The international consensus of science and public policy is clear – wood bioenergy enables electric utilities to substantially reduce the lifetime greenhouse gas emissions of power generation compared to coal. Dozens of leading researchers and global policy makers agree.
By generating power with wood pellets instead of coal, electric utilities can reduce lifetime carbon emissions by about 80 percent. And replacing coal with wood pellets also significantly reduces emissions of sulfur, mercury, lead and arsenic.
Enviva produces wood pellets with material from sustainably managed working forests, taking advantage of the natural cycle of photosynthesis. As trees grow, they absorb carbon and store it as energy. When wood pellets are used to produce electricity, the carbon released is equal to that absorbed during forest growth. Here’s what the experts say:
World Government and Multi-National Organizations
“… the vast majority of the biomass used today in the EU for heat and power are considered to provide significant greenhouse gas savings compared to fossil fuels.” —The European Commission, State of Play on the Sustainability of Solid and Gaseous Biomass Used for Electricity, Heat and Cooling in the EU, (July 28, 2014)
The United Nations’ science advisory body on climate change has found that sustainably harvested wood bioenergy reduces greenhouse gases, writing, “If part of a larger forest is used as a feedstock for bioenergy while the overall forest carbon stock increases (the so-called landscape perspective), then the overall mitigation effects are positive …” —Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Fifth Assessment Report, (November 2014)
U.S. Government Agencies and Officials
“… the U.S. wood pellet industry increases our forested area, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and improves U.S. forest management practices … Biomass generation provides significant greenhouse gas benefits to the UK, due to reduced fossil fuel combustion. In addition, demand for wood pellets also delivers compelling carbon and societal benefits to the United States.” —The Honorable Thomas J. Vilsack, Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture, (March 28, 2016)
“… peer review and stakeholder input supports the finding that use of waste derived feedstocks and certain forest-derived industrial byproducts (such as those without alternative markets) are likely to have minimal or no net atmospheric contributions of biogenic CO2 emissions or even reduce such impacts when compared with an alternate fate of disposal.” —The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Clean Power Plan, (August 3, 2015)
Scientific Organizations and Studies
“Forest biomass for bioenergy can provide an important contribution toward mitigating climate change and increasing the land area sustainably managed as forest.” —Virginia H. Dale, Keith L. Kline, Gregg Marland and Reid A. Miner, “Energy Ecological Objectives Can Be Achieved with Wood-Derived Bioenergy”, Frontiers in Ecology, (August 1, 2015)
“The carbon benefits of sustainable forest biomass energy are well established … Forest biomass energy yields significant net decreases in overall carbon accumulation in the atmosphere over time compared to fossil fuels.” —National Association of University Forest Research Programs letter, signed by more than 100 distinguished U.S. forest scientists representing 80 universities, (November 6, 2014)
“… the use of pellets produced in the US and transported to the UK has significant potential to reduce the GHG intensity of electricity generated relative to coal-based electricity … The range of GHG savings with the use of pellets is between 74% and 85%.” —Weiwei Wang, Puneet Dwivedi, Robert Abt and Madhu Kanna, “Carbon Savings with Transatlantic Trade in Pellets: Accounting for Market-Driven Effects”, Environmental Research Letters, (October 2015)