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Film on Biomass
Polish Ecological Club (PKE) Upper Silesian Branch,
(INFORSE member) (new link)
(not available anymore)

age group
The film is disseminated in schools and PKE circles.

Educational Film
Length: 12-15 minutes
Films title: ‘Biomass’

The film's aim is to educate the young people on environmental issues, especially about renewable sources of energy. The films shows practical usage of renewable energy.
1,000 copies were made from the film, which also include the film on hydro.
The project was supported by
- Voivodship Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management in Katowice,
- INFORSE-Europe, as activities supported by EU DG Environmental Civil Society Support in 2005.

Film scenario:

Title: ‘BIOMASS – a renewable source of energy”

Question: What is ‘biomass’?
Answer: It is one of important sources of renewable energy, which has a special significance in our country as to its common occurrence. Biomass is appears in 3 forms.

- As a solid substance. These are all plants and their parts appropriate for combustion. Mainly, waste products in agriculture and forestry, like straw, wood chips, sawdust, leaves, which is all solid biological products that can be burnt to obtain heat or electric energy.

- The second form of biomass is the liquid one.
All types of biofuels belong to it, like vegetable oils and alcohols. They can as well be admixtures to conventional fuels.

- The third form of biomass is the gaseous one, which is biogas – mostly methane obtained by means of the natural fermentation from municipal wastes, waste-water treatment plants’ sludge, animal droppings/excrements, so called liquid manure. Combusted biogas may be used for heating or electric energy production.

Developing the current biomass utilization as a renewable source of energy we are actually returning to the past.
In the year 1850, biomass constituted 85% of the global energy sources. A hundred years later, in the year 1950, biomass constituted only a few percent of the global balance of the utilized energy. Since the year 2000, as a result of the organized actions aimed at the reintroduction of biomass utilization in the energy economy, its contribution has been rising and it is supposed to have reached 25% in the global energy balance in the year 2050.

In Poland, the biggest importance is given to biomass coming from agriculture and forestry. It has been estimated that both branches of economy produce annually the amount of biomass corresponding with (in regards to its energetic value ) few million tons of coal.
It must be mentioned that the increase in biomass utilization in the everyday life (e.g. domestic heating and heating of housing estates) is much cheaper in application than other types of energy carriers (gas, heating oil, electric current), enriches the possibility of agriculture cultivation in products other than eatables, which may be reflected in the activization of agricultural areas, which will result in creating new workplaces.

The main element of biomass in Poland is straw of all types. Due to the widespread corn growing, straw is widely available in every region of our country, in almost every farmstead.
It has been estimated that, on the average, one hectare of corn gives 2,5 tons of straw annually.
Converting it into hard coal, it is as if 1,3 tons of hard coal was growing in each hectare.

Part of the harvested straw is used in farmsteads, however many millions tons of straw, on the national scale, is waiting to be utilized as a heating material. Thousands of farmsteads have adopted this idea, nevertheless, every year about 10 million tons of straw is left in the fields or is burnt in a useless way, causing hazard to the environment.

Straw should be combusted in boilers and furnaces especially adjusted for this purpose. They can be different sizes, from the size of a house oven to the size of a heating boiler for the whole housing estate. These boilers can burn both lose and pressed straw in the form of briquettes and pallets. Such a condensed form of the straw biomass reaches energetic value comparable with this of hard coal silt.

Professionals claim that each farmstead growing corn on 3-4 hectares and equipped with an appropriate boiler for straw burning may be energy sustainable.
Another important type of biomass in Poland is wood waste.
There are approximately 9 million hectares of woods in Poland. Each hectare produces annually around 1 square meter of wood waste, which should be removed from the forests. It is the equivalent of 4 million tons of hard coal. Next - sawdust. Sawing of every meter of wood produces 0.4 square meters of sawdust. Altogether all wastes can substitute many million tons of coal. They only need to be transformed into chips, briquettes and pallets as a way of preparation.

Many furnaces and boilers adjusted to this kind of fuel have been working for the last couple of years. It is important now to popularize them more.
Over the past few years there has been an increase in the cultivation of plants rich in energy, mainly willow (Salix Vinimalis). Salix Vinimalis represents many advantages as a plant. It grows very fast, has little soil requirements and is resistant to pests and diseases. After 3 years it is possible to obtain 30 tons of woodmass out of 1 hectare of plantation. Their chopped stalks may be combusted separately or as chips co-combusted with coal. Apart from boiler-houses and domestic ovens, willow chips are more widely used in professional energy production. Powerplants combust a mix of chips and coal. It has been estimated that plantations of Salix Vinimalis cover few thousands of hectares.

Another form of biomass is fuels and alcohols. These are renewable sources of energy, which have not been fully introduced in Poland on a big scale. There have not been complete legal regulations in regards to those yet. Only few experimental plants transforming rape oil into fuel for diesel engines operate in the market.
Beyond all doubt this is a domain of the future, however it is necessary to specify stable regulations for cultivators and producers.

Last but not least, biomass exists in a gaseous form. Here a few specific achievements may be mentioned. All new and some old municipal waste dumps has been equipped with degassing installation. In dumping areas, decaying biological wastes produce biogas rich in methane. Methane gathered by a net of suction conduits, purified and compressed may be utilized right on the spot in the energy-generating units and also for heating purposes.

Similar actions are undertaken with final deposits in numerous sewage-treatment plants. They are fermented in special containers, which generates a considerable amount of biogas. Thus it is possible to utilize inconvenient wastes remaining after the process of municipal wastes treatment.for the production of electric power and heat.

All forms of biomass utilization presented above have, apart from economic effects, two main advantages, which distinguish them from traditional sources of energy:
- firstly, they are naturally renewable ones,
- secondly, their utilization always results in the reduction of environmental pollution.

In the accession treaty of Poland into the European Union, we have obliged ourselves into increasing contribution of renewable sources of energy in the total national energy production by 14% in the year 2025. It is a very ambitious task, as currently such a contribution constitutes less than 4 %.

Thus, there are many tasks and efforts ahead of us, however, bearing in mind that their realization will bring a visible improvement of life conditions for all citizens of our country is very motivating. It needs to be mentioned that almost all actions undertaken in this realm are aided by the European Union funds, which currently cover up to 80% of the total costs of such undertakings.

 The project consisted of writing a film script and making a film.
Description and Evaluation