Information Sheet 34: Bioenergy and biofuels in New Zealand

Biomass is any organic material which has absorbed sunlight and stored it in the form of chemical energy. Examples are wood, energy crops and waste from forests, or farms. The word biomass simply denotes the biological raw material the fuel is made of.

Bioenergy is energy made from biomass or biofuel.  The extraction of energy from biomass may be via one of three pathways:  Thermal conversion processes produce heat from the biomass.

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) defines bioenergy as a renewable form of energy and considers that the use of forest biomass for energy is carbon neutral.

The word biofuel is often used by the media for liquid or gaseous fuels, used for transportation, however this is misleading as there are solid, liquid and gaseous biofuels.  Wood is a solid biofuel.

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