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FAQQuestions and Answers

 

Common Queries and Questions

Pellet fuels (or pellets) are fuels made from compressed organic matter, or, biomass. Pellets can be made from any one of five general categories of biomass: industrial waste and co-products, food waste, agricultural residues, energy crops and virgin lumber. Wood pellets are the most common type of pellet fuel and are generally made from compacted sawdust and related industrial wastes from the milling of lumber, manufacture of wood products and furniture, and construction.

  • What is biomass or bioenergy?
  • Who uses bioenergy, and why do they use it?
  • Is bioenergy good for the environment?

Help & Knowledge

  • What is biomass or bioenergy?

    Bioenergy is renewable fuel made from organic matter that reduces carbon emissions.
  • Who uses bioenergy, and why do they use it?

    Power producers seeking to decrease their dependence on fossil fuels and reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants are the primary users of bioenergy. European governments have adopted aggressive, mandatory renewable energy targets for 2020. Several countries, including the United Kingdom, have put additional regulations in place that are designed to phase out many coal plants altogether. Existing coal-fired infrastructure can be converted to use wood-based bioenergy.
  • Is bioenergy good for the environment?

    Yes. According to the UK Environment Agency, switching from coal to bioenergy results in a reduction of between 74% and 90% in net carbon emissions. The main reason for this is the carbon cycle. When wood bioenergy is burned, the carbon that the wood recently absorbed during growth is released into the atmosphere. In contrast, fossil fuels like natural gas or coal add to overall levels of CO2 in the atmosphere because the carbon released would have remained underground indefinitely.
  • Does bioenergy cost more than other renewables? Does it cost more than coal?

    Bioenergy is one of the most cost-effective renewable energy resources. The cost of bioenergy power generation in Europe is less than the cost of offshore wind, solar thermal and solar PV. In addition to the low generation costs, bioenergy also has low “grid level” costs. These are the costs incurred by energy transmission companies to cope with the intermittent nature of other renewable resources. Bioenergy does currently cost more than coal, however as both the industry matures and more governments place a price on carbon emissions, this gap will narrow substantially.
  • Are there other feasible, cost-effective alternatives available that could facilitate the transition away from coal?

    Bioenergy is one of the most cost-effective forms of renewable energy, second only to on-shore wind. However, bioenergy is distinct from other forms of renewable energy because it provides reliable, base load power that is available when needed, not only when the wind blows or the sun shines. This enables reliable operation under all conditions and guarantees both that the environment is protected and the lights will stay on.
  • Is burning trees for electricity inefficient because of the moisture in the wood?

    During the manufacturing process for wood pellets, moisture content is reduced from approximately 50% to approximately 6%, making the pellets more economical to ship and more efficient to burn.
  • What is sustainability?

    For the wood pellet industry, sustainability means ensuring that we are able to produce wood bioenergy without harming or depleting the environment or compromising this resource for future generations. Wood is one of the world’s greatest renewable resources, but because we need forests to thrive over the long term, we demand sustainable practices from our suppliers
  • What are some examples of sustainable practices?

    Best Management Practices (BMPs) are implemented at the state level under the authority of the Clean Water Act. They mandate road-building rules, treatment of run-off, establishment of buffer zones, and other time-tested measures. In the legal logging of bottomland and wetland ecosystems, for instance, loggers use specialized equipment and procedures to minimize environmental impacts and prevent soil compaction, rutting and erosion.
  • How are wood pellets manufactured?

    USIPA members extract moisture from ground wood fiber to produce small cylindrical particles of uniform size that burn efficiently in the facilities that utilities use to produce electricity.
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