Azara Blog: The Environment Agency is not keen on biomass power

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Date published: 2009/04/14

The BBC says:

Biomass power - such as burning wood for energy - could do more harm than good in the battle to reduce greenhouse gases, the Environment Agency warns.

Ploughing up pasture to plant energy crops could produce more CO2 by 2030 than burning fossil fuels, if not done in a sustainable way, it said.

Its study found waste wood and MDF produced the lowest emissions, unlike willow, poplar and oil seed rape.

The EA wants biomass companies to report all greenhouse gas emissions.

The agency is calling on the government to introduce mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from publicly-subsidised biomass facilities, to help work out if minimum standards need to be introduced.

Wood-burning stoves, boilers and even power stations are seen by many as critical to Britain's renewable energy targets.

Biomass is considered low carbon as long as what is burnt is replaced by new growth, and harvesting and transport do not use too much fuel.

The Environment Agency jumping on the anti-biomass bandwagon. Needless to say, a lot of the so-called solutions to the carbon emissions problem are not nearly so good as the relevant proponents would claim, so at least the EA is jumping on a sensible bandwagon. But the EA is rather naive if it thinks anyone can really calculate the carbon emissions of any process correctly. In particular, for biomass there are all sorts of emissions due to things like possible change of land use, and those are very tricky to get right (especially because there can be displacement of other land activities, such as food production, which indirectly affects emissions that should be counted against biomass production).

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