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2009 June 10

Wood rewrites power plants’ emissions equations

Cooling Towers -
David Landes
A number of power companies in Europe and the United States are switching to wood to fire plants traditionally fueled by coal.

“Wood is very quickly becoming a very important part of the energy mix and in a few years will be a global commodity much like oil,” Heinrich Unland, CEO of Germany’s Novus Energy GmbH, told the Bloomberg news agency.

Using wood can actually be cheaper than coal because it allows companies to avoid acquiring carbon dioxide emissions permits.

According to European Union rules, wood-burning plants don’t require carbon dioxide permits because the trees used to fire the plants absorbed an equivalent amount of the gas prior to being harvested.

Plants using wood can in turn earn emissions credits because it is considered a renewable fuel.

According to the International Energy Agency, the use of biomass for power and heat has increased by 25 percent in the last 20 years.

“Wood is a huge part of the solution to making a move away from fossil fuel and softening the blow of the transition to clean energy,” Bracken Hendricks, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and energy adviser to President Barack Obama, told Bloomberg.

Read the full article here.