Saturday, November 28, 2015

Export of wood pellets from US to EU more environmentally friendly than coal

And it's sustainable. Once a coal deposit is gone, the coal company moves on, leaving devastated land and no jobs. There are laws mandating reclamation, but they are not necessarily followed, and some coal companies will declare bankruptcy to get out of paying for pensions and land reclamation.

Public Release: 20-Nov-2015
Export of wood pellets from US to EU more environmentally friendly than coal
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

As the export of wood pellets from the U.S. to the European Union has increased six-fold since 2008, questions have been raised about the environmental impact of the practice. According to a new paper from a University of Illinois expert in environmental economics, even after accounting for factors ranging from harvesting to transportation across the Atlantic Ocean, wood pellets still trump coal by a wide margin in carbon emissions savings.

The greenhouse gas intensity of wood pellet-based electricity is between 74 to 85 percent lower than that of coal-based electricity, says published research co-written by Madhu Khanna, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois.


Khanna and her co-authors, including Weiwei Wang, a postdoctoral research associate at Illinois, found that across different scenarios of high and low demand for pellets, the greenhouse gas intensity of pellet-based electricity generated from forest biomass such as pulpwood and milling residues is still significantly less than that of coal-based electricity.

"Even if you include all of these emissions that go into the process of producing and transporting pellets, and if you include for all the land-use changes that occur and the fact that you'll be diverting some amount of pulpwood and other forest biomass from conventional forest products to pellets, you can still get emissions reductions that range from 74 to 85 percent compared with coal-based electricity," Khanna said.


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