Wood en­ergy good for NZ and the cli­mate

New Zealand Logger - - Forest Talk -

BIOENERGY PRO­DUC­TION US­ING WOOD FROM LO­CALLY GROWN and sus­tain­ably man­aged forests can pro­vide one of the low­est car­bon en­ergy op­tions for New Zealand.

New in­for­ma­tion from Scion ex­plains the role of planted forests in the plant-driven car­bon cy­cle where car­bon diox­ide is ab­sorbed dur­ing growth, re­leased by de­cay or burn­ing, then re­ab­sorbed by new gen­er­a­tions of plants.

The amount of car­bon in the plant-driven car­bon cy­cle re­mains con­stant. In con­trast, when fos­sil fu­els are burnt for en­ergy, the to­tal amount of car­bon in the at­mos­phere in­creases and con­trib­utes to cli­mate change.

Har­vest­ing and trans­port­ing wood uses en­ergy too, but that amount is small com­pared with the po­ten­tial en­ergy con­tained in the biomass.

“A typ­i­cal log­ging truck load could be con­verted into around 2,200 litres of diesel,” says Dr Paul Ben­nett, Clean Tech­nol­ogy Sci­ence Leader at Scion.

“This is enough to travel from Kaitaia to Bluff and back. Har­vest­ing and trans­port­ing logs to a port or mill 100km away only uses around one tenth of the log’s po­ten­tial en­ergy.”

Us­ing pur­pose-grown planted forests to sup­ply tim­ber, fi­bre and en­ergy, New Zealand is in a unique po­si­tion to pro­duce en­ergy with life cy­cle emis­sions ap­proach­ing 2-to-4% of those from coal and gas.

Re­plac­ing coal, gas and fuel oils with for­est har­vest de­bris and wood pro­cess­ing residues and other biomass will help New Zealand meet its in­ter­na­tional com­mit­ments to re­duce emis­sions un­der the Paris Cli­mate Agree­ment and move to­wards be­com­ing a net zero car­bon econ­omy.


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