Scottish Power Renewables Whitelee Windfarm visitor centre

You may not realise but the living plant life that surrounds us is a great form of renewable energy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is biomass?

Biomass is the name given to plants and animal waste. There are many different types of materials that can be used as biomass; trees, grasses, crops and animal manure are just some examples.

How does biomass work?

Plants are like natural batteries that capture and store the energy from the sun. Plants capture carbon dioxide from the air and combine this with earth from ground to create carbohydrates. this is called photosynthesis. When plants are then burned they release the energy they have stored and this can be used to create electricity. In ancient times biomass fuels were burnt in an open fire to create heat. Modern technology works in a similar way. The heat that is generated by burning biomass is used to create power that creates electricity.

Is it renewable?

Using plants to generate electricity is renewable as long as we only use as much as we grow.

What are the advantages?

Plants collect carbon dioxide as they grow and this cancels the carbon dioxide that they release when they are burnt.
Crops that are planted for biomass are low-yield, meaning that they are replanted in frequently. This helps to improve the quality of the soil and reduce soil erosion.

What are the disadvantages?

Growing crops, plants and trees to provide power can take up a considerable area of land.

Related Information


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