A new study released by UK-based independent policy institute Chatham House has claimed that using wood pellets to generate power releases more greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels such as coal.
Being the biggest source of clean energy to date, biomass supplies approximately 65% of renewable energy, primarily produced from combustion of wood pellets.
The Chatham House report claimed that the policy adopted by EU governments to use more biomass for energy generation in order to meet carbon reduction targets is highly flawed particularly when it comes to reducing carbon emissions.
The report states that current regulations do not take carbon emissions from burning wood pellets into account, as it is assumed that the greenhouse gas emissions are balanced by new plantations. However, wood is not carbon neutral.
UK Department of Energy and Climate Change former special adviser and the report author Duncan Brack was quoted by BBC as saying: “The fact that forests have grown over the previous 20 or 100 years means they are storing large amounts of carbon, you can't pretend it doesn't make an impact on the atmosphere if you cut them down and burn them.
“You could fix them in wood products or in furniture or you could burn them, but the impact on the climate is very different.”
According to Brack, when young trees are planted to replace the burnt wood, they absorb and store less carbon than the ones that have been burned.
Moreover, according to the UN climate rules, carbon emissions from trees are only taken into account at time of their harvest. However, burning of wood pellets add to greenhouse gas emissions as it also includes the energy consumed in harvesting the plants, to collect the wood, process it into pellets, and finally transporting from usually long distances.