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Friday, September 11, 2009

Biomass power plants much cleaner than coal

From an article by Nick Halter in the Wausau Daily Herald:

A new biomass power plant in Rothschild would cut dependence on fossil fuels, reduce acid rain and be nearly carbon-neutral, according to studies and experts.

It's also a step, albeit a small one, toward Wisconsin reaching its goal of having 10 percent of all energy produced using renewable resources by 2015 -- a goal established in Gov. Jim Doyle's Clean Energy Wisconsin Plan.

We Energies announced plans Sept. 1 to build a $250 million power plant that burns low-quality and unusable wood and paper waste, powering the Domtar paper mill and providing electricity to homes in Wisconsin. The plant still needs state approval before construction can begin.

Burning wood is much cleaner than burning coal, the source of 70 percent of the electricity on Wisconsin's power grid, said Keith Reopelle, senior policy director for the environmental advocacy group Clean Wisconsin.

"I think that biomass will and needs to play an important role in replacing coal generation in Wisconsin and I think there will be a trend towards it, Reopelle said.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, burning wood is nearly carbon-neutral because the carbon dioxide generated during combustion is equal to the carbon dioxide the tree consumes over its life. But the process will remain carbon-neutral only if forestry companies that supply wood to the power plant replace the trees that they cut.

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