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What green vision? US forests burned to make costly UK electricity and produce more CO2

The Green movement have come full circle, from protecting forests and attacking coal, to preserving coal and destroying forests. The most interesting question for me (apart from wondering how long it can continue) is what the UK environmental movement is going to do with this. Do they care about forests? Do they care about the electricity bills inflicted on the poor? Do CO2 emissions matter?

In the UK, the Drax plant was once the largest coal fired power station. Now, thanks to £340 million in ‘green’ subsidies (and the rest) it makes electricity that is twice as expensive, produces more CO2, and apparently razes US forests to do it.

The Mail on Sunday has discovered that the UK Drax plant was paid by the British taxpayer to burn “millions of tons of wood pellets” which the company says are from ” dust and residues from sawmills”. But according to witnesses, environmentalists and workers, the wood is coming from US forests that are clearfelled to supply it. The Mail on Sunday has accounts from a senior forester in the firm in North Carolina that supplies Drax. He claims the company is clear-felling forests that aren’t suitable for logging, and that most of the wood ends up as pellets and chips. Likewise, some US environmentalists are tracking the trucks and photographing the damage:

Late last month, Dogwood campaigner Adam Macon travelled with colleagues to the Enviva pellet plant at Ahoskie, North Carolina, where he saw piles of hardwood trunks 40 feet high being fed into the plant’s hopper – the start of the process where the trees are pulped and turned into pellets. These could not be described as ‘leftovers’.

Macon recorded the number plate details of an empty truck leaving the plant and followed it to a forested area 20 miles away.

“All that was left were the stumps of once great trees. They had destroyed an irreplaceable wetland treasure.’”

Drax is reputed to be the “UK’s biggest single contributor towards meeting stringent EU green energy targets.” It is starting up a third big biomass unit in a few weeks and may get “over £1 billion” in subsidies.

The electricity it produces costs £80 per MW/hr which is “two-and-a-half times more expensive than coal”.

One new report predicts that over its 40 year life, the plant will emitting four times more than the maximum CO2 emissions that the DECC (Dept of Energy and Climate Change) claim a biomass plant should emit.

In his video presentation, Drax’s Andy Koss claimed the firm was so green that its contribution to cutting emissions was the equivalent of taking three million cars off the road.

But a new study led by Dr Thomas Buchholz of the Spatial Informatics Group, a team of environmental experts and scientists, casts doubt on this. His findings are based on the official Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) model for calculating emissions, known as BEAC. This weighs factors including harvesting, transport and emissions from the furnaces – when pellets are burnt they produce much more CO2 than natural gas or coal – as well as new tree growth.

Dr Buchholz’s conclusions are devastating. The official DECC standard says biomass plants should emit a maximum of 285kg of carbon dioxide for every 1MW/hr of electricity. But the research found that averaged over 40 years, Drax’s net emissions will be more than four times as high.

The Mail on Sunday also mentioned that former UK Energy Minister, Chris Huhne pushed for biomass in the UK, and is now the EU chief of a supplier of wood pellets.

Read the whole sordid story at www.dailymail.co.uk

The Greens have a hatred for coal,
Banning all of its mining their goal,
Instead they burn wood,
Doing more harm than good,
As on forests it takes a huge toll.

A few good comments

Kevin Marshall (Manicbeancounter)   | June 8, 2015 at 7:41 am

Drax B will be made bankrupt anyway. Last year they were fined £28m ($55m) for failing to sufficiently educate consumers on how to reduce energy usage. The are an electricity generation business, who does not even retail to consumers, but they were expected to go around educating people on how they could claim Government funds to reduce power usage. The real irony was the headline in the Guardian – Drax to pay record £28m fine for failing to help households cut bills. The amount in subsidy that Drax B receives annually for burning wood chip instead of coal is ten times the amount, based on 1GW of capacity burning wood-chips at £45 MWh subsidy and operating at 75% of capacity. This all loaded on consumers utility bills.


Willard  |   June 8, 2015 at 9:40 am

Drax was possibly the most evil of Bond villians, so evil in fact that Bonds arch enemy Jaws changed sides in the final scenes of Moonraker.

Another Graeme  |June 8, 2015 at 10:12 am

So basically, Drax gets paid to generate electricity and fined for not convincing people to stop using it. O what a world we live in.

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