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Power from Wood – How does biomass-based bioenergy contribute to the battle against global warming?
Everybody today is aware of the IPCC report published in October 2018 pushing for limiting global warming to +1,5°C by 2050 by limiting carbon emissions.
Not meeting this target will have a significant impact on both humans and our ecosystem. Some parts of the globe such as the Persian Gulf area may become uninhabitable while the increasing temperatures will accelerate the melting rate of the polar ice caps leading to rising sea levels catastrophically altering coastal areas.
To combat this threat carbon emissions must be halved by 2030 from the current level and halved again by 2040 and 2050. Fossil-fuel emissions should peak by 2020 at the latest and fall to around zero by 2050.
The emission reduction can only be achieved by immediately implementing renewable, non-carbon emitting energy solutions to replace fossil fuel-based energy sources.
Biomass as an energy source
Biomass as an energy source refers to wood and other organic materials which can be used as a renewable fuel for electricity and heat generation.
Biomass-based energy solutions have the advantage over other common forms of renewable energy such as PV and wind that biomass energy has a 100% availability rate regardless of time of day, season or weather. The small scale of installations allows for a high rate of power production on sites with limited area.
Biomass can be used as harvested virgin biomass or as a sidestream of an industrial or agricultural process. Using excess biomass as an energy source has another potential positive impact – it reduces the effect of forest fires that have devastated large areas in recent years.
Wait – is it carbon neutral or not?
Using biomass as an energy source does emit carbon into the atmosphere at the moment of energy generation as the carbon bound into the biomass is released. However this effect is only short term as the same amount can be later on bound to regrowth of biomass, making the net addition of carbon zero, unlike fossil powered energy sources which constant add carbon to the atmosphere.
Responsible biomass providers make sure that for every tree cut down new ones are planted to begin the cycle of carbon binding anew and that the processing and transport of biomass fuel is conducted in an ecological, environmentally and climate-friendly way.
What does Volter do for our climate?
We provide solutions that produce heat and power from biomass using gasification technology. When the biomass fuel is produced responsibly, this process does not lead to a net increase of carbon as the use of fossil-based fuels does.
Creating electricity or heat using a Volter cogeneration system creates a net increase of 0 g of carbon added to the atmosphere. Direct carbon emissions per kilowatt hour of electricity are comparable to, but less than coal and are offset to zero in the long run with responsible biomass management.
To halve our current carbon emissions by 2030, with a marked decrease after 2020 steps must be taken immediately. Here is what Volter proposes:
- Replace oil or coal-fired co-generation with renewable solutions such as photovoltaic, wind or biomass-based energy sources.
- Create responsible biomass management value chains providing fuel for energy and local business models
- Act quickly – carbon emissions must peak at 2020 – work initially with smaller scale projects to replace the capacity that can be converted rapidly.
We at Volter work to meet the goals of halving net carbon emissions by 2030 – work with us!