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The production of electric power from biomass takes up the most space of all energy sources by far. Natural gas takes up 1.000 times less space. This can put a brake on the use of biomass for energy production, since space is becoming increasingly scarce and is desperately needed for housing and food production.
Editorial office / Leiden

This is shown by research by environmental researcher Paul Behrens and master student John van Zalk from Leiden University. They examined the power density of various energy sources by comparing the average electric power produced in one horizontal square meter of infrastructure. The data is gathered from international literature on this subject.

Biomass has the lowest power density (0.8W/m2) and natural gas the highest (1000W/m2) of all energy sources. Wind and water power also take up much more space than fossil energy sources. For example, solar and wind power needs around 40-50 times more space than coal and 90-100 times more space than gas.

However, continued use of fossil energy is so polluting, that this is no longer an option, the researchers state. The space that renewable energy needs, can also be used multiple times. Think of wind turbines on a field of crops or at sea, or solar panels on the roofs of existing buildings. Future technologies, such as algae parks, may also offer an opportunity to prevent land competition.