Think Wood Pellets are Green? Think Again.

Issue Brief
May 19, 2015

Biomass is often described as a clean, renewable fuel and a greener alternative to coal and other fossil fuels for producing electricity. But recent science shows that many forms of biomass—especially from forests—produce higher carbon emissions compared to fossil fuels. In particular, a growing body of peer-reviewed, scientific studies shows that burning wood from whole trees in power plants to produce electricity can increase carbon emissions relative to fossil fuels for many decades—anywhere from 35 to 100 years. This time period is significant: climate policy imperatives require dramatic short-term reductions in greenhouse gases, and these emissions will persist in the atmosphere well past the time when significant reductions are needed.