– by Josh Schlossberg, The Biomass Monitor
A new report warns of the potential worsening of climate change from logging Canadian forests for electricity and heat, and recommends a “precautionary approach” regarding the expansion of biomass energy.
Forest Biomass Energy Policy in the Maritime Provinces, written by Jamie Simpson for the Halifax, Nova Scotia-based East Coast Environmental Law, evaluates environmental impacts from existing and proposed bioenergy facilities in eastern Canada, with concerns including: inaccurate carbon accounting, an increase in logging, a decrease in forest productivity and soil health, and loss of biodiversity.
Biomass energy is a “polarizing issue,” said Aaron Ward, executive director of East Coast Environmental Law, “compounded by the fact that the public doesn’t have easy access to public information to help educate themselves on the costs and benefits.”
The recent uptick in bioenergy is “driven almost entirely” by policy decisions spurring the development of fossil fuel alternatives, according to the report, with regulations failing to accurately assess environmental tradeoffs.
The report tracks seven biomass power facilities in the Maritime region. Two facilities in Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Power Inc., a 60 megawatt facility in Port Hawkesbury, and a 30 megawatt facility in Brooklyn, make up approximately 4% of the province’s electricity. Four biomass power facilities in New Brunswick generate 160 megawatts, while a wood and oil burning facility in Prince Edward Island generates 1.2 megawatts.