Green Lunacy #1: £450 Million Lost Over Failed Green Power That Is Worse Than Coal
The Times, 23 February 2017
Britain is wasting hundreds of millions of pounds subsidising power stations to burn American wood pellets that do more harm to the climate than the coal they replaced, a study has found.
Green subsidies for wood pellets were championed by Chris Huhne when he was energy and climate change secretary. Mr Huhne, 62, was jailed in 2013 for perverting the course of justice/ LEON NEAL/ AFP/ GETTY IMAGES
Chopping down trees and transporting wood across the Atlantic Ocean to feed power stations produces more greenhouse gases than much cheaper coal, according to the report. It blames the rush to meet EU renewable energy targets, which resulted in ministers making the false assumption that burning trees was carbon-neutral.
Green subsidies for wood pellets and other biomass were championed by Chris Huhne when he was Liberal Democrat energy and climate change secretary in the coalition government. Mr Huhne, 62, who was jailed in 2013 for perverting the course of justice, is now European chairman of Zilkha Biomass, a US supplier of wood pellets.
The report was written by Duncan Brack, a former special adviser to Mr Huhne, for Chatham House, the respected international affairs think tank. Britain is by far the biggest importer of wood pellets for heat and power in the EU, shipping in 7.5 million tonnes last year, mostly from the US and Canada.
Drax, Britain’s biggest power station, received more than £450 million in subsidies in 2015 for burning biomass, which was mostly American wood pellets. The report says that the government’s assessment of the impact on the climate of switching from coal to wood pellets is flawed because it ignores emissions from burning pellets in power stations. The assessment counts only emissions from harvesting, processing and transporting wood pellets.
Wood pellets are claimed to be carbon-neutral partly because the forests from which they come are replanted. New trees would eventually absorb as much carbon as was emitted when mature trees were harvested and burnt. However, the report says that this process could take centuries — too late to contribute to preventing climate change over coming decades.
Mr Brack said: “It is ridiculous for the same kind of subsidies that go to genuine zero-carbon technologies, like solar and wind, to go to biomass use that might be increasing carbon emissions. It’s not a good use of money.
“For any biomass facility that is burning wood for energy, unless they are only burning stuff like saw-mill residues or post-consumer waste, their activities will be increasing carbon emissions in the atmosphere for decades or centuries. We shouldn’t be subsidising that.”
Green Lunacy 2: Household Solar Storage Increases Co2 Emissions, Study Concludes
Energy & Technology, 31 January 2017
Contrary to popular belief, household storage for solar power doesn’t reduce cost or CO2 emissions, an American study suggests.
As charging and discharging a home battery itself consumes energy, feeding surplus solar power into the storage device instead of into the grid results in higher overall electricity consumption for the household, as well as higher emissions because the increased consumption needs to be covered by fossil fuel-based energy. This increase is quite substantial – up to 591KWh annually.
“I expected that storage would lead to an increase in energy consumption,” said Robert Fares from the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, “but I was surprised that the increase could be so significant – about an eight to 14 per cent increase on average over the year.”
Fares, together with Professor Michael Webber, analysed the impact of home energy storage using electricity data from almost 100 Texas households that are part of a smart grid test bed managed by Austin-based renewable energy and smart technology company Pecan Street Inc.
The results are relevant for Texas, where the majority of grid electricity comes from fossil fuels. As a result, the increased consumption due to storage technology leads to higher carbon, sulphur and nitrogen dioxide emissions.
The situation, however, is different for utility companies, which could reduce their peak grid demand by up to 32 per cent thanks to solar energy storage and cut down the magnitude of solar power injections to the grid by up to 42 per cent.
“These findings challenge the myth that storage is inherently clean, but that, in turn, offers useful insights for utility companies,” Webber said.
“If we use the storage as the means to foster the adoption of significantly more renewables that offset the dirtiest sources, then storage – done the right way and installed at large-scale – can have beneficial impacts on the grid’s emissions overall.”
The study was published in the journal Nature Energy.
3) Green Lunacy 3: Protected Forests In Europe Felled To Meet EU Renewable Targets
The Guardian 24 November 2016
Europe’s bioenergy plants are burning trees felled from protected conservation areas rather than using forest waste, new report shows
Protected forests are being indiscriminately felled across Europe to meet the EU’s renewable energy targets, according to an investigation by the conservation group Birdlife.
Up to 65% of Europe’s renewable output currently comes from bioenergy, involving fuels such as wood pellets and chips, rather than wind and solar power.
Bioenergy fuel is supposed to be harvested from residue such as forest waste but, under current legislation, European bioenergy plants do not have to produce evidence that their wood products have been sustainably sourced.
Birdlife found logging taking place in conservation zones such as Poloniny national park in eastern Slovakia and in Italian riverside forests around Emilia-Romagna, where it said it had been falsely presented as flood-risk mitigation.
h/t to THE GWPF