Canadian Manufacturing

Burning wood pellets to make energy is a carbon sink: Biomass coalition

The study, conducted by a group of biomass advocates, finds burning industrial wood pellets to produce electricity makes an "immediate or very rapid contribution" to climate change mitigation.

RICHMOND, Va.—The use of woody biomass for power generation produces significant carbon savings that provide long-term benefits to the environment, according to a new peer-reviewed report released today by the U.S. Industrial Pellet Association (USIPA) and other members of the Bridging with Biomass coalition.

The study, Forest Sustainability and Carbon Balance of EU Importation of North American Forest Biomass for Bioenergy Production shows using industrial wood pellets to produce electricity makes an immediate or very rapid contribution to climate change mitigation.

Some of the findings include:

  • Energy production from industrial wood pellets results in substantial carbon savings over time, far exceeding any temporary carbon debt or foregone sequestration
  • Studies identifying forest-based bioenergy to be associated with long-term carbon deficits and long carbon repayment periods are generally based on modeling assumptions that do not correspond with current and expected production and are therefore not representative of actual industry practices.

Indeed, industrial wood pellets are an essential component of Europe’s power mix and “…provide an abundant, sustainable and carbon beneficial energy source,” said Seth Ginther, USIPA’s executive director. “By displacing fossil fuels, industrial wood pellets are decarbonizing Europe.”

“We hope that EU policymakers will take these findings into consideration when they are evaluating the sustainability of this essential source of renewable energy,” Ginther added.

The report focuses on British Columbia and the Southeastern United States, two of the primary sources of wood pellets currently used in the European Union.

USIPA members rely on low-grade wood fiber such as tree tops and limbs, sawmill residues and low quality wood that does not meet the standards for lumber processing.

The Bridging with Biomass coalition brings together the European Industrial Pellet Suppliers (EIPS), the U.S Industrial Pellet Association (USIPA) and the Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC).

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