In 2013, 6m tonnes of “wood pellets” harvested from the forests of Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Virginia were transported across the Atlantic to be burned to create renewable “biomass” power plants. This was nearly double the number of 2013 and in fact, the US “wood pellet” industry is growing rapidly.
Demand is generated by European countries
who want to achieve goals set in the European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive. A majority of the pellets shipped to US US are used to create electricity for Britain’s huge Drax power plant that is gradually converting from coal into biomass in order to cut carbon emissions and also to earn ” Renewable Obligation certificates” to generate green energy. Arizona Birds It’s not feasible to carry wood across the globe for burning in a power plant?
Some environmentalists do not believe so. A group of NGOs recently stated for the EU should not include wood in its renewable energy goals. They say the industry is cutting down vast portions in the hardwood forests of wetland throughout the south-eastern US which is causing a loss of biodiversity as well as a rise in emissions of carbon. Although the forest is regrowing, it doesn’t contain as much carbon soils or biomass as it did in the first place forests did – and certainly isn’t as healthy for wildlife.
The wood power source is a fix
The power of solar and wind is increasing quickly and will become a major factor in the future, particularly as we become more adept in conserving energy. However they are clean, but these intermittent power sources aren’t yet able to substitute coal.
Coal is the source of 39% of the world’s electricity along with one-third of carbon dioxide emissions as well as a variety of other harmful emissions. Yet, for all its shortcomings coal offers two major advantages: it’s affordable and is able to operate continuously, supplying an adequate “baseload” level of electricity.
The lifespan of wood pellets
Perhaps unsurprisingly, transporting wood pellets up to 200km from a port and then transporting them 7200km on a ship isn’t an issue in regards to carbon emissions. Because large vessels transport massive cargoes at a low-speed transportation, it contributes about 40kg of CO two per MWh of electricity generated. A significant amount of carbon (more than 100kg per MWh) is released through the process of drying, grinding, and shaping needed to transform wood harvested into smaller pellets that are easy to handle.
It’s the advantage of having less carbon-intensive than UK coal, however, so transportation and processing doesn’t necessarily stop wood power from being a sustainable alternative. However, here’s where things get complex.
When the combustion of coal release carbon
dioxide that has been stored in soil for millions of years. CO 2 emissions from wood-burning constitute a constant biological cycle. The carbon contained in wood was recently removed from the atmosphere by photosynthesis and the new growth of trees will take it back and again.
The time required to replenish that carbon differs dramatically based on whether you’re harvesting huge trees from old forests, or smaller branches that are harvested from new plantations. Do Birds Have Ears Also, we must consider the ways in which these American forests could be managed without the demand for wood pellets.