Europe’s Renewable Energy Policy is Built on Burning American Trees

More CO2 thanks to the EU. As the EU says: CO2 bad … unless we say otherwise.

in 2009, the EU committed itself to 20 percent renewable energy by 2020, and put biomass on the renewables list. Several countries, like the United Kingdom, subsidized the biomass industry, creating a sudden market for wood not good enough for the timber industry. In the United States, Canada, and Eastern Europe, crooked trees, bark, treetops, and sawdust have been pulped, pressed into pellets, and heat-dried in kilns. By 2014, biomass accounted for 40 percent of the EU’s renewable energy, by far the largest source. By 2020, it’s projected to make up 60 percent, and the US plans to follow suit.

Fueling this boom is a simple, intuitive idea: that biomass is both renewable and “carbon neutral,” and a way to keep an economy built on burning fossil fuels humming along.

But a cadre of scientists and policy activists are now pushing back, saying that biomass energy rests on deceptive accounting. Rather than being carbon neutral, biomass is liquidating millions of tons of irreplaceable carbon stocks in the midst of a climate crisis already out of control.

Image by Javier Zarracina/Vox. 2019.

If you believe CO2 is bad and more CO2 is worse:

The analysis was later confirmed by a colleague at MIT, John Sterman, who did the math, and confirmed that burning wood today would worsen climate change, “at least through the year 2100 — even if wood displaces coal, the most carbon-intensive fuel.”

More here



Climate warming experiment finds unexpected results

It’s always a surprise when they actually do experiments on the main tenets of the church of climate change.

Tropical forests store about a third of Earth’s carbon and about two-thirds of its above-ground biomass. Most climate change models predict that as the world warms, all of that biomass will decompose more quickly, which would send a lot more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But new research presented at the American Geophysical Union’s 2018 Fall Meeting contradicts that theory

Stephanie Roe, an ecology Ph.D. student at the University of Virginia, measured the rate of decomposition in artificially warmed plots of  in Puerto Rico. She found biomass in the warmed plots broke down more slowly than samples from a control site that wasn’t warmed.

Her results indicate that as the climate warms, forest litter could pile up on the ground, instead of breaking down into the soil. Less decomposition means less carbon dioxide released back into the atmosphere. But it also means less carbon taken up by the soil, where it’s needed to fuel microbial processes that help plants grow.

The money quote:

But instead of seeing faster rates of decomposition, Roe observed the warming produced a drying effect in the plots, which slowed decomposition. “What we found is actually it went the other way because moisture was impacted so much,” Roe said. Moisture in the litter from the treatment sites was reduced by an average of 38 percent.

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Does replacing coal with wood lower CO2 emissions? Nope.

Burning wood makes more CO2 than coal.

The conclusions high points:

  • biomass used to displace fossil fuels injects CO2 into the atmosphere at the point of combustion and during harvest, processing and transport.
  • the first impact of displacing coal with wood is an increase in atmospheric CO2relative to continued coal use
  •  before breakeven, atmospheric CO2 is higher than it would have been without the use of bioenergy, increasing radiative forcing and global average temperatures, worsening climate change, including potentially irreversible impacts that may arise before the long-run benefits are realized.
  • biofuels are only beneficial in the long run if the harvested land is allowed to regrow to its pre-harvest biomass and maintained there.
  • The carbon debt incurred when wood displaces coal may never be repaid if development, unplanned logging, erosion or increases in extreme temperatures, fire, and disease (all worsened by global warming) limit regrowth or accelerate the flux of carbon from soils to the atmosphere.
  • harvesting existing forests and replanting with fast-growing species in managed plantations can worsen the climate impact of wood biofuel.
  • growth in wood harvest for bioenergy causes a steady increase in atmospheric CO2 because the initial carbon debt incurred each year exceeds what is repaid.
  • using wood in electricity generation worsens climate change for decades or more even though many of our assumptions favor wood

Image result for wood pellets


Bioenergy Climate Bomb

Trees are not the solution to high CO2 despite what “scientists” say.

I’m not worried about CO2, but I am worried about the governments and people who lie and say burning trees is low-CO2. Some people get it.

KATOWICE, Poland – Today, it’s being called the bomb that could explode the United Nations carbon climate emissions accounting system ­– and possibly destabilize the global climate.

When first conceived, this bomb was thought to be a boon: turn trees and woody biomass into wood pellets. Burn that woody biomass at power plants instead of coal to generate electricity. Plant more trees where the wood was harvested to offset the emissions produced by burning pellets. Then call it green and celebrate a sustainable way to reduce coal emissions.

Some 20 years ago, bioenergy produced from biomass was seen as the next new thing, and a valuable sustainable resource. And because it was deemed renewable, countries that burned biomass – wood pellets instead of coal – would not be required to count those carbon emissions. All that carbon dioxide was believed to be absorbed by the new tree seedlings.

For the purpose of United Nations carbon accounting policy, established under the Kyoto Protocol, the burning of biomass was established as, and is still considered, carbon neutral.

But in recent years, the supposed benign process has been revealed through a series of scientific studies and reports to be a dangerous fraud. It is the ticking bomb underlying the UN accounting system; a potentially large-scale hidden, unreported source of carbon emissions that helps developed countries to meet their Paris pledges.

Read the rest

You can’t be a climate leader and burn trees for electricity

It appears the UK has realized that biomass (imported wood pellets) produces more CO2 than coal.

“Recently, the UK government tightened its carbon intensity requirement for any biomass-burning power plants seeking future support from its Contracts for Difference subsidy program. This was a crucial first step, as my colleague and I described in detail here.

The new emission limit is now set at 29 kg of CO2 equivalent per MWh. This effectively rules out the use of imported wood pellets for electricity production for new UK biomass plants. In justifying the change, the UK government says that “continuing to apply the existing GHG [greenhouse gas] threshold would lead to GHG emissions [for biomass electricity] significantly above the projected UK grid average.”

Translation: burning wood pellets for electricity is bad for the climate and is not part of a credible solution to decarbonizing electricity grids. Coming from the world’s largest importer of biomass, and a country that spent over $1 billion last year alone subsidizing this industry, this is a big deal.

Unfortunately this is not retroactive and DRAX keeps burning massive amountsof imported wood pellets.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a big fan of wind/solar. I just think it is a giant con to think wood pellets are “carbon neutral”.

Palm Oil Catastrophe

Beware of environmentalists coming up with brilliant plans to save the world. And fuels with “bio” in front of the name.

… in the mid-2000s, Western nations, led by the United States, began drafting environmental laws that encouraged the use of vegetable oil in fuels — an ambitious move to reduce carbon dioxide and curb global warming. But these laws were drawn up based on an incomplete accounting of the true environmental costs. Despite warnings that the policies could have the opposite of their intended effect, they were implemented anyway, producing what now appears to be a calamity with global consequences.

The tropical rain forests of Indonesia, and in particular the peatland regions of Borneo, have large amounts of carbon trapped within their trees and soil. Slashing and burning the existing forests to make way for oil-palm cultivation had a perverse effect: It released more carbon. A lot more carbon. NASA researchers say the accelerated destruction of Borneo’s forests contributed to the largest single-year global increase in carbon emissions in two millenniums, an explosion that transformed Indonesia into the world’s fourth-largest source of such emissions.


I’m Pretty Sure Wood Has Carbon In It

From a DRAX news release

The findings were revealed in analysis from Oxford Economics looking at the economic impact of Drax’s UK operations, which includes Selby-based Drax Power Station.

The power station, which employs around 900 people, has converted four of its six generating units to use compressed wood pellets and generated 15% of the country’s renewable electricity in 2017 – enough for four million households. Since transforming the power station to use biomass instead of coal it has become the largest decarbonisation project in Europe.

If you are burning wood instead of coal, you aren’t decarbonising.