For years, environmentalists have touted biomass energy as a way to generate electricity and heat without adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Schools and companies around Vermont use wood chips to help heat their buildings and currently at least five larger, city-based biomass heating projects are in the works in Vermont.
But a study released last week has caused many people to think twice about the technology. The six-month study by the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences in Plymouth, Massachusetts was commissioned by the state of Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources and sets out to answer critical questions about using forest wood for energy.
Chris Recchia is Executive Director of the Biomass Energy Resource Center, a non-profit based in Montpelier that promotes biomass fuel projects around the country. He was a contributor to the Manomet study.
Tom Walker is an independent resource economist and Team Leader for the study.
They spoke with VPR’s Jane Lindholm about the study and the benefits and the shortcomings of biomass energy.