New study.

The New York Times has an article titled “Net Benefits of Biomass Power Under Scrutiny”. Link here. Link to the study here. I am putting finishing touches on the paper I have been writing that will layout the carbon outputs of 3 kilns and what it would take to offset those. This new study finds more or less the same things I have found in my research.  I haven’t read the whole study and I probably won’t as my research is almost finished. Here are a couple of copy and paste’s from the report, not the NYTs article. Notice how dependent on highly variable factors such as individual forest management the carbon plus scenario is and notice also the timelines. The study is well worth a read and does provide a lot of interesting information on how the plant being proposed will be fueled.

Forest biomass
generally emits more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels per unit of
energy produced. We define these excess emissions as the biomass
carbon debt. Over time, however, re-growth of the harvested forest
removes this carbon from the atmosphere, reducing the carbon
debt. After the point at which the debt is paid off, biomass begins
yielding carbon dividends in the form of atmospheric greenhouse
gas levels that are lower than would have occurred from the use of
fossil fuels to produce the same amount of energy (Figure 1). The
full recovery of the biomass carbon debt and the magnitude of the
carbon dividend benefits also depend on future forest management
actions and natural disturbance events allowing that recovery to occur.


The absolute magnitude and timing of the carbon debts and
dividends, however, is sensitive to how landowners decide to
manage their forests.

For a scenario that results in relatively rapid realization of greenhouse
gas benefits, the switch to biomass yields benefits within
the first decade when oil-fired thermal and CHP capacity is
replaced, and between 20 and 30 years when natural gas thermal
is replaced (Figure 3). Under comparable forest management
assumptions, dividends from biomass replacement of coal-fired
electric capacity begin at approximately 20 years. When biomass
is assumed to replace natural gas electric capacity, carbon debts
are still not paid off after 90 years.
My emphasis. Natural gas electric generation is a growing sector.

This from the NYTs article.

That, critics say, is because it is not as climate-friendly as once thought, and the pollution it causes in the short run may outweigh its long-term benefits.


That study, released last week, concluded that, at least in Massachusetts, power plants using woody material as fuel would probably prove worse for the climate than existing coal plants over the next several decades. Plants that generate both heat and power, displacing not just coal but also oil and gas, could yield dividends faster, the report said. But in every case, the study found, much depends on what is burned, how it is burned, how forests are managed and how the industry is regulated.


The problem with all this biomass, critics argue, is that wood can actually churn out more greenhouse gases than coal. New trees might well cancel that out, but they do not grow overnight. That means the low-carbon attributes of biomass are often realized too slowly to be particularly useful for combating climate change.

I should have my paper done in the next week or so.


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