Using wood pellets to generate low-carbon electricity is a flawed policy that is speeding up not slowing down climate warming. That’s according to a new study which says wood is not carbon neutral and emissions from pellets are higher than coal. Subsidies for biomass should be immediately reviewed, the author says. Energy from trees has become a critical part of the renewable supply in many countries including the UK. While much of the discussion has focussed on wind and solar power, across Europe the biggest source of green energy is biomass. It supplies around 65% of renewable power – usually electricity generated from burning wood pellets. EU Governments, under pressure to meet tough carbon cutting targets, have been encouraging electricity producers to use more of this form of energy by providing substantial subsidies for biomass burning. However this new assessment from Chatham House suggests that this policy is deeply flawed when it comes to cutting CO2. According to the author, current regulations do not count the emissions from the burning of wood at all, assuming that they are balanced by the planting of new trees.
BBC 23rd Feb 2017 read more »
Letter: Mark Wickham, Managing director, HRS Energy. Ben Webster’s report on biomass subsidies (“£450m lost over failed green power programme”, News, Feb 22) highlights the challenge of calculating the environmental benefit of biomass. However, we should not forget that, managed properly, biomass can be a highly sustainable source of renewable energy. Biomass which uses high-moisture local waste wood is essential in forestry management, often preventing wood from rotting in landfill or being burnt on site, while providing reliable and secure energy generation. It has a crucial role to play in reducing the UK’s net emissions and reliance on fossil fuels. The industry should welcome scrutiny in this area, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.
Times 24th Feb 2017 read more »