Forest Bioenergy or Forest Carbon: A Review
International Journal of Sustainable and Green Energy
Volume 3, Issue 6, November 2014, Pages: 132-142
Received: Sep. 18, 2014; Accepted: Oct. 14, 2014; Published: Dec. 5, 2014
Views 2727      Downloads 174
Keith Openshaw, Retired forest/energy economist. Formerly with the International Resource Group (IRG ENGILITY) of Washington D.C.
Article Tools
Follow on us
An article by Jon McKechnie et al entitled Forest Biomass or Forest Carbon purports to use an integrated life cycle assessment (LCA) and forest carbon analysis when examining the use of wood for electrical generation. Most publications assume that the CO2 emitted is carbon neutral because plants will re-absorb the CO2 through photosynthesis. However, the article challenges this hypothesis and states that incomplete LCAs are undertaken. The article demonstrates that it will take many years to recapture the CO2 when the wood is used for bioenergy. But when analyzing the capture of CO2, only regrowth is considered and not the tree growth of the whole forest. If in the example given, a full account is taken of the above-ground yield, it is shown that the annual increment from the management units is nearly double the potential removals for wood products, including bioenergy. Thus, rather than a decrease in forest capital there is an increase. Proper and full LCAs must be undertaken of the whole forest, rather than partial analysis: the latter results in erroneous accounting. It is very misleading and should not be used or cited. This same error has been made by a number of other quoted publications.
Carbon Accounting, Carbon Sequestration and Use, Bioenergy, Life Cycle Assessment
To cite this article
Keith Openshaw, Forest Bioenergy or Forest Carbon: A Review, International Journal of Sustainable and Green Energy. Vol. 3, No. 6, 2014, pp. 132-142. doi: 10.11648/j.ijrse.20140306.13
Canadian NFI 2001.
Chen J et al 2010. Carbon budget of Ontario’s managed forests and harvested wood products 2001-2010, Forest Ecology and Management 259 (2010) 1385-1398.
Chen J et al 2008. Future carbon storage in harvested wood products from Ontario’s crown forests, Can. J. For. Res. 38 1947-1958.
HMSO 1971. British Forestry Commission Booklet No. 34 (Metric). Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. London.
Institute for European Environmental Policy 2012. The GHG intensity of biomass: does biomass have a role to play in reducing Europe’s GHG emissions. IEEP, 15 Queen Anne’s Gate, London, SW1H 9BU. UK.
KBM Forestry Consultants Inc. 2008. Algoma Forest – Independent Forest Audit Report to Ontario Forest Service. KBM, 349 Mooney Av, Thunder Bay, ON P7B 5L5 Canada.
KPMG LLP 2008. Wood pellet plant cost study for the Algoma and Martel forests in the western portion of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence forests. KPMG LLP, 4600-333 Bay St. Bay Adeland Centre, Toronto, Ontario M5H 2S5 Canada.
Manomet Center 2010. Biomass sustainability and carbon policy study. Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences. 81 Stage Point Road, Plymouth, MA 02360, USA.
Matthews R et al 2012. ‘Carbon impacts of using biomass in bio-energy and other sectors: forest’. A report for DECC – project TRN 242/08/2011 published in support of the UK bio-energy strategy. Forest Research and North Energy UK.
McKechnie J et al 2011. Forest bioenergy or forest carbon? Assessing trade-offs in greenhouse gas mitigation with wood-based fuels, (with supporting information). Environ. Sci. Technol. 45 789-795.
Searchinger T 2012. ‘Sound principles and important inconsistency in the 2012 UK bioenergy strategy’, with appendix. Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University. Princeton, NJ, USA.
Searchinger T et al 2009. Fixing a critical climate accounting error. Science 2009, 326 (5952) 527-528.
The (UK) Royal Society for the Protection of Birds/Friends of the Earth/Greenpeace 2012. ‘Dirtier than coal? Why [UK] government plans to subsidise burning trees are bad news for the planet’. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Lodge, Potton Road, Sandy, Bedfordshire, SG 19 2DL, UK.
UK Forestry Commission 2003. Forests, carbon and climate change: the UK contribution. Report to the IPCC. F.C. Environmental Research Branch, Alice Holt Lodge, Wrecclesham, Farnham, Surry, GU10 2LH, England.
USDA 2009. FORECARB2: an updated version of the U.S. forest carbon budget model, Linda S. Heath et al. Forest Service, Northern Research Station, General Technical Report NRS-67. U.S. Forest Service, 11 Campus Blvd, Suite 200, Newtown Square, PA 19073, USA.
Zang Y et al 2010. Life cycle emissions and cost of primary electricity from coal, natural gas and wood pellets in Ontario Canada, (with supporting information). Environ. Sci. and Technol. 44 538-544.
Science Publishing Group
1 Rockefeller Plaza,
10th and 11th Floors,
New York, NY 10020
Tel: (001)347-983-5186