A recent analysis of three Southeast wood pellet mills and the United Kingdom power plants that burn their pellets reveals that burning trees for electricity, even from sustainably managed forests, would increase carbon pollution for more than four decades as compared to the status quo. This exceeds the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s timeframe for critical carbon reduction.
Research firm Spatial Informatics Group conducted the study for the nonprofit Southern Environmental Law Center.
The three mills in the report are located in Louisiana and Mississippi and, combined, produce up to 1.5 million metric tons of wood pellets per year. This is sourced mainly from non-industrial pine plantations. The biomass is burned in the U.K., where mill owner Drax Biomass has converted four coal-fired units using government subsidies.
The Southern Environmental Law Center states that Southeast pine plantations are seen as a way to meet demand as the wood pellet industry rapidly expands.
The Spatial Informatics Group concludes that governments should “reallocate existing biomass subsidies to zero-emitting renewables like wind and solar,” according to a SELC press release— H.M.