As a kind of cleanly, renewable energy, biomass energy has developed rapidly in China. It plays an important role in Chinese energy structure. The consumption of it falls behind coal, petroleum and natural gas only. Some experts estimated that biomass energy will account for more than forty percent of the world’s total consumption by the middle of this century. Having the largest population in the world, China has to deal with the relationship between economy and environment. Consequently, it is significant to change production patterns and develop a new energy system.
The Features of Biomass Energy
There are so many advantages of biomass energy:
At first, biomass energy is a renewable resource, the carbon emission equals to the carbon absorbed by plant photosynthesis. The biomass energy is reproducible and just has the same characteristic with wind and solar energy, which guaranteed the sustainable use of energy.
Secondly, biomass energy is environmentally friendly, because it contains little sulfur and nitrogen. There will be less SO2 or NO2 on the process of burning biomass energy. In addition to the carbon emission equals to the carbon absorbed by plant photosynthesis, the emission of carbon is negligible. So, it contributes to reduce the greenhouse effect.
Thirdly, biomass energy resource distributes widely. Though China is a country with rich resources, there are still many regions lacks coal. In these regions, biomass energy is the best choice.
Fourthly, the amount of biomass energy is great. It is estimated that the consumption of biomass energy only falls behind coal, petroleum and natural gas, the earth land produces 100-125 billion tons of biomass and the oceans produces 50billion.
Lastly, biomass energy has a wide range of utility. In all fields of national economy like the production of biogas, compression molding of solid fuel, gasification production of fuel gas, biological power generation, burning alcohol production and thermal cracking of biodiesel production, biomass energy is widely used.
The Status of China’s Biomass Energy Resource
China has abundant resource of biomass energy whose power equals to 5 billion tons of coal in theory, and it’s four times of the total energy consumption of our country. Now available resource for the development and utilization of biomass energy are mainly include forest energy, crop straw, animal waste, household garbage and energy plant.
- Forest Energy: China has a rich resource of forest, we can get forest energy from wood and forest industrial waste residue. The wood almost comes from fallen branches, leftover material of wood processing and special forest.
- Crop straw: Crop straw is an important kind of appendix in the process of agricultural production and it’s a traditional fuel in the countryside.
- Animal Waste: In the grazing region, some animal waste was directly burnt to keep warm, while most of it was used as the main materials of biogas fermentation.
- Household garbage: Household garbage includes residents’ living garbage, commercial and service industry garbage, construction waste, and so on. The contents of household garbage is complex, and it is easily affected by the living level of residents, the structure of energy, the construction of city, the green space and the changing of seasons.
- Energy Plant: There are many kinds of energy plants, mainly include plants with high sugar and grease, algae that can directly generate hydrogen and hydrocarbon, all kinds of fast-growing trees.
At present, we can get 314 million tons of biomass energy in our country every year, among them, crop raw takes 54%, forest takes 36%, manufacture waste takes 3%, animal waste takes 3%, household garbage takes 3% and energy plant takes 1%.
In addition, there are still 57 million hm2 of desert and 100 million hm2 of marginal land that are not suitable for agriculture, the development of biomass energy has a great potential.
The Development of China’s Biomass Energy
So for example, California produces more than 60 million tons of dry biomass fuel every year, of this total, 5million tons of dry bone is now burned to make electricity. This kind of biomass is from mill wastes, urban wastes, forests and agricultural residues and other feed stocks. If all of them were used, the 60 million tons of biomass in California could make close to 2000 megawatts of electricity for California’s growing population and economy. That’s enough to make electricity for about 2 million families.
According to the needs of national economy and the technique of biomass energy, China has put the emphasis on electricity generation, biogas and biomass fuel. It is to be sure that biomass energy will be the most widely of renewable energy in the near future.
Yang Xiongnian, the deputy of science and technology education department of China’s agriculture ministry said that, by the end of 2011, the number of biogas users has reached 41.68 million, which took a rate of 34.7% in all relevant residents, benefits about 160 million of people. There are 80.5 thousand national scale biogas projects, they can produce 15 billion cubic meters of biogas every year, and the amount of it took 11.4% of the annual consumption. As a result of biogas utilization, the emission of carbon dioxide reduced 61 million tons, the production of organic manure reached 410 million tons, and farmers saved 47 billion Yuan.
China started biomass curing fuel project from 1980s, it’s a bit late to some extent. In recently years, the biomass curing fuel technique has been developing. The scale of production and utilization is going to bigger and bigger. In 2009, China had 260 biomass curing fuel factories and they produced briquette fuel 1.5 million tons every year. The fuel mainly used for cooking and heating in the countryside, industrial boilers and so on.
At present, “rotten rice” is the main raw material of bio-fuels. Strictly speaking, the process of changing “rotten rice” into biological ethanol is not in the category of energy agriculture, because food crops are essentially different from energy plants in the terms of function. In some sense, the pattern has accumulated many experience for the development of biological ethanol, and strengthened the industrial basement a lot. After waiting for the energy plant resources developed, we can change the raw materials.
China’s Science Ministry supports “sweet sorghum stalks producing fuel ethanol project” according to “the 863 Project”, sweet sorghum cultivation technology and fuel ethanol processing technology have been relatively mature. The scale of fuel ethanol has already reached 5000 tons every year. We have set basements in Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia, Xingjiang, Liaoning and Shandong, the first step is to plant sweet sorghums, and then, change them into fuel ethanol.
On the other hand, China has made great progress in the research of forestry crops, many factories was established. For example, some little factories used rapeseed oil, seed oil, tallow oil, wood oil, tea oil and many other raw materials to produce biodiesel. This is the first condition of commercial development.
In the production of equipments, many factories in China continues to promote technology, innovation and development. The main products are Mobile Peller Plant, Small pellet Mill, Pellet Stoves, Briquette Press, Stamping Type Briquette Maker and Screw Press Briquetting Machine. With these equipments, we can make more effenciently use of biomass energy.
The Problems in the Development Process of Biomass Energy in China
Though China has made great progress in the development of biomass energy, there are still many contradictions and problems with the development of social economy.
At first, the development of biomass energy is perhaps to be a threat to the safety of China’s food security, especially after the establishment and implement of America’s biomass energy policies. We should reexamine the condition that China has a population of 1.6 billion, even worse the cultivated land resource is very limited, so we have to attach the importance to food security. As is know to all, China is a big country of agriculture, while the raw materials of biomass energy are mainly food crops, which has influenced China’s food security more or less.
In future, too much of land would be used to plant energy crops for biomass energy, that will cause short supplies of other food crops, low-income earners would be burdened with the rising price. In some areas, the rising price of corn and sugarcane is a result of it.
The development of biomass energy has led a fierce competition between the biological energy production, the consumption of residents and livestock feed. Therefore, we should deal with the relationship correctly of the two and solve the problem of the land use competition of oil crops and food crops.
Secondly, due to the dispersion of agricultural production and procession, the collection of biomass energy costs high. In addition, the conversion rate of biomass energy in our country is low, which causes the high cost of biomass production.
Therefore, under the condition of the current energy price, biological energy productions are short of market competitiveness. The low investment return has dampened the investor’s enthusiasm, and the high price has dampened that of consumers’. So that, we must take active measures to develop biological energy, intensify the research and development of biological energy technology. We should know that only low price can make biomass energy more competitive.
Developing Direction of Biomass Energy in China
China’s biomass energy industry has been developing rapidly. We have accumulated some mature experience, but the industrialization statuses of different technology are not balanced. The key to the improvement of biomass technology is to change the traditional way of using it. At the same time, we should promote creativity of technology and improve the efficiency of energy. In the aspect of biomass energy, we have to know the fact that we still have a big display contrast to other developed countries. In order to close the gap, we should enhance the level of science and technology in the field of biomass energy in China. Stay firmly tooted in the present while looking ahead to the future, a greener earth is waiting for us!