The Northern Ireland story is that an open-ended Renewable Heat Initiative invited businesses to convert from heating their premises with oil to fuelling boilers with wood pellets. Those in the know cottoned onto the fact that the subsidy was worth more than the price of the electricity generated. The result was that a bill of somewhere between half a billion and a billion pounds, stretching far into the future, was run up before a halt was called. Meanwhile, empty barns and warehouses were heated day and night on the simple premise that the more you burned, the more you were paid. This fiasco points to wider questions of whether wood burning should be subsidised and, if so, what is society getting in return? The general assumption has been that replacing oil or coal with wood burning is, by definition, a cleaner option. There are now many who would challenge that. For example, Professor John Beddington, a former UK government chief scientific adviser, has warned that burning wood for heat “may even lead to a situation where global emissions accelerate”.
Energy Voice 9th Nov 2018 read more »