Energy Renewable Energy Bio-energy

Missing the forest for the trees: woody biomass helps cut CO2 emissions

Bio-energy

Summary

The article argues that sustainably sourced woody biomass is a more environmentally sound alternative to fossil fuels than what many industry experts estimate.

Perspectives and insights

  • Certain stakeholder groups assert that woody biomass is more carbon-intensive because they look at the issue from a tree or a stand-level perspective and ignore the broader forest landscape.
  • One study shows that forestland in the U.S. could increase by 3.4 million acres from 2007 to 2032 under a high-demand scenario for woody biomass.

Xoologue - a discussion between Xoo and Moo

Moo: This debate about the actual carbon foot print of biomass energy is getting interesting, Xoo.

Xoo: Interesting isn’t the adjective I’d use

Moo: You have a more nuanced adjective in mind perhaps?

Xoo: What I have in mind, Moo, isn’t an adjective at all, but a noun, and it’s “perspective”

Moo: Perhaps your honour would care to explain?

Xoo: In many cases, use of biomass energy may not have to do with carbon footprint alone, but also about how the regional ecosystem works, how trees and forests are grown and conserved, and how much societal/employment gains biomass energy provides. These are especially relevant for developing and underdeveloped countries.

Moo: But we are only talking about the carbon footprint, Xoo, and not how the universe works in general.

Xoo: Apply your mind, Moo. These eventually figure in the carbon footprint equation too. If I can engage 10 million rural folks profitably in being feedstock providers for bio energy plants, I’m preventing the urban migration of those ten million or preventing substantial number of them using fuels such as kerosene for their domestic purpose...does a picture emerge?

Moo: I think it does, but it’s very intricate.

Xoo: I prefer the noun to the adjective