The total organic matter present in living body is called its biomass. In the energy context, biomass represents the total forests for direct use as fuel wood and the energy from agriculture plant residues. Even aquatic plants, sea weeds, macro-algae, water hyacinth and other marine floating plants are now also included to it.

The plants have a very efficient means of solar energy collection (0.6%) and storage in form of organic matters. The whole process is called photosynthesis (photon=light, synthesis = to prepare). During this process, organic matters (carbohydrates) are produced from carbon dioxide and water, inside leaf chlorophylls in presence of sunlight. These organic matters account for the biomass and productivity of the plants. Burning of these organic matters, releases energy and is known as ‘biomass energy’.

The main source of biomass energy is the forest firewood. The agriculture crop residues like straw, stalks and husks etc. of paddy, wheat and corn and some grasses can also be used as biomass fuel.

Another source of biomass energy is Gasohol. It is a mixture of 90% unleaded gasoline and 10% grain alcohol. It is a liquid biomass fuel. Corn carbohydrates can be fermented to produce the grain alcohol, which is then distilled to a high purity fuel alcohol.


Biogas from agriculture and vegetable wastes is another type of biomass energy in gaseous form.

Biomass is always a significant heating fuel. Annual world biomass production is estimated at 146 billion metric tonnes from uncontrolled plant growth.

In India, forest firewood and agriculture wastes are the chiefly available biomass energy for the rural people. Ninety per cent of the rural people depend on it. This is the main cause for deforestation. Though Government of India has implemented laws to stop it, but it is of little use. We cannot stop deforestation so far we have not provided rural people an alternate source of regular energy. But we can take preventive measures.

(a) Plantation of fast growing trees such as Eucalyptus, Acacia, Euphorbia etc. in thousands upon thousands acres of land particularly in waste and dry lands, is a better proposal. These plants can grow faster and within five years these can be cut down to be used as firewood and plantation can be done.


Hence these plants are called energy trees. By that way, the load from forest wood can be reduced and forest woods are devoted to timbering. This scheme has already been implemented by the Govt. of India through Social Forestry Department and success has been achieved in States like Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, U.P., W.B., Rajasthan etc.

(b) Rural people should be encouraged to get energy from some other renewable sources like Goober- gas and solar energy.

(c) Public awareness should be developed for conservation of forests

Eorest is the wealth of the nation. It is our prime duty to preserve it. Simply to meet our cooking fuel, we should not destroy it.