“Any substitution of wood heaters by pellet heaters will have a net positive impact on biodiversity, wood smoke and greenhouse gas emissions.” Rural Industry Research and Development Program
Pellet heaters have long been recognised as an environmentally friendly way of heating a home. Countries such as Germany, Sweden, the UK, France and Ireland have all provided incentives to install pellet heaters under green/sustainability programs while official bodies such as the World Bank and, in Australia, the federal government’s rural industry research group have recommended them on the basis of reduced pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
One of the reasons they are viewed so positively is because they provide near-to carbon neutral heat (see our FAQ on the energy and carbon that goes into making pellets) and use a renewable fuel. This is particularly the case in Australia where the majority of wood pellets are made from waste sawdust rather than plantation timber. A further and very significant benefit in the Australian context is the reduced impact on biodiversity from firewood harvesting. The Australian government report cited above and this CSIRO report on firewood use both detail the detrimental impact firewood harvesting has on Australian flora and fauna.
Finally, pellet heaters release a fraction of the black carbon and particulate emissions of traditional log burners. Black carbon is a significant contributor to climate change while particulate emissions from log burners have a very negative impact on the local environment. This led the World Bank to recommend replacing log burners with pellet heaters for domestic heating as a way of “mitigating climate change and improving air quality” with “a large emission reduction potential”.