Bioenergy is energy from the sun which is captured in organic material (biomass) such as wood, crops or animal waste. Biomass captures and stores solar energy using the process of photosynthesis. This energy can then be used to create heat, electricity, light or transport fuel.
Bioenergy can be generated from:
Trees and crops which may be grown specifically for their energy content or be a by-product of another activity (e.g. wood residue from forest harvesting)
Biomass in waste products which results from industrial, commercial, agricultural and domestic activities (e.g. animal manure, animal fat and municipal solid waste)
Biomass boilers and cogeneration plants are two of the types of technology which can be used to generate bioenergy.
Different types of bioenergy can be used for different purposes including:
Wood energy – which is energy from wood pellets or wood residue used for industrial or commercial heat and/or electricity generation (e.g. wood pellet boilers used in schools).
Biofuel – which is energy from plant and animal matter (often blended with petrol or diesel) used for heating or transport fuel (e.g. bioethanol used in a commercial vehicle).
Biogas – which is the combustible gas (mainly methane) given off during the breakdown of biomass used to generate energy (e.g. methane from pig manure used to create electricity for a farm).