Burning wood pellets to produce electricity is a costly alternative, University of Georgia researchers have found.

Bin Mei, a professor in UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, teamed with Purdue University professor Michael Wetzstein to analyze the dollars and cents of this type of biomass burning.

Wood pellets are widely used in Europe to produce electricity on an industrial scale.

European countries have turned to wood pellets as one alternative in a drive to reduce consumption of fossil fuels such as coal.

 

But that switch carries a high price, both in the cost of the wood pellets and in the cost of retooling coal plants so that they can burn wood pellets,.

In Europe, governments generously subsidize such biomass electric generation.

The United States would have to do the same, or customers would have to pay higher energy costs, the authors said in a research paper published in the journal Energy Economics.

The additional costs include not only the price of wood pellets, but the cost of converting plants so that they could burn pellets as well as coal.

Writer: Lee Shearer