Biomass encompasses a variety of materials that includes wood, agricultural residues and both human and animal waste. These materials can be used for heating buildings and to a lesser extent for producing power or a combination of heat and power. With biomass systems there needs to be more operator interaction than with other forms of renewable energy such as with solar or wind. Operators of biomass systems will have to order and/ or deliver fuel, remove ash, and maintain all the moving parts. While this seems like it may be a lot of maintenance it actuality requires no more than a few minutes a day plus a few hours per year for an annual inspection and cleaning.
This small amount of extra care may turn some people off to the idea of a biomass system versus a solar or wind option; however, unlike its clean energy counterparts biomass systems have the great advantage of dispatch ability. This means that the system is controllable and provides heating when it is needed. The one big disadvantage to this is that fuel needs to be purchased, delivered, and stored. Additionally, biomass combustion produces emissions that have to be monitored to ensure that they comply with government regulations.