Biomass for home heating: things to know

Biomass for home heating: things to know

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Biomass they are also wood, wood chips, briquettes and pellets that we use to power stoves, fireplaces and boilers. This means that each of us, as long as he has one of the aforementioned devices at home, is a user of this renewable and clean energy source that we call biomass and that helps us to respect the international commitments undertaken by Italy for the reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases.

Be careful though, the biomass dry wood for heating domestic environments is truly clean only if it is produced respecting certain criteria, and in any case it has drawbacks such as the emission during combustion of fine dust that is not eliminated by sophisticated filters as is the case in industrial plants.

That of biomass wood used for domestic heating is an important issue because in 2011 (latest certain data available) about 200 thousand stoves, boilers and thermo-stoves were sold on the Italian market (source: Amici della Terra). 98% of these are wood or pellet stoves, 2% of boilers that are used for a third in centralized systems. The number of appliances of this type installed in Italy has almost doubled in the last 10 years.

It should be added that in the most important segment of devices that transform into heat the biomass woody, that of stoves, Italian industry has a good position in the domestic market and a significant share of national production is exported. The installation activities have a significant value and in the future the (mandatory) maintenance activities will increase.

How much biomass woody is consumed in Italy? There is no precise answer to this question because the commercial flows of firewood and those of self-consumption escape official statistics. According to estimates by FIRE, the Italian Federation for the Rational Use of Energy, consumption today would amount to 8 Mtoe and could become 11 Mtoe in 2030.

Although Italy has a good potential for biomass dry available from wood processing residues, agro-industrial residues and wood supply chains that would allow a significant development of the sector, the increased consumption could trigger problems (not only in Italy of course) if the raw material is not well managed.

An effective management model of biomass woody is the ecological criterion. In order to be defined as ecological, dry woody biomass and wood must derive from: cutting down already dead plants without affecting live trees; rational exploitation of forests according to the matricina method for limited strips of wood or one plant every four; protection of secular trees, protected genera, historic forests and their habitats; ecological processing with hand saw, electric saw, electric chipper, hatchet, machete, ax; no land or sea transport for thousands of kilometers; salary of 25 euros for each hour of dedicated work.

You may also be interested in the article: "Cogeneration plants: what they are and their benefits

Video: NREL Energy Basics: Biomass (August 2022).