‘Not all biomass is carbon neutral’, industry admits

This states the obvious of course. More carbon dioxide is emitted per unit of energy from biomass than from coal, undermining claims of ‘climate benefits’, and wood pellet production is energy-intensive. But ‘carbon targets’ mean the biomass obsession goes on due to lack of alternatives, given general dislike of nuclear power.
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Leading industry figures acknowledge that not all biomass brings benefits to the climate, insisting that only low-value wood and forest residues should make the cut under EU law, says Euractiv.

“Not all biomass is good biomass,” says Jennifer Jenkins, chief sustainability officer at Enviva, a US-based company which is the world’s largest producer of industrial wood pellets used for electricity and heat production.

“We agree that not all biomass should automatically be categorised as carbon neutral,” Jenkins told an online debate organised on 29 June during EU sustainable energy week.

To bring climate benefits, biomass needs to come from low-value wood residues or smaller trees coming from timber harvests – not from high-value trees that could be used in products like furniture or construction material, Jenkins said.

The question now facing policymakers in Brussels is how to ensure EU energy policies do not encourage the wrong sort of biomass, even inadvertently.

Biomass currently represents almost 60% of the EU’s renewable energy, more than solar and wind power combined, according to the EU’s statistical office, Eurostat.

And even though wind and solar are growing fast, countries such as Austria, Denmark, Finland, Latvia and Sweden would be unable to achieve their 2020 renewable energy targets without biomass, experts say.

“Bioenergy is basically the backbone for these countries’” renewable energy policies, said Martin Junginger, a professor of energy and resources at Utrecht University who spoke at the online event.

EU bioenergy review

The future of bioenergy in Europe is looking uncertain, however.

Earlier this year, the European Commission announced it would perform a comprehensive assessment of biomass supply and demand in Europe and globally with a view to “ensure that EU biomass-related policies are sustainable”.

Full report here.

via Tallbloke’s Talkshop


July 14, 2020 at 03:39AM

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