Wood Burning Unsustainable, Huge Footprint; Would Accelerate Warming For Decades
Governments and activists like claiming that burning wood and wood pellets from trees in power plants is an effective way to reduce global CO2 emissions. Yet researchers now say it is in fact having the opposite effect.
Hat-tip: Klimaschau 115
A team led by Laura Bloomer concluded here in a report that “burning trees and other forest biomass for energy is contrary to climate mitigation, biodiversity protection, and environmental justice goals” and that “governments must stop promoting climate-damaging forest bioenergy.”
The researchers are calling for a stop to the folly of burning trees.
Takes decades to offset
According to the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD) press r..., such bioenergy indeed “has a substantial greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint and will accelerate warming for decades” and “in fact, burning woody biomass releases more carbon dioxide (CO2) than fossil fuels per unit of energy” and that it takes many decades for tree regrowth to offset those emissions.
False bioenergy accounting
The researchers say governments have been using “false accounting” when calculating forest bioenergy’s emissions and that it “must end”.
“Countries must move away from forest bioenergy which not only damages the forest sinks but also worsens the air pollution, biodiversity loss and environmental injustice,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the IGSD.
“Will accelerate warming”
Because of bioenergy’s emissions footprint and the associated forest destruction, it will accelerate warming in the coming decades. The authors argue that countries should end subsidies for and move away from forest bioenergy.
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”.
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.
Forests, other biomass and oceans, acting as CO2 sinks, absorb atmospheric CO2 from any source. Those sinks are working at full capacity. As a result, the CO2 they cannot deal with has been building up in the atmosphere for at least the past 100 years.
It is irrational to make the claim “burning wood is CO2-neutral, because biomass growth is absorbing the wood-burning CO2”. Such a claim ignores the sinks are working at full capacity. There is no spare forest area reserved for absorbing any increase in wood-burning CO2.
BURNING WOOD IS NOT RENEWABLE BY A LONG SHOT
CO2 EMISSIONS FROM LOGGING, CLEARCUTTING AND BURNING