Tag Archives: CO2

[NEWS] New Study on Carbon Emissions from Bioenergy

– by Prachi Patel, January 26, 2017, Anthropocene

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Photo: 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.

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[NEWS] Is Burning Wood CO2 Neutral?

– by Willem Post, November 30, 2016, Energy Collective

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Photo: Energy Collective

The EU and US have declared, “Burning wood is CO2-neutral.” East Europe and the US Southeast still have significant areas with forests. Starting about 2005, major parts of these forests have been harvested by means of clear-cutting. In 2016, about 6.5 million metric ton of wood pellets will be shipped from the US Southeast to Europe for co-firing in coal-fired power plants. The EU authorities in Brussels have declared these coal plants in compliance with EU CO2/kWh standards, because biomass is renewable and the CO2 of wood burning is not counted.

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[NEWS] Ethanol From Carbon Dioxide Is Still A Losing Proposition

– by Robert Rapier, October 27, 2016, Energy Trends Insider

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(Photo: Mashable)

Earlier this month a research paper was published by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) called “High-Selectivity Electrochemical Conversion of CO2 to Ethanol using a Copper Nanoparticle/N-Doped Graphene Electrode.” The paper reports on some truly interesting science, and the researchers were measured and cautious in their conclusions.

But something got lost in translation as media outlets sought to portray this as a “holy grail,” “game changer,” “major breakthrough” or “solution to climate change.” The benefits, one story said, were unimaginable. Part of the problem, in my opinion, is that the press release from the Department of Energy was titled Scientists Accidentally Turned CO2 Into Ethanol.

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Senate Looks to Classify Biomass Energy as Carbon Neutral

– by Fred Bever, February 4, 2016, MPBN News

August_2013_callAn energy bill that hit the floor of the U.S. Senate this week could provide assistance to the biomass energy industry.

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine are backing an amendment that supports the classification of biomass as a renewable resource — a move that’s drawing fire from some environmental groups.

The Senate is debating a broad energy policy bill, the first in almost a decade. It includes an amendment written by Collins and co-sponsored by King that would require federal agencies to recognize energy from forest biomass generators as carbon neutral.

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Washington Trash Incinerator May Have to Cut Carbon Emissions

– by Arlene Karidis, January 27, 2016, Waste Dive

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Photo: Waste Dive

The city of Spokane, WA will need to cut carbon emissions from its waste-to-energy (WTE) plant by 5% every three years beginning in 2017 if new state rules pass — unless the city offsets its emissions through other practices such as stepping up recycling or buying credits from other polluters with carbon emissions that are below state requirements.

The state rules — developed under Washington’s Clean Air Act under the direction of Gov. Jay Inslee — would apply to facilities that release more than 100,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually. In 2020, the compliance threshold would drop by 5,000 metric tons every three years until it reaches 70,000 metric tons in 2035. The city has asked the Department of Ecology for flexibility in meeting the proposed rule’s expectations.

The $110 million plant was launched in 1991 to replace a leaking landfill and help protect the area’s sole source of drinking water for more than 500,000 residents. But it has become one of Washington’s top sources of greenhouse gases, releasing more than 105,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2014.

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Burlington, Vermont Ignores Biomass Emissions

– by Josh Schlossberg, March 29, 2013

It’s good news that IBM is helping Burlington, Vermont lower its impact on the climate. [“IBM Wants to Help Burlington Reduce Its Carbon Footprint,” Seven Days, March 27]. Unfortunately, the city’s refusal to fix glaring errors in its Climate Action Plan prevents an honest look at Burlington’s actual contributions to runaway global climate change.

The Burlington Climate Action Plan reports the entire city’s carbon dioxide emissions for 2007—from all sources—at 397,272.4 tons. Yet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calculates the CO2 emissions of McNeil’s Generating Station alone—the 50 megawatt biomass incinerator supplying roughly one-third of the city’s electricity—at 444,646 tons per year. A closer look reveals that the city only counted 2% of McNeil’s emissions from the 30 cords of wood it burns per hour from New York and Vermont forests along with a varying percentage of natural gas (including fracked gas).

In a May 2012 email to the city, William Keeton, Professor of Forest Ecology and Forestry Chair at UVM’s Rubenstein School, wrote that “we cannot assume biomass energy to be emissions neutral,” recommending that Burlington acknowledge “the high likelihood of net positive emissions during the near term so critical for avoiding irreversible high magnitude climate change.”

In a September 2012 blog post350 Vermont urged Burlington to account for the “actual carbon dioxide smokestack emissions from the McNeil Station for the wood and gas burned, as calculated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”

It’s very possible for Burlington to emerge as a leader in the fight against climate change. But how can we reduce our future carbon footprint if we won’t even acknowledge our current one?