The Environmental Impact of the Use of Biomass for Power and Heat

This project aims to analyse the worldwide impact on climate and forests of the use of wood for electricity generation and heat in modern, non-traditional, technologies.

An automated auger for loading processed wood chip heating fuel into a biomass boiler.

The global demand for biomass power and heat is increasing rapidly, primarily because of government support policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions, achieving energy independence and supporting domestic industries. However, most current support policies for biomass for power and heat are based on the incorrect assumption that its use is immediately and completely carbon-neutral. This assumption underpins many public policies, with the result that biomass use is expanding, mostly to the detriment of attempts to limit climate change.

This project analyses the likely growth in global and EU demand for wood used for electricity generation and heat. It assesses the potential impacts on the climate, forests and on competing forest industries, and also produces recommendations for changes in national and international policy to minimize potential negative effects on the climate and on forests. The findings of the project are relevant to the discussions around the 2030 climate and energy package in the EU and the international climate negotiations.