Solid biomass – including wood, charcoal, and animal dung – has been used as an energy source for thousands of years, traditionally for cooking on open fires, in ovens and in kilns for small-scale agricultural and industrial processing.
Modern biomass-to-energy technology means that locally-sourced biomass can be a clean, reliable and renewable energy source for the future, replacing fossil fuels in local industries and reducing their reliance on electricity grids.
But how attractive are biomass projects for offset investors?
Social, Environmental and Economic Benefits
Biomass (or bioenergy) carbon offset projects vary depending on whether they are methane avoidance projects, reducing deforestation, or avoiding fossil fuel use; some projects may deliver more than one of these.
When manure is treated in a biogas plant, the methane gas collected can be burned in a combined heat and power unit, or supplied directly to households for cooking. Greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by replacing inefficient wood-fired stoves with renewable, efficient biogas stoves, and by reducing fugitive emissions of methane from the manure.
When coal, oil or diesel- fired energy generation is replaced by renewable biomass, fossil fuel carbon emissions are reduced significantly, and a range of co-benefits may also be seen.
At the community or village level, the use of crop residues to power small steam turbine generators to produce electricity can deliver environmental and social benefits in addition to saving carbon. Local farmers can benefit from the biomass supply chain, which can also help prevent potential agricultural waste problems.
There may be other economic benefits, as the cost of the biomass fuel is often lower than the fossil-fuel equivalent, and any surplus electricity generated can be sold to benefit the plant operator and/or the local community.
Who Invests in Biomass Offset Projects?
Biomass projects are particularly suitable for agricultural, wood processing, or food processing industries that produce bio-waste or residues that can be turned into biomass feedstock for the production of electricity or heat. A wide range of materials can be used, including waste timber, straw, rice husks, corn, bamboo and various grasses.
Biogas projects are especially suited to agricultural settings where organic matter such as manure is plentiful. This is converted into biogas through anaerobic digestion, which can be combusted to produce electricity and/or steam heat.
Both biomass and biogas projects have financial benefits for businesses, as the costs associated with waste processing and disposal are reduced, thus improving economic sustainability as well as environmental performance.
As small businesses often cannot finance the installation or conversion to bioenergy themselves, carbon offset projects that provide upfront funding are an ideal way to ensure such projects happen. Investing in NativeEnergy Help Build™ offsets can accelerate the transition from fossil fuel to biomass generation.
Providing Energy For The Future
Biomass-to-energy is a sustainable solution that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, assuming that secondary and tertiary biomass is used (rather than crops grown primarily for biomass fuel) to substitute the use of fossil fuels.
Agricultural and forest-based industries, in both developed and emerging economies, generate substantial quantities of biomass residue and waste that can be used for energy production, to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and support sustainable growth.
How Are Biomass Offset Projects Certified?
Biomass offset projects must pass the same tests as other carbon offset schemes to ensure that carbon savings are genuine, quantifiable, permanent and additional.
The methodology for measuring carbon savings will vary depending on the project type – methane avoidance projects, reducing deforestation, or avoiding fossil fuel use – but a rigorous process of third-party validation and verification guarantees they meet internationally recognized carbon standards and demonstrate financial additionality.
Choosing an Experienced Biomass Offset Provider
Biomass offset projects can be complex, but projects such as the Trellis Biomass Conversion Project in East Templeton, Massachusetts, and the Dovan Family Farm Project in Berlin, Pennsylvania, demonstrate that biomass and biogas installations can successfully save thousands of tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
NativeEnergy’s offset program provides funding to bioenergy projects that otherwise would not happen. To invest in progressive offsets that support rural economic sustainability and better environmental management, contact us today.