wood pellets

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Minister of Fire
Nov 25, 2012
The following is a defense of the "greeness" of wood pellets by a major supplier, Enviva, to the overseas market. I can see how it is sustainable locally, but when you factor in the energy to ship overseas I have a tougher time. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who has a better understanding of this product life cycle

They make a claim about intermittency, which is the role of peaker plants. Anyone know how quickly you can fire up a wood pellet plant? I imagine the time lines are more like a coal plant, meaning they are not good for


"These nations see the benefits of using biomass energy, which offers a 74 to 85 percent lifecycle reduction of greenhouse gas emissions compared with coal, while providing a reliable source of energy that complements the intermittency of wind and solar energy. Sustainable sourcing is a key part of their commitment, presenting tremendous economic opportunities for North Carolina.

"Enviva is the world’s largest producer of industrial wood pellets used as fuel; we operate three production plants in North Carolina and are building a fourth. Enviva’s pellets, which we export through our terminals at the ports of Wilmington and Chesapeake, provide an alternative to help meet ambitious reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, while contributing to the the long-term health of working forests in North Carolina and throughout the Southeast.
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Staff member
Ime, a coal fire takes longer to get going than a pellet stove, but that could certainly be related to my experience level with both stoves.

I imagine both, really, the natural gas plant too, are built roughly the same way. Water tubes though the fire box where steam generated turns a turbine. I imagine the speed it ramps up is slower than natural gas, but faster than coal.


Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
SW Virginia
While I love the fact that manufacturing waste sawdust can be easily transformed into pellet fuel, like you I'm more skeptical of the sustainability of converting timber directly to pellets and shipping it overseas. Based on what I'm paying for pellets made from wood flooring production waste at $250/ton I'm also concerned that increased prices in the domestic market will drive former pellet burners to natural gas or other sources that are less sustainable, leaving many pellet stoves underutilized, which is also a sustainability issue when looking at life cycle costs.

It seems the best use of wood manufacturing waste would be onsite co-generation with heat used locally and power going to the grid, negating all the losses due to conversion and transport.
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