Biomass Vs Solar Energy: Which one is better?

Biomass Vs Solar

Innovation and expansion of renewable sources of energy is key to maintaining a sustainable level of energy and protecting our planet from climate change.

Both biomass and solar energy are sustainable and renewable sources of energy.

Biomass is renewable since we can grow a new crop after each harvest, and biomass is a low carbon fuel.

Adopting renewable energy is one of the best ways to reduce carbon foot prints and contribute to saving the environment.

According to a report by the U.S Energy Information Administration,

“Electricity generation from solar resources in the United States reached 77 million megawatt-hours in 2017, surpassing for the first time the annual generation from biomass resources, which generated 64 million megawatt-hours in 2017.”

The below data is showing biomass vs solar electricity generation from 2014-2017:

Data by EIA

Before reaching any conclusion, let us first understand both biomass energy and solar energy along with their advantages and disadvantages:

Biomass Energy

Biogas is the useful form of energy. To obtain biogas, we need biomass.

Biomass includes plants, starch, manures, and food crops like sugar-cane and corn, etc. Biomass is then convert into biogas through Fermentation.

Biogas is a combustible gas mixture: produced from anaerobic fermentation of biomass by bacteria.

In Biogas, there is a mixture of  50 to 70% methane, CO2, water vapor, and some other components.

Biomass energy
Biomass energy

Advantages and Disadvantages

By converting agricultural, industrial, and domestic waste into solid, liquid, and gas fuel, biomass generates power at a much lower economic and environmental cost.

Now, let’s have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of Biogas :

ADVANTAGESDISADVANTAGES
Biogas is generated through digestion and is non-polluting. There are no too few technological advancements of Biomass energy.
It not only reduces soil and water pollution but also helps in reducing the greenhouse effect.Systems that are used have less efficiency.
Biogas plants require little pre-investments as compared to solar.

Solar Energy

There is a wide usage of solar power in the world. It can be converted to both heat and electricity.

Electricity using solar energy is generated through Solar panels. Semi-conductors are used in the manufacturing of solar panels

These panels absorb the sun’s rays and convert them to generate electricity or heat. You can read about complete working of solar panels in our previous post.

Also, we have different storage methods for solar power. Solar power has become a trend in renewable energy. 

Solar Energy
Solar Energy

Advantages and Disadvantages

No doubt that adopting solar has numerous benefits, we have also covered it in our previous posts. 

Below are some primary advantages and disadvantages that solar power has:

ADVANTAGESDISADVANTAGES
Solar power requires low maintenance.The major expenditure of a solar plant is taken by the pre-investment. 
Investing in solar power gives you a high return on investment in the long run.The intensity and availability of solar energy on the earth vary by geographical locations.Clouds, fog, or rain affect electricity production.
solar energy is unlimited & renewable.Clouds, fog, or rain affect electricity production.
Installing solar panels at your home increases its value.

Biomass Vs Solar Energy: Compare before use

Renewable energy sources make up 26% of the world’s electricity today.

But, according to the International Energy Agency, its share is expected to reach 30% by 2024.

“This is a pivotal time for renewable energy,” said the IEA’s executive director.

Among all renewable sources, solar and wind are the most widely used. We have already covered the comparison of both as well in our previous posts.

Let’s now talk about the comparison of biogas vs solar energy on the below-mentioned factors:

1.Temperature

2. Initial Cost

3. Technology Advancements

4. Electricity Generation

5. Spac

1. Temperature

Biomass Energy:

In the case of biogas, a temperature of 37 °C is necessary to maintain for the bacteria to digest waste.

However, it is a challenge in winters to maintain the temperature.

Solar Energy:

In the case of solar, during cloudy or foggy days, the electricity production of solar panels decreases.

There are different storage options available for solar energy to overcome the discontinuation in electricity production

2. Initial Cost

Biomass Energy: 

Biomass energy is an energy source that comes from plant materials such as wood, corn, sugarcane, and grasses, etc. 

However, it needs less capital investment than setting up a solar power plant.

Solar Energy: 

The major advantage of solar is that the source of energy (sun)  is free. 

The total expenses will include solar cells, inverter, wiring, maintenance costs, and much more.

Also, battery storage systems for solar are expensive.

So, we can conclude that setting up a biogas plant is far cheaper than that of solar.

3. Technology Advancements

Biomass Energy:

Even today, biogas plants are using highly inefficient systems. And, still, there are no technological advancements in this sector.

Although, the gas generated through bio-digestion is non-polluting.

But, even after the refinement of this gas, it has impurities.

Solar Energy:

At present, solar energy is widely used and raised on a large scale by various energy investment companies.

One of the reasons behind its wide usage is its easy installation and availability.

These days solar panels are used to light up roadside illuminators and to power satellites in space.

4. Electricity Generation

Biomass Energy: 

Biogas can be converted directly into electricity using fuel cells.

The installation of fuel cells produces heat, electricity, and hydrogen, called ‘tri-generation’.

Solar Energy:

Solar panels are used to convert solar energy into direct current.

This direct current is then passed to the inverter to convert into alternating current for usable purposes.

This is how solar panels convert sunlight into electricity

5. Space

We can compare renewable energy using the concept of power density.

Power density is the average electrical power production in one horizontal square meter of infrastructure.

Biomass Energy:

Biogas energy plants take more space than solar power plants. Biomass energy has the lowest power density of  0.8 W/m2.

The very low power densities of biomass make it a difficult sell. And, since the land on which it is produced can sometimes be used for growing food instead.

Solar Energy:

Solar panels installations do occupy space if installed on land.

However, Roof-top solar installations are a better way to save space and produce the same amount of energy that can be produced on land installations.

Also, future technologies include floating farms of solar. These are also space saviors.

Biomass Vs Solar Energy: Infographic

Below is an infographic that describes the comparison between biomass and solar energy briefly: 

Pin it!

Biomass Vs Solar Energy-Infographic
Biomass Vs Solar Energy-Infographic

Conclusion:

Hope this post helped you to have a better understanding of the biogas Vs solar energy.

Biomass generating capacity has remained relatively unchanged over the years, while solar generating capacity has consistently grown.

Furthermore, The efficiency of solar panels is from 15-20% but it is still better than biomass energy.

However, the installation of solar panels needs big capital energy.

Using Biomass and solar panels have their pros and cons. 

You should analyze your needs and availability before choosing one among them.

Thanks for reading our discussion on Biogas Vs Solar energy.

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Keerti Bhatnagar

Keerti is a tech geek with a vision to save the environment. She is from Uttarakhand, India. And, She is currently pursuing her MCA from G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar.

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