Canadian Biomass Magazine

Pellets make less C02 than coal – white paper

February 13, 2012
By Scott Jamieson

Feb. 13, 2012, Bethel, ME - A new white paper from bioenergy consultants FutureMetrics refutes the claim that wood combustion creates significantly higher C02 emissions than your average coal. In fact, wood pellets produce less.

The white paper A look at the details of C02 emissions from burning wood vs. coal questions claims from the controversial Manomet Study that wood combustion results in almost 35% higher emissions. It all comes down to moisture levels in both fuel groups, but the end result seems closer to 9% for wood as a whole versus the various coal types. When it comes to the current wood fuel of choice – wood pellets – the results in fact point to higher C02 emissions for coal. 

In general, the results show the value of properly drying and storing wood fibre of all kinds prior to combustion, and further support the value of paying for caloric value over weight when it comes to wood fuel. Overall, the study authors suggest that wood holds several advantages over nature's original biomass (coal).

"In conclusion, wood in a low moisture content state has lower instantaneous CO2 emissions per unit of energy produced than coal. But of course formation of new coal to recycle the carbon released from any coal combustion takes eons. As we have clearly shown in our previous papers on this subject, with sustainable working forest management, the recycling of carbon from wood combustion is virtually instantaneous and continuous and therefore the net stock of CO2 in the atmosphere from the combustion of wood is not increased."

See the whole c02_whitepaper here.


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