Save the Planet with Biomass – Renewable Energy Source

Photo: Courtesy of Nataša Rubežić

Biomass represents a renewable energy source that, unfortunately, is the least promoted; hence, its potential is huge. We talked with Nataša Rubežić, President of the National Biomass Association “SERBIO”, about the energy transition from fossil fuels to biomass, its importance, and future use, as well as the impact on the environment.

EP: How to use biomass for energy production? Could we harm the environment, and if yes, to what extent?

Nataša Rubežić: In order to mitigate climate change and achieve energy security, while working on regional development and job creation, almost everyone is turning to renewable energy sources. When it comes to biomass, which is produced in a sustainable way, the amount of carbon dioxide relevant to the climate is zero – in kilograms. Carbon dioxide released by biomass combustion has previously been absorbed from the atmosphere into plants through photosynthesis and is returned to the atmosphere either by natural degradation or fuel production. Thus, biomass produced sustainably way has no carbon footprint. After all, a successful climate policy means reducing carbon dioxide emissions. It means that by increasing the use of renewable energy sources we reduce the use of fossil fuels and achieve better efficiency and lower energy consumption. 

EP: What is the importance of using biomass?

Nataša Rubežić: When biomass is used for energy production, it offers different advantages and possibilities to a region or a country. The benefits of using bioenergy are many. Let’s start with the creation of new jobs since the activation and functioning of bioenergy chains create more jobs for each petajoule produced than any other form of renewable energy. It is followed by the reversal of the economy at the local and regional levels. Bioenergy allows consumers to spend money on energy in the region instead of paying it to a foreign country, which consequentially means that biomass strengthens the circular economy at the regional level. Of course, the reduction of CO2 emissions must not be forgotten – sustainable biomass production keeps carbon at a neutral level during combustion. 

EP: What is the importance of using biomass in heating plants in Serbia? How many heating plants are in this system, and what are the plans for the future?

Photo-illustration: Pixabay

Nataša Rubežić: According to the energy balance report for 2020, heating plants in Serbia will dominantly use natural gas (80 per cent), then fuel oil (11.7 per cent), and coal (7.8 per cent), and less than one per cent of the biomass. The heating plants in Priboj and Mali Zvornik have implemented a heat system production from wood biomass. Both towns participated in the “Promotion of Renewable Energy Sources – Development of the Biomass Market in Serbia” project with a total investment value of 26.75 million euros. This project was implemented by the Ministry of Mining and Energy, the German KfW Bank, and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). Apart from Priboj and Mali Zvornik, Prijepolje, Nova Varoš, Novi Pazar and Majdanpek will also introduce biomass heating under this project. The total nominal capacity of these six heating plants is 30 MW.

Interview by: Milica Radičević

Read the story in the new issue of the Energy portal Magazine RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES.