As Louisiana increases its reliance on biomass, Europe reduces its reliance on alternate energy sources

In Louisiana, renewable energy accounts for below 4 percent of the overall electricity generation. Louisiana is rich in biomass resources, with wood and wood waste accounting for over two-thirds of the state’s renewable energy. Louisiana is moving away from fossil fuels and toward green energy, which is a significant shift for a state with a long history of using them. Environmentalists, on the other hand, are skeptical that some of the proposed solutions will be implemented.

Biomass, which is renewable organic energy derived from animals and plants, has been promoted as a green energy source in Europe for decades. Wood pellets derived from biomass are collected and produced in the southern part of the United States before being transported to other countries, the majority of which are in the United Kingdom, where they are burned for electricity.

The Environment Committee of the European Parliament recently issued strong guidelines against burning woody biomass. Most woody biomass might no longer be deemed a renewable resource under the new standards, and would no longer qualify for renewable energy incentives or subsidies under the European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive.

The ultimate decision on biomass burning will be made in September by the European Parliament. If the verdict is upheld, the biomass sector in Europe is going to be severely harmed, leaving the expanding biomass companies in the southern part of the United States without a crucial consumer base.

While Europe’s links to the industry are fading, Louisiana officials want to emphasize biomass as a carbon-neutral option for the oil and gas sectors.

There are four wood pellet mills in Louisiana, which is home to a substantial logging and forestry industry. As per Louisiana Forestry Association, forestland spans about half of the state, rendering timber the state’s most important agricultural product, generating more than $14 million in annual forestry severance taxes.

Although environmental activist Dean Wilson, who is the executive director of Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, believes Louisiana’s biomass sector hasn’t been as exploitative as others, he still has reservations about the technique in general.

“I’m still apprehensive about the idea of burning wood for energy because I’m constantly dealing with lack of compliance and corruption,” Wilson added. “There’s a chance we’ll start destroying the planet’s woods.”

Sustainable forestry and best management techniques, according to State Rep. Jack McFarland, R-Jonesboro, will prevent excessive deforestation in the state. Biomass harvesting is environmentally friendly, according to McFarland, president of his family’s forestry company.

Bioenergy created from agricultural harvests and forest products is renewable and carbon-neutral, according to House Bill 708, which McFarland drafted in this legislative session. The plan was approved by the Legislature overwhelmingly and signed into law by the governor earlier this month. It will be implemented on August 1st.

Trees left over from a harvest, harvested trees of inferior grade, and trees destroyed by harsh weather events and natural disasters would all be classified as biomass under the new regulation. Bagasse, a waste product from sugarcane processing, would be added to the list of carbon-neutral and renewable resources in the state.

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