A biomass power plant does produce carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas. However, if the fuel supply is obtained as a byproduct of reducing fire hazard in natural forests, the plant emissions may be offset by the reduced emissions that would have occurred if the forest burned. Wildfires are significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions. For example, it has been estimated that the 2007 Angora fire in the Lake Tahoe Basin released 141,000 metric tons of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere within a period of a few days. This is equivalent to the emissions from over 28,000 cars in one year.
By utilizing fuels derived from forest management, that reduces the probability of wildfire, and, considering the natural growth patterns of biomass, a biomass power plant can be considered “carbon neutral.” Biomass is a unique fuel in that it is derived from a resource that is naturally replenishing by taking in carbon from the atmosphere. Also, using biomass for electricity production may offset the use of fossil fuels, further reducing greenhouse gas production.