The German Consulate in Atlanta hosted a conference on the possibilities of biomass. Georgia is a major player in the biomass industry with the largest wood pellet plant in the country and many other wood pellet plants besides that. Biomass is not limited to wood but the Southeast through decades of wise pine tree forest farm management is poised to remain the leader. Although most of the conference focused on the wood pellet market, other forms of biomass are all part of the equation. Biomass has its challenges. Since it has emissions where does it fall in the EPA Clean Power Plan? The EU is reviewing the emissions also. How much land do you dedicate to growing food for fuel vs crops? All interesting discussions.
The most controversial information presented was by a UGA professor of Economics who compared the cost of wood pellets to coal. Unfortunately, he did not add externalities into the equation. For instance, he did not consider the cost of ruining mountains or habitats. He did not consider the health costs derived from burning coal. Based on his numbers coal came out by far cheaper. However, societies need to decide what values need to be placed on items before you just compare price. For instance, how do you put a cost on mountain tops? Currently there are no monetary values placed on nature but most people would agree that there is some monetary value that should be placed on it. The answer lies somewhere between free and priceless.
To read the tweets in order start at the bottom and read up.