The contradictions of Green policies to limit CO2 emissions

Reposted from edmhtome

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The context of the 2019 CO2 emissions from various Nations and Nation groups is shown above.

Currently the burning of Biomass is designated as “CO2 neutral” by Western Nations to give the appearance of reducing CO2 emissions and thus controlling Climate Change.  The designation of Biomass burning as Carbon neutral is essentially self-defeating as:

  • burning Biomass substantially increases the instantaneous output of CO2 emissions.
  • is hugely destructive of natural environments and habitats wherever employed at the necessary industrial scale.

The primary government actions to limit CO2 emissions have been to mandate a change in the fuels used to generate electrical power.  The Green thinking requires the substitution of fossils fuels, replacing them with nominally “CO2 emissions free” fuels such as the Wind and Solar power as well as Biomass and Biofuels, which are designated to be sustainable and CO2 free by policy, because their plant material may well regrow eventually.  These fuel substitution policies have already done proven damage to the reliability of Power grids in the South Australia and California and are making power supplies increasingly vulnerable wherever those policies are instituted.  A low wind period in the UK and Europe in November 2020 came very close to causing the failure of the UK Grid.

The inevitable CO2 emissions characteristics of their mandated alternative fuels are conveniently ignored by policy makers:

  • the substitution of fossil fuels particularly by Biomass for electricity generation has gross and immediate extra CO2 emissions consequences.
  • the engineering requirements for Renewables, (Wind and Solar), themselves cause very significant CO2 emissions and also imply the utilisation of massive, limited mineral resources.

The policy of promoting Biomass:

  • is essentially self-defeating in it objective to limit CO2 emissions an save the Climate:
    • in spite of being declared “Carbon neutral”, by EU and UK policy it is far from Carbon neutral by its effect:  for the same power produced, burning Biomass releases much more CO2 than other fossil fuels, (Coal, Lignite and particularly Natural Gas).
    • is massively destructive of virgin forest environments, wherever the wood is harvested.  In Europe there is insufficient timber feedstock even to maintain partial power production.
  • will require up to 100 years to fully restore the destroyed native forest wild life habitat and virgin environments and to thus reabsorb the total CO2 that is released instantaneously by the burning of the Biomass in power plants.
  • requires significant heat energy to dry and process the harvested wood material converting it into the pelletised, transportable product.
  • requires significant fossil fuel use for long distance transport.
  • has already required substantial and costly refit of the generation and local fuel supply technologies at Drax where the UK Biomass is burnt.
  • these factors in combination result in an additional, instantaneous CO2 release into the atmosphere of about 3.6 times that produced by burning Natural Gas for the same power output.

Germany and the UK are leaders in the development of Renewable Energy in Europe. This post uses 2019 hourly generation datasets showing the scale of various generation technologies over the year.  It combines that power output data with data on the CO2 emissions of different fossil fuels to show the extent of CO2 emissions in 2019.

It questions the efficacy of using Biomass to reduce CO2 emissions at all, as

the scale of CO2 emissions from Biomass cancels out any potential CO2 savings made from using Weather Dependent Renewables. 

So all the excess expenditures on Weather Dependent Renewables have done nothing to reduce Global CO2 emissions overall.

CO2 emissions from Fossil fuels used in power generation

The characteristics of Fossil Fuels and Biomass resulting from their molecular structure, their production processes and their flammability determine their CO2 emissions characteristics as shown below:

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  • the least CO2 emissions for the power produced results from burning Natural Gas, which can be usefully derived from Fracking, as has been the origin of the CO2 emission reductions achieved in the USA.
  • all forms of Coal produce roughly twice as much CO2 for the power they produce when compared to Natural Gas.
  • however, the clear-felling virgin forest, then using some of the timber itself or Fossil fuels for drying, processing and transporting the wood to burn in remote power stations results in roughly 3.6 times the CO2 emissions of Natural Gas for the same power output.

These comparative values are used to establish the CO2 emission consequences of trying to avoid Fossil fuel usage as opposed to harvested Biomass.

Progress of de-carbonisation

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It is clear from the chart above that there are only limited ways to effectively reduce CO2 emissions from power generation:

  • the massive use of Nuclear energy, as in France where CO2 emissions / head have now diminished to being below the Global average following the French 50+ year commitment to Nuclear power.  The French now have the lowest CO2 emissions value per head of any developed Nation.  The French thus prove the point of the efficacy of using Nuclear power to limit CO2 emissions.  Nuclear power has contributed to a CO2 reduction of ~200million tonnes per year since 1990, (~-28%).  France now produces less than 1% of Global CO2 emissions, down from ~1.5% in 1990:  this represents a reduction of 2019 Global CO2 emissions of ~0.6%.
  • the transition from Coal to Gas-firing for power generation and a Fracking revolution, as in the USA, where annual emissions have reduced by ~1,600 million tonnes per year, (~-20%), since 2005.  The USA now produces less than 15% of Global CO2 emissions, down from ~22% in the year 2000:  this represents a reduction of 2019 Global CO2 emissions of ~4.7%.
  • in the UK, the earlier 1990’s policy, “Dash for Gas”, substantially replaced Coal for power generation by Natural Gas.  This has contributed to a CO2 reduction of ~160 million tonnes per year since 1995, (~-30%).  The UK is responsible for ~1.1% of Global CO2 emissions:  this represents a reduction of 2019 Global CO2 emissions of ~0.47%.

The installation of Weather Dependent Renewables, (Wind and Solar), may not have any direct fuel costs but they do heavily rely on the use of Fossil fuels for their manufacture, installation and maintenance.  Even though their “fuel” is nominally free, Weather Dependent Renewables do not achieve CO2 neutrality.

Electric power generation is responsible for roughly 1/4 of a Nation’s CO2 emissions the remaining 3/4  being emitted from space heating, transport and industry.  So tackling the fuels used for electricity generation only affects a relatively small part of the CO2 emissions problem.  Coping with the other sources of CO2 emissions will prove to be much more problematic and more costly to achieve.

It should be noted that in 2019 the EU(28) as a whole emitted less than 10% of the Global CO2 burden and of that the UK emissions are ~1.1% Global CO2 emissions.  Whatever actions are taken by Western nations are only ever going affect a marginal amount of the Global “CO2 emissions burden”, which is considered to be so damaging by Climate activist thinking.

Any action in the Western world, where there is an aggressive movement to take action to reduce CO2 emissions, can only be self-harming in the face of the inevitable growth in demand from the developing Nations requiring enhanced access to reliable electric power.

Assessing the effectiveness of CO2 reduction policies

The USA by transitioning from Coal to Fracked Natural Gas for power generation has made very substantial reduction in its CO2 emissions, ~-20% since the year 2000.  The transition from Coal / Lignite / Biomass to Natural gas would give significant CO2 emissions savings for the UK and Germany.

However the UK Policy to transition to imported Biomass, rather than Coal,  generating ~7% of its power output at the Drax site adds the major part of excess CO2 emissions, ~29million tonnes per year for only 7% of  power output.  On the other hand the maximum potential CO2 reduction achieved by the use of Weather Dependent Renewables, (Wind and Solar) is about 20 million tonnes per year, (ignoring the CO2 output essential for their manufacture installation and maintenance).

Thus the policy to use of Biomass in the UK more than cancels out any potential CO2 emissions savings made by the use of Weather Dependent Renewables, (Wind and Solar).

The table below makes rough estimates the effectiveness of actions to reduce CO2 emissions by the two main protagonists in Europe, the UK and Germany, of policy actions to avert Climate Change by CO2 emissions reduction.  It assesses the UK power industry as only producing 20% of CO2 emissions because of the large input from low CO2 emitting Natural Gas-firing as opposed to other fossil fuels, whereas Germany is assessed at the more normal level 25% of CO2 emissions for its power industry.

It estimates firstly that the total transition to Natural Gas from other Fossil fuels could avert CO2 emissions:

  • United Kingdom -23.2 million tonnes per year.
  • Germany -72.9 million tonnes per year.
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Thus the policy of using Biomass with its excessive CO2 burden, effectively negates and cancels out any CO2 reductions that might be achieved by the use of Solar and Wind power in both the UK and Germany.

Parallel calculations have are shown above for the German situation where there is still a heavy dependence on Coal and Lignite and to a lesser extent Biomass used for power generation.  Nonetheless German Biomass usage is slightly greater than the UK CO2 emissions level.  German Biomass is both imported and sourced from Germany’s indigenous forests, already causing significant habitat damage.

These simple calculations come close to proving that all investments in “low Carbon technologies” so far have achieved nothing towards CO2 reduction but only increase CO2 emissions and power costs both in the UK and Germany.

United Kingdom CO2 emissions output 2019

The graphics below shows hourly mix of UK power Generation by technology during 2019.  The average output is equivalent to ~28Gigawatts.

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Since the “Dash for Gas Policy” in the 1990s, the predominant UK fuels for power generation have been Natural Gas and Nuclear.  Using Coal for generation in the UK is now largely curtailed.  It is in use only on occasions and provides ~2% of power output.  This transition has reduced CO2 emissions as a result.  UK CO2 emissions / head  are now only 23% above the Global average. 

Although the UK still has significant Nuclear generation, still providing ~22% of power output, most of those Nuclear plants will come to the end of their service lives before 2030.  UK policies have been slow to replace that base load capacity with alternative base load power.  But The UK on the other hand has significantly increased the installations of Weather Dependent Renewables, which are intermittent and cannot provide provide base load power consistently .

In 2019 the UK is also continuously dependent on ~7% of imported power, mainly importing Nuclear generated power from France.  This dependence on power imports is an existential risk to UK power supplies in the immediate future.

Coal-firing has been significantly substituted by the policy of using Biomass mainly imported from the East coast of the USA, where clear-felling of virgin forest fulfils the requirement.  There is insufficient indigenous timber supply from the UK alone.

The Drax Yorkshire power complex has been largely converted to burn wood pellets mostly imported from the USA, replacing its Coal generating plant.  This provides about 7% of UK power.  The substitution has been imposed by Green policies, which assert that imported Biomass is “Carbon neutral” as it will eventually reabsorb the CO2 emitted. However that re-establishment process will take about 100 years, if ever, to restore the virgin forest and natural habitats destroyed in the process. 

The Drax power complex was intentionally situated on a still productive Coal seam:  continuing to burn that Coal rather than imported Biomass would result in about half of the CO2 emissions for the same power output.  Recently in November 2020 ageing Coal-fired plants saved the UK Grid from failure.  Those plants are all scheduled for closure within a year or so in the name of saving the World from man-made Climate Change.

Weather Dependent Renewables, (Wind Power Onshore and Offshore and Solar), now make up more than 55% of the installed UK generation fleet but they unreliably contribute only ~23% of the UK power produced.  They achieve a combined productivity of ~21% overall.  Wind and Solar are not dispatchable and provide power only unreliably and intermittently: that alone causes real problem for maintaining the consistent power supply essential to support a developed economy.

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The three CO2 emitting technologies in the UK are a large proportion of Natural Gas, very limited and occasional Coal generation and ~7% of continuous dispatchable power production from Biomass.  That 7% Biomass generation output is responsible ~37% of the whole CO2 emissions from UK power generation.  The policy that asserts that Biomass is CO2 neutral means that CO2 emissions are increased over the use of Natural Gas for power generation by about 23 million tonnes per year.

The distribution and scale of the UK CO2 emissions over the year are shown below.

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Germany CO2 emissions output 2019

The graphics below shows hourly values of German power Generation by technology in 2019.  The average output is equivalent to ~65Gigawatts.

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Germany has been pursuing its “die Energiewende policy” since 2011, as a result it has installed ~102GW of Weather Dependent Renewables, (Wind and Solar), ~65% of the generation fleet.  Those Renewables yield ~30% of German power but intermittently with an overall productivity of only ~19%.   Germany has even opened a new Coal-fired power stations to help compensate its power deficit from its Nuclear closure policy.

In spite of its “die Energiewende” policy, Germany is still massively dependent on Fossil and CO2 emitting Fuels for its electricity generation:

  • Natural Gas 16%
  • Biomass 5%
  • Coal 9%
  • Lignite 19%

This totals to some 49% of power generation.  Coal and Lignite generation is increasing in Germany to compensate for its policy closing Nuclear generators, ~13% of the total productive fleet.  The policy of Nuclear closures, prompted by the Fukushima disaster of 2011 will be effected early in this decade.  

The “die Energiewende” has reduced CO2 emissions somewhat.  But German CO2 emissions at 8.4 tonnes per head per year are still 87% above the Global average and the highest of the EU(28), ~30% above the EU(28) average. 

Germany still has significant Nuclear generation, providing ~12% of power output.  But, since the Fukushima disaster, German policy has been phase out its Nuclear plants before the end of their useful service life, leaving a significant power generation deficit.. German policy expects the power deficit to be compensated for by their fleet of intermittent Weather Dependent Renewables.

Germany has a significant power contribution from Biomass, ~4.6%.  However whether imported or from indigenous forest or not, it does already makes contribution to German CO2 emissions of ~20%.

Weather Dependent Renewables, (Wind Power Onshore and Offshore and Solar) now make up more than 64% of the installed German generation fleet but they only unreliably contribute ~28% of the power produced.

Over production of power from excessive Wind power production in winter months means that Germany is forced to export that excess power often at negative prices to neighbouring countries.  This imposes a cost burden on German power customers.  Germany is also dependent on some imported power mainly Nuclear power from France in the summer when Wind power is production can be low.

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The distribution and scale of the German CO2 emissions over the year are shown below.

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  • Transitioning to the use of Natural Gas for power generations is an effective means of CO2 emissions reduction, not elimination, were CO2 emissions reduction a rational aim to control “Climate Change”.  Using Natural Gas it does not meet the “Net Zero” ambitions of Climate activists.
  • The use of imported Biomass in the UK and Germany is essentially self-defeating as a means to reduce CO2 emissions that might affect the Climate.  The estimates above show that in the UK the Green policies for Renewables and Biomass actually result in additional CO2 emissions.
  • In the UK the policy to use Biomass at Drax completely negates all CO2 emissions reduction efforts that might have been achieved using Weather Dependent Renewables, (Wind Power, Onshore and Offshore and Solar).
  • As Germany is much more committed to Coal and Lignite use as well as its Biomass this negates the Wind and Solar investments with excess CO2 emissions of ~ 20million tonnes per year.
  • Wherever the Biomass is sourced, remotely for example from Africa, North America, Indonesia, etc. the environmental damage that the industry causes is virtually irreparable even in the medium term.

The recent Michael Moore film made a telling point, that there is only enough forest timber in the whole USA to power its supply grid for a single year:  and after that the forests are gone.  Whereas Gas and other Fossil fuel reserves will still be available for the longer-term.
  • All investments in Weather Dependent Renewables and the conversion to burning Biomass are obliterated by the contradictory CO2 reduction policies which actually serve to increase CO2 emissions both in the UK and Germany.
  • If governments institute policies and mandate their financial support, then businesses are bound to take advantage of the artificially created business opportunities even though they may be counterproductive.
  • The continuing dependence on significant amounts of Fossil Fuels, Coal and Lignite, in Germany, make the Climate Change goals of “die Energiewende” very challenging, especially with their added policy of phasing out their Nuclear power.
  • Importing Biomass, as in the UK, is imposing a burden on both the balance of payments and thus the clients of the power generation industry.
  • All the expenditures on Weather Dependent Renewables combined with burning Biomass have done nothing to reduce CO2 emissions in the UK and Europe.
  • The scale of the economic and incidentally “Climate” damage that has been achieved by Climate activists in the sentimental but effective termination of Fracking for Natural Gas in the UK and throughout Europe is massive.

An excellent way to undermine Western economies is to render their power generation unreliable and expensive.  That objective of Green thinking is progressively being achieved by policy throughout the Western world.

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November 11, 2020 2:50 pm

What is that chart….CO2 Annual Emissions/Head?……is head a way of saying per capita?

if it is…per capita is total bullcrap…..allowing a country to increase emissions “per capita” is just saying increasing emissions is not dangerous and it’s all a $c@m

Reply to  Latitude
November 11, 2020 5:38 pm

Exactly. China’s CO2 emissions per capita are lower than that of the US only because 1/2 of their huge population are agrarian peasants. A much better measure is CO2 emissions per Gross Domestic Product. China’s GDP is currently 125% of the US but their CO2 emissions are 200% higher than that of the US making them actually 60% more CO2 intensive per GDP than the US. The eco-loons that claim China is “greener” than the US seem to be suggesting that the US should increase our fraction of agrarian peasants.

Reply to  Meab
November 11, 2020 7:17 pm

That is exactly their objective.

Reply to  Latitude
November 11, 2020 6:47 pm

Er, yeah. I thought “capita” meant head in Latin. Looks like a direct translation from the German source to me. Carbon production per person is a clue about how governments may consider to levy guilt taxes on the public. This will have no effect on the environment, but will nicely finance more politicians.

November 11, 2020 2:56 pm

“An excellent way to undermine Western economies is to render their power generation unreliable and expensive. That objective of Green thinking is progressively being achieved by policy throughout the Western world.” The real goal of CC being propagandized by the media to the masses using politicians as useful idiots to implement.

November 11, 2020 3:18 pm

Please say “wood” not biomass. Biomass is used as a propaganda term. And only a ding-bat (scientific term) would say burning wood is “CO2 neutral”.

So here we are ignoring the unsettled science of climate change, and jumping up the assumption ladder to debate what fuels to use for electricity. How about using the fuels we are already using, and using our “renewables” money charity … perhaps helping the one billion people without electricity.

No, that makes no sense. What we need are more expensive, intermittent sources of energy, in place of reliable, much less expensive natural gas and nuclear power. And we are discussing tearing down the energy foundation of most economies … because of an imaginary coming climate crisis we have been hearing about or 50 years … that never shows up!

Anyone who talks about CO2 emissions MUST start with an explanation of why a reduction in the growth of CO2 emissions is good news. The science is not settled on the exact effect of CO2 on the temperature. But nothing harmful has happened so far.

The science is very settled on the beneficial effect of more atmospheric CO2 on plant growth. A warmer, greener planet will support more life. Is that a bad thing? Why would anyone with sense want to “fight” that?

CO2 is the staff of life on our planet. Burning fossil fuels recycles underground carbon back into the air as carbon dioxide, where it was originally. And don’t get me started on the nonsense claim that the climate in the mid-1700s was perfect, and any change from that point (which is an extremely rough estimate), in either direction, is bad news.” Because the people living from 1650 to 1750 thought THEIR climate was too cold — they would love the current climate.

This planet has had global warming for 20,000 years, most recently intermittent warming since the late 1600s. No one blames the warming before 1975 on man made CO2 emissions, and no one actually knows how much warming, IF ANY, was caused by man made CO2 after 1975.

We know for sure that 4.5 billion years of climate change had 100 percent natural causes, But for the past 32 years we have been told that natural causes of climate change no longer matter. Only man made CO2 matters. And we have been told for 50 years that a global warming crisis was coming. Where is that crisis? Never mind that.

The “important” questions now are:
– How much money should we waste on renewables to screw up the existing reliable electricity generation system (excluding California)?

– Should we go back to burning wood, like in the old days?

– Better yet, forget killing trees to burn wood. How about burning animal dung? We’ve got cats and dogs all over the place — let them contribute a new energy source! And it is renewable!

oeman 50
Reply to  Richard Greene
November 12, 2020 7:22 am

You haven’t lived until you have a nice steak cooked over a dung fire. Man, that eatin’!

Dale S
November 11, 2020 3:23 pm

There is no “virgin forest” to clear on the US East Coast.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Dale S
November 12, 2020 10:36 am

I agree. In fact, I generally don’t like to see that kind of emotive language in a serious analysis. But the point about burning wood is a good one. If you are trying to balance out CO2 emissions over very long time scales (50 – 100 years), and you really do replant every tree cut down for fuel, then claims to be “CO2 neutral” have at least some validity. However, if you are trying to reduce CO2 *now* (or in the near future), burning wood is about the worst choice you could make. Besides, replenishment rates are just to low to allow wood to become a significant contributor to our overall energy needs.

Andre Lewis
November 11, 2020 3:26 pm

While a section of the general population can be captured by CC propaganda and think human emissions of CO2 really is a game changer for the climate this is largely because a lot of people are not very interested in real science and get their information from various media sources in virtual sound bites.
But politicians around the world should really be drawn from people prepared to look closely at all the information they can access and make informed decisions, Why then do so many slavishly follow the green agenda?

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Andre Lewis
November 11, 2020 3:58 pm

Religious fervor?
Easier to follow than lead?
Peer pressure?
Twatter morons?
Average person not very smart and half are less smart than the average?
Greed, follow the money? We know why Branson is in it (“spell profit”)

Rod Evans
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
November 11, 2020 10:58 pm

For those who have not seen the Michael Moore film.
When Richard Branson (celebrity Green) is asked by the interviewer if he considers Al Gore who was sat right next to him, a prophet? He responded with ” How are you spelling “prophet”?
At which point they both laughed like drains….

November 11, 2020 3:34 pm

They’re not green, they’re water melons.

November 11, 2020 3:36 pm

> Coal-firing has been significantly substituted by the policy of using Biomass mainly imported from the East coast of the USA, where clear-felling of virgin forest fulfils the requirement.

Is there a “Queen’s Mark” on the designated timber?” Truthfully there are precious few stands of virgin forests.

November 11, 2020 3:46 pm

As soon as I see the word “renewable” referencing wind and solar generation without qualification I know the author is not well informed on the topic.

Worse still is using terms like “Weather Dependent Renewables”. There is no such beast. In fact I think the point of the post is to make that clear. There are Weather Dependent Generators (WDGs) but they are not renewable. They are made courtesy of fossil fuelled industrial processes.

Please use accurate terminology. Perpetuating a myth is not a firm basis for an argument.

oeman 50
Reply to  RickWill
November 12, 2020 7:24 am

Good luck with enforcing your terminology preferences on this blog, much less the rest of the world.

Reply to  oeman 50
November 12, 2020 10:27 am

Yep. I have been pushing “free enterprise” in place of the Marxist term “Capitolism” for a year or so here.

I hope it starts to catch on, at least here. But you know the old saying: “Hope in one hand and $h!t in the other and see what fill up first,”

Pat from kerbob
November 11, 2020 3:54 pm

A good article but should be more professional, needs a proof reader for spelling, punctuation etc.

The climate insane will use any excuse to ignore real science, no need to give them any extra

Chris Hanley
November 11, 2020 5:01 pm

Good article, biomass burning to generate utility-scale electricity is on a par with solar PV (including storage) for inefficiency and a means to ultimate economic collapse.
Wind (including storage) is not much better.
People in countries that pursue these policies of ‘zero carbon’ while excluding nuclear will wake up in thirty years and wonder what the hell happened!

Joseph Zorzin
November 11, 2020 5:09 pm

“The designation of Biomass burning as Carbon neutral is essentially self-defeating as:

* burning Biomass substantially increases the instantaneous output of CO2 emissions.
* is hugely destructive of natural environments and habitats wherever employed at the necessary industrial scale.

The primary government actions to limit CO2 emissions have been to mandate a change in the fuels used to generate electrical power. The Green thinking requires the substitution of fossils fuels, replacing them with nominally “CO2 emissions free” fuels such as the Wind and Solar power as well as Biomass and Biofuels, which are designated to be sustainable and CO2 free by policy, because their plant material may well regrow eventually.”

Bullshit- you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about! First of all, well managed forests do a great deal of carbon sequestration and they can do it better when they are thinned correctly- and some of that wood may go to biomass. Of course when you burn it- it releases CO2. So ******* what?????? Meanwhile, for every acre thinned for biomass- many more are not being touched at all. What counts is the total carbon in all the managed forests- and only if you really think carbon emissions is a pollutant, which I don’t. You might know that if you talked to foresters. And, harvesting wood for biomass is NOT DESTRUCTIVE of forests- but you wouldn’t know that since you don’t talk to foresters who could explain this to even a brain damaged child. And, the proof that you haven’t a ******* clue is that you actually think the greens like biomass. The reality is that they hate it and fight against it worldwide. Here in Massachusetts- is the most fanatic biomass hating green fanatics who worship solar and wind. They’ve stopped biomass power plants and even hate pellets for heat. But they don’t mind at all that several thousand acres of forest in the state have been utterly destroyed in just the past 5 years to install solar farms. An example of biomass haters can be found at the web site of one of its worldwide leaders- who fights to end biomass in Europe too, not just America: – run by Mary Booth, a true fanatic. I’ve been fighting her for a decade. Not only just she hate biomass- she hates all forestry- the next step for the forestry haters. What’s absurd is that all these forestry haters all live in nice, large, expensive, wood homes with nice, fancy, wood furniture (some made from tropical hardwoods), and vast amounts of paper products. Morons, all of them- just as bad if not worse than the idiots who want to stop the fossil fuel industries.

A biomass industry will allow the improvement of forests- but again, you wouldn’t know that if you don’t talk to people who understand forestry – as I do since I’ve been doing it since Nixon was in the White House.

It really ticks me off when people rant and rave against biomass who have zero understanding of forestry. I’m especially surprised to see such idiotic rants in this blog. Michael Moore stupidly included biomass in with solar and wind.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
November 11, 2020 7:31 pm

Joseph – I also have 45 years in the game, Southern Hemisphere plantation forests. You are absolutely correct in your assertions – although transport distances from forest to plant can kill the economics of biomass for energy production, be it electricity or hog fuel for industrial heat. Topography of your forest resource can also kill the economics of production thinning as well.

One thing I’m curious regarding this article. As far as I am aware, carbon accounting rules have CO2 emissions from forests counted at the point of harvest. That being the case, wood pellets shipped to Europe from the US would count as an emission in the US, not in the country they are burnt.

Does anybody know if that is correct?

If so, it is an even more cynical example of virtue signalling of the nation actually burning the fuel.

Rod Evans
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
November 11, 2020 11:36 pm

Wow…ease up there Joe.
The point being made regarding biomass energy generation is, it is not sustainable on an industrial scale such as that being carried out at Drax.
As Michael Moore said in his film if you used all of the forests in North America for electrical energy production, it would be consumed in just one year. Then what do you use?
I am in favour of using wood for domestic energy such as wood burner stoves etc. it should always be part of our energy mix. I am completely mystified however, by the concept of building a massive inland power station, on top of a coal seem that would power the said plant for the next 100 years+ at full capacity, then decide, no let’s not do that, here is a better idea, let’s feed it with wood pellets shipped in from 3000 miles away!
It requires the logic of an ignoramus to come up with that option.
Clearing undergrowth, thinning and general good forest management, will certainly produce combustion materials on a sustainable basis and in quantity, able to produce limited electrical power.
I have no problem with any of that.
The idea however, that we would use mature wildlife habitat to feed a furnace at Drax fills me with nothing but contempt, for the idiots who decided to do that, and then rely on state funds to economically justify such a policy.
It is doubly stupid when as you say reducing Co2 is not a positive policy in the first place.
On that basis and conversely, we should perhaps thank Drax for being a massive CO2 generator. At least it is fertilising the new growth in the areas where clear cutting takes place to provide its fuel.

November 11, 2020 8:05 pm

The only solution is clean nuclear, which is as cost effective as fossil fuels but is never, ever, not in a million years, mentioned.

Gosh, I wonder why?

Reply to  RockyRoad
November 11, 2020 8:48 pm

Nuclear is not cost competitive in countries with reliable low cost fossil fuel (coal or natural gas).

Reply to  RockyRoad
November 12, 2020 4:04 am

too expensive, takes a long time to build

Coeur de Lion
November 11, 2020 11:55 pm

Don’t let’s forget that CO2 does not drive the weather to any measurable extent and therefore the whole decarbonisation exercise is futile.

Reply to  Coeur de Lion
November 12, 2020 4:05 am

Oh but it definitely does: the UK weather is increasingly affected by extreme rainfall events, storms and floods and the odd heatwave – all of which are demonstrably more likely to have occurred because of climate change

Jim Gorman
Reply to  griff
November 12, 2020 6:32 am

You speak from an uninformed position. Why don’t you post some studies that used actual historical records and accounts of these rainfall, storms and floods, and heatwaves to determine what the frequency of them were for the last 1000 years. Proxies and models will seldom, if ever, provide information about their severity. Newspapers, diaries, harvest records, etc. are what will tell you about them and their affects. I have looked and have yet to find any study by a climate scientist who has taken the time to gather this kind of info and create any kind of a timeline of weather occurrences over the last 1000 years.

To make claims that current weather events are unnatural requires extraordinary evidence. You have none.

Reply to  griff
November 12, 2020 10:30 am

As always griff, please provide your links to peer reviewed studies showing “extreme rainfall events, storms and floods and the odd heatwave – all of which are demonstrably more likely to have occurred because of climate change”.

Thanks in advance for your informative reply.

Ian Johnson
November 12, 2020 3:07 am

How much energy is required to dry the wood?

Reply to  Ian Johnson
November 12, 2020 12:15 pm

You just have to store it in a dry shed for around 5 years and it dries out by itself. You don’t actually have to do anything to it. The only energy required is for the harvesting of it.

Unless you have to transport it for several thousand miles – that is a totally different thing altogether.

See my post below.

November 12, 2020 3:27 am

There is always an exception to prove a rule.

My daughter and her husband heat their house and water using a “biomass” boiler which burns logs. However they have enough woodland to provide an endless supply of fuel and enough storage to allow them to store wood for 5 years so that it is dry when they burn it.

The only reason they have installed this system is that when they refurbished his late grandmother’s old farm house the UK Government subsidy was so large that they would have been stupid not to do so, taking into account their endless supply of almost free fuel. (It is not totally free, they have to expend time havesting it.)

They regard CO2 as plant food which at present is making their trees grow more quickly.

November 12, 2020 4:06 am

This misrepresent UK power policy: UK coal plants have closed in the last decade because of the roll out of wind, not because of any further shift to gas.

Rod Evans
Reply to  griff
November 12, 2020 6:39 am

Actually Griff they were closed and the entire site infrastructure was blown up at the various coal fired plants, just to ensure they would not be allowed to stand by ready for if needed because
….well it was because, the Climate change bill introduced by Ed Miliband in 2008 during the last stages of the Gordon Brown socialist administration, mandated they be closed down. Miliband introduced that bill because he was told to do so by the EU green policy bureaucrats.
It is a simple as that.
Look it up.

Al Miller
Reply to  griff
November 12, 2020 7:20 am

What Rod said…the killing of the coal plants was PURE politics and monetary gain by the “green$” and bugger all to do with wind.

Rob Slightam
Reply to  griff
November 12, 2020 1:15 pm

They were closed because of the EU Large Combustion Directive that was concerned with NOx emissions rather than CO2.

November 21, 2020 6:06 pm

Charles, great compilation of information, thnx!

Wouldn’t it be great if world finally come to senses and accepts that CO2 is good and not evil. It would completely change our paradigms for managing the earth energy strategy.

CO2 is good:

CO2 is not toxic at current small concentration of ~400 ppm. We may start being concerned about it being a poison if it ever reaches 10,000 ppm but I don’t see a scenario where that would ever happen.

CO2 is plant food. It greens the planet and improves agriculture. More CO2 is good CO2 from a plant’s perspective. Since plants are the primary source of animal food, more CO2 is good for animals too leading to a diverse productive earth.

CO2 has a green house gas effect which slightly helps warm the earth. Everyone knows that water is the primary GHG. If we really want to control GHG effect, we should be looking at the water cycle instead of CO2. But do we need to worry about GHG at the small changes currently occurring? The answer is NO. Earth temperature has been generally cooling that last 3.5 million years. There are cycles in this cooling trend where earth can get very cold (glacial) to moderately warm (interglacial). We are currently in an interglacial period with fairly stable moderate temperature. Modern mankind (especially North Americans, Europeans, North Asians) should absolutely FEAR descending into the next glacial period unless they want to experience living under kilometers of ice. Buffering the atmosphere with a little CO2 to help extend the current interglacial is good, not bad.

So, if we could just get off the false narrative of CO2 being evil, we could concentrate on choosing energy sources that are low cost, create the least amount of poison, are not destructive to our forests and wildlife and do not destroy our beloved birds and bats.

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