Burning Trees Is a Multi-Billion £ Industry

Burning trees produces more CO2 than coal. So if you are in the UK and your energy bill makes you want to cry, just remember it’s green!

A surcharge on UK energy bills is funding subsidies for biomass electricity generation that is making climate change worse, polluting communities, destroying forests and harming wildlife.

In 2017, the UK Government granted around £1 billion in renewable subsidies to power stations – including Drax Power Station in Yorkshire – to burn millions of tonnes of wood for electricity.

Drax alone received £729 million – around £2 million per day – in subsidies to burn wood pellets and is now the world’s largest biomass burner.

Biodiversity hotspots

Despite claims by the biomass industry that they mostly burn “low-grade wood residues”, US conservation NGOs have proven that a significant proportion of wood pellets for Drax and other UK power stations comes from the clearcutting of whole trees from wetland forests in the Southern US.

These forests are at the heart of a biodiversity hotspot and are home to many endangered species, including salamanders, the Louisiana black bear and the Venus flytrap.

Meanwhile, new subsidies for onshore wind and solar power have been scrapped while the government is only planning to allocate £60m for the next round of renewable energy funding in May.

However, with a fixed amount of government money available for renewable energy under the Levy Control Framework, ending the generous biomass subsidies would automatically release around £800m for genuinely low-carbon wind, wave and solar power.

This would make a huge difference in reducing both our air pollution and our greenhouse gas emissions.

Sustainable?

Why are biomass power plants receiving these huge renewable subsidies for burning wood?

Governments and the biomass industry argue that converting old coal power plants to burn wood is ‘green energy’ which can help reduce our carbon emissions.

This argument is based on the mistaken belief that burning wood is ‘carbon neutral’ because there is an assumption that new trees will absorb the carbon emissions produced by the burning.

This has allowed the biomass industry to present itself as a ‘low carbon’ and ‘sustainable’ alternative to fossil fuels, with the Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry describing biomass as “a cost-effective and transitional means of decarbonising the electricity grid”.

Drax’s Chief Executive, Will Gardiner, claimed that the power station is: “the biggest decarbonisation project in Europe” and a “key part of the climate change solution.”

Green deserts 

However, the truth is that there is nothing renewable or sustainable about biomass burning. By contrast, biomass comes at an enormous cost for communities, wildlife, forests and the climate.

Read it all here.

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BC and Carbon Taxes and Wood Pellets And Green Ain’t Necessarily Renewable

The EPA in the USA has followed the EU in declaring wood pellets burning to be carbon neutral.

Even DesmogBlog is throwing a hissy fit.

Me … I’m sad and I’m also laughing. For years the greens have deliberately confused people and tried to make it seem like green = renewable.

They used terms like biomass and biofuel etc etc. And made it seem like it was green and way better than coal.

Burning wood for electric power may be renewable but it isn’t green. It produces 2x the CO2 as natural gas and more than coal in many cirumstances.

I live in British Columbia … a place with lots of trees and a carbon tax. But guess what, our public power utility subsidizes the burning of trees for power.

A couple of miles from me is a pulp mill. They built a 55MW power plant burning wood waste and BC Hydro buys power from them at subsidized rates.

Here’s an article on one of the small projects replacing diesel with wood waste gasification.  This is the sad sad paragraph:

That adds up to greenhouse gas reductions of about 400 tonnes a year, and is in-line with BC Hydro’s ongoing efforts to help remote B.C. communities – too far away from the electricity system to be serviced by the 98% clean energy generated by BC Hydro – reduce their fossil fuel emissions.

Its sad because they can only claim GHG reductions if they lie and claim wood is “carbon neutral” and produces no net CO2.

800MW of power from burning wood etc (Ignore the waste heat stations) Here is a list.

Here is a sample:

800MW!!!!

Huge amounts of CO2 and particulate matter.

If BC shut those down, we could skip the carbon tax!

 

Carbon Loophole: Why Is Wood Burning Counted as Green Energy?

The idea that cutting down forests and burning the wood in former coal power plants is green is insane.

Most of the wood pellets used by the Drax Power Station come from trees in U.S. forests, such as this one in Sampson County, North Carolina, which was logged in 2015.

Another article pointing that out. Here are a few highlights.

“Ecologists say that the claims of carbon neutrality, which are accepted by the European Union and the British government, do not stand up to scrutiny. The forests of North Carolina, Louisiana, and Mississippi — as well as those in Europe — are being destroyed to sustain a European fantasy about renewable energy. And with many power plants in Europe and elsewhere starting to replace coal with wood, the question of who is right is becoming ever more important.”

“Wood burning is booming from Britain to Romania. Much of the timber is sourced locally, which is raising serious concerns among European environmentalists about whether every tree cut down for burning is truly replaced by a new one. But Drax’s giant wood-burning boilers are fueled almost entirely by 6.5 million tons of wood pellets shipped annually across the Atlantic. “

“September, some 200 scientists wrote to the EU insisting that “bioenergy [from forest biomass] is not carbon-neutral” and calling for tighter rules to protect forests and their carbon. Yet just a month later, EU ministers rubber-stamped the existing carbon accounting rules, reaffirming that the burning of wood pellets is renewable energy.”

“Wood burning is turning into a major loophole in controlling carbon emissions. The U.S. could be the next country to take advantage. A federal spending bill that passed the House of Representatives earlier this year directed the Environmental Protection Agency to establish policies “that reflect the carbon neutrality of biomass” and to “encourage private investment throughout the forest biomass supply chain,” paving the way for a boom in American pellet burning. “

“Roughly half the cut wood in the EU is now being burned to generate electricity or for heating. And there is growing evidence that the logging is damaging forests and reducing their ability to store carbon.”

 

I could go on. Read it and weep.