Review of Biomass Calculations in Achieving Net Zero Emissions Scenario.

Guest post by Don Healy

February 4, 2021

From page 200 of the Princeton University Net Zero America Report we have the following quote”

“Biomass plays an especially important role because i) it removes CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows and so combustion of hydrocarbon fuels made with biomass carbon results in no net CO2 emissions to the atmosphere, ii) it can be converted into H2 while capturing and permanently sequestering its carbon, resulting in a net negative-emissions fuel, and iii) it can similarly be used to make negative-emissions electricity.”

This supposition seems to be prevalent in many studies to achieve net zero carbon emissions and the idea of using biomass to meet climate objectives has now become acceptable to the EU and adopted in a rather massive fashion.  As I recall, biomass was not considered originally to be a non-carbon renewable resource, but in recent years has been adopted with a vengeance. As more scientists scrutinize this assumption and examine the facts of the matter, it would appear that this assumption is very highly questionable. Over the last few years there have been numerous reports that the EU has been able to rely strictly on renewables for various periods of time, however, it appears that perhaps the tabulators of these statistics have been gaming the system.

The inclusion of biomass as a renewable energy source took place in 2009 when the EU committed itself to 20 percent renewable energy by 2020.  Several countries, including the UK started subsidizing the biomass industry and by 2014 it made up 40% of the renewable budget, and is currently about 60%, obviously a much greater share than sources like wind and solar that we normally consider as renewables.  Much of this biomass feed stock comes from the United States, Canada and Eastern Europe where trees have been pulped, pressed into pellets, heat-dried in kilns and shipped Europe where they are used as fuel in retired coal fired power plants.  The same trend is occurring in the U.S., but not yet to the same scale.

The UK has been especially aggressive in adopting biofuels and purchases about 75% of the wood pellets produced in the U.S. for use in power plants there. Below is a graph of the sources of renewable energy in the UK.

UK_Energy_in_Brief_2020.pdf

As we can see from the graph above, those sources that were previously considered renewable energy sources, namely hydro, wind and solar, made up just over 25% of the renewables in 2019, with biomass (next to the last line in the table above) making up approximately 35% , or more than 1.4 times the amount of all other renewable energy sources, and this from a sector that much of which was not even considered renewable prior to 2009.

Increase in renewable energy sources over time showing dominate role of biomass.

The theory is that biomass is both renewable and carbon neutral.  An examination of the processes involved reveals that this proposition is not supportable with facts. Consider the following:

  1. Wood pellets have a relatively low energy density compare to the coal or natural gas they are replacing. 
  2. Emissions of CO2  per BTU of energy produced from wood pellets is at best slightly less than, and in some cases higher than coal, and double that of natural gas.
  3. The toxicity of the airborne waste from wood burning is considerable.  Not as bad as from coal, but certainly more hazardous than natural gas.
  4. Including the cost of harvesting the wood, processing and drying the pellets, and then shipping them thousands of miles further increases the carbon footprint of wood pellets.
  5. Simply leaving the trees to grow, if one is applying sound forestry practices would maintain a massive carbon sink.
  6. Wood burning also releases emissions such as nitrogen dioxide, which is 300 times more potent than CO2, and many other pollutants, many of which are carcinogenic.
  7. It is true that the harvested areas can be reforested and once again the reforested areas can begin to sequester carbon, but to provide the fuel necessary to meet our energy needs we will start by creating a monstrous carbon sequestration deficit such that it would be many decades, and possibly hundreds to years to reach breakeven, if ever. 

The claim made by many of the producers and commercial users of wood pellets is that for the most part, just the waste portions and non-commercial vegetative matter is used to make the pellets, however investigators have found that this is simply not the case.  For economic reason, whole trees are more commonly utilized, and in the U.S. much of the supply comes from the southern eastern U.S. where trees can reach commercial size in 30 to 40 years when harvested for lumber.

It would appear that a majority of the logs are of merchantable size and could be milled into lumber, obviously not meeting the waste material quality standard claimed. Numerous other operations in both the U.S. and Europe show the same quality issue.  It should be pointed out that if lumber is produced from the harvested tree, a majority of the carbon will be sequestered for an extended period of time, perhaps hundreds of years.  When converted to wood pellets and burned the carbon content, on average about 40% of the mass, is immediately dumped back into the atmosphere as CO2.  The proponents claim that the clear-cut areas are immediately replanted, but a review of the growth process of basically all living things including trees follows a sigmoidal curve.

The trees being cut for wood pellets are just reaching the log, or exponential phase on the graph above.  They are just entering the stage where they become most efficient at packing on mass, 40% of which is carbon absorbed from the atmosphere.  The new trees that would be planted in their place will face many years of a much lower growth rate.  If these trees are not being utilized for lumber, this is the very worst time to harvest them from the standpoint of carbon sequestration.

Has the validity of the assumptions that allow the consideration of biomass as a renewable energy source been questioned by others?  The answer is a resounding yes.  Scientist Bill Moomaw, now a professor emeritus at Tufts, is a co-author of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Report, co-author of four additional IPCC reports, and an expert on carbon sinks argues that it is a tragically shortsighted view of both carbon accounting and our current climate predicament. (1)

In 2009, as Massachusetts began debating whether to treat biomass as carbon neutral, he dove into the science. By assessing carbon emissions from bioenergy, and the slow regrowth rates of a replacement forest, he concluded that biomass stood to be “a serious problem.” To Moomaw, the question of whether biomass was ultimately carbon neutral was less important than whenit balanced out. (1)

Along with Mary Booth, a colleague who brought the issue to his attention, Moomaw and the Conservation Law Foundation convinced state officials to limit subsidies for biomass under the state Renewable Portfolio Standard. Unfortunately, the state later allowed large subsidies for burning wood to heat buildings. (1)

The analysis was later confirmed by a colleague at MIT, John Sterman, who did the math, and confirmed that burning wood today would worsen climate change, “at least through the year 2100 — even if wood displaces coal, the most carbon-intensive fuel.” (1)

It’s for that reason that in January of last year, Moomaw joined a group of nearly 800 scientists from across the world in petitioning the EU Parliament to end its support for biomass. (1)

Ironically, it turns out that burning wood for fuel has very little if any advantage over burning coal, other than in using strictly waste wood for the endeavor, and much of the waste wood is so dispersed that in many cases simply leaving the small pieces and chipping the larger pieces to decompose and enrich the carbon content of the soil would be a more practical choice. 

While our nation’s forests, particularly on federal lands, are overstocked and in need of thinning in many areas, clear-cutting as is done to produce wood pellets is an unnecessary waste of wood fiber.  Partial cutting to thin stands, reduce fire hazard and maintain the vitality of our forest resource is the best way to increase the carbon sink potential of our forested lands. Additionally, the esthetics issues of clear-cuts has long been an issue of contention, and one that once the public becomes more aware of current practices regarding wood pellet production is sure to create a major backlash.

Some thoughts:

  1. The current practice of using trees as a renewable and carbon neutral option simple does not make sense in theory or practice.  If we want to reduce our carbon emissions and yet still have uninterruptible power supply, we could start immediately by converting any existing operating coal fired plants to natural gas, and do the same with any old coal fired plants converted to wood pellets.  This would reduce the carbon emissions immediately by 40 to 50%, and reduce pollution by an even greater amount.  If carbon capture and sequestration does become economically feasible in the future it could easily be added to the gas powered plants and as the amount CO2 produced would be lower, the infrastructure necessary to accomplish this would be substantially reduced.
  2. If we want a non-carbon producing power source that is also capable of producing hydrogen which could be used to efficiently provide portable energy for our transportation needs and further reduce our need for fossil fuels, we need to add nuclear power to the mix.  High temperature electrolysis is much more efficient than conventional electrolysis and much less polluting than the chemical means we currently use to produce hydrogen.  Hopefully in the future, fusion will replace fission.  In the meantime, the new technology nuclear power plant designs provide safe and efficient means of generating sufficient uninterruptible power to balance out the inconsistencies that are an inherent part of wind and solar sources.  Perhaps it is time for the developed nations of the world to create a new Manhattan Project to decide on and develop the very best and safest nuclear plant prototype(s) to provide consistency and cost saving to said development worldwide.  The trend over millennia has been for mankind to move towards those fuels that have the highest energy densities; wood to coal to oil to natural gas and more recently to nuclear fission and perhaps in the future to nuclear fusion.  The trend is obvious.  To paraphrase Winston Churchill’s comment about Americans and apply it to the energy sector, the powers that be will do the right thing after they have exhausted all other options.
  3. A short review of history will reveal the fact the much of Europe, China, the Holy lands and many other areas were severely deforested to meet mankind’s home heating and commercial energy needs in the past.  With the adoption of coal, some of the European areas have reforested, but China is just now going through a massive reforestation project to reverse the earlier damage.  We do not need to revisit the errors of our past when better, rational options are so close at hand.

Sources:

  1. https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2019/3/4/18216045/renewable-energy-wood-pellets-biomass
  2. https://futuremetrics.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/CO2-from-Wood-and-Coal-Combustion.pdf
4.6 14 votes
Article Rating
97 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
willem post
February 13, 2021 6:22 am

BURNING WOOD IS NOT RENEWABLE BY A LONG SHOT
http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/burning-wood-is-not-renewable

Pro-logging interests use “Burning Wood is Renewable” as a slogan, a mantra, to assure others all is benign, because it helps save the world, fight global warming, are part of the “solution”, and thus deserves to get money via the Global Warming Solutions Act.

Sources of CO2 of Logging Sector

All of us need to be on the same page regarding the A-to-Z sources of CO2. Here is a list.

1) Before logging, the logging sector has to be set up, operated, maintained and renewed, which emits CO2
2) A wood-burning plant has to be built, which emits CO2
3) The logging process includes maintaining the woodlot, culling, harvesting, chipping, and transport to user, which emits CO2
4) Operating the plant requires electricity, diesel fuel etc., which emits CO2
5) The combustion process emits CO2; in fact, emits more lb/million Btu than coal; coal power plants are up to 44% efficient, New England wood-burning plants about 25% 
6) The combustion process emits sub-micron particulates, which requires electricity for air pollution control systems, which emits CO2
7) Delivering the heat and electricity to users requires electricity, which emits CO2.
8) Heavy cutting and clearcutting releases belowground biomass decay CO2; belowground is about 20% of all biomass.
9) Dismantling the old wood-burning plant and replacing it with a new one.

Combustion CO2, about 56% + Decay CO2, about 14%, equals about 70% of A-to-Z CO2.
It has the possibility of being partially renewable.
All other items are like all other CO2, i.e., not renewable.
They are almost never mentioned by logging proponents. See table 1

Here is an explanation regarding Item 8

Most people are familiar with the logging industry claim it harvests low value trees for burning, i.e., misshapen, diseased trees, standing deadwood, etc., called net available low grade, NALG, whereas, in fact, that is often not true, based on satellite and drone photos of clearcutting on harvested areas.

Wood-Burning is NOT Renewable by a Long Shot

The logging industry claim is “wood burning is renewable” and therefore its combustionCO2 should not be counted (the EPA and IPCC are proponents of this fallacy), whereas, in fact, wood-burning is not renewable at all by a long shot.

I have written extensively on the CO2 released just after clearcutting.
This article has 5 examples of CO2 released, due to clearcutting
http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/co2-emissions-from-logging-clear-cutting-and-burbing

In northern climates, it takes about 35 years for the CO2 to get back to neutral
The initial CO2 release, due to belowground biomass decay, is very high, and the decay is on-going for about 80 to 100 years. 
The released CO2 far exceeds any CO2 absorbed by the regrowth on the HARVESTED AREA. That negative condition continues for about 17 years.
But to offset that negative condition, and get back to neutral, regrowth on the HARVESTED AREA needs to take place for another 17 to 18 years

The decay CO2 is entirely independent from 1) combustion CO2, and 2) CO2 other than combustion. See above list and table 1.

– Combustion CO2 of year 1 would have to wait for 35 years to start being absorbed by regrowth on the HARVESTED AREA, which takes about 80 – 100 years.

– Harvesting and other CO2, due to: 1) logging, 2) chipping, 3) transport, 4) in-plant processing, and 5) plant operations other than combustion, etc., is like all other CO2.

The Real World

However, in the real world, loggers would come along, see 40 to 45-y-old trees on the HARVESTED AREA, and cut them down; veni, vidi, vici; i.e., the combustion CO2 absorption process, in effect for about 10 years, is CUT SHORT.

The logging industry continues to claim, without blushing: “Burning wood is renewable”.

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/burning-wood-is-not-renewable
http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/vermont-forests-and-co2-absorption

Don Healy
Reply to  willem post
February 13, 2021 10:55 am

Thanks for buttressing the argument. We are heading the wrong direction currently. As a forester in a previous life, I am all for selective harvesting and bringing back a reasonable forest products industry. However, burning trees for biomass is a lose/lose proposition.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Don Healy
February 13, 2021 11:37 am

Bullshit- in a former life? What, for a season as a bureaucrat? Try working as a field forester for 48 years as I have and you might understand this issue. Besides, who are you to determine what a reasonable forest products industry is? Biomass is actually the best thing to happen to forestry since I’ve been a forester- back when Nixon was in the White House. Not because we make any money from it. The dollar value is trivial- but it allows us to remove trees we don’t want out there- IN ORDER to grow the better trees- so they can GROW FASTER and so we can produce value for the owner. What to see what real forestry looks like when done right in New England? Look at: https://www.facebook.com/pg/MikeLeonardConsultingForester/photos/?tab=albums or my videos at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDSSBNyIRbE&t=293s and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMrfAVsxKyI&t=4s

You might actually learn something.

Willem Post
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 13, 2021 1:42 pm

Joseph,
I agree with your vision regarding forests, but that is not the usual reality.

Almost all of the harvesting is clear cutting, with the good trees used for wood products, about 35%, and the rest, junk-wood, for firewood, chipping, pulp, etc.

I have lived in Vermont for 30 years, have seen many foresters at work.

After they are done, I usually walk the site and take pictures.

From the road, you see a tree barrier. All looks undisturbed.
However, beyond the barrier, typically, there is clear cutting.

A friend lives in northern Maine.
Almost all logging consists of large areas, hundreds of acres, of clear cutting.

Read my article regarding the renewability of logging, on an A-to-Z basis.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Willem Post
February 13, 2021 2:26 pm

Where the hell do you get your information? In the America southeast – yes, much harvesting is clearcutting- it’s called “even age forestry”. But in the rest of the nation, much of the harvesting is NOT clearcutting. Sure, in New England- there is also much clearcutting- which is obviouis when you drive by it. But the NON clearcutting work isn’t so obvious. And, I personally HATE clearcutting. I have argued against it for 40+ years. And I’ve argued against high grading. Yes, much of the forestry industry SUCKS. But, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done right and there are good people out there. But, instead of fixing the broken parts of the forestry economy- extremists like Booth and Moomaw and many others think the solution is to END all forestry- not just stop biomass. But, biomass can be a part of good forestry.

RickWill
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 13, 2021 4:42 pm

Forest productivity is a mixed blessing for increasing CO2. Trees are growing faster with less water.

The bushfires in Australia in 2019/20 summer produced enough energy to power the entire country for two years – that is all energy needs. There has to be a better way than spending a fortune to control forests fires yet they still burn exploding enormous amount of energy into the atmosphere.

I doubt it will be long before the dead fallen and still standing wood is viewed as a valuable fuel resource. I expect it could be economically extracted for not much more cost than the fire fighting effort and lower cost considering the property loss associated with wild fires.

Don Healy
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 13, 2021 7:52 pm

I agree. I was a forester in Northeast Oregon and all logging was selective logging there as it was virtually everywhere east of the Cascades. However, if you will read the Vox article referenced, you will see that a vast majority of the wood for wood pellets is coming from the tree plantations in the SE U.S..

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Don Healy
February 14, 2021 2:58 am

Yes, I know that- in the SE, it comes from plantations. So what? What’s worse- destroying forests for wind/solar “farms” or having plantations? They can afford to develop plantations there because they have long growing seasons, the land is cheap, and labor costs are low. Personally, I don’t care for plantations. I’ve driven through that area and find them monotonous- and of course they’re monoculture. I would hope that they could find a way to mix up the species- but they’re focused in a way not found in most forested areas. Now, elites in urban areas might despise plantations while living in truly hideous urban areas where vast areas of the landscape have been wasted in a way to make forest plantations look like paradise.

AndyHce
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 13, 2021 9:52 pm

If it were possible for rationality to prevail and thus to get off the anti-CO2 kick, arguments for good forestry practices would would be considerable easier to sell to reasonable people (those not caught up in some primitive nature worship religion).

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  AndyHce
February 14, 2021 3:10 am

Right- but even that CO2 thing, regarding woody biomass, is wrong- because though burning wood obviously results in carbon emissions- the forests as a whole are ADDING carbon. The idiots think we need to track carbon from the site of the stump rather than from the forest. Taking a landscape perspecive- it’s obvious that the forests are not going to be a carbon source- regardless of intense mgt. including biomass burning. But those elites want the forest to be a sink for THEIR carbon emissions. Yes, the carbon thing is crazy. I suggest that the craziest of the crazies are right here in Mass. which has so many elite universities which think they have all the answers.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  willem post
February 13, 2021 11:32 am

“get money via the Global Warming Solutions Act.”
It won’t get nearly what the wind and solar industries will get- not by countless orders of magnitude.

“Most people are familiar with the logging industry claim it harvests low value trees for burning, i.e., misshapen, diseased trees, standing deadwood, etc., called net available low grade, NALG, whereas, in fact, that is often not true, based on satellite and drone photos of clearcutting on harvested areas.”

Oh, wow- based on satellite and drone photos. Why the *&^%$ don’t you find out the truth? Most, at least in the northeast, does indeed come from low value trees with no other value. DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

You are doing nothing but preaching the hatred so evident from Booth and Moomaw who want to save the Earth by locking up all the forests. You have no idea of how complicated this subject is. You just read a few things online- and think you know the reality of forestry, but you know little.

Willem Post
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 13, 2021 1:49 pm

Those NALG trees should be chipped up and left to decay for nurturing the soil.

If you keep taking from the forest, eventually, the soil will not support trees of the same health as before. Farmers know this very well.

Decades of acid rain has damaged the soil, which is the major reason of weak, diseased, bug-infested trees.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Willem Post
February 13, 2021 2:33 pm

And who is going to pay loggers to chip many tons per acre of this wood? Do you have a clue what that would cost? You can find out easy enough- call up a local arborist- ask him to chip some wood for you- and you’ll find out. Yes, some small amount of nutrients leave with harvesting- but it’s really a trivial amount. It’s one of those things people cry about but if people like wood products they had better get used to it. The farmers in New England clearcut the forests and worked it for centuries- then abandoned it. The forests grew back almost instantly. Next to my neighborhood- a solar farm got built on a former gravel pit. But some of that gravel pit became my neighborhood. I have a tiny 1 acre lot. Half is my house and lawn. The other half was never restored. It was nothing but bare sand. And now, 40 years later, it’s a forest- grew up on BARE SAND. I’ve seen countless forests which have been logged over and over and over for centuries. The trees grow back as fast as ever. That’s the reality once you get away from mindless propaganda. Amazingly, even Massachusetts Audubon now seems to like forestry- even clearcutting because it’s been shown by wildlife experts with PHDs that early succesion forest comming back from a clearcut has species of birds NOT found in old growth. The whole argument is due to simplistic theories pitch by people who don’t have a clue- who hate forestry- or who actually are on the take from the industrial solar/wind industries. Talk to people with decades experience working in forests- and talk to wildlife experts that work in almost every state.

“If you keep taking from the forest, eventually, the soil will not support trees of the same health as before. Farmers know this very well.” Nonsense. I talk to farmers all the time and for decades. Actually, farmers make a lot of mistakes regarding their forests. Many stupidly will sell direct to a logger without a forester- then they find the forest got raped. When I talk to farmers about their trees and forests- most know very little. You are fantasizing what farmers know.

“Decades of acid rain has damaged the soil, which is the major reason of weak, diseased, bug-infested trees.” More nonsense. Yes, acid rain has hurt somewhat- but not that much except on soils that were very acid to begin with on higher mountains. But, the cause of weak, diseased, bug-infested trees is complex. Some are weak because there are more trees on unmanaged stands than can be supported- so due to survival of the fittest- some lose out and weaken until they die. Some are diseased because they were damaged from past bad logging- or from storms- or from native insects and diseases or from introduced insects and diseases. So, once again, reading some bullshit propaganda by know nothing forestry haters is not the way to learn about real forests and real forestry. Go to any good university and take some courses or talk to real foresters with a lot of experience.

Last edited 5 months ago by Joseph Zorzin
Dudley Horscroft
February 13, 2021 6:27 am
  1. You state at point 3, “The toxicity of the airborne waste from wood burning is considerable. Not as bad as from coal, but certainly more hazardous than natural gas.”

When wood is burnt there are many toxic chemicals released – I think the term was ‘pyrolysis’. For coal, there are some coals with a high sulphur content, but the resulting sulphur oxides are easily trapped, and may be a valuable by product.

You also state: “High temperature electrolysis is much more efficient than conventional electrolysis and much less polluting than the chemical means we currently use to produce hydrogen.?????  

Scissor
Reply to  Dudley Horscroft
February 13, 2021 8:24 am

I think your question is a good one because it all depends on the source of reliable electricity. In many biomass schemes, fossil fuels are actually the major source of electricity and heat used.

Steam reforming of methane currently produces the most amount of industrial hydrogen and it generates CO2 (directly and indirectly). The conversion reaction ignoring CO2 generated for required heat and electricity follows.

CH4 + 2H2O = CO2 + 4H2

Last edited 5 months ago by Scissor
willem post
Reply to  Dudley Horscroft
February 13, 2021 8:36 am

Dudley,

‘Much worse than coal/kWh, because coal power plants are up to 44% efficient, whereas wood power plants are up to 26% efficient.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  willem post
February 13, 2021 11:39 am

efficiency is only one of many factors to look at- including cost, other benefits such as improved forestry, etc.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Dudley Horscroft
February 13, 2021 2:41 pm

“When wood is burnt there are many toxic chemicals released”
It all depends if it’s burned in your wood stove- an old one or a newer, better one- or burned in a fireplace- or burned in a modern industrial facility with a smokestack that is engineered to remove much of the pollutants- just like any other industrial smokestack.

Peter W
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 13, 2021 4:58 pm

“burned in a modern industrial facility . . . engineered to remove much of the pollutants” The same is true with burning coal. Earth is, and had been for thousands of years, carbon deficient because of all the carbon stored in coal. This has hurt plant growth and limits our ability to grow food. This will be very important given the coming ice age caused by the Milankovitch cycles. Burning coal has been the best thing we have done for our long term survival.

Tom
February 13, 2021 6:37 am

In the US, 40% of our corn crop is now used to produce ethanol. I doubt this has any measurable greenhouse reduction effect.

Steve Case
Reply to  Tom
February 13, 2021 7:50 am

And in opinion jacks up world food prices and is effect a crime against humanity.

Scissor
Reply to  Steve Case
February 13, 2021 8:29 am

Yeah, it decreases life expectancy. Of course, those like Bill Gates want to reduce the number of humans alive.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Steve Case
February 13, 2021 2:13 pm

Steve, as written before, not true. The 40% of corn for ethanol returns 27% distillers grain, an ideal protein enhanced (from the yeast) ruminant feed supplement. On my Wisconsin dairy farm, the distillers grain allows us to feed less alfalfa hay, which in turn lets us grow more corn. The net net is lower cost, not higher cost. Same is true for beef. Btw, the feed to food conversion ratio for cattle is about 7:1, so a lot of feed is needed.

Bill Treuren
Reply to  Rud Istvan
February 14, 2021 11:27 pm

so they don’t need subsidies?

Ron Long
February 13, 2021 6:40 am

“…we need to add nuclear power to the mix.” Such an obvious option staring everyone in the face, it boggles the mind we can’t get it done! The movie China Syndrome set civilization back, and, no, it was not a documentary. Our friends in the British Isles might be having some “renewable” thoughts about nopw.

Scissor
Reply to  Ron Long
February 13, 2021 8:31 am

That is exactly right. Coupled with nuclear power, natural gas could be cracked to produce hydrogen and sequester carbon as actual carbon.

John Kelly
February 13, 2021 7:05 am

The AWG scam is made up of a number of different sub-scams. Of all the sub-scams, this biomass things is the biggest and the most obviously flawed. I’m all for burning wood in a fire for warmth, but its effectively no different to burning coal, except you don’t get covered in coal dust. This scam is so obvious that we really don’t even need science to expose it. It just doesn’t go anywhere near passing the pub test.

alastair gray
Reply to  John Kelly
February 13, 2021 9:42 am

3 years ago it became public knowledge that the Northern Ireland government were paying businesses £149 for every £100 worth og wood pellets. so naturally people heated sheds with the doors open for no other purpose than harvesting teh siubsidy. The 1;5 billion hole in the public finances brought down the Stormont government,

Not so well publicised is the fact that these subsidies are paid to businesses all over the UK and are equally abused in as part of the whole AGW scam which someone once termed the greatest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in our country’s history including the dissolution of the monasteries and the stealing of the commons in the Enclosures Acts.

Royal entities are well into this and our idiot heir to the throne who talks to trees, pontificates on planetary propriety. amd has the temerity to lecture ius on our carbon footprint , is one of the biggest disgraces to our country who has raised hypocrisy to a new Level. When next they meet at Davos Ms. Thunberg should give him her sourest glower , Scream ” How Dare you?” and spank his princely pampered posterior!”
Hig grove is the at person’s residence and you can see that teh royal snout is firmly in the trough

https://www.highgrovegardens.com

Quote
His Royal Highness has taken many steps personally to live in a more sustainable way.
Here are just some of the many ways the gardens are managed with the strictest sustainable principles:

  • The Highgrove Gardens cover 15 acres in total – all of them organic.
  • Wood pellet fired boilers (biomass) to heat Highgrove House, The Orchard Tea Room, stables and offices.
  • Most of the electricity is sourced from a renewable energy supplier and from solar panels, which is on the farm barns. The electricity is used in Highgrove House and the Orchard Tea Room.
  • Ground source heat pumps to heat the staff cottages and the green houses, and an air source heat pump to heat the Gardeners’ Mess and some of the workshops.

I am really chuffed to bits as a UK taxpayer to pay this idiot’s heating bills

dodgy geezer
February 13, 2021 7:23 am

The current practice of using trees as a renewable and carbon neutral option simple does not make sense in theory or practice.

True. But this is no longer an issue. Political decisions are no longer made following a dispassionate consideration of the science.

They are initially made according to activist theory, and ‘science’ has simply become a convenient tool to justify those decisions. Science which does not support such decisions is side-lined, or actively attacked, and its supporters deprived of their positions.

The very act of drawing attention to a paper in WUWT is sufficient reason for that paper to be ignored as ‘coming from a suspicious source’. So there is no advantage whatsoever in continuing to publish logically argued and data supported refutations of the AGW scare. No one in power will listen.

I do not know what can be done to address this issue. But whatever can be done, simply pointing out the failures is not going to work. Here is an excerpt from the Wiki describing the last time this happened, around 60 years ago:

In 1940, Lysenko became director of the Institute of Genetics within the USSR’s Academy of Sciences, and he used his political influence and power to suppress dissenting opinions and discredit, marginalize, and imprison his critics, elevating his anti-Mendelian theories to state-sanctioned doctrine.

Soviet scientists who refused to renounce genetics were dismissed from their posts and left destitute. Hundreds if not thousands of others were imprisoned. Several were sentenced to death as enemies of the state, including the botanist Nikolai Vavilov. Scientific dissent from Lysenko’s theories of environmentally acquired inheritance was formally outlawed in the Soviet Union in 1948. Lysenko’s actions and practices contributed to the famines that killed millions of Soviet people; the adoption of his methods from 1958 in the People’s Republic of China had similarly calamitous results, culminating in the Great Chinese Famine of 1959 to 1962.

That is what we are looking at today.

DHR
February 13, 2021 7:24 am

Many articles claim that hydrogen would be a suitable substitute for natural gas or existing liquid fuels for vehicle propulsion. This is simply not true because of the unsuitable properties of hydrogen gas. The energy requirements to produce, compress, and in some cases liquify hydrogen for transport and the transportation costs likely require more energy than required to produce it, whether from nuclear power, windmills or solar panels. See “The_Future_of_the_Hydrogen_Economy_Bright_or_Bleak” attached below.

The_Future_of_the_Hydrogen_Economy_Bright_or_Bleak copy.pdf.zip

Don Healy
Reply to  DHR
February 13, 2021 9:06 am

I recognize that hydrogen as a fuel has limitations, but because of the increased efficiency of high temperature electrolysis, the option is a plus in the argument for expanding nuclear as a non-greenhouse producing power source, which is a direction we need to go ultimately.

A quick comparison from Wikipedia (yes I know, but this is pretty basic so the citation should be pretty close):

“High temperature electrolysis is more efficient economically than traditional room-temperature electrolysis because some of the energy is supplied as heat, which is cheaper than electricity, and also because the electrolysis reaction is more efficient at higher temperatures. In fact, at 2500 °C, electrical input is unnecessary because water breaks down to hydrogen and oxygen through thermolysis. Such temperatures are impractical; proposed HTE systems operate between 100 °C and 850 °C.[2][3][4]

The efficiency improvement of high-temperature electrolysis is best appreciated by assuming that the electricity used comes from a heat engine, and then considering the amount of heat energy necessary to produce one kg hydrogen (141.86 megajoules), both in the HTE process itself and also in producing the electricity used. At 100 °C, 350 megajoules of thermal energy are required (41% efficient). At 850 °C, 225 megajoules are required (64% efficient).”

DHR
Reply to  Don Healy
February 13, 2021 11:52 am

Ok, but… There are many other shortcomings with hydrogen other than energy efficiency. Transportation is a big one. Existing steel pipelines probably won’t work because hydrogen leaks through steel pipe walls and through valve packings of all kinds. Tanker capacity is another problem. Read the paper. It’s very revealing and discouraging.

Don Healy
Reply to  DHR
February 13, 2021 1:59 pm

Will do. Thanks

Steve Case
February 13, 2021 7:48 am

Wood burning also releases emissions such as nitrogen dioxide, which is 300 times more potent than CO2…

Are you sure you don’t mean Nitrous Oxide (N2O) ? Well anyway, looks like you’re quoting the Global Warming Potential (GWP) number from an IPCC report. A quick search of the IPCC’s AR5 report Chapter 8 in the appendix for the GWP numbers doesn’t turn up Nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Be that as it may, the GWP numbers are pretty much bullshit on steroids. Grandiose numbers that really don’t mean anything but sound scary, and quoting them in a matter of fact fashion is essentially buying into alarmist bullshit.

Don Healy
Reply to  Steve Case
February 13, 2021 8:49 am

Apparently there is an entire family of nitrogen compounds that are greenhouse gases. I didn’t delve into the various pollutants from burning wood as that could an entire paper by itself. That comment was more of an aside, but thanks for mentioning it.

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) is one of a group of gases called nitrogen oxides (NOx). While all of these gases are harmful to human health and the environment, NO2 is of greater concern.
April 2018: EPA takes final action to retain the NO2 standards. Learn more

mike macray
Reply to  Don Healy
February 14, 2021 7:07 am

Don,
According to my ‘Pocket Ref’ by Thomas Glover, NO2 is 0.02 ppmv. qualifying it just above ‘trace” in the composition of the atmosphere. Highly soluble in water which tends to be plentiful during thunderstorms where NO2 is generated from lightning discharges, it is rapidly washed out of the atmosphere slightly acidifying the rain (pH5) on its way to forming soluble Nitrates for plant consumption before the invention of Ammonium Nitrate as an artificial fertalizer and explosive feedstock (an interesting dual purpose product!). Along with the much maligned CO2 molecule
at a measly 4 molecules per 10,000 these two dioxides deserve to be lauded not vilified.
Cheers
Mike

Scissor
Reply to  Steve Case
February 13, 2021 10:42 am

N2O is a laughing matter.

Reply to  Steve Case
February 13, 2021 12:03 pm

Humanity evolved through hundreds of thousands of years of smoke inhalation. Not to mention the animal kingdom

Last edited 5 months ago by Poems of our Climate
Peter W
Reply to  Steve Case
February 13, 2021 5:05 pm

The United Nations is a political agency. The IPCC operates under the direction of the U.N. It is appropriately described as the best money science can buy – pay some scientists enough money and they will find a way to tell you whatever you want to hear.

Pflashgordon
February 13, 2021 8:04 am

This discussion is mostly about the carbon neutrality of biomass, but it entirely misses the elephant in the room.

Go to USDA (or your nation of choice) figures on crop or biomass production (yields) per acre per year, noting that most crop and forestry data are for suitable to prime farm/forest land, not marginal, rocky or range land. Of that biomass, subtract the water fraction to get dry matter yield. Then look up Btu content of dry matter from the various biomass sources. Then put that dry matter in a conventional thermal electric generating plant, accounting for the conversion (in)efficiency. This does not even account for the energy used in planting, cultivating, harvesting, transporting and processing the biofuel. Compare the results to the societal energy demand. You’ll find that if we clear cut the entire planet or planted it all in crops for biofuel, it would provide only a fraction of energy demand. Of course, we would have no food, feed or fiber, so we would all starve naked, along with all of the wild and domestic critters and ecosystems.

Do the math yourself, as I have. Even a smart high school kid with the Internet, a computer, Excel spreadsheet, arithmetic, and asking the right questions could figure this out, but the grant- and/or power-hungry “scientists” at our universities, environmental NGOs, and governments either haven’t a clue or, worse, are intentionally lying to achieve their personal ambitions.

Biomass suffers from largely the same limitations as wind and solar. They are dispersed because, either directly or indirectly, they all depend on insolation plus solar and rotational induced processes, and there isn’t enough of the accessible, terrestrial variety to go around.

Steve Case
Reply to  Pflashgordon
February 13, 2021 8:18 am

Even a smart high school kid with the Internet, a computer, Excel spreadsheet, arithmetic, and asking the right questions…

That’s what I do, and I was pretty close to the bottom in my high school class.

Since you brought up Excel, here’s probably the best Excel help page on the internet:

https://www.mrexcel.com/board/forums/excel-questions.10/

Ask a good question and get an answer often within minutes.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Pflashgordon
February 13, 2021 11:44 am

Actually, the main reason REAL foresters like biomass- isn’t to make money selling those trees for energy- it’s to have a way to rid the forests of the trees we don’t want- damaged/diseased trees or trees which simply for one reason or another aren’t going to grow into valuable sawlogs- by removing those trees, we can grow high value species- which grow fast – and to produce value for the owner. That’s what it’s all about for those who want to know. Most of what gets said about biomass is bullshit by people who haven’t a *&^%$ clue. When forests are producing value- the owners keep them as forest rather than convert them to some other use- all of which would have a far higher carbon footprint.

Pflashgordon
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 13, 2021 7:33 pm

Joseph, I understand that. From an operator’s viewpoint, it makes sense to do the sensible thing. If you are a dairy farmer, you have a lot of manure to manage, so it may be sensible to install a digester to generate gas that can at least partially supply your farm energy demand. If you have a landfill, it is sensible and even profitable to capture the landfill gas for sale or on-site power generation.

But you miss the point. None of these, at industrial scale, can conceivably supply a large part of societal energy demand. Don’t stop innovating and finding good uses for forest waste or other bio waste, but the folks should not be misled into believing this is some solution to the search for alternate energy. Switchgrass? Algae? There are no biomass silver bullets.

In the forested regions of Northern California, even a measly little 50 MW biomass-fired plant can barely feed the beast, even when fuel buyers reach out to a 100 mile radius for anything that will burn – orchard wood, peach pits, pistachio shells, forest waste. I’ve been there, seen the books, interviewed the operators. (And, as stated elsewhere in this thread, it burns dirty and is hard to control) You can’t run California on that, and neither can the world get much help from biomass without dramatically lowering our living standards.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Pflashgordon
February 14, 2021 2:54 am

” it would provide only a fraction of energy demand”
Who is saying it’ll provide much of the world’s energy?

“Biomass suffers from largely the same limitations as wind and solar. They are dispersed because, either directly or indirectly”
Irrelevant. Now to get to the facts. There are trees we foresters want to remove from the forest for SILVICULTURAL reasons. And there is the potential to burn those trees along with some of the slash to produce energy- which will be LOCAL. It may be dispersed but we don’t cover the landscape with industrial wind and solar, and thereby destroy the natural landscape- we work with the natural landscape. It’s foolish to put biomass in with wind and solar- because it is renewable and it does provide baseload power- and it helps in the correct management of the forests- and helps produce wood products by improving growing for the better trees- it’s local energy and local economy- and it doesn’t conflict with fossil fuels. It shouldn’t be mixed in either with wind and solar or with fossil fuels. It’s something different. I’m only talking about woody biomass and not the use of wood in 3rd world countries whereby natives burn it in their homes in archaic stoves which results in severe air pollution.

Kit P
February 13, 2021 8:44 am

Stopped reading and started skimming hoping that Don was going to make a point.

Don is a BS artist debating other BS artists. Don’s list of reasons are 100% wrong. Of course the Princeton folks are the same. Idiots debating idiots.

It’s a jungle out there. Anyplace where it rains, even a little bit, becomes a jungle of useless biomass.

Each biomass project should be judged on its own merits. For example, there are two that I am familiar with. One each in rural Virginia and Washington state. Fifty years ago they were built to resolve a real environmental problem associated with wood waste around timber mills.

The company I worked for and a friend both cleared land. They were paid for for the timber that went to the mill. They were paid for the wood waste that was cleanly used to make electricity.

Because there was a place to burn the wood they did not have to pay to send waste to the landfill.

So there are people who satisfaction making a small corner world a better place. There are people who get satisfaction being against getting things done.

Vuk
February 13, 2021 8:52 am

OT: Breaking news from Australia:
China ‘refused to give WHO scientists raw data on the first 174 Covid cases identified in Wuhan, said Dominic Dwyer, an Australian infectious diseases expert who is a member of the team

Reply to  Vuk
February 13, 2021 12:06 pm

Need a link, chum.

Vuk
Reply to  Poems of our Climate
February 13, 2021 1:43 pm
Andy H
February 13, 2021 9:38 am

Australia tried biomass. They called it carbon farming and gave tax credits to landowners who let the carbon levels on their land build up. Unfortunately, they had a minor heatwave and the carbon (aka tinder) turned itself back into carbon dioxide. Some towns were destroyed in the conflagrations. Stupid eco-politicians!

Peta of Newark
Reply to  Andy H
February 13, 2021 10:56 am

Australia ran an experiment on Biomass, starting about 70,000 yrs ago – it finished about 30,000 years ago. Job finished. All done. Results in.

Similar experiments were run in what was/is/are now=
Kalahari
Gobi
Sahara
Fertile Crescent
Garden of Eden
Syria & Lebanon initially then all other places around The Med
Arguably, Easter Island
Iceland
West Coast North America
…and some others, you’ll have your own favourite
The results from those places are also now in.

They. Are. Now. All. Deserts.
Perfect. Complete. Deadzones

And as trailblazing Aus shows, they will all remain that way for time immemorial.
Wave good bye to all Life on Earth

Toodle pip, twas nice knowing you all

Last edited 5 months ago by Peta of Newark
Robert MacLellan
February 13, 2021 9:47 am

Your curve on growth is more or less correct but only if the stand is thinned. If it is not the growth does not happen as the trees have no space to grow.
Other than that I agree that biomass is only useful as waste disposal and only if it is process waste suitable for bulk handling.

Don Healy
Reply to  Robert MacLellan
February 13, 2021 7:57 pm

Where I worked as a forester in Eastern Oregon, the waste material that might have been suitable for pellets was so distant from the mill sites, that it would not have been economically feasible. A better option probably would be to chip the residue and spread it to build by the carbon content of the soil.

Davidf
Reply to  Don Healy
February 15, 2021 10:25 pm

Which I will bet didnt happen – things rotted down where it ended up is is the more usual pattern – much the same, if less homogenized.

Davidf
Reply to  Robert MacLellan
February 15, 2021 10:23 pm

Well, yes, but no. A stand of trees will, within sensible limits, produce about the same biomass at a range of stocking. Properly thinned, that biomass will be on fewer, larger stems, producing merchantable grade wood in the least number of years (rotation to the initiated).
It again comes down to things like isolationism, average temperature, water availability, site fertility, aspect amongst other factors. Like most things, its complicated

Davidf
Reply to  Davidf
February 15, 2021 10:23 pm

Insolation!!!

Editor
February 13, 2021 10:20 am

Several hundred scientists have just written to Biden and co, making the same points as you Don

https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2021/02/11/hundreds-of-scientists-write-to-biden-to-stop-dirty-biomass-industry/

Don Healy
Reply to  paul homewood
February 13, 2021 11:04 am

Thanks Paul. I was not aware of this effort. This is crucial as we are starting down the same path in the U.S.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  paul homewood
February 13, 2021 11:48 am

Saying it’s a dirty industry doesn’t make it a dirty industry. The really dirty industry is building huge wind and solar farms on the landscape- utterly destroying fields and forests to do so. In there I found “it could take decades for the carbon dioxide released from burning to be offset by regrowth”. Well, if that idiot had a brain, he’d realize that for every tree cut for burning- hundreds are not being cut- and more than making up for it- and, as a result of good forestry work, the overall health of the forest is improved- so that it can grow FASTER and produce value for the owner. But simpletons keep thinking there is a “carbon debt”- which is bullshit.

Reply to  paul homewood
February 13, 2021 12:09 pm

Nature burns. Get over it.

ResourceGuy
February 13, 2021 10:59 am

Here are two more points to add to the list.

1) A lot of the pellet mills being built or expanded in the U.S. and their sizable clear cut operations are receiving state and local tax subsidies for the jobs impact often in rural areas devoid of mfg job opportunities. There are also tax incentives for the landowners who saw this as a savings plan until wood prices stayed down from other policy distortions.

So we have this long string of policy distortions coming from the UK into the marginal use edge of the U.S. timber industry and misdirected tax policy to support it. It would make a nice case study for anyone not involved in the money grabs.

2) Aside from all this we need videographers to record and narrate the story in these clear cut areas. I guess there is a shortage of them because they are all off chasing CO2.

Joseph Zorzin
February 13, 2021 11:27 am

TOTAL BULLSHIT!
“The toxicity of the airborne waste from wood burning is considerable.”
Grossly exagerated. Modern biomass plans use high tech equipment on the chimneys. It’s not like the smoke coming from your home wood burner.

“Simply leaving the trees to grow, if one is applying sound forestry practices would maintain a massive carbon sink.”
Clearly, the author is a fake former forester show doesn’t comprehend that most of the wood going into pellets is wood with no other value- and which if left in the forest, as live trees, would degrade the forest- if left as debris, it’ll emit carbon there. Leaving low grade live trees is high grading, the worse sin of all forestry.

“a monstrous carbon sequestration deficit”
Nonsense. Only if you look only at the stump of the tree cut for biomass- instead of the entire forest- where there are far more trees left to continue sequestering carbon. Overall, the forests can continue to INCREASE the carbon stored while some is lost. When you burn gas in your car, oil in your furnace or jet fuel- it’ll NEVER be recovered.

“It would appear that a majority of the logs are of merchantable size and could be milled into lumber”
You’re an idiot and clearly know NOTHING about forestry. What fool would burn a tree that has a sawlog in it? As a sawlog, the tree is worth several orders of magnitude more.

“If these trees are not being utilized for lumber, this is the very worst time to harvest them from the standpoint of carbon sequestration.”
When trees are harvested is based on a complex consideration of many factors. It’s never going to happen that harvesting time will based entirely on carbon considerations. You’d know that if you ever actually worked as a forester.

Scientist Bill Moomaw, now a professor emeritus at Tufts, is a co-author of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Report, co-author of four additional IPCC reports, and an expert on carbon sinks argues that it is a tragically shortsighted view of both carbon accounting and our current climate predicament.”
Moomaw is an idiot. He wants to shut down all forestry. You think he doesn’t- but he does. He wrote a scathing commentary against forestry in the Dogwood Alliance propaganda journal a few years ago. I politely asked him a number of questions which he could not and would not reply to. He is NOT an expert on carbon sinks. He has a PhD in chemistry.

“Along with Mary Booth, a colleague who brought the issue to his attention, Moomaw and the Conservation Law Foundation convinced state officials to limit subsidies for biomass under the state Renewable Portfolio Standard. Unfortunately, the state later allowed large subsidies for burning wood to heat buildings.”
You are a shallow fool too stupid to dig into the truth. She is funded by a billionaire who happens to hate forestry and by another wealthy environmental attorney in Boston. Her web site is dedicated to shuting down all forestry. http://www.pfpi.net/. Booth basis much of her theory on the Manomet Report which back in 2010 claimed that burning wood creates a carbon deficit. They can’t prove it. Their report has hundreds of assumptions- it’s actually far worse than the phony science that claims the Earth is going to burn up in the next few decades. But, that Manomet Report actually said burning wood for heat has a fast payback of that carbon debt- but you wouldn’t know this, would you?

“It’s for that reason that in January of last year, Moomaw joined a group of nearly 800 scientists from across the world in petitioning the EU Parliament to end its support for biomass.”
The vast majority are NOT climate scientists- so what they say is worthless- and even if they are climate scientists- the subject is complex and unless you spend all your time on it- you can’t understand it. You certainly don’t.

“While our nation’s forests, particularly on federal lands, are overstocked and in need of thinning in many areas, clear-cutting as is done to produce wood pellets is an unnecessary waste of wood fiber.”
Few forests are clearcut for wood pellets, you idiot. Nobody will burn a sawlog. Only the trees with no other value go into pellets. And, much of the biomass in the Northeast doesn’t go to the EU- it goes to power or pellet plants- and most of that harvesting is NOT clearcutting. You would know that if you did your homework. This thinning work is HIGHLY beneficial to the forests. Without it, the tendency is to high grade the forest- taking the best and leaving the rest. In the south- whether they produce pellets or not- clearcutting is a common form of LEGITIMATE forestry work based on many reasons which you apparently can’t grasp.

“A short review of history will reveal the fact the much of Europe, China, the Holy lands and many other areas were severely deforested to meet mankind’s home heating and commercial energy needs in the past.”
Utterly irrelevent. The production of wood for energy isn’t going to waste the landscape, not like solar and wind “farms” and continued urban sprawl.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 13, 2021 12:38 pm

The bottom line, despite all the spittle-flecked rhetoric of Mr. Zorrin is that the whole “issue” involving “carbon” is a red herring. Now, the biofuel industry and the pellet industry have of course hitched their wagon to the Warmunists, who claim that biofuels including wood pellets are “carbon-neutral”. It is in their interests to do so, economically and politically. That puts them in the same boat as the solar and wind scam industry, which profits from governmental ignorance and Big Green. Without the support from Big Green, the truth is that the wood pellet industry would be far smaller. Indeed, it would be difficult to argue, from an ecomic perspective, the value of a wood-fired biomass plant. It has to do with energy density, a concept with which Mr. Zorrin obviously has no clue about.

Vuk
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
February 13, 2021 1:53 pm

Zorzin’s business is cutting forest for bio-mass fuel

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Vuk
February 13, 2021 2:22 pm

Hey Vuk- cute name! No, I’m a consulting forester who manages about 15,000 acres of private forest in Massachusetts. I carry out forestry work- which mostly means timber harvests- and a small part of the wood cut goes to biomass. Most goes to sawmills. Any other stupid comments, be my guest.

PeterW
Reply to  Vuk
February 13, 2021 3:28 pm

The business of a forester is getting maximum value from land using that slow-growing crop we call “forest”. In essence, foresters are farmers growing a crop with a decades-long turnaround.

Zorzin is correct in stating that thinning is required to maximise the production of high-value millable lumber in any rotation.
He is correct in stating that clear-felling is the most appropriate strategy at the end of each rotation.
He is correct in stating that high-value milling logs are not turned into low-value pellets.
He is correct in arguing that low-value timber can and should be put to use – whether as pellets or wood-chip – especially as the alternative is often to simply pile and BURN it.

I am not a supporter of biomass utilisation just for the sake thereof. Burning in the landscape is a normal , natural part of ecology. I despise most of the Climate-Change arguments driving the push for renewable energy.

But we must be equally diligent in ensuring that our own arguments are factual, and that we avoid our own form of dictation to landowners regarding what they can and should do with their products.

Don Healy
Reply to  PeterW
February 13, 2021 9:10 pm

Please read the Vox article referenced. While the premise that only waste material is used for pellets, the reality is much different, with large volumes of merchantable timber being pelletized, per the authors that investigated this point.

Vuk
Reply to  PeterW
February 14, 2021 12:48 am

I have to subsidize wood chips business in the USA with my electricity bill 3000 miles away in the UK. So what ever you or anyone says about wood chip racket doesn’t wash with me, sir!

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
February 13, 2021 2:21 pm

You’re partly right and partly wrong. The carbon element is a red herring because there is no climate problem, in my opinion. And you’re sort of right about the industry claiming it’s going to help the “problem” because burning wood is, some claim, carbon neutral. But, the reality- for those who know the industry, is that the majority don’t believe there is a climate problem. Some who speak for the wood biomass industry will do this Warmunista thing- but not all of us. Keep that in mind. The reason they do it is because there are idiots out there who’d like to entirely kill the forestry industry- not just biomass, but the lumber and paper industries. But, no, we’re nothing like the wind and biomass industries- because, what little subsidies can be gotten are trivial compared to wind and solar- and because we don’t waste the landscape like wind and solar. Good forestry enhances forests. As for subsidies, do you really think there are no subsidies for virtually all industries in America? Of course there are- every industry would hardly exist without government subsidies. Who pays for the roads, the auto industry? Do the airplane firms pay for airports? Where the computer industry be without vast government expense? Where would pharamceuticals be without vast sums spent on research? As for me having no clue- I’ve been a forester- probably since before you were born- so stuff it where the sun don’t shine!

Don Healy
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 13, 2021 8:45 pm

Bruce, I agree with you on many points you raise, but lets face it arguing with Kerry and Biden over the validity of climate theory isn’t going to get them to listen to our points on this particular issue. Regarding your comment “there are idiots out there who’d like to entirely kill the forestry industry”; that ship has already sailed. I left forestry in 1980 because of the actions of numerous environmental entities that filed suit to stop every timber sale the USFS put up. Our current forest products industry is but a remnant of what it once was. We need to re-establish at least a modest forest products industry so we have a market to for the material that we generate from selective logging and thinning operations. Where I live now, any log over 4 foot in diameter becomes firewood, because no local mill can handle process a log that size of larger.

By the way, I graduated from Oregon State University in Forest Management in 1968; what say you old timer!!!

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Don Healy
February 14, 2021 3:04 am

You got me beat, old timer- you’re probably 3 years older than me. But, I stayed with forestry all this time- and it wasn’t easy- what with excessive regulation, too many landowners here in Mass. who had no interest in forestry, and a backward timber industry which preferred to high grade and which fought against forester licensing. Because I often spoke up about bad state forestry policies- the forester licensing board twice tried to bust me- but I fought back and they lost. Forestry isn’t easy anywhere- but I liked it enough to keep at it. And now I find the likes of Mary Booth and Bill Moomaw and Bill McKibben who think that to save the Earth we must lock up all the forests. It’s been a relentless battle to simply promote and carry out good forestry. I don’t expect people who respect fossil fuels and who don’t care for wind and solar energy to put woody biomass in with wind and solar. It helps us do better forestry, it’s renewable and it’s baseload power. It’ll always be a tiny amount of world energy production- but that’s irrelevant.

Don Healy
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 14, 2021 10:05 am

Sounds like you faced a different set of problems than we did. I was an acquisitions forester for Boise Cascade in Northeast Oregon. In the western U.S. about 3/4s of the timber supply is on federal land. For a small cost, environmental groups could stop all timber sales on federal land which wiped out the forest products industry by 1980, and many thousands of good paying jobs. After 40 years of no selective logging, many areas are now stagnating with the resultant insect and disease problems. This has created a massive build up in the fuel load and now a rapid increase in forest fires. Unfortunately it is another problem where politics trumps science. We desperately need to thin (selectively harvest) our western forests, but the average public are opposed to any form of logging. Someday perhaps reason will prevail.

Jon
February 13, 2021 11:32 am

It will be interesting to see people in electric cars towing a trailer of firewood or wood pellets home to heat their homes.
Especially if they pisoff the Russians so much their gas pipelines get turned off this bitter cold winter. Think of all the new homes or repairs needed when all the water pipes freeze.

Walter Sobchak
February 13, 2021 11:34 am

“Perhaps it is time for the developed nations of the world to create a new Manhattan Project to decide on and develop the very best and safest nuclear plant prototype(s) to provide consistency and cost saving to said development worldwide.”

No. It is simply not necessary. The problem is the politcis of the extreme warmunists. Particularly their religious belief in Soviet disinformation about nuclear power. The technologies are on the shelf and have already been tested. The problems are political and the demented American legal system.

All problems with nuclear power will be solved when the last lawyer is strangled with the entrails of the last warmunist.

Walter Sobchak
February 13, 2021 12:29 pm

I agree that wood pellets are not fit to purpose. However, no matter what we will need hydrocarbon fuels if only to power John Kerry’s private airplane.

Here is a better way to get the hydrocarbons:

“How to Transform Garbage Into Greener Fuels: A handful of companies are working to turn household trash into low-emissions fuels for planes, trains and trucks.” by David Hodari | WSJ.com | 9 Feb. 2021

The newer, cleaner process, known as waste gasification or pyrolysis, involves cutting and drying non-recyclable trash from homes and offices, such as packaging and bottles, before blasting it with 4,000-degree-Fahrenheit steam and oxygen to break it down into hydrogen and carbon monoxide. The solids left behind are sold as road materials, and the gases produced can then be synthesized—using processes developed a hundred years ago—and refined into greener fuels, including biofuels and emissions-free hydrogen.

Of course calling hydrogen emissions free is just nonsense. Like batteries, it just moves the emissions out of sight.

Trash could easily be supplemented with what is euphemistically called municipal waste stream solids which are the product of treating sewerage.

The nice thing about making fuels synthetically is that they can be tuned to be very clean burning. You could make Dimethyl Ether (DME) which is a terifffic fuel for diesels, or methanol which is very good for Otto cycle engines, or butanol, which is better.

Hydrogen is a terrible fuel. It is impossible to store and easy to lose control of. Used to make hydrocarbons it is useful. An excellent alternative is using it to make ammonia, which can be easily used as a fuel, but can also be used as a fertilizer.

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Walter Sobchak
February 13, 2021 12:56 pm

I want to add that this type of system is arguably carbon neutral as most of the carbon will come from agricultural crops that will be grown again next year. We could also use this type of system to get rid of the expensive and useless fiasco of recycling.

alastair gray
Reply to  Walter Sobchak
February 13, 2021 2:09 pm

Imagine we have 100 kg of old plastic bottles to get rid of and consider the following 3 options
1 ) Ship it off to Vietnam to be burnt in unsafe conditions and inefficiently, or dumped in the sea or landfill. It counts as recycling and Boris and Lord Deben will give you a gold star and a ”Climate Warrior” badge.
2) Bung it in a high temperature combustion chamber and run dual cycle flue gas and steam turbines to generate electricity at 60% efficiency, thereby decreasing your overall national   fossil fuel requirement (and we will always need fossil fuel; for when the wind don’t blow and the sun don’t shine like most of this week) a good way to get rid of waste given that we can treat flue gas for obvious real pollution
3) Give it to Hodari’s pals to make jet fuel They will have an efficiency factor . Might even be as much as 90% though I doubt it, but that means you still need at least 10% more energy to convert the old bottles to jet fuel which will be combusted in a jet engine at 60% efficiency. This energy also displaces an equivalent energy input from fossil fuels requirements. To be fair we must offset from the total budget of refining fossil fuel into jet fuel but that will be less than your losses in the Hodari plant. This seems a good way to get rid of waste
Now by all 3 process every carbon atom in the load of bottles lands up associated with oxygen as CO2, and all would be equally difficult to sequester and store the CO2. From the point of view of CO2 sequestration maybe option 1 is best because the crap is sequestered for a few years in the ocean or landfill – just like planting forests if you will. Option  2 i slightly better than option 3
From a point of view of decreasing fossil fuel requirement for society  and overall energy efficiency  requirement option 2 is better than option 3
 As regards Shell and Blue Hydrogen whatever way you cut the cookie the process from Methane reforming plant to gas boiler  involves reacting CH4 with oxygen  and water  so
CH4 + 2H2O = CO2 +2H2  whether Carbon monoxide is an intermediary or not
This means that we get out 2 cu m of hydrogen  for every input cu m of methane but the fuel content of hydrogen =3 Kw hr per cu m and that of methane is 10kw hr per cu m
So in terms of thermal efficiency  we deliver only 60% of the energy of the methane to the gas boiler. We may recover some of it in the steam reforming plant to generate electricity but the net result will always be that using Hydrogen as boiler fuel we create a lot more CO2 than burning the Methane directly. The only advantage of this process is that CO2 recovery and sequestration could be easier. For reinjecting of Co2 into old reservoirs the infrastructure required is about the same as the infrastructure that we needed to generate the gas in the first place except we need CO2 resistent steel for all our pipelines and that is much more expensive than the regular stuff.
The only CCS scheme that is working is one in Texas under the special condition that they sell their CO2 for injection into heavy oil fields . That condition does not often. Baking soda and fizz for CO2?. Well it’s a pretty small market  and anyway the CO2 is soon returned to atmosphere by consumer burps.
Clever use of catalysts help run a plant better or maybe even cooler but they do not affect the overall thermodynamics and stoichemistry of chemical reactions so although you may improve your yield you do not affect the energy flow necessary to make or break the required chemical bonds 

Phil Rae
Reply to  alastair gray
February 14, 2021 6:16 am

Alastair…………That’s music to my ears, man!

I’ve been arguing the same thing about the most obvious and efficient use of plastic waste for the past 20 years. Most commercial plastics are just solid hydrocarbon that can be combusted and used just like fuel, as you’ve pointed out above. They are amazingly energy-dense and, when combusted properly, they make great fuel for a properly-equipped power station. All the “normal” plastics (LDPE, HDPE, PET, Polystyrene, Acrylics), with the possible exception of PVC, can be used.

As we hopefully all know, “recycling” is largely a scam. Much is simply landfilled or exported to places with less environmental regulation and compliance. And even the fraction that is actually “recycled” is used to make inferior grades of plastic.

Burning plastic to produce energy is the best use for this valuable resource.

Davidf
February 13, 2021 12:54 pm

The assertion is made that wood that is burnt, could instead be re-manufactured into wood products that could sequester carbon for decades if not hundreds off years. That is a correct statement.
Unfortunately, under the carbon accounting rules established for, I believe, the Kyoto protocols, approximately 80% of the carbon sequestered in a tree is deemed to have been emitted at the time it is felled. There is no account at all for the end use of any part of the tree, other than the 20% that remains on site, and becomes incorporated over time into the organic components of the soil.
This is, of course, a travesty, and in no way reflects the real fate of the sequestered carbon.
Joseph Zorzen is also correct in his assertions – but only in certain localities. In many, probably the majority, of forest global locations, the economics of transporting wood waste, be it thinning arisings or non-merchantble grades, to central processing areas to be utilized as biofuel, does not stack up. That , of course, can be distorted by artificially riasing the price and/or the availability of alternate fuels – gas or coal usually – but that is a political reason, nothing to do with the inherent economics, be is financial or carbon accounted.

Pat from kerbob
February 13, 2021 1:03 pm

Based on energy demand, the trees will all be gone long before replacements grow up

But look at it from a complete cycle perspective
We need to clear the land for wind turbines and solar panels so we may as well pretend we are doing it in an ecologically pure way

ResourceGuy
February 13, 2021 1:14 pm

This clear cut moonscape is brought to you by climate dealmakers in the UK. So much for special relationships. It’s the new green colonialism.

Chris Hanley
February 13, 2021 1:19 pm

There seem to be various estimates of the relative energy return on energy invested ratio (irrespective of money costs) but biofuels are usually low resulting in eventual economic collapse:
comment image
Weißbach et al (2013).

Kit P
Reply to  Chris Hanley
February 13, 2021 3:37 pm

EROI is a term I never heard working in the power industry.

This simplistic term is used by college professors without a clue. They should never use a chainsaw.

It might surprise ‘scientist’ that I often cut down ‘whole trees’ with lopers. Then I drag the trees to a burn pile or cut into smaller pieces for camp fires.

Two reasons I have owned a chainsaw. Heating with wood in a northern climate. Clearing dead wood to create a fire break in semi-arid climates.

On one hand you have many examples of using biomass for energy beneficially. On the other hand you have ‘scientist’ arguing agganis ridiculous scenarios invented by politicians trying to solve fake problems.

James Snook
February 13, 2021 3:26 pm

At least two long freight trains with specially designed wagons trundle through my local station South of Manchester daily, carrying the American wood chips from the port right across England to be burnt.

Guess what’s hauling them – Diesel powered locomotives!

bethan456@gmail.com
February 13, 2021 3:29 pm

Duhhhh….all you have to do is go to California, and  rake and clean the forest floor. Take all the stuff you rake and burn it to make electricity. You will stop the wild fires in California and get a bunch of electricity.

Remember who said we could do this: “I was with the president of Finland and he said, ‘We have a much different —we’re a forest nation.’ He called it a forest nation, and they spent a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things. And they don’t have any problem. And when they do, it’s a very small problem,”

bethan456@gmail.com
Reply to  bethan456@gmail.com
February 13, 2021 3:34 pm

MARA……Make America Rake Again…. comment image

Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
February 13, 2021 4:48 pm

A couple of things:

“Biomass plays an especially important role because i) it removes CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows…”

First: Biomass also produces a huge amount of methane when you just leave it alone. In a forest there is a huge amount of methane being produced all the time, and a huge amount of CO2 being absorbed. Since 1980 the annual absorption rate has increased about 30% depending on where you are. A proper balance calculation has to consider this. The absorption rate is increasing every year.

There is a cloud of methane hanging over all major forests, without burning anything. Taking that biomass out and converting it directly two has no short term effect that is net-positive for the GHG count. The exceptions are where the material is not harvested “sustainably” which has a definition for Kyoto/CDM projects factoring in the fraction of non-renewable biomass (known as fNRB). If the fNRB for a project are is zero, there is certifiably no net CO2e emissions over a meaningful time period.

Second: When wood is burned it produces CO2 because the C is is inherent in the fuel. The production of NOx is another matter. First, very little NO2 and no NO3 is produced by burning biomass, under any normal condition. NO is produced during the liberation of the volatiles, and it is destroyed in the combustion process if it is held above 820C for a certain number of milliseconds. So NO is not an inherent emission and that should be delete from the article. It is probably not true and certainly is not necessarily true. NOx emissions are tightly regulated. NO is definitely produced, like CO, but it is changed in the combustion chamber or just afterwards to produce N2, O2 and CO2.

I don’t think anyone has a clear idea what the impact of burning biomass is, but we can quantify the impact of moving so much of it around. There is no way we could cut down the entire Eastern Forest of the USA in only 40 years, so I’d say it is renewable on that time scale.

ACParker
February 14, 2021 12:11 am

Globalized charcoal burners. There is an ever widening barren zone around many third world cities where wood and charcoal are the most prevalent fuels. Pushing biomass as a sustainable green alternative to fossil fuels takes that activity and applies global market forces to it.

I appreciate that woodcutters would like a piece of the Great Reset but the effect a global biomass market will have on fragile ecosystems will be devastating. Please do not tout best practices. In a global market, very few operators will be following best practices. Neither will they be trying to establish biomass plantations, at least not until they have exhausted the supply of cheaper sources.

There has been significant destruction of tropical forests from the pressure for palm oil plantations to feed the biofuel scheme. Biomass as fuel will take that devastation and increase it exponentially.

Fossil fuels were the best thing that ever happened to earth’s ecology, in its interaction with a growing human population. In areas where propane, natural gas and electricity are available at reasonable rates, pressure on surrounding forests and brushland have been nearly eliminated, with the added benefit of much cleaner air. Our fossil fuel reserves give us a 200 to 400 year buffer to find cleaner and more sustainable energy sources.

I doubt that any negative impact climate change may bring will be as bad as what is being forced on us by the the Watermelons. They will strip the earth bare and cover it with windmills, solar arrays, biomass generating stations and a net of millions of miles of electric cable. This, they want to do in the next thirty years, not over the hundreds or thousands of years it would take for any negative impacts of climate change to take effect, assuming anyone will notice the changes.

The catastrophe is in climate change policies, not the climate. Well, what else could be expected after seeing how the Xi virus has been handled, particularly when Covid-19 policies are now supposed to be the framework for the Great Reset?

February 14, 2021 3:40 am

I think this site can do better than publicize the work of the two worst anti-forestry extremists in the East – Willie Moomaw and Mary Booth.

https://www.facebook.com/MikeLeonardConsultingForester/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2008688145878015     – Exposing the lies of anti-forestry extremist Willie Moomaw.
William Moomaw, the anti-forestry extremist, is also a fake Nobel laureate.
 Source: https://nofrakkingconsensus.com/2021/01/25/the-climate-summits-fake-nobel-laureate/  
 
 
Moomaw also founded a training center for environmental lobbyists. The public has been paying, via student subsidies and research grants, for people to receive academic degrees in this kind of activism. That’s a serious problem because NGOs, the World Bank, and other UN organizations have no democratic oversight. They aren’t answerable to the public. There is no mechanism by which the public can fire/vote out the leaders of these entities when they pursue policies at odds with the public’s priorities. Targeted, organized influence over public policy, absent public accountability, is a disaster in slow motion.
 
Source: https://nofrakkingconsensus.com/2021/01/27/the-fake-nobel-laureate-the-climate-ceo/
 
So fake Nobel Laureate Moomaw and his cronies are training job killing lobbyists while professing to be experts on forest management. These are the kind of people that have lobbied to cripple the forestry sector costing thousands of jobs and causing our forests to be degraded.

Mary Booth is another know-nothing anti-forestry extremist. I expose her here: Mary Booth, Portrait of an Anti-Forestry Extremist: https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=2720773334662667&set=a.107449662661727  

Next time do some research like I have:

Silvicultural Practices to Mitigate Climate Change: https://www.facebook.com/MikeLeonardConsultingForester/photos/a.618876954859148/1101423499937822/ 

Switch to Wood Heat and Watch Emissions Plummet: https://www.facebook.com/MikeLeonardConsultingForester/photos/a.618876954859148/1142901779123327/   

Don Healy
Reply to  Mike Leonard
February 14, 2021 10:12 am

I fully agree with your overall assessment, but on this particular issue they are correct. Certain battles require joining forces with parties you make disagree with on other subjects, and this appears to one of those situations.

February 14, 2021 3:41 am

Biomass Markets Support the Global Warming Solutions Act

The Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act requires a 25% reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 2020 and an 80% reduction by 2050. Deforestation and the urban heat island effect are responsible for up to 50% of the increase in global warming in the last century, thus protecting and managing forests are seen as a major part of the solution.
http://www.news.gatech.edu/…/reducing-greenhouse-gases…
Forests act as a major carbon sink but managed forests sequester more CO2 annually than unmanaged forests. Managed forests also produce many forest products such as lumber, pulpwood, firewood, and biomass which have many carbon benefits. Lumber and other durable wood products provide long term storage of carbon. Pulpwood, firewood, and biomass come from trees that are declining and not sequestering as much carbon as healthier trees. Firewood and biomass also provide heat and power which displaces fossil fuels. Increasing the acreage under actual forest management will enhance the carbon storage potential for existing forests in Massachusetts as well as providing many other carbon benefits. Managed forests are also less apt to be developed rather than unmanaged forests so carbon continues to be sequestered in those managed forests rather than being lost to development.
Biomass is, in essence, stored solar energy and is a byproduct of our forestry operations which allows us to grow more high quality sawtimber which is the main product. Increased markets for forest biomass have produced more forest improvement cuttings which help landowners: manage their woodlots to a high standard by greatly improving timber quality and species composition; improve wildlife habitat; generates income; increases property values as well as timber values; and encourages landowners to keep their land in forest. Biomass markets and improvement cuttings also provide many real green jobs right up the wood supply chain and help to provide many different forest products for consumers and a source of clean locally produced renewable energy.
The use of wood for energy is carbon neutral as long as the forests are growing faster than they are being cut. Here in Massachusetts, forests are growing many times faster than they are being cut. There are numerous studies that show the great carbon benefits of biomass utilization.
However, in Massachusetts less than ¼ of the forest growth rate is harvested, so tree mortality has greatly increased and carbon sequestration rates have declined significantly.
Declining Carbon Sequestration in Massachusetts Forests:
Forests store carbon as they grow. As forest stocking increases, tree mortality increases and net growth slows and eventually stops and sometimes declines. In the last decade, tree mortality has almost doubled. According to USFS data for 2014 (most recent), annual mortality of MA forests is about 600,000 cords per year which equals about 1.5 million tons. Our forests are releasing up to one ton of carbon per year (as much as 3 million tons/year) so a significant percentage of the annual growth merely rots so that now with the dramatic increase in tree mortality, carbon is being released at rates approaching the growth rate. So as net growth decreases, carbon sequestration rates also decrease.
Reasons for Tree Decline and Mortality:
Think about how a forest grows and develops. If you start with a bare field, then after 10 years you might have a few thousand seedlings/saplings/acre. After 100 years of growth (with no timber harvesting), there might only be about 200 trees/acre. So obviously a lot of trees die over time because they compete for space and light. To learn more about forest ecology and forest growth see this page on my web site: http://northquabbinforestry.com/forestry-practice/
Foresters like to speed up the natural thinning process by salvaging those trees that are declining and to favor the healthier better formed trees that will produce high quality sawlogs which are the most important forest product. So forestry is like gardening. To increase yields of the most desirable product (sawlogs), we thin out the weed trees.
The thinnings I mark are primarily from below which means that most of the trees removed are from the lower crown classes. This type of thinning accelerates the natural mortality of a forest stand as it develops over a long period of time by removing those undesirable trees that are of lower quality and/or are losing the race for survival due to natural competition. My thinnings typically remove about 1/3 of the basal area and consist of the lower quality white pine, hemlock, and hardwood sawtimber, pulpwood, and cordwood trees that have poor stem form and/or insufficient live crowns that will not support good diameter growth. The trees that are retained are the higher quality white pine, some hemlock, red oak, and other hardwood sawtimber and pole timber with good stem form and superior live crowns which will support good diameter growth. However, while doing so, we consider wildlife habitat (leaving some snags and den trees, etc.) as well as other resource protections such as wetlands and endangered species habitat.
But without active forest management like was just described, tree decline and mortality increases as a forest becomes over-stocked.
Besides overcrowding, other factors have also caused or will cause tree and forest decline and mortality:
Destructive Liquidation Cuttings: Liquidation cuttings, which are also called high-grading, diameter limit cutting, or “selective” cutting, are the hidden plague of private forest land. It is sometimes referred to as “cutting the best and leaving the rest”. It is the cutting of most if not all of the very best and high value trees such as red oak, sugar maple, cherry, and good white pine above a minimum size (usually 12-14 inches in diameter at chest height), while leaving the poorest and lowest value trees such as red maple, beech, hemlock, and low quality white pine.The destructive practice of liquidation cutting has occurred on the majority of private forest land in Massachusetts despite a Forest Cutting Law which was written to promote good forestry!
Since the healthiest trees with the fewest defects are cut, the overall health of the forest is reduced. The remaining trees are more susceptible to the damaging effects of insects, disease, and storm damage and less able to recover after these disturbances occur.
Since many of the trees that are left have been suppressed or are suffering from defects, they won’t grow as quickly as the better quality trees, so the value of the next harvest will be greatly reduced.
For more info on liquidation cutting, see this page on my web site: http://northquabbinforestry.com/liquidation-cutting/
The non-native insect pest the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid is causing significant defoliation which has led to much slower growth rates while hemlock tree mortality is increasing.
The non-native insect pest the Emerald Ash Borer has arrived in Massachusetts and will lead to widespread mortality of ash trees.
Gypsy Moth Caterpillar – 100,000 acres defoliated this year – the most since 1981. This will result in more mortality as secondary agents such as the two lined chestnut borer and shoestring root rot attack the weakened trees. The naturalized fungus entomophaga maimaiga had been keeping them in check but two dry springs in a row inhibited the spread of this natural control.
Non-Native Invasive plants such as oriental bittersweet, Japanese barberry and multiflora rose are spreading rapidly and now infest 7% of all forest land. These non-native plants displace native plants and inhibit new tree regeneration. In the case of oriental bittersweet, those vines can envelop, strangle, and cause tree mortality.
Why increasing the use of Biomass and Wood Pellets is good for the Climate:
Wood is the most successful residential renewable energy technology in the America today. Wood energy displaces more carbon than any other renewable energy!
Increasing markets for forest biomass allows the practice of good forestry and greatly reduces tree mortality. Carbon sequestration rates are highest in healthy young forests especially those forests less than 50 years of age.
In addition, salvaging declining and dying trees or tops that die and decay and using them for energy (even at low efficiency) has a huge carbon benefit. It enhances forest productivity and higher carbon sequestration rates.
1. The average home with an oil burner uses 700-800 gallons of fuel oil/year. Switching from oil heat to wood pellet heat reduces CO2 emissions by 90%! It can also save up to 50% in heating costs.
2. The payback period is shorter for wood stoves than for most other renewable energy technologies – http://www.forgreenheat.org/…/cooling_climate_change.htmlb
3. http://economics.mit.edu/files/7337 – This study by MIT shows it costs up to $600 to displace one ton of carbon using solar while it costs as little as $10 to displace one ton of carbon when using wood pellets instead of fuel oil! Thus wood pellets are up to 60X as cost effective as solar! Why are we subsidizing made in China solar anyway?!
4.http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/…/Berlik… – In this paper by Harvard Forest entitled “The Illusion of Preservation”, the authors argue correctly that when we lock up or stop the management of our own forest lands, then we import more wood often from areas that don’t have our high environmental standards. So forest degradation and carbon emissions are simply exported. Hence, the “illusion”.
5. Wood pellets have a very small carbon footprint. Wood is a form of solar energy – converting sunlight and atmospheric carbon into carbohydrates whose energy can be released when we need it rather than when it hits us (like conventional solar energy).
Even wood pellets from a supply involving significant transport distances or that is produced with fossil-fired electricity will avoid:
• 90% of the carbon emissions attributable to equivalent natural-gas heating,
• 93% compared to oil-fired heating,
• 96% compared to direct electric heating, and even
• 90% compared to heat-pumps.
A low-carbon-footprint source of wood pellets will avoid:
• 97% of the carbon emissions from natural gas,
• 97.5% compared to oil-fired heating,
• 99% compared to direct electric heating, and
• 97% compared to heat-pumps.
Examples of Biomass Use:
Pinetree Power – this 17 MW ultra clean biomass power plant supplies renewable energy to the Fitchburg area with locally produced biomass harvested sustainably from well managed Massachusetts forest land.
Athol High School has been using wood heat for decades saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Mount Wachusett Community College. In 2002, Mount Wachusett’s main campus in Gardner, MA, had an 8 MMbtu boiler unit installed to replace an all-electric heating and cooling system, which was funded in part by the US Department of Energy and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. By switching from heating oil, the college saves about $270,000 dollars per year.
Cooley-Dickinson Hospital has been heating and cooling their facility with biomass for 25 years and has received a national award for sustainable practices: http://healthcarenews.com/burning-with-energy-cooley…/
Quabbin Administration Building. In 2008, the Department of Conservation & Recreation’s Quabbin Administration complex installed a boiler that burns about 350 tons of wood chips per year and displaces 85% of the fuel oil previously being used. The total cost of installation was $480,000, with the payback period at 6 years.
Seaman Paper Co., Otter River, MA employs hundreds of workers and has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 91% by using biomass! – https://www.seamanpaper.com/sustainability.html
Harvard Forest’s new biomass system: http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/biomass has greatly reduced its carbon footprint.
Harvard Forest’s Wildlands & Woodlands Project supports biomass: http://www.wildlandsandwoodlands.org/…/Conservation…
Air Quality:
The speculation that biomass power increases asthma rates because of the tiny amount of additional particulate emissions is false. Modern biomass plants – both electric and thermal – are very efficient, clean burning, and well within strict EPA standards. In addition, a peer reviewed study by the prestigious John Hopkins Hospital concluded that it is indoor air pollution that is the main cause of higher asthma rates.

Vuk
February 14, 2021 4:05 am

Wood chip business is a racket. Poor and old people are freezing to death in last few days, since they have to choose between heating or food. Electricity prices in the UK are already subsidising this madness, and yet new price rise for the electricity was announced just the other day.
It is inhuman, it is not economic and it is not environmentally sound !

Entire Forests Being Murdered to Produce Wood Pellet Biomass
https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/04/18/green-shock-entire-forests-being-murdered-to-produce-wood-pellet-biomass/

Last edited 5 months ago by Vuk
Vuk
February 14, 2021 4:49 am

gone into moderation

Last edited 5 months ago by Vuk
Mickey Reno
February 14, 2021 5:27 am

“combustion of hydrocarbon fuels made with biomass carbon results in no net CO2 emissions to the atmosphere”

Coal is biomass, too, so can we not consider burning coal as net neutral? I say this in all seriousness. Coal and fossil fuels are just carbon dioxide that was stored away for a longer period than the CO2 of a still living or recently chopped down tree. The same is true of methane arising from the swamps of the frozen tundra when they thaw out and begin to decompose again. It’s just the slow combustion (i.e. decomposition) of biomass.

The arbitrary division of living biomass and formerly living biomass is silly. Once you chop down a tree, it’s formerly living, isn’t it? We will never emit enough CO2 from burning fossil fuels to get the Earth’s atmospheric CO2 content up to the levels it has previously been, when plant life flourished and created SO MUCH material from it’s dying detritus that it produced all the coal we find today. More CO2 in the atmosphere for C3 plant life is a precious resource being liberated from captivity. It is recycling of life.

Last edited 5 months ago by Mickey Reno
Matthew Sykes
February 15, 2021 12:22 am

I read wood produces 12 times as much mercury as coal.

Kit P
Reply to  Matthew Sykes
February 15, 2021 8:53 am

Trot out the mercury scare tactics. If you read it on the internet is must be true!

During the debate on the ‘mercury rule’ for coal plants in the US, I checked the CDC site. No US children had levels of mercury about the threshold of harm from the environment.

Also read a study used to justify warnings about eating fish from Washington State waters. I thought the warning was odd because Washington State only had one coal plant at the time. The mercury in fish from two lakes were the result of legacy issues such as a smelter in Canada.

Fake scares are easy to identify because no smoking gun exists. Real evidence of a mercury problem comes with a measured level of mercury from blood to hair samples relative to a limit.

Davidf
Reply to  Matthew Sykes
February 15, 2021 11:00 pm

Where, pray tell, would the Mercury come from?

Anders Valland
February 15, 2021 4:13 am

Biomass is more than wood pellets. My argument here is based on the prevailing thoughts about what constitutes a greenhouse warming potential (GWP). I am not arguing about the validity of whether there is GW, AGW or CAGW. I am just arguing that the maths allow for certain hypothesis.

There is a valid argument that when fermenting waste and collecting the gas to burn for heat you are turning a high GWP gas (methane) into a low GWP gas (CO2) and thus the net result is negative. That is, the methane would be produced from the waste in natural dacy processes and by burning the methane you get less greenhouse warming. The matter is highly debated, of course, since some feel it is important not to find solutions including the ability to use more energy.

Turning other biomass into methane still gives a fairly large reduction in net CO2 emitted, provided there are no methane leaks in the process.

Turning biomass into liquid fuel is a more energy intensive process, and thus there is more debate on the net effect of doing so. A biodiesel still emits NOx, particulates and other local pollutants. In fact, quite a few biodiesels increase specific NOx emissions.

A Norwegian statistician employed by the National bureau of statistics did hos PhD on using wood as biomass, and he concluded that using the boreal woods found in Norway would need a horizon of more than 100 years before any net reduction can be achieved. Basically he was saying that burning wood is a no-no if you are concerned about global warming. Needless to say he has taken flak from all around. Bluntly telling the truth tends to do that.

%d bloggers like this: