A study commissioned by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources concludes that cutting trees to produce energy creates more emissions than burning coal.
The study, written by the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, was sought by the agency as it considers new sustainability rules for a state policy that pays power plants more for generating from renewable resources, according to the Portland Press Herald. Four wood-fired power plants have been proposed in the western part of Massachusetts, but the study's conclusion could have an effect in Maine, where nine power plants sell power to Massachusetts and depend on above-market rates from the sustainability incentive.
The study found the net emissions of greenhouse gases from biomass would be 3% greater than from coal by 2050. The conclusion factors the amount of carbon dioxide released from harvesting and burning the wood, and the amount of the gas absorbed from the atmosphere by living trees. A Portland-based trade association, Biomass Power Association, called the study misleading, citing Massachusetts' lack of a forest products industry that would require timber harvesting to feed biomass plants. In Maine, wood waste from trees already harvested for other uses is the primary supply for biomass generators.
Go to the article in the Portland Press Herald >>