Farewell Fossil Fuels: Reviewing America's Energy Policy

By Sidney Borowitz | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11
BIOMASS

Biomass is vegetation and organic animal wastes that have been generated in recent times. At this writing about 4 percent of the energy used in the United States is produced by biomass-fueled systems. A little less than half comes from the burning of firewood in stoves used for space heating or for cooking. The remainder comes from corn or sugar used in the production of alcohol (gasohol) as a vehicular fuel, and the burning of municipal solid wastes.

Aside from the United Kingdom which provides less than 1 percent of its energy needs using biomass, the United States is unique among the countries of the world in using such a small fraction. In highly developed countries such as Denmark, Austria, Sweden, or Finland, the percentage is as high as 10 percent. But in developing countries biomass supplies an average of 36 percent of the energy requirements. In India, a more prosperous developing country, the percentage is 56 percent. In Tanzania, it is 97 percent.

The United States Department of Energy hopes that within 20 years biomass will be able to supply between 15 and 20 percent of the energy requirements of this country and perhaps double that in 40 years. The United Nations issued a report in which their technicians maintained the world should be able to have 55 percent of its energy from biomass by the year 2050. One could even be somewhat skeptical of both estimates, and yet be convinced that biomass will ultimately replace a substantial portion of the energy now supplied by fossil fuels.

-135-

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Farewell Fossil Fuels: Reviewing America's Energy Policy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Preface 7
  • Introduction 9
  • Chapter 1 the Earth Emerges 15
  • Chapter 2 Energy 27
  • Chapter 3 Fossil Fuels 41
  • Chapter 4 Oil 53
  • Chapter 5 Coal 63
  • Chapter 6 Natural Gas 73
  • Chapter 7 Nuclear Energy (fission) 79
  • Chapter 8 Nuclear Energy (fusion) 97
  • Chapter 9 Direct Utilization of Solar Energy 109
  • Chapter 10 Photovoltaics 121
  • Chapter 11 Biomass 135
  • Chapter 12 Energy from Wind and Water 145
  • Chapter 13 Nonsolar Energy Sources: Geothermal and Tides 159
  • Chapter 14 Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (otec) 173
  • Chapter 15 Batteries, Fuel Cells, and Flywheels 183
  • Chapter 16 Conservation 197
  • Chapter 17 a Hydrogen Economy 207
  • Chapter 18 Envoi 211
  • Index 215
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