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Burning wood for energy remains a, well, hot topic

By District Energy posted 11-05-2019 12:25


David Brooks, Granite Geek


Whether it’s good or bad to burn wood to create heat and/or electricity is a contentious topic that has been featured here more than once.

It has risen to the fore again in New Hampshire because of the shutdown of some biomass electricity plants up north as part of a long battle over power payments, and also because of debate around Dartmouth’s proposal to switch much of the campus to wood-fueled district heating. NHPR has a nice overview of the complexities of the Dartmouth plan here.

One thing that’s clear is that burning wood only to produce electricity doesn’t work economically and probably not environmentally. Biomass power has to be “co-generation” – producing both electricity and heat – to make sense. Since it’s hard to move heat, that means you have to find a use for hot air or water very close to the power plant.

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