Peat for heat and power

Peat has been an important local or regional energy source in Finland, Ireland and Sweden (Joosten & Clarke 2002). Due to environmental pressures, increasing carbon trade prices and the climate targets the amount of peat for energy has declined dramatically during the last few years.

In Finland, peat is used in co-generation (combined heat and power, CHP) and in heating facilities with wood fuels both for technical and security of supply reasons. It is still considered an important element for balancing the regional fuel markets in many places and to save woody biomass for higher value added products. In 2018 some 4% of the total energy consumption was derived from peat.

In Ireland peat is used for power generation in condensing power plants, and also as a fuel for domestic heating. Phasing out energy peat in Ireland at e.g. Bord na Móna is planned for 2026.

In Sweden peat is used in some 30 heating plants as a co-fuel with wood. 

In Finland and Sweden, several studies have been performed to determine the GHG fluxes from different stages of the fuel peat production supply chain and life cycle analyses have been carried out of peat fuel use and its climate impact in terms of radiate forcing. Some studies show that the extraction and combustion of peat from pristine peatland has radiative forcing  similar to the combustion of coal.

However, by extracting peat from previously drained peatlands, i.e. that already are large greenhouse gas sources, radiative forcing of peat utilisation chain can be significantly reduced. Examples of such peat resources are cultivated peatlands and peatlands drained for forestry (Strack, ed. 2008).

Further reading

Joosten, H. & Clarke, D. 2002: Wise Use of Mires and Peatlands: Background and principles including a framework for decision making. IMCG/IPS

Strack, M. 2008 (ed): Peatlands and Climate Change

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