Wood is increasingly being used to replace coal as a source of electricity generation in many regions such as the European Union, where policymakers have declared it “carbon neutral.” However, new research from researchers at MIT, Climate Interactive, and UMass Lowell reveals that displacing coal with wood for power generation can make climate change worse for many decades or more.In the new study, Does replacing coal with wood lower CO2 emissions? Dynamic lifecycle analysis of wood bioenergy, the researchers—John Sterman, the Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management at MIT Sloan School of Management; Juliette Rooney-Varga, Director of the UMass Lowell Climate Change Initiative; and Lori Siegel, PhD, Senior Modeler for Climate Interactive—examine the climate impact of replacing coal power generation in the EU and UK with wood pellets sourced from forests in the southern US. The research is slated for publication on Friday, January 19, 2018 in the academic journal, Environmental Research Letters. The paper can be accessed online at http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aaa512/pdfThe researchers found that wood pellets burned in European and UK power plants, such as the Drax facility in North Yorkshire, England—which has transitioned some of its coal power generation capacity to wood pellets with the support of UK government subsidies—actually emit more CO2 per kilowatt hour than that generated by coal. This is because wood is both less efficient at the point of combustion and has larger processing and supply chain emissions than coal. Their research shows that using wood instead of coal in power generation increases the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, worsening climate change until—and only if—the harvested forests regrow.US forests are a main source for EU wood pellet imports, which have been rising as demand has grown. These forests grow back slowly, so it takes a long time to repay the initial “carbon debt” incurred by burning wood instead of coal. For forests in the central and eastern US, which supply much of the wood used in UK power plants, the payback time for this carbon debt ranges from 44 to 104 years, depending on forest type—and assuming the land remains forest. If the land is developed, or converted to agricultural use, then the carbon debt is never repaid and grows over time as the harvested land emits additional carbon from soils.The research was conducted with the use of a system dynamics model, based on the award-winning Climate Rapid Overview and Decision Support (C-ROADS) simulator. Launched in 2008, the model was reviewed by an external scientific review committee, chaired by Sir Robert Watson, former Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). A summary of their review can be accessed here.The researchers also explored an increasingly common scenario in which hardwood forests harvested for bioenergy are replaced with faster-growing loblolly pine plantations. Surprisingly, replanting with fast-growing pine plantations worsens the CO2 impact of wood because managed plantations do not sequester as much carbon as natural forests.They found that continued growth in wood use, as many predict, will worsen climate change throughout the rest of this century, or longer. This is because the first impact of substituting wood for coal in power generation is an increase in CO2 emissions. Even if the forests eventually regrow, notes Prof. Sterman, each year the new carbon debt from increased harvest and combustion outweighs the regrowth, just as borrowing more on a credit card each month than one is able to pay back will steadily increase what he or she owes. For countries using wood bioenergy as a component of their climate policies this could take them backwards. Indeed, bioenergy from wood made up 44% of the EU’s renewable energy production in 2015.“A molecule of CO2 emitted today has the same impact on the climate whether it comes from coal or biomass,” says Sterman. “Declaring that biofuels are carbon neutral, as the EU, UK and others have done, erroneously assumes forest regrowth happens quickly and fully offsets the emissions from biofuel production and combustion. One way to address the challenges raised in this study would be to count emissions where they occur, for example, at a power plant, and monitor and count carbon removed from the atmosphere by regrowth on the harvested land.”Critically, the analysis doesn’t support continued coal use as it is the most carbon intensive fuel and a major contributor to climate change. The researchers stress energy efficiency, solar, wind and storage as the cheapest, safest, and quickest ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions while meeting energy needs.The model behind the research is available for scientists and policymakers to design their own scenarios for bioenergy, conduct sensitivity analysis, and get immediate feedback showing the full dynamics, including both short and long run impacts.Drax produces about 7% of the UK’s power. The picture shows unloading wood pellets at ABP Immingham for this power plant.
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Dublin 2-22Monaghan 0-11THE SEVENTEEN POINT winning margin really did reflect the gulf in class between Monaghan and Dublin in Croke Park today.Dublin came out on top in pretty much all areas, against a tired looking Monaghan team who will rue a ten minute spell in the first-half in which Dublin bagged two crucial goals.While both Bernard Brogan and Diarmuid Connolly did find the net, if it wasn’t for the casual finishing of Cormac Costello and again Connolly in the second-half, the scoreline could have been far worse for Monaghan. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHODublin actually struggled early on and it took 25 minutes for them to shake off a determined Monaghan side who were defending in numbers and slowing down the tempo of the game.With the teams level at three points apiece, Diarmuid Connolly scored a quick breakaway goal, with his first contribution from general play giving the Dubs their first score from play in the game thus far.Over the next six minutes though Dublin outscored Monaghan by 1-3 to no score – A Bernard Brogan goal on 27 minutes contributing to a nine point lead. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHOAs the Monaghan team filtered back into their defence, they left the Dublin half-backs and midfield with far too much space, and the direct running of James McCarthy, Jonny Cooper and Michael Darragh Macauley in particular allowed the Dubs to maintain their nine-point lead going in at the interval.Rory Beggan’s late 45′ and a long-distance effort from Dick Clerkin, were the only scores Monaghan could manage from the 18th minute when Conor McManus’ effort had levelled the scoring.With Monaghan’s two key scoring threats; McManus and Kieran Hughes finding themselves further and further afield, the Ulster men were in need of a change of tactics going into the second 35 minutes. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHODublin burst straight back into their stride again after the break, with Paul Flynn and Connolly slotting a point each within a minute.In fact it took 17 minutes for Monaghan to score their first from play in the second-half, with Dick Clerkin again being the man to step up as he had for their last score in the later stages of the opening half.As Malachy O’Rourke’s, by now disheartened and frustrated side, were forced to open up and attack; Dublin’s forwards were then allowed extra space to manoeuvre. In all ten Dublin players scored, eight of which being forwards.Monaghan never gave up, Colin Walshe, Drew Wylie and Conor McManus can all be happy with their individual performances, but last year’s Ulster champions still have a lot of improving to do in order to compete with the likes of Dublin. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHONext up for Jim Gavin’s team is Donegal, but with just two games remaining in this year’s championship his team have not yet been tested – but are any of the remaining three teams capable of testing the Dubs? Scorers for Dublin: Bernard Brogan 1-6 (0-5f); Diarmuid Connolly 1-2 (0-1f); Alan Brogan 0-3, Eoghan O’Gara, Dean Rock, Paul Flynn 0-2 each; Jonny Cooper, Kevin McManamon, Stephen Cluxton (0-1 45′), Cormac Costello 0-1 each. Scorers for Monaghan: Conor McManus (0-3f) 0-6; Dick Clerkin, Kieran Hughes (0-2f) 0-2 each; Rory Beggan (0-1 45′) 0-1.DUBLIN1. Stephen Cluxton (Parnells)2. Michael Fitzsimons (Cuala)3. Rory O’Carroll (Kilmacud Crokes)4. Philly McMahon (Ballymun Kickhams)5. James McCarthy (Ballymun Kickhams)6. Jonny Cooper (Na Fianna)7. Nicky Devereux (Ballinteer St John’s)8. Michael Darragh Macauley (Ballyboden St Enda’s)9. Cian O’Sullivan (Kilmacud Crokes)10. Paul Flynn (Fingallians)11. Kevin McManamon (St Jude’s)12. Diarmuid Connolly (St Vincent’s)13. Alan Brogan (Oliver Plunkett’s / Eoghan Rua)14. Eoghan O’Gara (Templeogue Synge Street)15. Bernard Brogan (Oliver Plunkett’s / Eoghan Rua)Subs:18. Cormac Costello (Whitehall Colmcille) for McManamon (44)21. Dean Rock (Ballymun Kickhams) for O’Sullivan (48)28. Jack McCaffrey (Clontarf) for Cooper (52)25. Paddy Andrews (St Brigid’s) for O’Gara (54)19. Darren Daly (Fingal Ravens) for McMahon (57)26. Paul Mannion (Kilmacud Crokes) for B.Brogan (64) Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHOMONAGHAN1. Rory Beggan (Scotstown)17. Ryan Wylie (Ballybay)3. Drew Wylie (Ballybay)4. Colin Walshe (Doohamlet)5. Dessie Mone (Clontibret)6. Vinny Corey (Clontibret)7. Fintan Kelly (Clones)8. Dick Clerkin (Currin)9. Darren Hughes (Scotstown)18. Kieran Duffy (Latton)22. Stephen Gollogly (Carrickmacross)12. Kieran Hughes (Scotstown)23. Padraig Donaghy (Donaghmoyne )14. Chris McGuinness (Ballybay)15. Conor McManus (Clontibret)Subs:11. Paul Finlay (Ballybay) for Donaghy (H/T)25. Jack McCarron (Currin) for McGuinness (41)21. Gavin Doogan (Magheracloone) for Gollogly (50)2. Conor Boyle (Clontibret) for Duffy (59)24. Eoin Duffy (Latton) for Clerkin (59)19. Conor Galligan (Monaghan Harps) for Kelly (67)Referee: Martin Duffy (Sligo).Ciarán Sheehan impresses as he plays full game on Carlton debut‘Every player wants to start’ – Henry Shefflin on the view from the bench