Although used for millenia, wood-based heating may once again regain momentum because of its reduced carbon footprint – the CO2 the plants emit when burned is the CO2 they gather during lifetime, so the equation is fulfilled.
A report prepared by scientists from The University of Manchester wants to encourage UK officials to use sustainable wood and other biofuels to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions related to the burning of fossil fuels.
The study author, dr. Patricia Thornley, reveals how using a number of supply chains, including imported forest residues and locally-grown biofuel crops could reduce emissions. She also suggests that building district heating schemes would also be helpful to saving greenhouse gases, and would be much more economical than using smaller heating facilities.
Dr. Thornley also mentions that the plans would only provide cost savings if the heat demand is very steady. Large-scale dedicated electricity plants powered by biofuels would otherwise become a very effective solution to reduce greenhouse gases. UK power stations, says the report, gave greenhouse gas reductions of over 84% and even higher savings of 94% were possible for heating schemes.
Overall, using sustainable biomass results in an 18 million tons of carbon dioxide saved yearly, which accounts for the pollution of 2.7 million homes that would have otherwise used fossil fuels for heating.
“Heating homes with wood reduces greenhouse gas emissions because plants and trees absorb carbon dioxide when they are growing and then re-release it when they are burnt for heating – so the only increase in greenhouse gas emissions are those involved in things like harvesting and processing the fuel.
“This work has taken a detailed look at all those emissions and established that even when we take them into account, there are still huge greenhouse gas savings to be made.
“If we can combine the low-carbon wood with really efficient heating systems, that offers an efficient and cost-effective route to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions.
“The challenge for the industry now is to concentrate on developing new efficient and cost-effective technologies for biofuel production and to concentrate on getting the heating technologies deployed in the right environment,” says Dr. Thronley.