Wood Pellets Aren’t CO2 Neutral, Emit More Than Coal… Double Of Natural Gas

Wood pellets are often viewed as an alternative, climate-friendly energy source, especially for heating. But an analysis shows this is not the case at all.

CO2 emitted [kg]. Data source: German Ministry of the Environment

Though it is claimed that the CO2 from burning biomass like trees remains in the natural carbon cycle, the  CO2-absorbing trees are often commercially chopped down, pelletized and burned, thus emitting years worth of CO2 sequestration in just a matter of hours. Live trees recapturing that same emitted CO2 and storing it in the form of biomass takes decades.

Wood emits the most

How much CO2 does the production of one megawatt-hour of energy emit by different fuels? This is answered at FB by the account Umwelt- und Klimathemen. They write:

Isn’t it almost the same whether I burn wood from a 150-year-old oak tree in pellet form in my heating system or whether I burn coal that has been in the ground for thousands of years? Both the wood and the coal release the carbon dioxide they once filtered out of the air when they burn.

According to the German Ministry of the Environment, burning wood produces even more carbon dioxide than fossil fuels such as coal and gas.
– 202 kg of carbon dioxide for natural gas
– 340 kg carbon dioxide for hard coal
– 403 kg carbon dioxide wood

But for the climate, it doesn’t matter where the carbon dioxide comes from!
That’s why heating with wood is not climate neutral!
Even if we make pellets from our wood, it is still wood that enriches our atmosphere with carbon dioxide when it is burned.”

Wood emits double the CO2 that natural gas does. Never mind the particulates burning wood entails.

Also related, see: Planet of the Humans

13 responses to “Wood Pellets Aren’t CO2 Neutral, Emit More Than Coal… Double Of Natural Gas”

  1. PEDRO

    Could you please indicate a link to the source of this post.

  2. Val

    CO2 does not matter. Why are things repeatedly tied to this irrelevancy? The atmosphere contains only 0.04% CO2, so there’s not ‘too much’, and CO2 is important for plants, producing oxygen. The whole CO2/Climate narrative is false.

  3. Robert J Doyle

    As a free added on bonus, wood throws in Sulphur as part of the product.
    When burned, the by-product is Sulphur-Dioxide.

    A heart condition + Sulphur-Dioxide is what the Medical profession calls “Bad”.

    Europe has noted the problem. However, CO2 grabs the headlines.

    I had a heart attack and pay attention.



  4. goretech

    CO2 from coal is similar to CO2 from wood. The difference is wood represents the sustainable portion as it regrows and coal will not.

    The actual comparison to gas is apples to oranges, despite a good point.

    What we can do: increase woodland productivity. What we can’t do: replace massive coal, oil, gas use with wood.

    Increasing productivity is not what greens do. They do a number of things, but not that.

  5. John Hultquist

    Much of the products of wood burning are removed with a catalytic burner stove, so particulates become less of an issue.
    Cold climate homes with electric heaters (see heat pumps) need a source of heat for emergencies. Expecting the electricity to never fail is nuts.

  6. 4 Eyes

    If a tree takes 1 day to burn and 30 years to grow then in the steady state 4400 trees would have to be planted for every tree that is burnt.

    1. goretech

      You need to plant one tree for each burnt, or not even that because trees need more thinning than planting.

      Your argument is really if you burn a lot, you’ll need a lot of wood. True. But we should improve the woodland’s primary productivity, not to avoid thinning and logging just because green lobbyists avoid productivity.

  7. b.nice

    Anyone else having trouble getting to WUWT ?

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