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.
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.
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.”
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.