In the field of renewable energy, biomass is regarded as an all-rounder: it can be used for the production of electricity, heat and fuel.
Valuable energy can be produced from numerous forms of organic waste, for example orange peel, cow dung, wood, as well as forest residue and waste wood. Energy from biomass is renewable and is classified as CO2 neutral. And in Switzerland it is regarded as fully sustainable. This is because it is initially used as a foodstuff or animal feed, or as a building material, and it is only afterwards that it is used for producing energy. Organic waste and local raw materials such as wood are therefore suitable sources for the production of energy. At the same time, the use of biomass gives rise to the creation of jobs at the local level and increases regional value-added.
A distinction is made between dry woody biomass and moist biomass with a low wood content. Forms of dry woody biomass include forest and hedgerow wood, waste wood and solid waste from trade and industry and private households. Gasification is suitable for farmyard manure (liquid manure and dung), harvest residue and biogenic waste from the foodstuffs and catering industries, and from private households.
There are usually several ways to process specific types of biomass. The most suitable conversion technology depends on the type, composition and the desired end energy product. For example, dry lignocellulosic (woody) biomass products are usually processed in thermal or thermochemical processes (combustion, gasification), while less woody, moist biomass is more likely to be processed using biochemical conversion methods (fermentation).
In 2018, renewable energy accounted for 23 percent of Switzerland’s end energy consumption, while biomass accounted for around 25 percent of the utilised renewable energy. It is therefore the second most commonly used form of renewable energy after hydropower.