by Annelise Giseburt on 19 May 2022
- In 2021, Japan and South Korea imported a combined 6 million metric tons of wood pellets for what proponents claim is carbon-neutral energy.
- Large subsidies for biomass have led Japan to import massive amounts of wood pellets from Vietnam and Canada; two pellet giants, Drax and Enviva, are now eyeing Japan for growth, even as the country may be cooling to the industry.
- South Korea imports most of its pellets from Vietnamese acacia plantations, which environmentalists fear may eventually pressure natural forests; South Korea wants to grow its native production tenfold, including logging areas with high conservation value.
- Vietnam may soon follow Japan and South Korea’s path as it phases out coal, and experts fear all this could add massive pressure on Southeast Asian forests, which are already among the most endangered in the world.
This is part two of a two part series on the Asian biomass expansion. Part one can be found here.
Under the guise of “carbon neutral” energy, Japan and South Korea’s appetite for woody biomass for electricity generation has increased exponentially over the past decade and continues to grow. The two nations’ biomass subsidies are spurring an increase in the production of wood for burning in Southeast Asia and North America, putting pressure on forests in those regions.
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