[NEWS] New Study on Carbon Emissions from Bioenergy
– by Prachi Patel, January 26, 2017, Anthropocene
Many climate policies and models consider biomass carbon-neutral. The argument is that carbon emitted during burning the biomass is balanced out by the carbon that plants and trees sequester. But that understanding is flawed.
Biomass is indeed renewable, and burning biomass or biomass-derived fuels can offset fossil fuel use. However, cultivating and harvesting biomass, transporting it, and processing it for energy or to make liquid fuels all emits greenhouse gases. Exactly how the biomass is used—whether directly or turned into fuel—also makes a difference.
Now researchers at MIT have calculated the extent to which bioenergy can cut greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use when bioenergy’s emissions are taken into account. In a new study published in the journal Nature Energy, they also quantify the best use of global bioenergy resources to replace fossil fuels.