Study: Biomass Worse for Environment than Fossil Fuels

Power stations that burn biomass are worse for the environment than those that burn coal, new analysis suggests.

According to David MacKay, the government’s chief scientific advisor on energy, burning wood imported from North America in British power stations produces more greenhouse gases than burning coal.

As previously reported on Breitbart London, American scientists wrote a letter to the British government in May to protest the policy of subsidising power firms to import wooden pellets from the U.S. They said that this was anything but carbon neutral as the forests from which the pellets are taken act as a “carbon sink”, taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

Using pellets from these forests therefore not only depletes the size of the “sink”, it releases the absorbed carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere.

Shipping the pellets 3,800 miles across the Atlantic adds even more to the carbon footprint.

David MacKay has now found that this process can produce even more carbon dioxide than burning fossil fuels.

A previous article in the Daily Mail exposed the Drax power station in Yorkshire as one of the worst offenders. The station buys more than a million metric tonnes of pellets from the US each year, and produces more than three percent more carbon dioxide than coal, and more than twice as much as natural gas. Adding in the carbon footprint of transporting the pellets over from America, that amounts to more than 20 percent more carbon emissions than standard coal.

Also, as the energy produced by Drax is subsidised to the tune of £105 per Megawatt Hour (MW/hr), and the wholesale energy price is just £50 per MW/hr, this means that the project can only survive through government subsidies.

The UK is currently committed by law to increase the proportion of energy generated by "renewable" energy sources to 30 percent by 2020, with more than a third of this supplied by biomass fuel.


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