Biomass

Ambivalently source of energy

© Lutz Ribbe
The picture shows Michal Gogol, a farmer who produces a climate neutral fuel with reed briquettes. © Lutz Ribbe

In EuroNatur's view the use of biomass has to be regarded with a critical eye: on the one hand it can offer an important contribution to switching our present energy supply away from the use of fossil-based energy to regenerative sources. Positive examples for this are for instance the burning of wood pellets or wood chips, biogas production from liquid manure or the production of fuel from crops with sugar and starch content. Biomass can also play an important role in the economic development of rural areas.

 

Climate protection can be misunderstood
On the other hand the use of biomass is not only something to welcome. Some of the measures required for it represent a serious threat to species diversity and damage the climate more than aiding it - as is the case over importing palm oil, which contributes to the destruction of particularly bio-diverse rain forests in the tropics.

A lot of energy is required to convert biomass into liquid fuel. We ought rather to use this biomass directly. Here, too, what is needed is diversity. We need to apply a variety of solutions, all working in a decentralized manner and limited to on-site use. Growing crops for biomass must always be carried out compatible with the ecology.

 

 

© EuroNatur
Experts in their element: viewing a field of camelina,or false flax, in multicropping experiments in Poland. © EuroNatur

The better alternative

EuroNatur is breaking new ground with its project in the Narew region of Poland. Successful experiments in cropping have been running since 2000: false flax is planted in a form of polyculture. The aim is to produce biomass with the lowest possible input of energy and without a negative effect on the environment. The oil seeds are then pressed in mills and the oil produced is used and marketed in the region.

Using plant oil to make fuel for tractors makes particularly good sense for the farmers in the region. The energy-intensive and expensive process of refinement is rendered unnecessary and all processes remain in the hands of the local farmers.


Read more about EuroNatur's project “Energy from oilseed crops”

Link to EuroNatur projects in the Narew region

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