Original by Scott Nichols

I am strongly in favor of Dartmouth College’s proposed biomass heating project, though it is not hard for me to understand why others feel differently. Wood energy is a nuanced subject, more so than most people realize. Some may read a study that addresses one place, time and application of wood energy and they apply that study’s findings to all forms of wood energy.

For instance, the Dartmouth proposal is often compared to the production of wood pellets in the southern U.S., which are then shipped to the huge Drax power plant in England or elsewhere in Europe. Those who oppose the Dartmouth project often suggest watching Burned: Are Trees the New Coal?, a well-produced documentary full of scary music, smoky air and images of clear-cuts that attempts to raise money to stop this transfer of wood to Europe. For the unknowing, dread feelings about wood energy would be hard to avoid after a viewing.

In reality, the Dartmouth project has almost nothing in common with what is seen in that documentary.

There is an enormous efficiency difference between power plants and heating plants. Heating plants are about three times more efficient than power plants, which makes a huge difference in carbon dioxide emission calculations. I have also seen many comparisons to residential wood stoves. Comparing the combustion controls on a chip boiler like the one Dartmouth would use to a home wood stove is like comparing a modern automobile to a horse and buggy. When special interest groups create extreme data examples as scare tactics, they are often comparing apples to oranges.

Look at the whole article here: VNEWS