Burning trees for fuel

In some locations, such as the EU, burning biomass is treated as carbon neutral. However, trees in particular grow slowly and recapturing the carbon dioxide released by burning takes a long time. In the interim the net forcing has been increased.

Malcolm et al. looked at carbon debts and payback periods that would be associated with burning eastern Canadian trees. They write “After a first rotation of harvesting, carbon stocks declined 33–50% relative to stocks in the natural, fire-dominated landscapes and payback periods ranged from 92 to 757 years.”
[emphasis added]

Forest harvesting and the carbon debt in boreal east-central Canada
https://academic.daniels.utoronto.ca/forestry/wp-content/upl…

DB2

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Tree growth is related the climate with northern latitudes having lower rates of growth than the tropics.

Some examples of faster growth being Falcataria Maluccana, found in Malaysia, growing 2 feet a month, 24 feet/year, or Mountain Ash, found in Australia, which is recorded 295 feet in 70+ years.

One of the major issues with fast growing trees is that they tend to have a lower density and therefore are a softer wood. If you are doing wood floors northern grown hardwood are the best as they are tougher do to a higher density.

https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/fastest-g…

OTFoolish

Why limit the discussion to trees? Biomass can include “weeds” that grow like crazy and can be pelletized and burned as fuel.

Its about what captures sunlight most efficiently in a given climate and soils etc. Also ease of harvest, transportation, etc.

Wood chips are abundant some places. Maybe not in Canada.

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Why limit the discussion to trees?

Probably because of their size and density. We are talking industrial scale. IIRC, one power plant alone in Britain burns over 20,000 tonnes of wood every day.

Looking at alfalfa as an example, there are 26 million acres cut for hay in the US with an average yield of 2.3 tons per acre.
www.ars.usda.gov/northeast-area/beltsville-md-barc/beltsvill….
That single plant in Britain would burn up 8700 acres worth every day, assuming the energy density is the same as wood. 8700 acres/day means over three million acres per year – over 10% the entire US crop for one power plant.

DB2

one power plant alone in Britain burns over 20,000 tonnes of wood every day.

I wonder how many tons (equivalent) of wood is burned by the cutting, packing, shipping.

Mike

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Labadie in Missouri is Ameren’s largest coal fired power plant. They have told us they will switch to burning corn if it is no longer possible to burn coal. Of course biomass is cheaper. Especially if you find weeds that will grow on marginal lands not suitable for cash crops.

Its still all about solar yield. How much dry carbohydrate fuel can you get from an acre. And with which crop. We know that tree farms do best in the South. The Amazon has abundant growth for a reason.

And how does net energy produced from biomass and a power plant compare with that of a solar panel.

In some locations, such as the EU, burning biomass is treated as carbon neutral. However, trees in particular grow slowly and recapturing the carbon dioxide released by burning takes a long time. In the interim the net forcing has been increased.

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Burning of trees for power generation is a very small percentage of all forest destruction.

Most wood goes to pulp & paper, lumber & veneer, building materials. Only 5% is used as fuel.

https://www.forest2market.com/blog/how-much-timber-does-the-…

Jaak

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www.igsd.org/burning-trees-for-energy-is-not-a-climate-solut…
Burning trees and other forest biomass for energy is contrary to climate mitigation, biodiversity protection, and environmental justice goals. Governments must stop promoting climate-damaging forest bioenergy and instead invest in strategies to decrease energy demand, deploy low-emissions energy like solar and wind, and protect forests. These are the conclusions of a new article published in the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law.

A Call to Stop Burning Trees in the Name of Climate Mitigation, based on leading science, explains how forest bioenergy has a substantial greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint and will accelerate warming for decades.

DB2

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‘The EU’s proposed bioenergy policies risk additional deforestation and biodiversity loss’
www.lemonde.fr/en/opinion/article/2022/07/05/the-eu-s-propos…
The EU’s plan aims to devote one-fifth of Europe’s cropland to bioenergy by 2050. Imports of wood to burn for energy will also increase four-fold, a volume roughly equivalent to 40% of the entire wood harvest of Canada, the world’s largest wood exporter.

DB2

From the New York Times:

www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/09/07/world/europe/eu-loggi…
When the bloc began subsidizing wood burning over a decade ago, it was seen as a quick boost for renewable fuel and an incentive to move homes and power plants away from coal and gas. Chips and pellets were marketed as a way to turn sawdust waste into green power. Those subsidies gave rise to a booming market, to the point that wood is now Europe’s largest renewable energy source, far ahead of wind and solar. But today, as demand surges amid a Russian energy crunch, whole trees are being harvested for power…

Forests in Finland and Estonia, for example, once seen as key assets for reducing carbon from the air, are now the source of so much logging that government scientists consider them carbon emitters. In Hungary, the government waived conservation rules last month to allow increased logging in old-growth forests…

The industry has become so big that researchers cannot keep track of it. E.U. official research could not identify the source of 120 million metric tons of wood used across the continent last year — a gap bigger than the size of Finland’s entire timber industry.

DB2

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EU limits subsidies for burning trees under renewable energy directive
www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/sep/14/eu-limits-subsid…
Voting on an amendment to the EU’s renewable energy directive, MEPs called to “phase down” the share of trees counted as renewable energy in EU targets. But they swerved setting any dates to reduce the burning of “primary wood”. They rejected calls for a complete phaseout of a form of energy generation that scientists have warned releases more carbon into the atmosphere than burning gas or coal.

DB2