Wood-fired power to yield short-term increase in Southeast's CO2 emissions -- study

02-15-2012 // Amanda Peterka - Greenwire

This excerpt is from Greenwire (subscription required)

The 20 or so new woody biomass power plants expected to be built in the Southeast in the next few years will produce more emissions of greenhouse gases in the short term than traditional fossil-fuel plants, according to a study released yesterday by environmental groups.

The climate change benefits from biomass plants won't start kicking in for 35 to 50 years, says the study commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation and the Southern Environmental Law Center.

"This study shows that EPA and other policymakers cannot assume that biomass energy has no effect on CO2 levels in the atmosphere," said David Carr, senior attorney at the law center.

There are currently 17 woody biomass power plants in the seven Southeast states examined in the study. The plants in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia convert trees into energy, producing 159 megawatts of electricity and 1.78 million tons of pellets per year.

The pellets are commonly shipped to the European Union, where wood pellets are considered a carbon-neutral energy source.

As of May, the study says, there were 22 proposed new plants for the Southeast. They are expected to add an additional 1,014 MW of electricity and 3.05 million tons of pellets into the mix.

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