New Study: Dramatic climate benefits using forest residues instead of Natural Gas

115 – 98 percent lower carbon emissions from biomass forest residues,  than natural gas for a power plant

The climate study released May 10 by the American Biomass Power Association was conducted by Dr. Madhu Khanna, Distinguished Professor in Environmental Economics at the University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, and Dr. Puneet Dwivedi, Assistant Professor in Sustainability Sciences at the University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, found that emissions from a biomass power facility using forest residue-based fuel are 115 percent  lower than those of a natural gas facility in one year. Over one hundred years, those savings remain at 98 percent after accounting for emissions from logging activities.

carbon savings using forestry residues

Yearly savings in carbon emissions when using forest residues instead of natural gas in a power plant source: professors Madhu Khanna and Puneet Dwivedi

“Assessment of the carbon intensity of biopower, in the near term, depends a lot on whether the carbon accounting is conducted at the stand level or at the landscape level,” said the study’s authors.

“When biomass is being sourced continuously for a power plant, as in this case, accounting for carbon effects across the landscape from which it is being obtained is more appropriate than at a single stand level. When we do that, we find that the savings from avoiding emissions from decay of residues that would be left in the forest more than make up for the emissions generated in the process of collecting, transporting residues for power generation.”

The authors noted that this finding was specific to use of residues for power generation and that a similar landscape scale analysis needs to be conducted for other forest biomass to determine its greenhouse gas intensity relative to fossil fuels.

“Last week, US Congress overwhelmingly voted to acknowledge the carbon neutrality of biomass, and the results of this study confirm the wisdom of that vote,” said Bob Cleaves, president and CEO of Biomass Power Association.

“As expected, biomass fuels are vastly preferable to natural gas from a carbon perspective. In addition to the carbon benefits of biomass, the existence of a biomass facility in a forested area promotes jobs and healthy forests by creating a market for low value wood products.”

The full study and a one page summary of the findings can be found on Biomass Power Association’s website .

@This article is published by BcB 2017-05-09 and is based on a press release and the report. The article is edited by Lennart Ljungblom. BcB is a leading news site for bioenergy related business, on line since 2014.