BTEC: Massachusetts Study Shows Benefits of Biomass Thermal

The Biomass Sustainability and Carbon Policy Study, a report that was recently released and commissioned by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (MA DOER), affirms the environmental benefits of using biomass for thermal energy according to the Biomass Thermal Energy Council (BTEC).

The six-month study aimed to answer key energy and environmental policy questions related to the use of forest biomass for energy in the state. The study concluded that the use of biomass in heating and combined heat and power applications achieves significant greenhouse gas reductions relative to the fossil fuels they replace.

“Heating, cooling, and combined heat and power are extremely efficient and responsible end-uses for biomass,” said Kyle Gibeault, deputy director of BTEC. “Although we believe the carbon accounting framework in this study requires more review, BTEC is pleased to see the conclusion that biomass used in a sustainable and efficient manner can have a positive impact on reducing greenhouse gases.”

The MA DOER study introduces a new comprehensive framework for accounting for greenhouse gas emissions from biomass energy which in some ways makes various types of biomass energy seem more carbon intensive on paper. In this framework, numerous complex factors are considered when modeling the carbon implications of biomass energy, including: wood source; harvesting and management techniques; and the fossil fuel and technology being replaced by biomass.

“While the study’s authors have raised important questions regarding traditional thinking about the carbon neutrality of biomass energy, we believe it is premature to draw policy conclusions based on the accounting methodology presented in the report,” Gibeault said. “There are several schools of thought on how to calculate the carbon impact of biomass energy. BTEC urges the scientific community to attempt to reach a consensus on this important question.”


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