How is Air Pollution behind the Growth of Biomass Pellet Market?

Published Oct 26 

Day by day, major cities are turning into gas chambers, as a result of the extreme air pollution levels. The major reason is the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, crude oil, and natural gas, for producing electricity, heating purposes, cooking food, and running vehicles. Not only has air pollution depleted the ozone layer and resulted in global warming and climate change, but it has also increased the risk of deadly diseases, such as asthma, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which affect millions every year.
This has spawned a dire need to reduce the usage of fossil fuels and replace them with cleaner alternatives. Apart from the wind, sun, water, heat, and radioactive materials, even organic products are being used to create electricity, and the places where this happens are known as biorefineries. Now, these places produce not only electricity, but also an array of chemicals and fuels. Thus, with the growing focus on biorefineries, the biomass pellet market is expanding too, as biomass pellets are the primary feedstock for such processing plants.
Biomass pellets are organic matter, such as industrial, agricultural and household waste or purposely grown crops for energy production, which has been compressed and formed into pellets. The reason this is done is that it makes the transportation of huge amounts of feedstock easier and more cost-effective. Apart from air pollution, another reason behind the burgeoning demand for renewable energy is the need to be independent from the use of crude oil. Along with the fact that its and its derivatives’ (kerosene, gasoline, and diesel) burning releases harmful substances into the air, there is also an economic reason behind this.
Energy being the main engine of national economies and crude oil being its primary source, many countries’ economy has come to be governed by this commodity. For importers, high oil prices mean added expenditures, which is generally in billions of dollars, while for exporting countries, a slump in the prices can mean economic recession. Several countries have already started using biodiesel in the transportation sector, for instance India, which has started either running its diesel locomotives entirely on biodiesel or 5% biodiesel.
Biomass pellets are currently majorly utilized for producing heat and power, of which higher amounts of these materials currently go into the production of heat. This is because when biomass is burnt, heat is produced first, which has to be then used to create pressurize steam to turn the generator turbine, much like any other power plant. Additionally, the raw materials are easily converted to biogas by bacterial action, which is then used for heating purposes. In the coming years, the consumption of biomass pellets is expected to increase faster for power production, with increasing investments in biorefineries around the world.
Currently, Europe is home to the largest biomass pellet market, on account of the fact that biomass burning leads to significantly lesser greenhouse gas emissions than coal or crude oil, which makes it highly popular in the continent. Further, governments at the national and local levels are taking numerous initiatives, such as offering incentives to procure the material, to increase the share of this renewable source in total energy production. North America is another significant consumer of biomass pellets, as the demand for these materials is rising in the industrial sector, and the concerns regarding global warming are also growing in the region.
Hence, as more investments are poured in biorefineries, to produce fuels, energy, and biobased materials, the demand for pellets of organic matter will keep booming.