CO2 OF BURNING WOOD IS PARTIALLY ABSORBED OVER 40 -100 YEARS

East Europe and the US Southeast still have significant areas with forests. Starting about 2005, major parts of these forests have been harvested by means of clear-cutting. In 2016, about 6.5 million metric ton of wood pellets will be shipped from the US Southeast to Europe for co-firing in coal-fired power plants.

 

The EU has declared these coal plants in compliance with EU CO2/kWh standards, because biomass is renewable and the CO2 of wood burning is not to be counted., and “Burning wood is CO2-neutral”.

 

http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=20912

https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/wood-pellet-biomass-pollut...

 

Manufacturing pellets requires input energy of about 115 units, and shipping pellets to European coal plants requires about 10 units, for a total of 125 units to have 100 units of pellet energy fed to a coal plant; the CO2 emissions of pellet burning is declared CO2-neutral, and the other 25% of CO2 emissions is not mentioned.

 

Most US states have significant areas covered with forests. As part of renewable energy programs, these forests are seen as useful for producing thermal and electrical energy. By using the mantra “Burning wood is CO2-neutral”, the CO2 from wood burning, and associated activities, is ignored, and thus not included in a state’s overall CO2 emissions. One of such states is Vermont.

 

CLEARCUTTING OF FORESTS

 

Clear-cutting is extremely damaging to soils, because of leaching out of nutrients released by dead underground biomass. When most of the US northeast was clear-cut in the 1800s (Vermont lost 75% of its forests in a few decades), nutrients leached out and soils eroded into streams killing fish spawning habitats.

 

That environmental destruction was followed by acid rain starting around the 1950s, which had a similar effect as clear-cutting regarding nutrients leaching out, such as calcium, a vital nutrient for biomass growth. The regrown forest, with a significant percentage of spindly, sickly trees that have short lives, can be only a pale copy of what was before.

 

With continued logging, it is likely the forests will never be as robust as before, unless forest soils are continuously fertilized by cutting dead/misshapen trees, chipping them and spreading the chips on the forest floor for fertilizer, i.e., remediation.

 

Vermont state government allows clear-cutting “events” of up to 40 acres "without a permit"; there is no statewide annual limit of such events. Considering the various known historical damages of clear-cutting, one would think Vermont would not allow it at all.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/24/protected-fores... 

 

NOTE: In the 1600s - 1700s, Vermont’s lakes and rivers were teeming with fish, according to settlers’ accounts. Eroded soils damaged/buried most of fish spawning grounds, due to the clear-cutting in the 1800s. A mere semblance of former fish populations is maintained by annual stocking of rivers by state fish hatcheries.

 

NOTE: Traditional biomass includeswood, agricultural by-products and dung. They usually are inefficiently burned for cooking and heating purposes. In developing countries, such as India, traditional biomass is harvested in an unsustainable manner and burned in a highly polluting way. It is mostly traded informally and non-commercially. It was about 8.9% of the world’s total energy consumption in 2014.

http://www.ren21.net/resources/publications/

SEQUESTERING COMBUSTION CO2 FROM WOOD BURNING PLANTS TAKES DECADES

Here is some information for those who have been led to believe, or persuaded themselves to believe, wood burning is environmentally friendly.

 

Forests have aboveground and belowground new growth, which absorbs CO2 from the air and carbon, C, from the soil. Removing live trees, low-grade and high-grade, reduces CO2 absorption. In Vermont, about 50% of tree removals is used for high-grade purposes (the C stays sequestered, until some of it is burned); and about 50% is used mostly for burning (the C becomes CO2 and is released to the atmosphere), and a small quantity is used for pulp/paper mills (the C stays sequestered, unless some of it is burned).

 

Wood burning power plants (McNeil, Ryegate in Vermont) emit about 4 times the combustion CO2/kWh of high-efficiency gas turbine power plants.

 

The combustion CO2 of the first year of heating plant or power plant operation would be sequestered by re-growing trees according to an S-curve over a long period (See notes); slowly increasing during the first 1/3, rapidly increasing during the second 1/3, and slowly increasing during the last 1/3 of the period. That would be not much help to prevent the world’s climate from falling off the cliff during the next 20 to 30 years.

 

NOTE: The combustion CO2 of wood burning would be reabsorbed by new tree growth, if:

 

1) Logged forests would have the same acreage (they likely would not)

2) Forests would not further fragmented by roads or developed (they likely would be)

3) Forest CO2 sequestering capability, Mt/acre/y, remains the same (it could be less). See note

 

NOTE: Regarding the time period for sequestering the combustion CO2:

 

- 40 years is a US average. See Note.

- 80 to 100 years in northern climates with short growing seasons, such as northern Vermont and Maine. 

- 40 to 50 years in moderate climates with longer growing seasons, such as New Jersey and North Carolina

- 25 years between harvests of planted, fertilized, and culled forests of fast-growing pines in Georgia. 

https://www.pfpi.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/PFPI-biomass-carbon...

 

NOTE: On an A to Z basis, there would be about 15% of additional CO2 that has nothing to do with combustion, in case of wood chips, or about 20%, in case of wood pellets. This includes non-wood-burning CO2, such as from:

 

- Fuel used for managing wood lots, logging, chipping/pelletizing and transport,

- Energy to run the plant,

- Energy for decommissioning and reuse/landfill of the plant,

- Embodied energy in the A to Z infrastructures

 

 NOTE: 

- The EPA assumes sequestering of CO2 by undisturbed, healthy forests at about 1.0 metric ton per acre per year, as a US average.

Disturbed, fragmented, less than healthy forests, as in most of New England, sequester much less than 1.0 metric ton of CO2 per acre per year, due to:

 

1) Acid rain and pollution from Midwest power plants, etc.,

2) Various encroachments, and

3) Colder climate and short growing season.

 

Yet the Vermont and Maine Environmental Departments claim 1.0 metric ton per acre per year!

 

Piling up the CO2 Year After Year

 

Re-growing trees would sequester the combustion CO2 of Year 1 of plant operation over about 80 to 100 years, in New England.

 

The CO2 of Years 2, 3, 4 to Year 40 would be added to the CO2 of Year 1, and be sequestered in a similar manner, except shifted forward by a year.

 

In Year 40, there would be 40 layers of CO2 and 40 forest areas in various stages of regrowth, as a result of cutting trees for burning.

 

Year 40 is assumed to be the last year of plant operation. It is likely that plant would be replaced to repeat the cycle.

 

During Year 41 through 80, there would be 41 to 80 layers of CO2 and 41 to 80 forest areas in various stages of regrowth, as a result of cutting trees for burning.

CO2/MWh OF WOOD BURNING POWER PLANTS 

The Vermont McNeal and Ryegate wood-chip power plants have CO2 emissions/MWh 4 times greater than a gas-fired combined-cycle gas turbine, CCGT, plant.

 

Example: 3412000 Btu/MWh/0.55 x 117/1000000 = 727 lb CO2/MWh.

 

The other pollutants of wood per MWh, including particulates, are about 4/2.4 = 1.67 greater than of coal.

https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=73&t=11

 

Table 3/Fuel

 lb/million Btu

 Plant efficiency, %

 lb CO2/MWh

CO2 Ratio

Wood chip; McNeal/Ryegate*

213

25

2907

4.0

Wood chip; Denmark

213

30

2423

3.3

Hard coal

206

41

1712

2.4

No. 2 fuel oil

161

35

1572

2.2

Natural gas, CCGT*

117

55

726

1.0

*

Plus upstream CO2 (logging, chipping, transport, etc.) of about 5 to 10 %, if burning wood chips

Plus upstream CO2 (logging, chipping/pelletizing, transport, etc.) of about 10 to 15 %, if burning wood pellets

CCGT = Combined-cycle, gas turbine plant

VEIC/BERC ARE PRO-WOOD BURNING ENTITIES  

 

The Vermont Biomass Energy Research Center, BERC, is a pro-logging think tank, a part of the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation. It invented a method of calculated CO2 from wood burning plants that has no parallel anywhere else in the academic literature, and is likely not used anywhere else, except by some people in Vermont.

 

BERC Stated: “While the recommended carbon emission factor of 29.58 pounds per million Btu is far from the historic “carbon neutral” stance, when compared to the carbon emissions (165.5 pounds per million Btu) from burning heating oil, it represents an 82% reduction in CO2 emissions’. See table 1A, which is based on BERC data and see URL

https://www.biomasscenter.org/pdfs/veic-carbon-emission-and-modern-...

 

Table 1A/BERC data

Wood

Heating oil

 

Lb CO2/million Btu

 

Lb CO2/million Btu

Combustion CO2

206.7

161.0

Other CO2

Logging, chipping, transport

8.1

Extraction, refining, transport

4.5

Total CO2

214.8

 

165.5

Counted

21.48

 

165.5

Total counted CO2 = 8.1 + 21.48

29.58

 

165.5

 

 

 

 

Plant operation

0

Plant operation

0

Embedded

0

Embedded

0

Decommissioning

0

Decommissioning

0

Total

0

0

Total counted CO2

29.58

165.5

Wood has

82

Percent less CO2 than fuel oil

 

The BERC 82% CO2 reduction is based on:

 

“Apply a conservative assumption of the minimum percentage of total wood fuel sourced that is from forest management where the harvested stand’s carbon stores will be regenerated within a 20 - 100 year timeframe”

 

“Use the resulting carbon emission rate to address the remaining 10% not sourced from forest management where full regrowth is achieved within a 20-100 year time frame”

 

Both these statements are a pure invention by BERC that is not supported by any forestry research, such as the above British Columbia example.

 

BERC ignored the CO2 of wood plant operation is significantly greater than of fuel oil plants.

BERC ignored the embedded CO2

BERC ignored the decommissioning/landfill CO2

BERC ignored the “C neutrality period”, which occurs even with managed forests, as in British Columbia.

BERC ignored the efficiency of a fuel oil boiler plant is about 85%, versus wood plant about 75%.

BERC ignored the absorption of the combustion CO2 does not start until after the “C neutrality period”. 

 

BERC should have stated:

 

The combustion CO2 of both fuels is immediate.

The combustion CO2 of fuel oil will be absorbed, or stay in the atmosphere, just as any other CO2

The combustion CO2 of wood chips is not counted, but it would start its absorption after its 35-year C neutrality period and complete its absorption within about 90 to 100 years, in case of clearcutting.

 

WOOD BURNING PLANTS AND CO2 EMISSIONS

 

A wood chip power plant or heating plant adds CO2 through:

 

1) Logging soil disturbance, vehicle transport, equipment use, refurbishments and replacements, diesel fuel burning

2) Plant construction

3) Plant O & M, refurbishments and replacements

4) Plant decommissioning.

 

Those CO2 emissions would require a forest area up to 15% greater than the wood burning CO2, to be reabsorbed over up to 100 years.

 

http://www.theenergycollective.com/willem-post/2394110/is-burning-w...

http://www.theenergycollective.com/willem-post/2392251/wood-for-fue...

http://www.theenergycollective.com/willem-post/2390703/a-comparison...

http://www.theenergycollective.com/willem-post/2225851/economics-an...

CO2 EMISSIONS AND SEQUESTERING

Vermont CO2 emissions were about 10 million Mt/y in 2015 (latest numbers), of which Vermont forests sequester about 4,390,000 Mt/y*, or 0.973 Mt/acre/y. The remaining 5,610,000 Mt/y becomes an annual addition to the atmosphere. Vermont forests sequester less than 50% of Vermont CO2, i.e., there is no spare forest area in Vermont, or elsewhere, to sequester any CO2 from wood burning.

 

*The 1,618,565 Mt of CO2 from wood burning in Vermont is improperly excluded, due to the historical myth, “Burning Wood is CO2-neutral".

 

NOTE:

Per EPA: 1 acre of average U.S. Forest = 0.29 Mt C/acre/y x (44 CO2/12 C) = 1.06 Mt CO2/acre/y

Vermont claims 4,390,000 Mt CO2/y/4,483,886 forest acres = 0.979 Mt CO2/acre/y in 2015

Maine claims 0.3 MT C/acre/y x 44/12 = 1.1 Mt CO2/acre/y

 

NOTE: Vermont forests store about 480 million Mt of carbon, or 480 million/4,483,886 acre = 107.05 Mt C/acre, per VT Forest Carbon Assessment report of 2017. See last URL

 

https://www.epa.gov/energy/ghg-equivalencies-calculator-calculation...

http://www.forestecologynetwork.org/climate_change/sequestration_fa...

http://www.biomasscenter.org/images/stories/VTWFSSUpdate2010_.pdf

http://fpr.vermont.gov/sites/fpr/files/Forest_and_Forestry/The_Fore...

VERMONT WOOD HARVESTING IS EXCESSIVE

 

According to USFS standards regarding nutrition, habitat, etc., Vermont harvest removals should be limited to 980,410 dry ton/y. However, Vermont’s 2014 harvest was 1,335,766 dry ton, an excess removal of 355,356 dry ton, per USFS.

 

The CEP projects Vermont wood burning biomass, including pellets, to increase from 10.730 TBtu in 2010 to 14.533 TBtu in 2050, about a 35% increase; these end units, i.e., after burning. See pages 126 and 127 of CEP.

 

If the end units are green ton, and if burning is at the same average efficiency, the increase would be about 0.35 x 1,335,766, green ton (2014 Vermont wood burning harvest) = 467,518 green ton/y. This increase would be feasible:

 

- If all of the increase were imported from NH, MA and NY. Vermont already imported about 371,691 green ton for wood burning in 2015. Total imports would be 467,518 + 371,691 = 839,209 green ton.

- VT state parks could have increased logging.

- If McNeil and Ryegate were shutdown to make available about 347,342 (in-state) + 371,691 (out-of-state) = 719,033 green ton/y for distributed wood burning, instead of old-fashioned, centralized power plant wood burning.

 

NOTE: If NH, MA, and NY also increase wood burning, the wood available to Vermont likely would become less.

 

The below tables are based on data from: The 2016 USFS report (based on 2015 surveys); the 2010 BERC update report (mostly based on pre-2010 data); the 2015 VT-FPR report of the 2014 VT harvest; the 2015 wood burning by McNeil and Ryegate. 

 

2016 USFS Report, 2015 survey data

US ton, dry/a

US ton, wet/a

Forest area, acre

4,511,000

Aboveground biomass, US ton, dry

282,016,000

62.52

113.67

Timberland area, acre

4,288,000

Aboveground biomass, US ton, dry

266,610,000

62.18

113.05

Harvested area, 41% forest area, per BERC

1,851,548

Aboveground biomass, calculated, US ton, dry

115,121,551

62.18

113.05

.

US ton, dry

%

Gross growth

3,174,953

2.758

Less mortality of growing stock trees

1,021,390

0.887

Net growth

Net growth of growing stock trees

2,153,563

1.871

1.163

US ton, dry/a

Removals of growing stock trees*

980,410

2.326

US ton, wet/a

Net growth/Removals, 2153563/980410

2.197

0.930

Cord/a

.

US ton, wet/cord

2.5

Water

0.45

Wood

0.55

.

2015 Vermont Harvest, VT-FPR

All uses, cord, wet

971,466

All uses, US ton, wet

2,428,665

All uses, US ton, dry

1,335,766

Net growth of growing stock trees, per USFS

2,153,563

1.871

Removals of growing stock trees, per USFS*

980,410

Excess harvest, US ton, dry*

355,356

Net growth/Removals, 2153563/1335766

1.612

.

US ton, wet/cord

2.5

Water

0.45

Wood

0.55

*Removals” are estimated by measuring stumps in surveyed plots every 5 - 7 years; the stumps could be of live and dead trees.

* The “355,356 dry ton difference” is due to USFS sampling being based on 1 plot per 6,000 acres, whereas VT-FPR harvest reports are based on mill surveys, and other, more detailed, information gathering.

 

Local loggers report taking a lot of dead, dying and other low-value trees, which appears to be true, based on my observations of watching chipping operations in my neighborhood. Nutrition and habitat benefits to a forest are reduced, if dead wood (mostly cull tops and limbs, and cull boles) is removed.

http://www.maforests.org/Timberspeak-Timber_Industry_Propaganda.pdf

 

- Harvest for wood burning = mostly low-grade biomass + some dead biomass.

- Dead trees typically are left in the forest for habitat and nutrition. In case of clear-cutting (up to 40 acres is allowed without a permit), near zero is left for habitat and nutrition.

- Net growth = gross growth - mortality

NOTE: Remaining NALG for burning and pulp, per BERC, of 401.290 US ton, wet, based on the assumption the NALG growth rate is 1.9%/y. However, the  

 

BERC 2010 Report, based on pre-2010 data

 acre

US ton, wet

US ton, wet/a

VT forest, per BERC

4,414,884

481,222,356

109

Accessible, Appropriate, Managed area, per BERC

1,812,097

197,518,573

109

Low-grade inventory of live trees, page 23

 

92,476,639

51.03

 

Assumed NALG growth rate (USFS used 1.871 in 2015), %/y

1.900

NALG Growth, page 18, 24; 92,476,639 x 1.9/100

1,757,056

0.970

VT 2014 wood burning harvest; see below table

1,335,766

0.671

Remaining NALG for burning and pulp, per BERC

401,290

 

https://blogs.cornell.edu/nesungrant/files/2014/06/sungrant_2007con...

https://fpr.vermont.gov/sites/fpr/files/Forest_and_Forestry/Forest_...

 

- NALG wood inventory is 51.03/109 = 46.8% of aboveground low-grade inventory, per BERC criteria.

- Low-grade wood consists of cull tops and limbs; cull boles; growing stock tops and limbs; growing stock boles.

- Vermont wood burning was 1,335,766 green ton (in-state harvest, 2015) + 371,691 green ton (out-of-state harvest, 2015).

- Pulp log uses are for firewood; pulp/paper mills; wood chip power plants; commercial & institutional heating plants.

- VT pulp tonnage to pulp/paper mills has been decreasing in recent years.

 

http://www.biomasscenter.org/images/stories/VTWFSSUpdate2010_.pdf

http://fpr.vermont.gov/sites/fpr/files/Forest_and_Forestry/Forest_B...

http://fpr.vermont.gov/sites/fpr/files/Forest_and_Forestry/Forest_B...

 

NOTE: Vermont’s wood burning harvest was 354,462 cords, or 886,155 green ton for firewood + 347,342 green ton for electrical generation = 1,233,497 green ton in 2014. See URL.

http://fpr.vermont.gov/sites/fpr/files/Forest_and_Forestry/Forest_B...

 

About 347,342/719,033 = 48% of total electrical tonnage was harvested in Vermont. See below table and URLs.

 

 

VT Harvest

 Space heating

 Electrical

 Electrical

 Total Electrical

Total burning 

 

Fuel

 

In-state

 Out-of-state

 

In Vermont

 

ton

 ton

 ton

 ton

 ton

ton

Wood

1,233,497

 886,155

 347,342

 371,691

 719,033

1,605,188

CO2

1,243,776

893,540

350,237

374,789

725,025

1,618,565

McNEAL/RYEGATE WOOD BURNING POWER PLANTS

Below are listed the wood tonnage and combustion CO2 tonnage of Vermont’s wood chip burning power plants in 2015.

A standard ton of green wood is 45% H2O, and dry wood is 50% carbon. Burning one ton of green wood creates 2000 x (1- 0.45) x 0.5 x (44/12)/2000 = 1.00833 ton of CO2 emissions.

  

Vermont Wood Power Plants

 

 McNeil

Ryegate

 Total

 

 

 ton

ton

ton

Electrical, wood

2015, McNeil

469,190.0

249,843

719,033 

Electrical, wood CO2

EPA, McNeil

473,100.4

251,925

725,025

 

http://www.maforests.org/McNeil Emissions 2015.pdf

http://www.maforests.org/RYEGATE TECHNICAL.pdf

http://fpr.vermont.gov/sites/fpr/files/About_the_Department/Library... 

http://fpr.vermont.gov/sites/fpr/files/Forest_and_Forestry/Forest_B...

http://www.maforests.org/VermontBiomassBiomess.pdf

APPENDIX 1

Here are some URLs regarding wood burning.

 

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/is-burning-wood-co-2-ne...

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/wood-for-fuel-logging-i...

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/a-comparison-of-wood-ch...

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/more-realistic-energy-s...

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/dismal-economics-and-in...

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/is-wood-burning-carbon-...

 

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

https://pinetreewatch.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/

 

Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power

 

Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT

******** IF LINKS BELOW DON'T WORK, GOOGLE THEM*********

(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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