Japan Fires Up Energy Output From Biomass

Japan Fires Up Energy Output From Biomass

As the sun sets on Japan’s solar energy boom, companies and investors are rushing into wood-burning biomass projects to lock in still-high government subsidies.
More than 800 projects have already won government approval, offering 12.4 gigawatts of capacity—equal to 12 nuclear power stations and nearly double Japan’s 2030 target for biomass in its basic energy policy, Reuters reported.
The sheer number of projects has raised questions about how they will all find sufficient fuel, mostly shipped in from countries like Canada and Vietnam, while some experts question the environmental credentials of such large-scale plants.
The projects approved to date that use wood fuel would need the equivalent of up to 60 million tons of wood pellets, compared with global output of 24 million tons in 2014, said Takanobu Aikawa, a senior researcher at Japan’s Renewable Energy Institute.
"Other fuels such as local forest thinned woods or palm kernel shells from Indonesia and Malaysia would not make up the shortfall," he added. Biomass plants generate energy by burning fuels and releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. They qualify as renewable because plants absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, with a lifespan of years rather than the millions of years needed to make fossil fuels such as coal.


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