What is Bio-Energy

Discussions on biomass are often clouded by problems of definition. Several terms are used to refer to the same concept, or tightly overlapping ones: biomass fuels or biofuels, non-commercial energy, traditional fuels, et cetera.
Direct use is often termed `traditional´ use, such as wood fires and burning animal dung, mostly in developing countries among populations without access to commercial fuel. When we use the term traditional we refer to use in traditional ways, such as fires and cookers, not for use with modern equipment. Traditional use still constitutes much the largest proportion of biomass consumption in the world.
Indirect use is often termed `modern´ or `commercial´ biomass because it involves more advanced processes, such as electricity generation. The term `commercial´ is not strictly accurate because traditional fuel is sold commercially. `Modern´ is perhaps a better term. Although the majority of biomass energy use in developing countries is still in the form of direct combustion of unprocessed solid fuels, the proportion of biomass being used in larger-scale industries, such as pulp and paper and agroindustry; and in other ‘modern’ processes, such as electricity generation and the production of transport fuels, is steadily growing.
To avoid this confusion, the IEA uses `combustible renewables and waste (CRW)´ to include all vegetable and animal matter (biomass) used directly or converted to as solid fuels, as well as biomass-derived gaseous and liquid fuels, and industrial and municipal waste converted to energy. In practice, there is limited use of municipal or industrial waste for energy in developing countries. The main biomass fuels are fuel wood (or firewood), charcoal, agricultural residues and dung.