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Title: Wood pellets, what else? Greenhouse gas parity times of European electricity from wood pellets produced in the south-eastern United States using different softwood feedstocks

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2];  [2]; ORCiD logo [3];  [2]
  1. Department of Environmental Science, Faculty of Science, Radboud University Nijmegen, PO Box 9010 6500 GL Nijmegen The Netherlands, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 2 3584 CS Utrecht The Netherlands
  2. Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 2 3584 CS Utrecht The Netherlands
  3. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Environmental Sciences Division, Center for BioEnergy Sustainability, Oak Ridge TN 37831-6036 USA
Publication Date:
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1374757
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1374758
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Published Article
Journal Name:
Global Change Biology. Bioenergy
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 9; Journal Issue: 9; Related Information: CHORUS Timestamp: 2017-10-20 16:01:39; Journal ID: ISSN 1757-1693
Publisher:
Wiley-Blackwell
Country of Publication:
United Kingdom
Language:
English

Citation Formats

Hanssen, Steef V., Duden, Anna S., Junginger, Martin, Dale, Virginia H., and van der Hilst, Floor. Wood pellets, what else? Greenhouse gas parity times of European electricity from wood pellets produced in the south-eastern United States using different softwood feedstocks. United Kingdom: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1111/gcbb.12426.
Hanssen, Steef V., Duden, Anna S., Junginger, Martin, Dale, Virginia H., & van der Hilst, Floor. Wood pellets, what else? Greenhouse gas parity times of European electricity from wood pellets produced in the south-eastern United States using different softwood feedstocks. United Kingdom. doi:10.1111/gcbb.12426.
Hanssen, Steef V., Duden, Anna S., Junginger, Martin, Dale, Virginia H., and van der Hilst, Floor. Tue . "Wood pellets, what else? Greenhouse gas parity times of European electricity from wood pellets produced in the south-eastern United States using different softwood feedstocks". United Kingdom. doi:10.1111/gcbb.12426.
@article{osti_1374757,
title = {Wood pellets, what else? Greenhouse gas parity times of European electricity from wood pellets produced in the south-eastern United States using different softwood feedstocks},
author = {Hanssen, Steef V. and Duden, Anna S. and Junginger, Martin and Dale, Virginia H. and van der Hilst, Floor},
abstractNote = {},
doi = {10.1111/gcbb.12426},
journal = {Global Change Biology. Bioenergy},
number = 9,
volume = 9,
place = {United Kingdom},
year = {Tue Jan 17 00:00:00 EST 2017},
month = {Tue Jan 17 00:00:00 EST 2017}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record at 10.1111/gcbb.12426

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 3works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

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  • Several EU countries import wood pellets from the south-eastern United States. The imported wood pellets are (co-)fired in power plants with the aim of reducing overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from electricity and meeting EU renewable energy targets. To assess whether GHG emissions are reduced and on what timescale, we construct the GHG balance of wood-pellet electricity. This GHG balance consists of supply chain and combustion GHG emissions, carbon sequestration during biomass growth, and avoided GHG emissions through replacing fossil electricity. We investigate wood pellets from four softwood feedstock types: small roundwood, commercial thinnings, harvest residues, and mill residues. Permore » feedstock, the GHG balance of wood-pellet electricity is compared against those of alternative scenarios. Alternative scenarios are combinations of alternative fates of the feedstock material, such as in-forest decomposition, or the production of paper or wood panels like oriented strand board (OSB). Alternative scenario composition depends on feedstock type and local demand for this feedstock. Results indicate that the GHG balance of wood-pellet electricity equals that of alternative scenarios within 0 to 21 years (the GHG parity time), after which wood-pellet electricity has sustained climate benefits. Parity times increase by a maximum of twelve years when varying key variables (emissions associated with paper and panels, soil carbon increase via feedstock decomposition, wood-pellet electricity supply chain emissions) within maximum plausible ranges. Using commercial thinnings, harvest residues or mill residues as feedstock leads to the shortest GHG parity times (0-6 years) and fastest GHG benefits from wood-pellet electricity. Here, we find shorter GHG parity times than previous studies, for we use a novel approach that differentiates feedstocks and considers alternative scenarios based on (combinations of) alternative feedstock fates, rather than on alternative land-uses. This novel approach is relevant for bioenergy derived from low-value feedstocks.« less
  • Cited by 3
  • The ongoing debate about costs and benefits of wood-pellet based bioenergy production in the southeastern United States (SE USA) requires an understanding of the science and context influencing market decisions associated with its sustainability. Production of pellets has garnered much attention as US exports have grown from negligible amounts in the early 2000s to 4.6 million metric tonnes in 2015. Currently, 98% of these pellet exports are shipped to Europe to displace coal in power plants. We ask, 'How is the production of wood pellets in the SE USA affecting forest systems and the ecosystem services they provide?' To addressmore » this question, we review current forest conditions and the status of the wood products industry, how pellet production affects ecosystem services and biodiversity, and what methods are in place to monitor changes and protect vulnerable systems. Scientific studies provide evidence that wood pellets in the SE USA are a fraction of total forestry operations and can be produced while maintaining or improving forest ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are protected by the requirement to utilize loggers trained to apply scientifically based best management practices in planning and implementing harvest for the export market. Bioenergy markets supplement incomes to private rural landholders and provide an incentive for forest management practices that simultaneously benefit water quality and wildlife and reduce risk of fire and insect outbreaks. Bioenergy also increases the value of forest land to landowners, thereby decreasing likelihood of conversion to nonforest uses. Monitoring and evaluation are essential to verify that regulations and good practices are achieving goals and to enable timely responses if problems arise. Conducting rigorous research to understand how conditions change in response to management choices requires baseline data, monitoring, and appropriate reference scenarios. Furthermore, long-term monitoring data on forest conditions should be publicly accessible and utilized to inform adaptive management.« less
    Cited by 4
  • Cited by 4
  • The ongoing debate about costs and benefits of wood-pellet based bioenergy production in the southeastern United States (SE USA) requires an understanding of the science and context influencing market decisions associated with its sustainability. Production of pellets has garnered much attention as US exports have grown from negligible amounts in the early 2000s to 4.6 million metric tonnes in 2015. Currently, 98% of these pellet exports are shipped to Europe to displace coal in power plants. We ask, 'How is the production of wood pellets in the SE USA affecting forest systems and the ecosystem services they provide?' To addressmore » this question, we review current forest conditions and the status of the wood products industry, how pellet production affects ecosystem services and biodiversity, and what methods are in place to monitor changes and protect vulnerable systems. Scientific studies provide evidence that wood pellets in the SE USA are a fraction of total forestry operations and can be produced while maintaining or improving forest ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are protected by the requirement to utilize loggers trained to apply scientifically based best management practices in planning and implementing harvest for the export market. Bioenergy markets supplement incomes to private rural landholders and provide an incentive for forest management practices that simultaneously benefit water quality and wildlife and reduce risk of fire and insect outbreaks. Bioenergy also increases the value of forest land to landowners, thereby decreasing likelihood of conversion to nonforest uses. Monitoring and evaluation are essential to verify that regulations and good practices are achieving goals and to enable timely responses if problems arise. Conducting rigorous research to understand how conditions change in response to management choices requires baseline data, monitoring, and appropriate reference scenarios. Furthermore, long-term monitoring data on forest conditions should be publicly accessible and utilized to inform adaptive management.« less