EU Cuts Green Energy Subsidies for “Environmentally Destructive” Tree Burning

Essay by Eric Worrall

European greens have apparently noticed that chopping down forests causes environmental harm.

EU limits subsidies for burning trees under renewable energy directive

MEPs vote on amendment to phase down share of wood counted as renewable but reject calls for complete phaseout

Jennifer Rankin in Brussels Thu 15 Sep 2022 02.00 AEST

The European parliament has called to end public subsidies for the environmentally destructive practice of burning trees for fuel, but campaigners warned the plans risked being “too little, too late”.

Voting on an amendment to the EU’s renewable energy directive, MEPs called to “phase down” the share of trees counted as renewable energy in EU targets. But they swerved setting any dates to reduce the burning of “primary wood”. They rejected calls for a complete phaseout of a form of energy generation that scientists have warned releases more carbon into the atmosphere than burning gas or coal.

The EU wants to expand renewable energy as fast as possible, as it seeks to accelerate the green transition and end dependence on Russian fossil fuels. MEPs voted for 45% of EU energy to come from renewable sources by 2030.

Behind this headline target, Europe’s dash for bioenergy has caused growing alarm. More than 500 scientists last year called on EU and world leaders to end subsidies for wood burning.

According to the European Commission, the EU spent €13bn (£11bn) in bioenergy subsidies in 2020, down from €17bn the previous year. NGOs say most of those subsidies go to wood-burning power plants, but could be better targeted on support for clean technology, such as heat pumps.

Read more:

I can’t help wondering if a €13-17 billion annual subsidy for chopping down trees and burning them was what the original founders of the environmental movement had in mind, when they first started having their green action group meetings.

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September 15, 2022 2:11 am

“I can’t help wondering if a €13-17 billion annual subsidy for chopping down trees and burning them was what the original founders of the environmental movement had in mind, when they first started having their green action group meetings.”

or supporting the insanity of the Drax power plant which sits atop a coal mine.

Reply to  Ron
September 15, 2022 2:31 am

Not to mention chopping down immature trees and planting windmills instead.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Oldseadog
September 15, 2022 1:32 pm

And thousand year old forests to make way for windturbines. Link

Reply to  Ron
September 15, 2022 3:44 am

And the woodchips for Drax are imported from trees chopped down in USA or Canada!

Reply to  Gerald
September 15, 2022 7:59 am

And does no harm to remind people that Drax sits on top of enough coal to last at least its lifetime.
That’s why it was built there. Duh!
And there is no way that cutting down American forests to generate electricity in England can be less polluting than using the fuel under your feet by any metric!

Reply to  Newminster
September 15, 2022 9:46 am

it’s either burn American trees in Britain or let them burn in raging wildfires locally in USA, they’ll burn regardless

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Rhee
September 15, 2022 9:56 am

If only they were burning underbrush and dead trees from places that were at high risk of forest fires, but they are not. Most of the wood for Drax comes from tree farms.

Smart Rock
Reply to  Rhee
September 15, 2022 10:49 am

The American trees burned at Drax reportedly come from the Appalachian and Piedmont areas. Seen any raging wildfires there lately?

Reply to  Smart Rock
September 15, 2022 11:29 am

Nope. Nope. Still Nope.

Almost never.

Reply to  Rhee
September 15, 2022 10:59 am

Oh really?

Reply to  ResourceGuy
September 15, 2022 3:21 pm

He saw it on the Beeb, it must be true.

Reply to  Rhee
September 15, 2022 11:07 am

Wood pellet production involves a huge amount of refined oil products to harvest, move, manufacture, and transfer/transport a number of other times in order to get to the boiler to burn it. These materials don’t just fly out of the forests and across continents and ocean basins.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
September 15, 2022 12:44 pm

But all that machinery and those ships should have been converted to electric power a long, long time ago. (Do I need a \sarc?)

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
September 15, 2022 2:34 pm

The ship owners are waiting on someone to market a long, floating extension cord.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
September 16, 2022 3:25 am

And an International Body, independent of IMO, based in Lesotho or Paraguay, to mandate the un-knotting of the many thousands of such floating power cables, that Will occur . . . .
I am available to chair that body, by teleconference, of course!


Clyde Spencer
Reply to  ResourceGuy
September 15, 2022 2:33 pm

Has anyone documented the amount of energy required to just chip the trees?

It makes sense to utilize sawdust from lumber mills by compressing it into pellets or logs. However, chipping trees seems the height of insanity.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
September 15, 2022 10:57 pm

Notionally, maybe… I’m not sure the idea would survive long once you look at the economics of it?

Reply to  Rhee
September 15, 2022 12:43 pm

You do know the difference between a wildfire and a forest fire, right?

Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
September 15, 2022 3:22 pm

This guy thinks the entire country is burning down. I doubt he knows the difference between a campfire and a campfire girl.

Reply to  MarkW
September 15, 2022 5:53 pm

Maybe if it were to trans…

Reply to  Rhee
September 15, 2022 3:20 pm

Do you have any idea what fraction of trees burn in wild fires each year?
Look it up, then hang your head in shame. Assuming you even know what shame is.

Reply to  Rhee
September 16, 2022 7:48 pm

The Drax trees are from the eastern forests. We have more sense here on the east when it comes to forest management as well as more rainfall. The wildfires are primarily a west coast phenomena due to insane forest management practices (none) and an semi-arid dry climate.

Reply to  Rhee
September 19, 2022 3:06 pm

Incredibly dumb statement.

Rick C
Reply to  Ron
September 15, 2022 9:50 am

It’s okay though, because wealthy virtue signalers can buy carbon credits from land owners to pledge not to cut down trees. No need for refunds when the same trees burn in a wild fire.

September 15, 2022 2:51 am

What a great way to jack up the price of electricity, even more, just in time for winter. Wood for power from life-extended coal plants, especially sourced offshore, wasn’t a brilliant idea to begin with. But killing it off in face of natural gas shortage is compounding the stupid. Germany, for one, has a surplus of insect killed forest right now, and no good way to burn it at point-of-use for heating or cooking.

September 15, 2022 3:23 am

They might well need wood for other things.

“”Growing our way out of climate change by building with hemp and wood fibre””

The great fire of London obviously never happened

The greens want trees left uncut and to build houses with wood – doublethink is required

Climate believer
Reply to  fretslider
September 15, 2022 3:31 am

Greens reveal plan for sustainable housing…
Barnes Moore
Reply to  Climate believer
September 15, 2022 5:00 am

And here is the master bathroom – just replace “management” with “Elites” and “Employees” with “peasants”

Gerry, England
Reply to  fretslider
September 15, 2022 5:27 am

Funny how the Great Fire petered out when it came across buildings of stone and brick…

Phillip Bratby
September 15, 2022 3:30 am

It is well known (apart from amongst greens) that renewable technologies are mostly a return to medieval practices, and they led to deforestation and didn’t help alleviate starvation, extreme poverty and hardship.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
September 15, 2022 5:40 am

“a return to medieval practices”

Like those primitive worlds and villages you encounter in Star Trek. Idealised and in tune with Gaia.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
September 15, 2022 5:49 am

The main reason we have some trees left in the UK is the change from charcoal to coal for smelting iron.
How long does it take for the up-front discharge of CO2 when burning trees to be recovered.
The same question might be asked concerning the construction of wind and solar generators.

mark from the midwest
Reply to  StephenP
September 15, 2022 6:21 am

That’s actually a tough question, there are quite a few variables to account for, and much of it depends on the species of tree. But my guess is anywhere from 20 to 30 years.

Reply to  mark from the midwest
September 15, 2022 8:48 pm

some studies have said from 20 to 140 years, depending on where and the conditions there (assuming the cleared trees are ever replanted).

Reply to  StephenP
September 15, 2022 1:30 pm

And kerosene saved the whales.

jeffery P
Reply to  Phillip Bratby
September 15, 2022 1:18 pm

It seems to me trees are renewable.

Reply to  jeffery P
September 15, 2022 8:56 pm

I did some reading long ago (before CAGE propaganda) as I was burning wood for winter heat. Results depend upon local conditions, most importantly the yearly amount of rain. Under reasonable conditions, and under the stipulation that wood is cut selectively, based on the longer term view. a properly managed wood lot can produce 3 to 4 cords of firewood per acre per year indefinitely, without any long term decrease in the mass of wood growing in the lot. Of course the soil can be badly depleted so little will grow, but salting your wood lot with the wood ash helps considerably.

Reply to  jeffery P
September 16, 2022 10:01 am

Up to a point, I suppose? The way they are ‘harvested’ for chipping is more akin to strip mining… the total destruction of the forest eco-system is the result and that takes a lot longer to replace than simply sticking a sapling or two thousand in the ground.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
September 17, 2022 10:01 pm

I seem to recall being taught that Ireland was once forested like England, but all of the trees were cut down centuries ago. Is that true? Will “green” energy lead to further vast deforestation?

September 15, 2022 3:34 am

“Do we have a problem?” Nicki Minaj & Lil Baby.

“First, admit you have a problem.” AA

“Uh, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” Jim Lovell

David Dibbell
September 15, 2022 3:37 am

Let’s see if they eventually come around to ending green energy subsidies for environmentally destructive solar farms and wind turbines. Not holding my breath, but the same concept applies. Fossil fuel and nuclear sources are the least impact options for the reliable energy we need.

Reply to  David Dibbell
September 15, 2022 8:18 am

Maybe that’s what we should be concentrating on — total environmental impact. According to my previous posting the TEI of Drax burning coal would be considerably less than burning imported wood. I’m also prepared to bet that it would be considerably less than the equivalent electricity output of wind farms. Somebody else will have to do the math.
Unless I’ve read our Greens and their watermelon friends wrong the attack on CO2 has nothing to do with climate and everything to do with eliminating coal, oil and gas (the one thing they all have in common being that they emit CO2) or in other words “unpicking the Industrial Revolution”. Their opposition to nuclear simply confirms this since if what they say is what they mean the should be all in favour of nuclear as the cleanest reliable option.
Making TEI the main consideration right across the board shoots the environmentalist fox, I think!

Coeur de Lion
September 15, 2022 3:41 am

It will emerge eventually that CO2 does not influence the climate very much, despite continuous alarmist propaganda. Then the whole catafalque will collapse. Not in my lifetime.

willem post
September 15, 2022 3:42 am

Enviros were on a mindless journey to oblivion, as it turned out.

This is just another example of Brussels’ energy ineptness and idiocy, which is just as bad as closing down nuclear plants that come in handy, when natural gas, oil and coal is less available and too expensive.

No wonder Europe is tumbling into the self-dug abyss.
Europe is beyond help
A new leadership is needed to Make Europe Sane Again, MESA

Biden is acting as a fool, by depleting our oil reserves, and sending Europe our oil, gas and coal, which increases energy prices and ALL OTHER PRICES in the US, which, drum-roll, please, yields only higher and higher inflation.

His screw-American-families policy stinks to high heaven.

Johannes S. Herbst
September 15, 2022 3:50 am

The Bavarian Forest could get an output of wood the double amount as today an still could be managed in a sustainable way. Still the amount of dead wood removed could migitate the danger of forest fires. Best way would be to use it as timber an only to use the leftovers as fuel. I am a bavarian wood house builder, heating my home in this way for 50 years.

Reply to  Johannes S. Herbst
September 15, 2022 5:38 am

Forests will need to be better managed.

Northern summers are already getting warmer and drier and this long trend is in the early stage of about 5,000 years before the ice mountains reform and keep the place cool.

This is April insolation at 50N for the last 5kyr and the next 10kyr:
 -5.000  321.611753
   -4.000  322.426382
   -3.000  324.318867
   -2.000  327.033869
   -1.000  330.299924
    0.000  333.805788
    1.000  337.219005
    2.000  340.145659
    3.000  342.380496
    4.000  343.637549
    5.000  343.852821
    6.000  343.030044
    7.000  341.299465
    8.000  338.860063
    9.000  336.075934
   10.000  333.190068

Makes any claimed ECS from CO2 look minuscule. This is a real change due to orbital changes not made up BS.

The extra CO2 is having dramatic impact on forests productivity. More fuel with less water. A growing fuel source that needs to be managed to avoid the catastrophic infernos.

Michael in Dublin
September 15, 2022 4:19 am

It is a pity that the Greens do not notice other things that are happening literally under their noses.

Here is a news report from Ireland today:
Electricity and gas supplier Panda Power has said it is exit (sic) the Irish market following a strategic review of its business.”

Panda Power launched in 2015 as an electricity-only provider. In February 2018 the supplier began supplying gas and dual-fuel plans as well. The company provided 100% renewable electricity from wind, solar, and wave energy. (my emphasis)

I would love to say to our Green politicians:
You told us renewables are the solution.
You told us they would be cheaper than fossil fuels.
You told us we need to transition speedily.
Why with rocketing prices for fossil fuels can a renewable company not succeed?

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  Michael in Dublin
September 15, 2022 7:58 am

An update:
One of politicians berated the Greens and the Irish government and saying:
“We saw, only yesterday, the announcement by Panda Power that it will be exiting the Irish market, the fourth supplier to do so.” (my emphasis).

Good for her.

The Green flop needs to be exposed.

Reply to  Michael in Dublin
September 15, 2022 1:35 pm

Considering Pandas eat a lot of ineffective food (fuel) and are mostly sleepy and lazy (low energy output), it is an appropriate name for a wind & solar energy company.

Reply to  DavidC
September 15, 2022 9:02 pm

Where do Panda’s hail from? Could there be a more insidious reason for their actions, such as actions to reduce alternates energy supplies for the area, making it dependent upon your products,, then skip out and let things crash?

Michael in Dublin
September 15, 2022 4:45 am

A new really green slogan:
Green the world with more plant food (CO2)

Reply to  Michael in Dublin
September 15, 2022 5:18 am

At what level of CO2 does life become impossible? If it gets low enough there won’t be anyone left.

Reply to  Yooper
September 15, 2022 5:30 am

150 ppm

Reply to  Redge
September 15, 2022 8:23 am

But I believe the process starts at ~220ppm. Our pre-1850 figure was getting a bit close for comfort!

Reply to  Redge
September 15, 2022 9:57 am

That’s 150ppm at sea level.
As the altitude increases, the ratio of CO2 has to increase to make up for the dropping pressure.

John Hultquist
Reply to  Yooper
September 15, 2022 10:31 am

Lots of interesting studies reported here:
CO2 Science
. . . but you have to find stuff.
Here is a source of direct info:
science based – Mass extinction because of too low CO2-levels – Worldbuilding Stack Exchange
Note the different types (C3 & C4) types of plants.

Reply to  Yooper
September 15, 2022 11:17 am

Unfortunately the text I read this in is no longer on line. The textbook must have been written in the 1970s or so, and the CO2 level must have been around 280, I guess. It said that in the afternoon of high growing days in the UK, wheat crops stopped growing due to low levels of CO2.

A worldwide average would mislead someone into thinking there was ample CO2, but on a local level, with hundreds of acres of plants grabbing all the CO2 out of the air possible, the levels would drop too low on every day that was otherwise conducive for growth.

So problems could arise for Man well before the average level became critically low.

Reply to  Jtom
September 15, 2022 9:04 pm

Just like the probable effectiveness of heat pumps in an urban environment.

September 15, 2022 5:57 am

As a bonus you get to cheer the elimination of the Amazon rainforest.

September 15, 2022 6:09 am

“MEPs vote on amendment to phase down share of wood counted as renewable but reject calls for complete phaseout”

The European Parliament channels St Augustine. “Oh Lord, make me sensible – but not just yet…”

Philip CM
September 15, 2022 6:14 am

At some point the adults are going to have to put a stop to the children’s table revolt, and regain control at the dinner table.

E. Martin
September 15, 2022 6:24 am

The UK knows burning vast amounts of wood is very bad — so they import and burn vast quantities of US wood!

September 15, 2022 6:32 am

Every decision the ruling class has made for 20+ years has been wrong. They are committed to the idea that ordinary people are living too well & that must be stopped by any means necessary. The justification keeps changing (war on terror, climate change, COVID, climate change again, Ukraine, climate change again) but the goal remains the same: to maximize control while destroying the standard of living of the majority.

You can’t accidentally make all these decisions wrong. It must be deliberate.

And the big “tell” is that their energy reduction schemes never target the most wasteful item: private planes.

Charles Pickles
Reply to  tgasloli
September 15, 2022 9:19 am

I do believe our new Prime Minister understands the environmental crap we have been living with, and under, for the past twenty years or more is just that. She will slowly create change, under the cost of living emergency – not the so-called climate one.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Charles Pickles
September 15, 2022 1:47 pm

I don’t know if she has time for a slow change.
The problem is she only has a couple of years. Some plans are very contentious, no windfall tax, no limit to bankers bonuses in the current economic situation. Bankers are still reviled from the subprime financial crash. So if these rumours are true she’ll start unpopular with no Argentine Junta to save her

Reply to  tgasloli
September 15, 2022 6:17 pm

I think the wrong (for the ordinary people) decisions began more than 100 years ago with the start of the “progressive” movement.

Reply to  tgasloli
September 15, 2022 9:06 pm

or private yachts.

September 15, 2022 7:24 am

Yes, but trees, unlike Green solutions, are green, renewable, and ecologically friendly.

September 15, 2022 8:03 am

Now abort the subsidy of environmentally destructive recovery and toxic processing of disparately distributed rare earth elements that sustain development of Green technology.

September 15, 2022 8:18 am

Chopping down forests in order to burn them: Bad
Chopping down forests in order to build wind and solar farms: Good

BTW, they don’t chop down forests in order to burn them, they chop down trees that were grown in tree farms specifically for that purpose.

John Hultquist
Reply to  MarkW
September 15, 2022 10:35 am
Steve Richards
Reply to  John Hultquist
September 16, 2022 2:29 am

A very clever bit of kit. Good engineering but a shame about the trees.

Smart Rock
September 15, 2022 11:13 am

In the1500s, the government of Queen Elizabeth I started promoting the use of coal for heating and cooking because trees were too important as construction materials to burn as fuel. Coal was readily available on the Northumberland coast where coal seams are exposed in cliffs (hence the term “sea coal”).

History repeating itself again?

(They also developed a policy of cutting down forests in Ireland because they might provide shelter for insurgents and rebels. Sigh…)

John Hultquist
Reply to  Smart Rock
September 15, 2022 1:36 pm

The tax on tea was not the only issue that raised anger among American colonists in the 1700’s.
The King’s Broad Arrow and Eastern White Pine – NELMA

jeffery P
September 15, 2022 1:48 pm

More evidence that subsidies never die. We know the ethanol subsidies in the US do not save oil. Using farmland to grow corn for fuel instead of food borders on immoral.

September 15, 2022 2:27 pm

The solution to this is so simple I’m surprised no one has figured it out by now. Declare fossil fuel and nuclear energy renewable, problem solved. The definition for renewable energy seems to be pretty fluid anyway. This whole rotten exercise is so useless.

Reply to  Bob
September 15, 2022 3:26 pm

Fossil fuels are renewable. Just not on a timescale that is useful to any of us.
Anyplace where plant matter is being buried, fossil fuels are being renewed. And in a couple million years, they will be ready to extract.

September 15, 2022 4:27 pm

It took the idiots in charge of the EU years to figure out that cutting down trees and burning them in a furnace was a dumb environmental idea. Normal people could see this was a stupid idea from the outset.

Reply to  nicholas william tesdorf
September 15, 2022 9:12 pm

There are economic trade-off but is the California burning of millions of trees in forest fires every year more reasonable than thinning the forests and using the cut timber to generate electricity and heat?

Eric B
Reply to  nicholas william tesdorf
September 16, 2022 1:16 am

Is that what we do or is that what you are being told?

September 15, 2022 10:46 pm

It’s astonishing that such a policy could have been instigated in the first place really, so obvious is it that destroying the environment in order to save the environment is a poor decision.

That it has been perpetrated by people who advocate cutting down trees to reduce Carbon generation at the same time as they demand planting trees to mitigate Carbon use from other sources, reveals their utter madness…

Except, they’re not mad, are they? It’s so obviously bonkers that one can only conclude that everything they do is deliberate and calculated towards the end game.

It’s ironic, I suppose, that it has taken the ‘Greens’ to finally see through this, at last. Let’s hope they can bring their focus to bear on the rest of the Greenwash being imposed on us next…

Eric B
September 16, 2022 1:14 am

I just have to comment on this.

I’m all for bashing the EU and especially the commission. HOWEVER. When the links go to another “Swedish girl” and this really was what I thought it was I have to correct you.

I live in Sweden and for anyone who does not know. Swedish people have as close to a religious feeling towards forests as you can get. To suggest that we burn trees to get “power” is one of those disgusting omissions of facts that are highly relevant to understanding what this is about.

First of all. In the middle of Sweden it gets cold. Yes the north is much colder for much longer but even in Stockholm -30 is not unheard of. If you live in a stand alone house you probably have a heating through geothermal with possible back up/top up of woodburning (most people use it because it’s nice)

But at least 50% av the population relies on district heating systems.

*Fjärrvärmen tar vara på resurser som annars skulle gå förlorade. Med det menas att bränslet består av olika former av rester: rester från skogsavverkning, träavfall från pappers- eller träindustrin, eller avfall, som kan komma från hushåll eller från verksamheter.*

So yes. Wood among other things are burned, true. What is also true is that we have one or two trees around here and we use wood for building stuff, making stuff. Do you think everything on a tree is superglued into IKEA furniture like we live in some magical Disney movie? The grid can also use spill heating from industries at the same time.

So in a nutshell we have stupid and/or lying eco-terrorists who will try yet again (this isn’t new in Sweden btw) to bring down our society. This will put pressure on the district heating yet again and this time they might just destroy it.

Our homes are insulated. We heat it with crap that would rot on the ground instead of burning gas. And what will happen is what always happens when these useful idiots force all of us to take part in the ritualistic self harm they seem to be so addicted to; a panic sets in when the results become apparent, At that point oil, coal or F***ing radioactive waste, ANYTHING to avoid the harsh reality without heat in -30.

Explain to me how planting trees, using ALL of the tree to get what we need to survive is destructive?

Reply to  Eric B
September 18, 2022 6:09 pm

According to published reports, there is growing clear cutting of old forests with all wood being sold as fuel in a few countries. There have been investigations of similar, but perhaps more limited practices in some other European countries but, as far as anything I’ve come across, there has not been any verified reports of such burning in most European countries.

September 16, 2022 7:08 am

Please don’t shoot the messenger but this article is reporting that:
“The existing UK sustainability governance framework for bioenergy is world-leading. It includes stringent criteria for land use and greenhouse gas emissions. These sustainability regulations, which are independently audited, ensure that not only is biomass used in the UK sourced from stable or growing forests, but that the lifecycle emissions for biomass electricity generation (NB including the whole supply chain) represent a significant emissions saving over fossil fuels. Typically, biomass represents a >80% reduction compared to coal and >70% reduction compared to gas.”

Old Wisdom
September 16, 2022 3:06 pm

I don’t know about the forests but the UK buys boat loads of wood from Texas and we are happy to sell it. Mesquite trees are horrible water sucking weeds and the wood chip business helps reclaim productive grasslands.

Jack Frost
September 17, 2022 2:25 am

Too many people confuse environmentalism with climate change. There is a great deal that can be done to protect our natural environment whilst ignoring climate alarmism. Not burning forests and food crops for biofuel could be a good place to start.

Reply to  Jack Frost
September 18, 2022 6:15 pm

I repeat my question:
The now common US practice of not using forests for anything productive, and not thinning them, eventually leads to massive forest fires.
Is this better than thinning and managing forest, and using the removed wood, or at least the part of the wood not good for timber, as fuel for electricity generation and heating the more reasonable approach? Why?

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