Pacific Institute

Bioenergy and greenhouse gases

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Branches, stalks, and manure are waste no longer; bioenergy is part of the solution to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. A study released by the Green Power Institute, the Renewable Energy Program of the Pacific Institute, reports that converting forest residues, agricultural and urban biomass waste, and gases from manure and landfills into energy helps reduce our greenhouse-gas emissions and replace a portion of fossil-fuel use.

Gregory Morris, Ph.D., author of the Bioenergy and Greenhouse Gases report, contends that the reduced greenhouse-gas emissions of biofuels should be expressed in the official tracking systems in a way that is usable in a greenhouse-gas compliance program, because the reductions in biogenic greenhouse gases can be calculated as fossil-carbon emissions offsets.

“Biofuels are carbon-neutral, so their use in energy production displaces the emissions we’d have from producing the same energy using fossil fuels,” Morris said.

Creating energy by converting biogas from existing landfills and manure from the dairy cattle industry, and by converting biomass from forest management and agriculture and urban residues, provides more than carbon-neutral energy sources. All of the alternative disposal options for these biomass residues, from decomposition to burial in a landfill to open burning, produce higher levels of biogenic greenhouse-gas levels than their use for electricity production.

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