Does replacing coal with wood lower CO2 emissions? Nope.

Burning wood makes more CO2 than coal.

The conclusions high points:

  • biomass used to displace fossil fuels injects CO2 into the atmosphere at the point of combustion and during harvest, processing and transport.
  • the first impact of displacing coal with wood is an increase in atmospheric CO2relative to continued coal use
  •  before breakeven, atmospheric CO2 is higher than it would have been without the use of bioenergy, increasing radiative forcing and global average temperatures, worsening climate change, including potentially irreversible impacts that may arise before the long-run benefits are realized.
  • biofuels are only beneficial in the long run if the harvested land is allowed to regrow to its pre-harvest biomass and maintained there.
  • The carbon debt incurred when wood displaces coal may never be repaid if development, unplanned logging, erosion or increases in extreme temperatures, fire, and disease (all worsened by global warming) limit regrowth or accelerate the flux of carbon from soils to the atmosphere.
  • harvesting existing forests and replanting with fast-growing species in managed plantations can worsen the climate impact of wood biofuel.
  • growth in wood harvest for bioenergy causes a steady increase in atmospheric CO2 because the initial carbon debt incurred each year exceeds what is repaid.
  • using wood in electricity generation worsens climate change for decades or more even though many of our assumptions favor wood

Image result for wood pellets


3 thoughts on “Does replacing coal with wood lower CO2 emissions? Nope.

  1. Huh, As I’ve always said and maintained: Burning Diesel to cut down and process / deliver wood chips – Power intensive – would have been better to burn the diesel in a Burner directly. Just like plastic car components use less oil to make than the steel ones. Simple non-financial accounting.
    Wood Pellets/ chips should be generated from Wood WASTE, and NOT from WASTING Wood.

    1. “Wood Pellets/ chips should be generated from Wood WASTE, and NOT from WASTING Wood.”
      Sounds like a good idea…
      But the problem there is it puts the wood pellet industry into direct competition with the fibre board industry which used to be the main users of wood waste, so trees get chopped down anyway.

      1. Yes but not no…. fibre boards / OSB etc ALSO uses various glues – not always Enviro friendly – especially when burnt or scrap-wood disposed of.
        Also then begs the questions: 1. Using Animal OR Human Food plants for industrial uses – Maize and Oils springs to mind – on the scale currently produced. 2. Using Plant By-products for Industrial uses instead of ( as in recent German TV debate – straw removed for fuel instead of returned to boost the OM of the soil – so the soil slowly dies….. Less retention of water and gases for future Biosphere use … etc. ( to keep the conversation simple)
        Why are we sooooo keen to have “outdoor bonfires” of Pallets and other timber product waste, being incompletely burnt to yield high air particulates AND a TOTAL LOSS of heating source for Joe Society……
        Leads me ON to Christmas FORK Handles ! again German research SHOWS that burning candles and then EXTINGUISHING THEM causes MANY TIMES MORE Particulate pollution than Diesels on the street !

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