Massachusetts Study Recognizes Significant Benefits of Biomass Thermal Energy

Carbon accounting framework in report presents new theories that require more review

WASHINGTON, June 21, 2010 - The Biomass Sustainability and Carbon Policy Study, a recently released report commissioned by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (MA DOER) and authored by the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, affirms the environmental benefits of using biomass for thermal energy.


"Heating, cooling, and combined heat and power are extremely efficient and responsible end-uses for biomass," said Kyle Gibeault, Deputy Director of the Biomass Thermal Energy Council (BTEC), a national trade association for the biomass thermal industry. "Although we believe the carbon accounting framework in this study requires more review, BTEC is pleased to see the conclusion that biomass used in a sustainable and efficient manner can have a positive impact on reducing greenhouse gases."

The six-month study aimed to answer key energy and environmental policy questions related to the use of forest biomass for energy in the state. The study concluded that the use of biomass in heating and combined heat and power applications achieves significant greenhouse gas reductions relative to the fossil fuels they replace.

The MA DOER study introduces a new comprehensive framework for accounting for greenhouse gas emissions from biomass energy. In this framework, numerous complex factors are considered when modeling the carbon implications of biomass energy, including: wood source; harvesting and management techniques; and the fossil fuel and technology being replaced by biomass.

"While the study's authors have raised important questions regarding traditional thinking about the carbon neutrality of biomass energy, we believe it is premature to draw policy conclusions based on the accounting methodology presented in the report," said Gibeault. "There are several schools of thought on how to calculate the carbon impact of biomass energy. BTEC urges the scientific community to attempt to reach a consensus on this important question."

"For too long, federal and state energy policy has focused almost exclusively on incentives for biomass electric generation and, more recently, production of liquid transportation fuels from biomass," added Gibeault. "The tragic events unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico have heightened our awareness of the environmental hazards of oil. Homeowners, businesses and communities have a tremendous opportunity right now to reduce America's dependence on fossil fuels by using biomass fuels such as wood pellets and chips for heating. We hope this study will cause lawmakers to reflect on how they can most effectively advance a clean energy economy through the use of sustainably-produced biomass."

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About the Biomass Thermal Energy Council
The Biomass Thermal Energy Council (BTEC) is a non-profit association dedicated to advancing the use of biomass for heat and other thermal energy applications. BTEC is an association of biomass fuel producers, appliance manufacturers and distributors, supply chain companies and non-profit organizations that view biomass thermal energy as a renewable, responsible, clean and energy-efficient pathway to meeting America's energy needs. For more information, visit www.biomassthermal.org.

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