Global Warming Web Sites:
    NRDC: Florida Impact
    EPA: Florida Impact
    UCS: U.S. Gulf Coast
    EPRI: Oil, Gas, Biomass
    Public Opinion Survey
    Some Fun With CO2

Return to Our Homepage

Read about the potential impact of Global Warming in your individual State:

Global Warming Research

[ Download Draft of the Full Report -- PDF Document ]

As a Global Warming/Greenhouse Gas mitigation strategy, co- firing energy crop biomass at existing coal-fired power plants achieves the greatest reduction of any renewable energy resource option, where:
Electricity produced from biomass fuel is carbon cycle neutral -- just like wind or solar energy.
However, unlike other renewable energy options, tree energy crop biomass also sequesters carbon (a sustainable long-term storing) through the trees' root system.
Co-firing energy crop biomass fuel in base load power plants directly displaces/reduces coal use, which achieves almost two times the Green-house gas reduction benefit of placing wind or solar power facilities on an intergrated electricity power grid.

Below ground Carbon Sequestration of Tree Energy Crops: In December 2001, Common Purpose/University of Florida excavated 14 month old whole eucalyptus trees at our Energy Crop Plantation. The trees averaged ~20 feet in height, and had ~ 3 inch trunk diameters at their base.

The proceedure used a Caterpillar back-hoe to excavate whole trees including their root system.

Above & Below Ground Tree Weight

Tree Component:
Stem Mass
Leaf Mass
Branch Mass
  Above Ground Mass
Main Root Mass
Feather Root Mass   (1)
  Total Root Mass
Total Whole Tree Mass

Significance of Findings: While the overwhelming "main- stream" scientific research concludes that that the combustion of biomass fuels (e.g., in our case, the harvested above ground mass of energy crop trees) is carbon cycle neutral, our research clearly shows that this does not tell the complete story. In using harvested energy crop trees as fuel at electricity generation power plants, an additional benefit occurs at the agriculture source of the trees -- through long-term carbon sequestration below ground.

The overall "net impact on carbon emissions" of using tree energy crops can be illustrated in the following formula:

Energy Crop Carbon Component:
CO2 Emissions Impact
Carbon Released in Fuel Combustion
Minus, Carbon Stored in Tree Fuel
Equals, Fuel Carbon Cycle Neutrality
Minus, Carbon Stored Below Ground
Overall Net Reduction

To estimate the amount of below ground sequestration that will occur through energy crop use, we can take the above University of Florida measurements -- dividing the percent of below ground weight of whole trees (i.e., 38.45%) by the percent of above ground weight (i.e., 61.55%). By doing this simple math, we can estimate that for every 10 green tons of energy crop fuel harvested (i.e., the above ground mass of the trees), that approximately 6.3 green tons of biomass will be sequestered below ground.

Percent of Below Ground
Carbon Storing to Energy Crop Fuel Use
Conversion of Tree Weights to Carbon and CO2 Sequestration: Based on a fuels analysis performed by the Southern Research Institute on our energy crop trees, the percent carbon content in green (as received) tree fuel is ~25%. A final step is to use the molecular weights of Carbon and O2 to calculate the Carbon to CO2 conversion factor of 3.6667 2.

Example Calculation of Carbon Sequestration & CO2 Reductions Through Tree Energy Crop Fuel Use

Harvested Energy Crops
Green Tons
Trees' Root System Weight
Green Tons
Ground Carbon Sequestration
CO2 Reductions
3.67x Conversion

Comparing Biomass Co-firing To Other Renewable Energy Options: As discussed in out Outreach Section and also the Union of Concerned Scientists' White Paper:
Biomass co-firing will directly reduce/displace coal use in base load, high capacity factor (~70 to 80% range) power plants.
Renewable Energy options such as wind and solar have much lower capacity factors (~30 to 35% range) as a result of natural resource limitations (i.e., sunlight).
Implementing technologies such as solar energy will not generally displace generation from lagre MW coal-fired units, but rather displace generation from smaller natural gas fired peaking and intermediate load units.

As the below information supplied by the Electric Power Resarch Institute (EPRI) reflects, displacing coal use through biomass co-firing has approximately twice the CO2 benefit of wind or solar power's displacement of natural gas generation.

Energy Source:
Fossil Carbon Intensity (lb-C/MBtu)
Natural Gas
Wood, Solar, Wind

1 In excavating trees, small feather roots were left in the ground. According to University of Florida Scientists, approximately 7 to 10% of a tree's total root system is comprised of small feather roots.
2 The molecular weight of Carbon to CO2 (C + O2 = CO2) equals 12 lbs. of carbon + 32 lbs. of O2 = 44 lbs. of CO2. Dividing 44 lbs. of CO2 by 12 lbs. of Carbon, results in a Carbon to CO2 conversion factor of 3.6667.