Biomass itself can be considered a fuel, but in this form, apart from fuel for furnaces, it is hardly usable for modern function. Therefore it can be processed in bio-refineries - producing e.g. bio-diesel - or bio-ethanol factories. Green algae that purify water can also function as fuel since they contain oily substances, which can be refined to bio-diesel as well.
Power can be generated from biomass and (organic) waste through incineration of biomass and waste in power plants (bio-plants or multi-fuel plants), which is the traditional way, and through bio-fermentation, which produces biogas, which subsequently can be incinerated in power or co-generation plants for both power and heat. Bio-fermentation can be applied to biomass from woods, greenery, agriculture
and so-called second-generation biomass (e.g. wood pellets), organic waste, manure and wastewater. Especially the latter is a promising source, produced at the places where energy is needed. It only requires decentralised facilities at the neighbourhood or district level: the building scale is too small and the urban scale too big.
As a traditional technique, heat can of course be won from the burning of biomass. Here again this can be achieved directly or via fermentation of manure and organic material. Combined heat and power generation is then most efficient. The deployment of biomass in the energy cycle of the built environment suggests mixing of agricultural businesses with housing developments. For the environment of Almere in the Netherlands we calculated that an average agricultural company could make 30 dwellings energy neutral by means of a fermentation plant and co-generation. An inventory of heat excess of shortage, such as in Fig. 6.14 is worthwhile in this case. Where there is excess of heat, housing developments may be viable.
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