The European Directive 2009/28/EC – Article 2 (e) – defines the biomass as the biodegradable fraction of products, waste and residues from biological origin from agriculture (including vegetal and animal substances), forestry and related industries including fisheries and aquaculture, as well as the biodegradable fraction of industrial and municipal waste.
As far as lignocellulosic biomasses are concerned (wood, woodchips, prunings, scraps, shells, husks…), they can be regarded as one of the smartest and most sophisticated tools for sun energy storage: through photosynthesis, sun radiation is captured and stored by plants, which convert it into chemical energy by synthesizing carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrate molecules, releasing oxygen in the atmosphere.
Biomasses are wide available in the environment, and tapping their potential is not only desirable and environmentally profitable, but also necessary: forests have to be maintained to ensure their health and prevent them from danger such as fires and diseases. When a fire happens due to lack of maintenance activities, we are not only losing a valuable resource, but also harming the environment.
According to AEBIOM – European Biomass Association – (www.aebiom.org) reports, the advantages of biomass can be summarized as follows:
- widely available in Europe and abroad
- a secure energy supply
- cheaper than fossil fuels
- on-demand product
- stable source of employment, especially in rural areas
- closed carbon cycle, unlike fossil fuels
- benefits forest management, resulting in carbon credit
- incentives a balanced growth of agriculture