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As the world comes to grips with global warming, the importance of abandoning fossil fuels for renewable sources of energy is increasingly apparent. Communities and governments around the world are making greater use of solar, water and wind power to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and ensure a more sustainable future for the planet. Bioenergy is another viable renewable resource that has recently captured the attention of many countries including the United Kingdom. In its efforts to increase its use of renewable energy by 2020, the UK is choosing to give cost-effective bioenergy a key role in its future.

The versatile fuel that stems from biomass can be used by households, communities, the public sector and even industry to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. In its dry form, biomass can be used in combined power and heat units, burned in conventional boilers or be used in thermal conversion technologies. These heat conversion systems produce steam to drive turbines and create electricity; they are the logical evolution of steam power for a modern age. Other plants process wet biomass to produce a flammable fuel used to generate electricity or produce heat. Refined wet biomass becomes biomethane that readily adapts to existing natural gas systems.

Biomass is derived from a number of natural sources such as virgin wood obtained from fallen trees in forests, urban areas and parks. Some products that may ordinarily end up in landfills can be converted into bioenergy.

Organic, biodegradable portions of commercial, industrial or municipal waste and even sewage provide the raw materials for energy production. Land that is unsuitable for growing food gains economic value as it produces crops for biomass. The alternative fuel can also come from wood residue from sawmills or agricultural residues such as kernels, straw and husks.

Biomass not only limits waste, it also slows climate change due to the emission of greenhouse gases. The carbon in plants is stored energy; when they burn, the gas is released back into the atmosphere. Fossil fuels like coal and oil release carbon that was captured millions of years ago, adding to the overall concentration of carbon in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. The carbon savings of using biomass are offset even more by they way in which the energy is sustainably produced.

Bioenergy is also a cost-effective alternative to other renewable energy sources, and its use can augment other technologies like solar and wind power. Increasing the use of this natural energy source also creates green jobs, particularly in rural areas. For these reasons, switching to bioenergy can benefit both environments and economies around the world.