Wood Smoke

07 Jun 2006 questionsarchive

A question put forward to the Hon. G.E. GAGO regarding the burning of brown coal versus wood.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Can the minister advise the council—she might need to get this information and come back with a reply—about the burning of brown coal versus wood, and its contribution to greenhouse gases?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: I thank the honourable member for her supplementary question and am pleased to take that on notice and bring back a response.

Tuesday 5 December 2006

In reply to Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (7 June).

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: I have been advised:

Brown coal is a finite resource that when burnt produces combustion by-products including carbon dioxide, the principle greenhouse gas, as well as particulate matter and sulphur dioxide.

Wood combustion produces similar by-products to brown coal, the only significant difference between the two is that wood contains little or no sulphur and hence does not produce sulphur dioxide when burnt.

Wood is also considered a finite resource unless it is managed in a sustainable way. If the wood is sourced from a plantation that has been grown specifically for firewood production, the net greenhouse effect when the wood is burned is almost zero. The reason for this is the wood absorbs or sequesters carbon from the atmosphere during the time it is growing which is then released when it is burnt.

To compare the total greenhouse contribution of brown coal to wood one would need to consider the full life cycle energy cost of producing the material from its mining or harvesting right up to the point at which it is being used as fuel.