UGA study says US pellets are helping to cut EU greenhouse emissions

A new study by the University of Georgia has found that European power plants burning wood pellets imported from the southern US to generate electricity are emitting 50% less greenhouse gases than when traditional fossil fuels are used.

European power utilities must meet a legal mandate by 2020 which requires at least 20% of all energy consumed in the European Union to come from renewable sources.

Environmental Research Letters recently published findings by a researcher with UGA's Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources which found that wood pellets are putting facilities on course to do this, which is good for both Europe and the US' import and forestry industries.

Puneet Dwivedi, an assistant professor of sustainability sciences in the Warnell School, studied greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, which has a target of increasing the amount of energy consumed from renewable sources by 2020 to 15%.

These renewable sources include energy products derived from woody feedstock, such as wood pellets.

The study focused on greenhouse gases emitted from a power plant in Selby which recently announced plans to generate about 1,000MW of electricity using imported wood pellets.

Dwivedi found that not only did electricity produced by wood pellets meet emissions standards but also as the power plant's capacity rose, so did the greenhouse gas savings, meaning higher capacity plants would benefit from using wood pellets.

Exports of wood pellets from the southern US are predicted to increase from 1.5 to 5.2 million tonnes between 2012 and 2015 as European mandates are implemented.

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