Burning biomass does not de-sequester fossil fuel carbon. As long as we have a good replant process we should be able to burn some biofuel without hurting ourselves too much.
Much less hurt than burning coal.
And I think we tend to overlook the carbon that trees and other plants do sequester in their root systems. A tree can have as much mass below ground as above. If we cut off the top for fuel we're only taking half of what that tree has pulled out of the atmosphere. It could be that by harvesting mature trees and replanting in their place we actually get more carbon underground than leaving the tree to stand then eventually die and rot, releasing its above ground carbon.
Long run we probably ought not plan on making biomass from trees a major part of our fuel system. But during the transition it's probably better to burn biomass than coal.
Do you think we currently are not greedy enough to have a good replanting process?
Is the mass of wood consumed in balance with the growth of new trees in the area they were harvested? Right now the few of them burn wood pellets from wood use byproducts!! All good with that.
However, past history with other resources has shown the tendency to over-build and this would result to the felling of trees exclusively for power generation. It is a moral hazard.
[EDIT] this already happens now
It took half a century for an acorn to grow into the 20-meter-tall oak tree standing here in a North Carolina hardwood forest near the banks of the Northeast Cape Fear River. But it takes just seconds to turn the oak into fuel for the furnace of a European power plant.
"It basically tells the Congo and Indonesia and every other forested country in the world: ‘If you cut down your forests and use them for energy, not only is that not bad, it's good,’" says Tim Searchinger, a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute in Washington, D.C., who has studied the carbon impacts of wood energy.
Oak trees in North Carolina are heading for a U.K. power plant largely because of a single number: zero. That's the amount of CO2 that European power plants can claim they emit when burning wood. It's not true, of course, and in some cases wood-burning furnaces actually puff more CO2 from their smokestacks per unit of electricity produced than those burning coal or natural gas. (In part, that's because wood can have a higher water content than other fuels, and some of its energy goes to boiling off the water.) But under the European Union's ambitious 2009 plan to produce 20% of its electricity from renewable resources by 2020, regulators endorsed an earlier decision to designate wood as a carbon-neutral fuel for the purposes of emissions accounting.
In response, some countries—including the United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, and the Netherlands—have built new wood-fired plants or converted coal-fired plants to wood. The United Kingdom has been one of the most enthusiastic, with the government providing subsidies for wood pellets that make them competitive with fossil fuels. At the country's largest power station, a 4000-megawatt behemoth in North Yorkshire, owner Drax Group has converted half of the furnaces to burn wood pellets.
U.S. exports, nearly all from the southeast, grew from zero in 2005 to more than 6.5 million metric tons in 2016, according to Forisk Consulting, a firm in Athens, Georgia. Pellet exports are expected to grow to 9 million metric tons by 2021.