Oops, Biomass may not be Carbon Neutral

CNET reports on a Massachusetts study that Wood Biomass may not be carbon neutral.

Study finds biomass power not carbon neutral

by Martin LaMonica

Forested regions around the world are pursuing biomass as a renewable energy source but a study finds that the carbon footprint from burning biomass can be worse for global warming than coal.

The Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences on Thursday published the findings of a six-month study to measure the greenhouse gas impacts of using biomass, which, in many cases, does not meet claims of being "carbon neutral" over short periods of time.

The report was commissioned by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, which said it will revise its regulations in response. "We can begin the process of refining our renewable energy regulations to provide incentives only for biomass energy that truly reduces our greenhouse gas emissions and protects our forests," said Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Phil Giudice, in a statement.

Note the study didn't focus on wood waste used for fuel generation.

In response, biomass industry people said that the study does not paint a completely accurate picture of biomass-to-power facilities because it assumes that they don't use residue wood products, such as branches and trees left from logging. "The study is not representative on how we plan to operate," Matt Wolfe of Madera Energy, which is proposing a wood-burning plant in western Massachusetts, told the Boston Globe.

The original study is here.

Manomet Study of Woody Biomass Energy Released

Manomet and its partners have released the results of a six-month study to better understand the implications of using wood for energy in Massachusetts, titled “Biomass Sustainability and Carbon Policy Study.”  The study was conducted for the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources.  The full report, or its component chapters, can be downloaded below.