How “green” is wood pellets as a fuel source?

As for the larger settlement bill that is still under negotiation, the language will also subsidize the logging of federal and private land, as well as subsidies for forest biomass energy, wood pellet facilities and production. Cross-laminated timber (A kind of prefabricated wood For home construction) Under the heading “Timber Innovation”.

The scientists wrote in the letter that encouraging more commercial logging and wood-fired power generation “ignore the suggestions of hundreds of climate and forest scientists who have previously notified Congress that these industries will significantly increase emissions and exacerbate the climate crisis.”

But not all experts agree on this point. Bob Abbott He has studied southern forest ecology and economics for more than 40 years and is an emeritus professor of natural resources at North Carolina State University. He said that under the right economic and environmental conditions, the carbon footprint of wood pellets may be smaller than that of coal. To make this equation work-so that the amount of carbon burned for power generation today is offset by future tree growth-there are several requirements. First, Abt said, forest owners must harvest fast-growing trees, such as pines or mixed hardwoods found in the south. The same process does not work well in the forests of New England or the Pacific Northwest because they take longer to regenerate.

The second thing is to ensure that landowners who sell timber to grain companies continue to produce their land as a working forest. Abt said that as the demand for wood to be converted into energy increases, the price of wood will also increase. This will incentivize timber owners to let their trees grow to maturity, instead of turning the same piece of land into a pasture for grazing livestock or farmland for growing seasonal crops, or selling it to real estate developers.A sort of 2017 study by Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers It was found that the sprawl of residential areas and shopping centers could also endanger these forests. The report said: “If forest owners lack sufficient timber income-generating opportunities, urbanization-currently the biggest cause of forest loss in the southeastern United States-is more likely to extend to forest landscapes.”

If the land from which wood pellets are harvested is later converted to other uses, any carbon released by burning pellets for power generation today will not be recycled by these trees in the future. This means that the wood pellet industry’s claim to carbon neutrality may depend on the price that landowners in North Carolina, Georgia, or Mississippi can get for their land-which is difficult to predict in the coming decades.

Abt said that using forests for energy may not be perfect, but it is a step in the right direction. He said that all solutions to the climate crisis need to be on the table. “For wood from the South,” he said, “I am happy to say that in most cases, it is better than coal.”

In places like the United Kingdom where there is no domestic natural gas supply, people vigorously promote the burning of wood pellets. Actually, Drax based in the UK In 2013, the largest coal-fired power plant in North Yorkshire on the island nation was converted into a pellet-fired power plant. It now provides enough electricity for 4 million households, and the wood pellets are imported from the United States. According to Ali Lewis, Drax’s director of media and public relations, Drax currently operates 13 pellet plants in the United States and Canada, and is building three more in Arkansas.

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