Industrial Wood Waste Used to Generate Power

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Industrial wood waste is one of the leading sources of electricity. If you knew this, I’m seriously impressed. If not, don’t worry — you’re about to be a whole lot more informed. Power generated using biomass is creating power from organic materials. These materials include wood residue, aquatic plants, animal waste, and solid waste.

Biomass can be burned to generate power. It can also become gasified and sent to a boiler where electricity is generated. It’s important to note that biomass has been used for a long time toward energy creation. In recent times, biomass has gained momentum for encouraging environmental stewards and global/economic sustainability.

Wood Waste in Canada:

Since 2014, Canada has had around 70 biomass-generating power plants. Most of these plants depend on wood, wood by-products, and landfill gas.

Moreover, places that have large amounts of biomass usually have paper, pulp, and forestry industries. Canada has a large supply of renewable biomass and access to by-products of the forest industry.

Why Biomass is Good for the Environment:

Biomass is considered carbon neutral because the carbon dioxide released from burning or decomposing it,  equals all the carbon dioxide that trees and plants accumulate from the environment during their lifespan.

If the trees that are harvested as biomass are replanted at the same speed as the wood is burned, the new trees take up the carbon dioxide that was produced by the decomposition or combustion.

Why Biomass Can be “Bad”:

Burning biomass in excess can ultimately lead to air pollution. Additionally, carbon is released from transporting and harvesting biomass.

It might seem like biomass is contradictory in its pros and cons. Therefore, Biomass should be repurposed in responsible, economically viable ways to ensure that benefits far exceed potential negatives.

The bottom line:

There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to biomass.

  • Advantage: They generate power on demand.
  • Disadvantage: Fuel availability and transportation costs make the viability of this low.

In conclusion, sharing biomass means that in theory, there is little of it available. Sawmills convert 45 per cent of every log into lumber. The rest of the sawmill waste (consisting of wood chips, sawdust, and shavings), can be usable as feedstock in biomass plants.

Additionally, this feedstock can be consumed by the paper and pulp industry, or converted into wood pellets. Hence, This creates competition between users and limits the amount of wood biomass that’s available for electricity.

Transporting biomass over long distances is challenging because biomass has lower energy density than other materials. However, if consumers want more leverage over their resources, concessions have to be made. Market inconveniences have to be within the framework of global sustainability. Ultimately, there is no “perfect” solution.


About Author

Nadia Zaidi

Nadia Zaidi is a freelance multimedia journalist whose work is featured in several print and digital publications. She previously developed and hosted a show on youth issues for community television, and produces short-documentaries for public outreach. She holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism from Ryerson University.

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