Biomass Energy

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Biomass energy, or bioenergy, refers to all forms of renewable energy that are derived from plant materials produced by photosynthesis. Biomass fuels can be derived from wood, agricultural crops and other organic residues. These fuels can be obtained from many sources in Canada, including sawmills, woodworking shops, forest operations and farms.

Bioenergy is regarded as "green" energy for several reasons. Assuming that biomass resources, such as our forests, are managed properly, biomass fuels are infinitely renewable.

They have already proven to be economically stable sources of energy over time. Bioenergy is neutral in terms of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The burning of biomass fuels merely releases the CO2 that plants absorbed over their life spans. In contrast, the combustion of fossil fuels releases large quantities of long-stored CO2, which contribute directly to global warming. Using bioenergy displaces fossil fuels and helps slow the rate of climate change.

Small commercial wood heating is common in rural areas across Canada. Between 1980 and 1993, many businesses and institutions in the Atlantic provinces installed automated biomass heating plants to stem rising energy costs. Despite relatively low oil prices in the last decade, many businesses have continued to operate – and often expand – their biomass heating plants. They have achieved significant savings and other benefits from low-cost bioenergy.

Technology Notes

Biomass Combustion Systems are not a new technology.

There are hundreds of these systems at work in Canada and many more throughout the USA and Europe. These systems are fed with biomass, a form of energy derived from plant or animal material such as wood, straw, grass and manure. Wood is a common biomass fuel used in Manitoba.

A recent emphasis on renewable energy resources as a replacement for conventional fuels, is creating a renewed demand for biomass.

Manitoba has advantages in biomass production and supply from agriculture and forestry as identified in The Manitoba Bioproducts Strategy.     

Other Renewable Heat Sources

Green Heat

Geothermal Heat Pumps 


Information on this page excerpted from:
Warm up to Biomass Heating and Improve Your Bottom Line (2001)

Quick Fact:
Biomass combustion is considered CO2 neutral and therefore is not considered a major producer of greenhouse gas linked to climate change.