood crops e.g. miscanthus (elephant grass), reed, cardoon, sunflower etc.).

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Applications

As regards its commercial and industrial uses, biomass is used for the following:

  • Electricity generation;
  • Heat and power cogeneration;
  • Oil substitute for transportation;
  • Production of gaseous biofuels such as biogas;
  • Heat generation for heating/cooling purposes in agricultural premises and industrial uses
  • Hot water production and indoor heating;
  • District heating (Local Authorities).

As regards individual investments, biomass can be used for heating homes by burning wood chips or wood pellets (small pieces-agglomerates made by compressed wood powder) in modern high-tech boilers.

 

Advantages - Environmental Benefits

The most important economic, environmental and social benefits of biomass/biogas investments are:

  • The use of waste and residues from existing facilities, as raw material for biomass/biogas plants, resolves environmental and hygiene problems; The pollution that may be caused by the unsafe and uncontrolled disposal of organic waste can be prevented;
  • The use of biomass, either as raw material in heat and power cogeneration plants, or in the form of pellets, is an economically efficient way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions; These materials are of natural origin, and when used they release the amount of carbon dioxide that they have absorbed during their lifetime; Therefore they do not further burden the environment, as opposed to the use of fossil fuels;
  • Oil substitute for transportation;Electricity generation plants that use biomass/biogas provide guaranteed power and contribute to the operational stability of the electricity grid. 

Institutional Framework

The legal framework covering biomass applications is particularly extensive. Law 3851/2010 on Renewable Energy Sources (RES) has been particularly generous with respect to the incentives provided for the installation of biomass electricity generation plants. Particularly high and guaranteed selling prices are offered for the electricity produced, depending on the plant’s installed power and the origin of the fuel.

Moreover, a recent Ministerial Decision allows the use of biomass burners (for pellets) throughout Greece (including the cities of Athens and Thessaloniki) aiming at a further reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and maximum independence from oil.

Additional information is provided by organisations such as the Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Climate Change, and also Centre for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving (CRES).

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