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Energy Resources:



Energy from organic materials

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Wood was once our main fuel. We burned it to heat our homes and cook our food.

Wood still provides a small percentage of the energy we use, but its importance as an energy source is dwindling.

Sugar cane is grown in some areas, and can be fermented to make alcohol, which can be burned to generate power. Alternatively, the cane can be crushed and the pulp (called "bagasse") can be burned, to make steam to drive turbines.

Other solid wastes, can be burned to provide heat, or used to make steam for a power station.

"Bioconversion" uses plant and animal wastes to produce "biofuels" such as methanol, natural gas, and oil.

We can use rubbish, animal manure, woodchips, seaweed, corn stalks and other wastes.


Video clip: Why use biomass?

How it works

For a biomass power station making electricity, it's pretty much like a fossil fuel power station:

For other biofuels, we may burn it to get the heat for our home, or burn it to get energy for a car engine, or for some other purpose.


Sugar cane is harvested and taken to a mill, where it is crushed to extract the juice.

The juice is used to make sugar, whilst the left-over pulp, called "bagasse" can be burned in a power station.

The station usually provides power for the sugar mill, as well as selling electricity to the surrounding area.


sugar cane plantation.  from

See also:

Could you use biomass to fuel your home? Visit www.energysavingtrust.

Or use nappies (diapers) for energy - see here (thanks Amanda and Meghan!)

This happy pig produces lots of biomass . From

  • It makes sense to use waste materials where we can.

  • The fuel tends to be cheap.

  • Less demand on the fossil fuels.


  • Collecting or growing the fuel in sufficient quantities can be difficult.

  • We burn the biofuel, so it makes greenhouse gases just like fossil fuels do.

  • Some waste materials are not available all year round.

Is it renewable?

Biomass is renewable, as we're going to carry on making waste products anyway.

We can always plant & grow more sugar cane and more trees, so those are renewable too.


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