A: Low fuel cost is the main attraction of heating with woodchips and pellets. Unlike fuel oil, propane, and natural gas, solid biomass fuels have a history of stable prices that are comparatively unaffected by global economics and political events.
Biomass is a locally available fuel source that increases the region’s energy independence and security while stimulating the local economy by keeping energy dollars circulating in the region rather than exporting them. Using wood also helps to support the forest products industry, creating markets, and forestry and agriculture jobs in the surrounding region.
Modern community-scale biomass systems burn cleanly, with virtually no visible emissions or odors, and, compared with modern residential-scale wood and pellet stoves, with far less emissions of particulate matter (PM), an exhaust product of wood combustion known for its adverse effects on human respiratory health. For example, over the course of a winter season, the heating plant of a 200,000 square foot wood-heated school in a cold northern climate produces about the same amount of PM as five residential-scale wood stoves.
Burning wood for energy has a positive impact in moderating global climate change. Carbon dioxide (CO2) buildup in the atmosphere is a significant cause of global climate change. Fossil fuel combustion takes carbon that was locked away underground (as crude oil and gas) and transfers it to the atmosphere as CO2. When wood is burned, however, it recycles carbon that was already in the natural carbon cycle.