The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources released a new set of strict standards for biomass in early May that have the potential to cut subsidies for developing plants. According to these new requirements, all qualifying biomass plants must generate power at 50 percent efficiency to qualify for one-half Renewable Energy credit (REC) per MWh, and 60 percent for one full REC. These new standards are up from the previous 25 percent efficiency requirements. Plants will also be required to analyze lifecycle emissions to demonstrate at least 50 percent reductions over 20 years.
These decisions were largely influenced by the oft-debated 2010 Manomet Center for Conversion Sciences study, which determined that biomass electricity is not carbon neutral and not effective for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. According to Manomet, biomass plants release more CO2 for every kilowatt of energy produced than most fossil fuel. Essentially, we would be removing trees that “catch” carbon from entering the atmosphere, and burning them creates an even larger CO2 imbalance or “debt.”
These findings have been heavily debated. Dr. William Strauss of FutureMetrics issued a retort, “How Manomet Got it Backwards,” in which he explains that the Manomet argument is based on a debt-then-dividend assumption, where a debt is incurred when CO2 is released from burning trees and then repaid as trees gather carbon during a growth cycle. “The Manomet study’s logic essentially begins with a full grown tree, then that tree is harvested and used for energy while its stored carbon is released as CO2 (the debt), and then they continue to watch the empty spot where the tree was for 30 to 50 years while a new tree grows in its place. Only after that regrowth is the carbon debt repaid (the dividend).”
Read more at:://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2012/05/massachusetts-sets-strict-regulations-for-biomass-will-this-influence-further-restrictions