Heads-up; Pellet and Biomas Debate Heats up


Recharging Battery
Dec 1, 2012
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Ideyhoo Sounds Nice

One can never be complacent.

Here's an item of interest for biomass burners, and quite possibly all of us who burn wood -- the renewable energy claim is coming under scrutiny.

What follows is a quote from an article dated 03.16.2016 in:



The report cited by Undark is available at


CROSS SECTIONS / News & Features
Pellet Problem: Biomass & Climate
03.16.2016 / BY Aleszu Bajak
A new report sent yesterday to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission argues that those labels are misleading — not just to governments seeking to meet carbon reduction commitments, but to investors in companies that produce woody biomass.

The report, drafted by the non-profit environmental groups Partnership for Policy Integrityand Dogwood Alliance, takes specific aim at biomass giant Enviva Partners, which owns six wood pellet manufacturing facilities in the southern United States and is one of the country’s largest exporters to power plants in Europe. The report claims that Enviva “is misrepresenting actual emissions from burning wood pellets as fuel by widely representing their product as ‘reducing’ carbon emissions compared to burning coal without providing necessary context for understanding the limitations of that claim.”

The report takes issue with two major assumptions on biomass: 1) That burning wood for electricity production reduces planet warming emissions compared to coal, and 2) So long as new trees are planted to replace the biomass that’s being burned, net emissions from biomass power are basically zero.

But those claims are too simplistic, some scientists say.

“To say that biomass is carbon neutral is really trying to hide the ball from the public and decision makers,” said Sami Yassa, a senior scientist with the National Resource Defense Council who recently analyzed Enviva’s wood pellets. “My study … flatly disproves that claim. We show that biomass produces emissions that greatly exceed coal and those emissions persist in the atmosphere for decades and decades.”

William Schlesinger, a biogeochemist and president emeritus of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, agreed, pointing out that “the CO2 from the combustion of wood is released almost instantly, whereas the growth and regrowth of wood takes decades.”

Biomass proponents argue that good forest management — including planting new trees that will grow and trap the carbon being released when woody material is burned — is the answer. This can be technically true, some scientists say, but both the math and the implementation are complicated, in part owing to the timescales needed to regrow forests, and also because the types of trees and woody material being harvested really matters. Harvesting old-growth forests for pellets, for example, would have vastly different consequences than using construction debris, lumber mill waste, or even invasive weeds like switchgrass.

Burning grasses or young trees, Schlesinger said, “can be helpful in reducing anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Burning mature and old-growth trees is not.”

We have no idea where the wood pellets produced by Enviva are derived,” he added, “and some direct evidence [suggests] that they are coming from large, old trees.”

Kent Jenkins Jr., a spokesman for Enviva, disputed that point in an email message.

“The composition of our wood pellets varies, depending on the types of wood available to our six different plants,” Jenkins said. “What does not vary is our overall sourcing policy. We use low-grade or leftover wood that cannot be milled into high-value products such as lumber or furniture. This includes pulpwood; diseased, crooked, rotten or undersized trees; limbs, tops and branches; wood chips; and sawdust. “

Jenkins also dismissed the current report on Enviva as a publicity stunt, and in a prepared statement the company countered most of the group’s core allegations, pointing to what Enviva considers a solid scientific basis for using carefully harvested biomass.

(The company’s full statement is here.)

Over the last few years, several major studies have concluded that burning biomass, under certain circumstances, can produce even more carbon dioxide than burning coal. And last August, the Environmental Protection Agency bucked industry pressure and established thatnot all biomass was carbon neutral (page 225), stating that “carbon neutrality is not an appropriate a priori assumption.”

There's more at http://undark.org/2016/03/16/wood-pellets-renewable-energy-source/


ArboristSite Operative
Apr 5, 2010
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Lobby work for sure. Scientists? For sure draged up on the scene for the sole purpose of backing their case. Same bull goes on in some countries in Europe now and then on a yearly basis. When the dust from the last campain has settled they launch another crusade with another close related theme under new names. Just until someone with insight undermines their real ID and their sponsors. Ever heard of a so called Ecological Bureau sponsored by Shell and coal fires power plants? Hehe in Europe we have! Same story here. Find out who's the sponsor and their real agenda will be revealled. Maybe someone would like to tax you for polluting? Please investigate.



Tree Freak
Nov 23, 2010
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North Georgia
We are humans and we are allowed to do things on a human time scale, such as harvest trees. and we are a carbon based life form, carbon is not a pollutant. I know they want to declare it as such, but...plants love that CO2. We'll have more forests and richer croplands with more CO2 in the atmosphere.

It's all about the carbon credits scam mostly, the parasites wanting to skim every human interaction, the government wanting to regulate every human interaction, academics wanting to pontificate on every human interaction..and get paid for it.

Some of these crackpot policies have lead to huge out of control forest fires, where the humans gain nothing from all that biomass burning.. They want to blame home heating or electricity production. Nuts. Just like blaming two stroke engines for other pollution when a few big container ships delivering walmart crap contribute more.

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