Greenhouse gas reduction
Why Biomass energy is good for reducing greenhouse gas emissions
Burning biomass for energy emits carbon that is part of the continuous exchange of carbon between the biosphere and the atmosphere. In contrast, fossil fuel emissions represent a linear flow of carbon from geological stores to the atmosphere. Therefore, the effect on the atmospheric GHG concentrations of switching from fossil fuels to biomass cannot be determined by comparing CO2 emissions at the point of combustion.
Biomass energy use is considered near carbon neutral.
New Zealand Government policy
The New Zealand Government has signed the Paris Agreement setting climate change targets. Government does not have any plant on how New Zealand's target is to be achieved but has released an internal paper setting out options. Read more here. The Government position is that the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and forestry will delivery greenhouse gas reduction and what is not met will be covered by the purchase of international trading credits.
NZ is producing something in the order of 81.1 Mt CO2-e per year (2014 data). Of that, waste is responsible for 4.1 Mt. These emissions are primarily from landfills and some from wastewater treatment.
New Zealand has signed up in the Paris agreement to reduce the emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030
The Royal Society has written a report on the transition options 'Climate change mitigation options for New Zealand'
The Bioenergy association position on greenhouse gas emission reduction is that instead of purchasing international trading credits that greater value would be obtained from that funding by investment in domestic mitigation. The Association has undertaken analysis on the level of mitigation that could be deliverd from the bioenergy sector. These are covered in the reports below.
Understanding New Zealand's GHG emission profile
(Webinar presented by Dr Martin Atkins and Dr Tim Walmsley , Waikato University at 10.00am, on 9 May 2016)
This webinar presentation focuses on helping participants fain a fuller understanding of NZ's current emissions profile by source and sector (e.g., process heat, electricity, transport, agriculture). It is important to bear in mind that reducing GHG emissions will have negative trade-offs, in greater or lesser degrees, depending on the strategic pathway followed. View webinar.
GHG reduction by use of biogas technologies
(Information Sheet 31)
Methane from organic waste is 23 times a greater contributor to GHG than CO2. Tools to collect methane and process it to avoid GHG emissions are proven and already available in NZ. This produces biogas which can be used to generate electricity; be a source of heat; and be used as a replacement fuel in vehicles engines. May of these applications are also economic when the energy is used to reduce on-site operating costs. Read the full document.
GHG reduction by use of wood energy
(Information Sheet 32)
The Bioenergy Association has investigated the opportunities for switching from fossil fuels to wood fuel for heat supply, and assessed the contribution this could make to greenhouse gas emissions. Three scenarios have been developed of what would have to occur to get greater levels of greenhouse gas mitigation. This information sheet summarises the options and suggests some policy actions. Read the full document.
GHG reduction by use of biofuels in transport
(Information Sheet 33)
In 2014, transport used 36% (256PJ) of New Zealand's energy supply and release 12:7 million tonnes of CO2e which amounts to 40% of the GHG emissions from the NZ energy sector. Biofuels provide an opportunity to reduce those emissions as transport moves to be a mix of electric, biofuels and fossil fuels with each fuel type being most suited for different applications. This will also be a transition as the emerging advanced technologies are adopted by the market. Some retailed vehicle fuels already include a component of bioethanol or biodiesel and bulk purchases are available through NZ. Currently bioethanol is made from whey by Anchor Ethanol and biodiesel is manufactured by Greenfuels NZ, by Gull from used cooking oil, and by Z Energy from tallow. Read the full document.