The biomass boondoggle is pumping more CO2 into the air than the coal it is replacing

New Hampshire Union Leader:
Since 2000, Europe’s biomass consumption for energy production is up 84 percent.

For example, biomass fuel produced 18 percent of Denmark’s electricity in 2017.

For the last two decades, Denmark has been reducing coal-fired power-plant output, but adding biomass-powered plants. Since 2000, Denmark’s use of coal fuel for electricity production decreased 63 percent.

But the use of biomass fuel for electricity in Denmark increased by a factor of five, almost exactly replacing the decline in coal output. About three-quarters of the biomass consumed by Denmark is wood, with most of it imported.

But the “sustainability” of biomass is questionable, despite the childish notion that if you grow it, it must be sustainable.

Burning wood emits more carbon dioxide than burning coal.

A 2012 study by Synapse Energy Economics estimated that the average smokestack of a U.S. biomass plant emitted about 1.67 tons of CO2 per megawatt-hour of electricity generated, or 50 to 85 percent greater than emissions from a coal-fired plant. CO2 emissions from a biomass plant are more than triple the CO2 emissions from a natural gas facility.

Despite these well-known numbers, neither the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nor the European Commission (EC) count emissions from power plants that burn wood.
As a fuel, wood contains less energy and is more expensive than coal or natural gas.

According to the American Physical Society, coal produces about 46 percent more energy per ton than wood.

Since wood is less dense than coal, more than twice the volume of wood is required to produce the same electrical output.

In the United States, biomass plants are not doing well. Aided by subsidies and the “carbon neutral” classification, the number of U.S. biomass power plants almost doubled between 2003 and 2016, from 485 to 760.

But in 2017, only 1.1 percent of U.S. electricity was generated by biomass fuel.

In the last few years, many of these wood-burning plants have been idled. In California, 27 percent of biomass capacity is off-line. Biomass generation declined in 17 states from 2013–2017, because burning wood is expensive compared to traditional power plants and other renewable generators.
The environmentalist don't count the biomass emissions under the theory that growing new trees will consume the same amount of CO2.   But wouldn't the growing of trees be more efficient at reducing total CO2 emissions if more efficient natural gas were used to power production?  I suspect that it is also more efficient to use the trees for lumber production for building homes and furniture.


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