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Can Biomass from Forests Be Carbon Neutral?

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Jane Marsh's picture
Editor Environment.co

Jane Marsh is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co. She covers topics related to climate policy, sustainability, renewable energy and more.

  • Member since 2020
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  • Aug 24, 2021 3:45 pm GMT
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As eco-consumer rates rise in America, individuals search for sustainable fuel alternatives. A significant portion of personal emissions derive from transportation and electricity, challenging the modern lifestyle. President Bident additionally targeted conventional energy sources when setting the national carbon-neutrality goal.

He plans on achieving the goal by generating an electric grid. Sourcing electricity from renewable sources can reduce the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions. We can attain enough power to fuel the country by diversifying the energy supply using biomass.

Ecological Challenges with Biomass

Biomass is one of the oldest fuel sources on the planet, dating back to cave dwellers. It also generates adverse ecological impacts, limiting its sustainability. Biomass’s potential influence on deforestation concerns many individuals.

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Americans have a high consumption rate of fuel. If we converted our energy reliance away from fossil fuels solely towards wood-derived biomass, we would consume a significant portion of forests. Clear-cutting generates various challenges to local species, from habitat destruction to food source depletion.  

Developing enough dense forest to support rising power demands requires vast quantities of water. Elongated drought periods and water displacement already produce societal struggles. Nearly 884 million individuals lack access to clean drinking water.

Burning wood for biofuel also generates greenhouse gas emissions. During combustion, the material releases carbon dioxide, nitrogen and sulfur oxides into the atmosphere. They alter Earth’s organic composition, increasing the global temperature over time.

Benefits of Tree Growth

Though biomass generates various adverse environmental effects, its production benefits the atmosphere. Trees are surface-level carbon filters. When companies create biofuels from wood, they must develop dense and abundant forests first.

One acre of forest can filter the carbon emissions of two cars annually, generating pure oxygen. The demand for biomass influences trees growth, absorbing and filtering air pollution before it reaches the atmosphere. Surface-level absorption offsets the emissions released during biofuel combustions, creating a carbon-neutral cycle.

Processing fuel emissions also prevent the urban heat island effect, protecting residents from heatstroke and other adverse health impacts. It can also improve the air quality in cities, generating a higher quality of life. Expanding tree growth also counters the effects of deforestation.

Regrowing forests sustainably can preserve species’ natural habitats. It may also increase food supplies and protection, decreasing the rate of endangerment. Unlike fossil fuel production, wood-derived biomass gives back to the environment, balancing out environmental degradation.

Expanding our Reliance on Biomass

The U.S. can develop an efficient biomass market by sustainably harvesting wood. Creating a successful fuel industry requires new production and manufacturing strategies. The high demand for energy influences high growth and removal rates. 

When logging, companies should only collect up to 1.25% of trees in a region, protecting species’ habitats and other resources. Professionals should ensure the efficiency of their appliances when calculating a project’s sustainability. Many loggers utilize skid steers, providing diverse usages from digging up trees to transporting wood.

Relying on one dependable system can decrease the generation of emissions. When a site depends on multiple active machines, it can generate high counts of air pollution. Utilizing efficient devices can conserve atmospheric conditions and limit unnecessary ecological degradation.

Companies can further decrease adverse environmental effects by producing biofuels from recycled materials. Researchers discovered methods of generating energy from used wood, vegetable oil and cooking grease. Biodiesel created from repurposed goods can significantly improve the transportation sector’s sustainability.

The U.S. can expand government programs that pay farmers for their waste, creating biomass. They can collect unmarketable corn, soybeans and lumbar for production processes. Collecting and repurposing food waste is essential to the nation’s sustainability.

America throws away 108 billion pounds of uneaten food annually, generating pollution and resource depletion. Repurposing food and lumbar waste for energy can decrease degradation and improve ecological conditions.

Combining Sources

Generating a carbon-neutral nation requires diversification of energy sources. We can convert our power reliance away from fossil fuels by adopting solar, wind, hydro, biomass energy and more. When we combine our use of renewable energy sources, we can access enough electricity to support a sustainable grid.

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Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on Aug 24, 2021

This fine article fairly touches most of the biomass issues I'm aware of. Thanks.

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