When biomass is grown it stores up carbon dioxide in a process called photosynthesis. When biomass is burnt to produce energy, it releases this store of carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide released is then soaked back up by other biomass ‘crops’. The cycle continues on like this with biomass crops capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and offsetting the carbon dioxide produced when biomass crops are fired for energy production.
A carefully managed biomass process will typically lead to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions exceeding 80%. This figure is still correct even when applied to imported biomass. It is Bord na Móna’s aim to develop an indigenous source of biomass. However, these ‘crops’ take time grow to maturity, so we must look further afield for a supply in the interim if we are to continue reducing our carbon footprint.
The firing of biomass for energy results in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Before the biomass material ever gets to the firing stage it must go through production, processing and finally, transportation to the power plant. During each of these phases CO2 is produced.
When Bord na Móna is considering our carbon profile with respect to biomass, every stage of the process must be considered. Independently calculated figures have demonstrated that the biomass we use typically leads to a reduction of 80% in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
There is a weight of scientific evidence telling us that carbon dioxide emissions are contributing to global warming. It is widely accepted that a rise in global temperatures above 2 degrees would be detrimental to life on our planet. Given that carbon dioxide is contributing to global warming it is imperative that we reduce carbon dioxide emissions wherever possible.
Bord na Móna is committed to the reduction of carbon dioxide across our power generation systems. We are looking at more sustainable forms of energy generation in the form of solar, landfill gas, wind, waste to energy, and of course, biomass. More than this, we are also looking at ways to reduce carbon emissions in our Fuels business with the development of a biomass briquette.