BURNING whole trees in Yorkshire power stations can be dirtier than coal, concludes a new report by the RSPB, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.
The report uses Government’s own data to show that burning whole trees to generate electricity is worse for the climate than coal: generating power from typical conifer trees results in 49 per cent more emissions than burning coal.
The report follows a series of announcements from major coal power stations, including Drax and Eggborough, of their intention to switch over from burning coal to burning wood.
The three organisations are calling on Government to cancel plans to subsidise burning whole trees in coal power stations and new ‘biomass only’ power plants.
Instead, they want government to focus on building a small-scale bioenergy sector based on sustainable UK feedstocks, including wood waste and arisings from forestry, as well as continued investment in clean, green renewable energy such as solar, wind and wave power.
Harry Huyton, RSPB Head of Climate Policy, said; “Government has justified burning trees in power stations by claiming the chimney emissions are offset by the carbon that the forest takes in when it re-grows after being harvested, but this is misleading. It can take decades, if not centuries for the trees to recapture that carbon, leaving us with more emissions in the atmosphere now – when we least need it.”
A spokesman for Drax (above) said: “It is absurd to suggest that using sustainable biomass is dirtier than fossil fuels. Unlike fossil fuels, burning biomass to produce electricity can only release carbon which was absorbed while the biomass was growing. Burning coal releases new carbon which had been locked away underground for millions of years.
“Even including all the carbon emissions through the supply chain from planting, harvesting, transporting and processing, using biomass delivers huge carbon savings relative to fossil fuels, such as coal and gas.
“This report misses the key points that most of the biomass used in electricity generation comes from the wood left over once other industries, for example furniture and paper, have taken their share; that managed forests absorb far more carbon than under managed forests and that provided bioenergy comes from sustainably managed forests, where tree growth is in excess of harvest, there are huge carbon savings, even in the short term.”
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Weather for Selby
Friday 06 December 2013
Temperature: 1 C to 4 C
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Wind direction: North west
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