September 18, 2012, Quebec City, QC - The first day of presentations of the DEMO International 2012 conference provided an unexpected discussion of the validity of biomass as a long-term energy solution for not just Canada, but countries around the world.
By Andrew Macklin
September 18, 2012, Quebec City, QC – The first day of presentations of
the DEMO International 2012 conference provided an unexpected discussion
of the validity of biomass as a long-term energy solution for not just
Canada, but countries around the world.
During the pre Demo conference session, held at Loews le Concorde in
Quebec City, entitled "Forest Biomass and its Potential," Evelyne
Thiffault of LFC CFS NRCan presented on the subject of Harvest of forest
biomass and bioenergy: danger or solution? Her presentation began by
exploring some of the current data regarding the concentration of CO2 in
the air, and the critical threshold that intergovernmental experts
believe we are fast approaching. As a result, several environmental
groups like Greenpeace have released reports that biomass, as a fuel
source, will do more harm than group. According to the research
presented by Thiffault, that may not be entirely wrong.
Thiffault explained that certain types of biomass provide a stronger
solution for carbon neutrality, and that not all biomass is the same.
For example, the burning of slash, waste wood and other wood residues
provide an environmental impact that possesses greater carbon neutrality
since it is using unused wood products for energy.
However, the analysis also showed that, as you begin looking at cutting
down certain species of trees for biomass, the length of time it takes
to replace those trees created a carbon debt. There is a point where the
use of certain forest products for biomass is actually harmful, much
like some of the aforementioned reports had suggested.
However, there was an overriding point about the use of biomass that was
made clear as part of her presentation: any kind of biomass is better
than using fossil fuels. Regardless of whether or not whole trees should
be chipped for biomass use, any type of short-term or long-term woody
biomass used was far more carbon neutral that any fossil fuel currently
used. Renewable fuels, even long-term, are a much better alternative
than non-renewable fuels.