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Re: [GreenYes] Methane from biomass -- GHG neutral ?
I would further argue that the GHG neutrality depends in large part on the production method of the biomass.  If you convert forestland to monoculture farming, then use petroleum-intensive production processes (e.g., large machinery, chemical fertilizers and pesticides) to grow the biomass used as an energy feedstock, it is not going to be GHG-neutral.  

Many (though not all) studies of the ethanol fuel cycle, for example, suggest that production of ethanol from corn in the United States actually uses more fossil fuel energy as inputs than the ethanol output yields.  (David Pimental at Cornell has done detailed studies, which have been attacked by USDA.  Pimental is supposedly in the process of rebutting the USDA assessment.)

You should evaluate the sustainability and environmental claims of biomass energy carefully, as it will vary depending on feedstock, place of production, and method of production.

-Doug Koplow

Doug Koplow
Earth Track, Inc.
2067 Massachusetts Avenue - 4th Floor
Cambridge, MA  02140
Tel:  617/661-4700
Fax: 617/354-0463

>>> "Reindl, John" <> 01/23/02 10:05AM >>>
In the technical literature that I have read, it has been stated that CO2
from biomass is GHG neutral, in that the CO2 would have been produced by

However, methane from solid waste buried in a landfill is not what nature
would have produced, and therefore, the literature says that methane from
biomass in a landfill is not GHG neutral. In fact, methane, over a 100 time
frame, has 21 times the GHG impact of CO2, and, therefore, the production of
methane in a landfill has a very considerable GHG impact.

I have not been able to find any documented studies on the capture
efficiencies of methane extraction systems in landfills. The range of
estimates is generally that the capture systems can recover 50-75% of the
gas, with some estimates ranging higher.

John Reindl, Recycling Manager
Dane County, WI 

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Muna Lakhani [] 
> Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2002 2:40 PM
> To: Reindl, John
> Cc: 
> Subject: Re: [GreenYes] Solid waste news from Scandinavia
> Reindl, John wrote:
> > Sweden has an active waste to energy recovery program
> > which is expanding.
> >  Instead, the group notes that over half the material
> > can be recycled and believes that incineration with energy 
> recovery has less
> > of an environmental impact than landfills. A report several 
> years ago for
> > the Norwegian EPA found that the major environmental impact 
> of landfills was
> > the release of methane gas and the subsequent global 
> climate change. 
> Both of the above are frightening - all our research shows that
> incineration is worse than landfill by far, given that dioxins and
> furans are produced, and accumulate in living organisms, with dioxins
> the size of a pea being able to "give" cancer to over 100 000 
> people...
> the heat (CO2) from incineration is also problematic, and we 
> should not
> forget that methane as produced from biomass, is GHG neutral, so the
> incinerator is far worse for climate change..
> also: if you look at the energy balance, the energy one would 
> get would
> be far, far less than either the energy used in making that waste, or
> the energy we would save by recycling...
> what do others think about incineration?
> best wishes
> Muna
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