Making a difference with sustainably sourced biomass

Enviva’s port in Wilmington, NC, exports wood pellets to electrical power and warmth turbines about the entire world&nbsp

Interview with: John Keppler, Chairman and CEO, Enviva

July 7, 2021

The climate disaster requires urgent motion. If we are to meet global commitments to section out coal, cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and attain internet-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the entire world desires to embrace renewable electrical power.

Due to the fact its founding in 2004, Enviva’s sustainably sourced biomass – industrial wood pellets built from low-worth forest feedstock like thinnings, tops, limbs, and sawmill residues – has properly displaced a lot more than 16 million metric tonnes of coal, enabling its energy consumers to stay away from emitting 31 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This equates to eradicating much more than 3,519,688,984 gallons of gasoline.

Now, bioenergy accounts for all over 10 percent of the world’s principal electrical power source, pretty much double what it was when Enviva first commenced turning low-benefit wooden into vitality-dense, very low-moisture, and uniformly sized pellets that deliver balance, reliability, and overall flexibility in electricity generation.

The earth is embracing biomass at diverse premiums. Right now, bioenergy represents practically 60 percent of the European Union’s (EU) renewable electricity and is at present the premier renewable electricity supply in the EU. Now the US, wherever Enviva’s production functions are centered, is the primary exporter of wood pellets to Europe, and has the potential to source as substantially as 65 per cent of the EU’s import desire, representing a trade benefit of around $1.6bn for each yr. Fairly speaking, Europe is on a path to grow to be the 1st climate neutral continent by 2050.

Enviva’s Chairman and CEO John Keppler tells Environment Finance how this will only be achievable as a result of adverse emissions, a resolution enabled by woody biomass.


Which nations are top the pack when it comes to biomass use?
For formidable nations that have been mostly prosperous in lowering GHG emissions, seem to the Uk and Denmark, which aim to get rid of coal by 2030. In actuality, past calendar year, the planet witnessed the British isles full a report-breaking 67-working day interval with no burning coal many thanks in component to the recycling/repurposing of segments of grid infrastructure and the deployment of woody biomass.

Recent research demonstrates the United kingdom is midway to meeting its concentrate on of web-zero emissions by 2050. For countries that now have substantial dependencies, this sort of as Germany and Poland, coal may not be totally displaced in 10 many years, but both economies will be perfectly on their way to achieving web-zero carbon emissions by mid-century.

On top of that, Japan’s desire for wooden pellets is envisioned to increase by 33 % in 2021 by itself.


What position can bioenergy participate in in the international switch to renewable electricity and how does the use of biomass function in mixture with renewables these as wind, photo voltaic and hydrogen?
Wind and solar have a portion to perform, but they cannot clear up the world’s strength requirements all by by themselves. When it arrives to replacing fossil fuels for the two electrical power and warmth generation, the intermittency of these systems falls short. Which is where woody biomass comes in. Wood-centered bioenergy is a enhance to wind and photo voltaic, and when sourced responsibly, it is the only renewable, dependable, dispatchable, price tag-productive, minimal-carbon vitality source at present offered. What is extra, it can offer world wide power and heat generators with a drop-in different to fossil fuels that can be applied in strength systems that exist right now.

Enviva is a person of pretty several businesses that have the monitor history, the means, and the know-how to properly supply this essential reward globally.

When utilised to displace coal, sustainably sourced wooden pellets decrease GHG emissions by additional than 85 % on a lifecycle basis, and by much more than 70 per cent in comparison to all-natural fuel. As we go on to electric power down coal plants, governments must take into account converting those vegetation to renewable fuel use in an exertion to satisfy internationally recognised local climate targets of web-zero by 2050. In performing this, the present crops, grid relationship and the transport one-way links can all be repurposed and effectively recycled from coal to choice, renewable technologies. It will continue to keep expenditures down, folks utilized, and communities supported, and can deliver improve in coal-dependent countries immediately and at scale.

Biomass is also projected to play an essential role in the hydrogen economic system. The most evident route is to use biomass specifically to create hydrogen by gasification and thus prevent carbon emissions that are involved with organic gas. Even additional down the road, when surplus solar and wind could perhaps be used to develop hydrogen at scale, there will be an fascinating chance to produce aviation and other fuels with carbon seize of biomass that could final result in detrimental greenhouse fuel emissions.


How do you see the opportunity of BECCS (bioenergy with carbon seize and storage) when burning biomass alternatively of coal?
BECCS will be major in terms of the purpose biomass can play in lessening carbon emissions. We expect the role of wooden pellets in the electricity process to substantially evolve as we glimpse to exponentially decrease carbon emissions globally and BECCS is a person of the extremely few possibilities on the desk that can eliminate carbon from the ambiance. Once matured, BECCS could mark the starting of a new period for renewable, small-carbon gasoline purposes, one particular that will help economies to satisfy and exceed worldwide net zero targets even though continue to experiencing the positive aspects of market sectors like air travel and weighty goods transportation, which are difficult and incredibly high-priced to decarbonise.


What adjustments are needed for the steel field to totally embrace biomass to generate ‘green’ – aka carbon-neutral – steel?
‘Green steel’ will have an important part to perform in getting rid of the burning of coal and achieving global weather commitments. Biomass was to start with utilised for steel creation again in the 18th century and fell out of favour as coal became more affordable. It is nevertheless utilized in some scaled-down smelters these days, but for the steel industry to embrace biomass entirely, a amount of factors have to have to be addressed. Very first, current steel creation procedures need to have to be tailored to a gasoline with lower vitality density and framework.

This will involve tests and then, primarily based on results, employing modifications to the gas logistics and infeed systems. Steel producers will also require to be confident that they can resource adequate sustainable biomass of the suitable excellent to carry out their operations. Finally, these producers would need to see a sturdy demand from customers for green steel – which Enviva thinks is now there – transformed into agency contracts for lengthier-time period deliveries. As for timing, a lot of companies are already building this changeover. We think the next two to 3 yrs will be expended producing solutions for full implementation, which usually means inexperienced metal, at scale from biomass, could be recognized right before 2025.

Sustainably sourced wood pellets help reduce carbon emissions by more than 85 percent on a lifecycle basisSustainably sourced wood pellets assist decrease carbon emissions by additional than 85 percent on a lifecycle basis


What steps is Enviva getting to make certain that the forests it sources from are sustainably managed?
Regardless of whether it’s biomass for ability and heat generation, steel manufacturing or hydrogen generation – sustainability is vital. Carbon emissions have substantial damaging environmental impacts and tackling local weather alter via bioenergy will have to not occur at the expenditure of habitat destruction or damage to biodiversity and water top quality, to give just a number of examples.

Enviva’s overarching dedication to accountable wood sourcing is laid out in our international accountable sourcing coverage, our standing environmental pledge that retains us to the best standards of sustainability, integrity, forest stewardship and steady advancement. We do not source from outdated advancement forests, from shielded forests, or from forests that could be threatened by forest administration functions. The wood we acquire have to be sourced from sustainably managed forests and from land that will be returned to forest. All harvest functions should make use of greatest management methods and comply with federal and point out drinking water high-quality benchmarks.

Developed in 2016 and deployed in 2017, our market-main Keep track of & Trace (T&T) technologies has been our flagship system for open communication and has proven mission-important in checking, tracking, and reporting specifically exactly where all of Enviva’s wooden is sourced. The T&T programme allows Enviva to monitor and report on our offer chain as lower-benefit wooden travels by the truckload from the forest to the wood pellet production plant. This proprietary procedure equips our community with thorough insights into the origin of our feedstocks, which we routinely update and make obtainable to the public on our internet site.

In 2020 we worked to strengthen our inner processes to put together for our initial interior audit of our T&T regular, and in 2021 we will undertake our initially unbiased third-bash audit. We believe that the T&T standard supplies our stakeholders with essential data about feedstock sourcing and traceability, and in the long run we’d like to see other biomass producers adopt this regular as nicely. Hunting to expand and boost the traceability characteristics of T&T, in 2020 Enviva partnered with GoChain to pilot a system built to increase the traceability of sustainable biomass. GoChain is a blockchain corporation that drives the adoption of impactful engineering for the betterment of society and our habitat.

The pilot programme determined a decide on team of suppliers from Enviva’s wood sourcing locations in the US Southeast to observe many information features this kind of as forest tract areas, load weights, fibre commodity forms, and forest forms. Leveraging GoChain’s blockchain, Enviva was capable to watch the movement of wood fibre in genuine time from pick out forest tracts at the time of harvest to Enviva’s wood pellet output vegetation with a exceptional QR code. The preliminary pilot is among the largest-scale of blockchain software engineering to day in the world-wide biomass field.


What influenced your not too long ago announced approach to attain net-zero in your operations by 2030?
Sustainability is not just about dependable harvesting. Enviva is now using ways to drastically cut down the local climate impact of its own functions by committing to internet-zero carbon emissions by 2030. We strategy to reduce, do away with or offset all of our direct emissions. When it will come to the energy we consume in the system of our functions, the corporation options to source 100 per cent renewable energy by no later than 2030, with an interim goal of at minimum 50 percent by 2025. We’ll also be engaging with partners and other key stakeholders to handle emissions generated as portion of our offer chain. An instance of this is our partnership with Mitsui O.S.K. Strains (MOL), with whom we seek to create and deploy an environmentally helpful bulk provider to cut down the greenhouse fuel emissions in the ocean transportation of sustainable wooden pellets. Ultimately, we’ll be tracking and publishing our progress in reducing emissions per year. The environment is in will need of more renewable electrical power. Enviva is proud to be stepping up to deliver.

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