Farm wastes and biomass are significant sources of alternative energy in the Philippines. Based on a United Nations Development Programme and World Bank estimate, the country can sustain an annual biomass yield of 105 million tons of wood equivalent to 270 million barrels of oil fuel.
But the estimated annual use of biomass is only 35.66 million tons of wood equivalent (TWE).
Biomass combustion involves the direct burning of woody or fibrous plants. The heat and steam produced are used directly to power turbines or steam engines or to cogenerate electricity and steam.
Pyrolysis is the external application of extreme heat to substances to cause chemical decomposition in the absence of oxygen. The products include pyrolyctic gas, liquid fuel and charcoal.
Gasification is the thermal conversion of any organic matter through its partial combustion in an oxygen-starved container called a gasifier. The product is producer gas which may be used for shaft power, direct heat and internal combustion engine applications.
Biomethanation or bio-gas digestion convert solids to methane and carbon dioxide in the absence of oxygen. The product is biogas. It can be used to partially or completely substitute for conventional fuels such as diesel or gasoline.
The use of biomass is not that widespread aside from its lack of information and dissemination of the technology. It is also high initial investment cost of converting biomass into energy.
In its natural form, is quite inferior compared to conventional fuels but once converted , it has a high heat content, burns almost completely and is compatible for use with existing fuel like gas burners and motor engines.