Biomass energy not necessarily carbon-neutral


The EU currently gets 7.5% of its energy from biomass. A report by the European Environment Agency cautions this needs to be done right to avoid adverse environmental effects, especially when land is used to grow crops for biomass and rather than creating biomass energy from processing leftovers.

Bioenergy is often considered ‘carbon neutral’, as the carbon dioxide released in combustion is assumed to be compensated by the CO2 absorbed during plant growth. However, as shown in this report, indirect land use change can negate any greenhouse gas savings from biofuel production based on energy crops. This is due to the displacement of crop production onto previously unused land, which can lead to the conversion of forests and savannah to agriculture. Such land use change harms biodiversity and increases greenhouse gas emissions.