Brack, D., 2017. Woody Biomass and Heat: Impacts on the Global Climate. Chatham House Research Paper ISBN 978-1-78413-190-6. London, UK: The Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House.

Link: https://www.chathamhouse.org/2017/02/woody-biomass-power-and-heat/executive-summary.

Key excerpts:

  • “…since in general woody biomass is less energy dense than fossil fuels, and contains higher quantities of moisture and less hydrogen, at the point of combustion burning wood for energy usually emits more greenhouse gases per unit of energy produced than fossil fuels.”
  • “ The volume of emissions per unit of energy actually delivered in real-world situations will also depend on the efficiency of the technology in which the fuel is burnt; dedicated biomass plants tend to have lower efficiencies than fossil fuel plants depending on the age and size of the unit.”
  • “ The impact on the climate will also depend on the supply-chain emissions from harvesting, collecting, processing and transport. Estimates of these factors vary widely but they can be very significant, particularly where methane emissions from wood storage are taken into account.”
  • “ Overall, while some instances of biomass energy use may result in lower life-cycle emissions than fossil fuels, in most circumstances, comparing technologies of similar ages, the use of woody biomass for energy will release higher levels of emissions than coal and considerably higher levels than gas.”