Study of Woody Biomass Energy

 

In June of 2010, Manomet and its partners released the results of a six-month study to better understand the implications of using wood for energy in Massachusetts, titled “Biomass Sustainability and Carbon Policy Study.”  The study was conducted for the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. The full report and the executive summary can be downloaded below. 

 

A Message from Manomet’s President

The central message of this study is that the carbon accounting for using wood harvested from Massachusetts forests for energy is more complex than most people previously thought.  I hope the study will help prompt a more thorough discussion of using wood for energy in our society.

 

The study finds that the greenhouse gas impacts on the atmosphere of using woody biomass will be a function of the lifecycle of the biomass being used, the biomass energy technology and the fossil fuel technology it replaces, and the way landowners choose to manage their forests.  It’s critical to evaluate these key parameters for assessing greenhouse gas emissions and not to draw categorical conclusions for or against all woody biomass energy.  The conclusions will necessarily be different for different circumstances.

 

I encourage everyone to read the Manomet press release and at least the Executive Summary of the report before drawing conclusions about what the report says. Manomet has also issued a statement to aid in the interpretation of some of the misleading press coverage that followed the release of the report.

 

Manomet and our partners are keenly sensitive to the potential significance of this study.  Manomet’s interest, as study leader, is to advance society’s understanding of using wood biomass energy, and not to promote or discourage forest biomass energy. 

 

I hope you will agree that, with respect to understanding the greenhouse gas implications of using wood for energy, the team has made a valuable contribution to our scientific knowledge.  To make sound energy policy, policy makers may wish to consider and evaluate these results, and balance them with many other societal values that the team was not charged to address in this particular study.  With respect to energy policy, I hope you’ll agree that we all benefit from having a more in-depth understanding of the greenhouse gas implications of using wood for energy.

 

John M. Hagan, Ph.D.
President, Manomet, INC

 

Biomass Sustainability and Carbon Policy Study

 

Team Authors

Thomas Walker, Team Leader – Independent Resource Economist 
Dr. Peter Cardellichio – Independent Forest Economist 
Andrea Colnes – Biomass Energy Resource Center 
Dr. John Gunn – Manomet 
Brian Kittler – Pinchot Institute for Conservation 
Bob Perschel – Forest Guild 
Chris Recchia – Biomass Energy Resource Center 
Dr. David Saah – Spatial Informatics Group