UK biomass: £450m lost over failed green power programme 

Posted: February 23, 2017 by oldbrew in Energy, ideology
Tags: , , , , ,

abracadabra-515x396The biomass problem, or fallacy, is well-known and media like The Times are finally catching up.

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.

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.

The Times report continues here.
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Update – expanded GWPF ‘Green Lunacy’ report now available here.

  1. A C Osborn says:

    At least they are now starting to report on this madness, so I suppose that is some progress.

  2. oldbrew says:

    From the report:
    ‘Pellet companies and power stations using them tended to claim that most of their wood was residues, Mr Brack said. In fact, about three quarters of the pellets from the southern US came from whole trees and residues accounted for only a quarter. “Whole trees can sometimes be misclassified as residues,” the report said.’

    So it’s the con we always knew it was. It would take a fantastic amount of trees to create ‘7.5 million tonnes’ of residues.

  3. Climatism says:

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    Yet more MILLIONS of *other-people’s-money* wasted in the feel-good search for unreliable energy alternatives, driven by “save the planet” hysteria, and…government subsidies. Of course.
    And again, the worst punishment these taxpayer subsidy sucking asses will ever be accused of is an excess of virtue.
    The question now becomes. Who really is wrecking the planet and people’s lives?

  4. “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.”

    Yes, even more than brown coal and possibly lignite and peat. But don’t expect our elected representative to know that.

  5. Joe Public says:

    We convert land-locked CO2 into gaseous CO2, some of which is then absorbed by the oceans to make them less neutral.

  6. oldbrew says:

    ‘The report was written by Duncan Brack, a former special adviser to Mr Huhne’

    He must have wised up to his deception-prone former boss 😐

  7. rishrac says:

    I own property with trees. Once upon a time the greens wanted to control whether I could cut them down because they were thought to be carbon sinks. They even sent me forms to sign which I promptly filed under garbage. If they are going to use wood pellets I don’t see why they aren’t cutting all the dead trees in the western US that have supposedly died from climate change. It’s waiting for a forest fire to happen.

  8. TinyCO2 says:

    How many times are these things going to turn out exactly the way sceptics predict before people stat listning to us?

  9. stewgreen says:

    Nina of Renewable Energy Association representing Drax said “You have 100 trees each growing at 3% per year ..cut 2 trees for timber use the offcuts for Drax and the forest would still absorb 1% more carbon than the year before.”

    Dingaling It’s an error to compare this year with the last, you compare this year with the theoretical this year.
    If in year 1 each tree has T worth of wood
    – 100T becomes 103T
    – In harvesting situation you have about 101T plus about 1.5T in construction timber
    plus 0.5T Drax Fuel which when burnt doesn’t magically appear in the new seedlings.
    It will take some years before those 2 seedlings take up that 0.5T
    (BTW every year construction timber comes out of use and it’s carbon back in the atmosphere.)
    That 98 trees is a distraction cos they grow whatever We are concerned about that 0.5T x 100million that Drax burn every year. Only when half grown are the 2 seedlings beginning to catch up with the defecit.

  10. JB says:

    Speaking of skeptics (yes, I’m Yankee), it seems apropos to review what some wrote early on in this controversy:

    The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now proclaiming that many of its members disbelieve in human-induced global warming. The APS is also sponsoring public debate on the validity of global warming science. The leadership of the society had previously called the evidence for global warming “incontrovertible.”
    In a posting to the APS forum, editor Jeffrey Marque explains, “There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution.”

    full article:

    In a paper titled Falsification of the Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects within the Frame of Physics, arXiv:0707.1161v3 [], is the following abstract:

    The atmospheric greenhouse effect, an idea that authors trace back to the traditional works of Fourier 1824, Tyndall 1861, and Arrhenius 1896, and which is still supported in global climatology, essentially describes a fictitious mechanism, in which a planetary atmosphere acts as a heat pump driven by an environment that is radiatively interacting with but radiatively equilibrated to the atmospheric system. According to the second law of thermodynamics such a planetary machine can never exist. Nevertheless, in almost all texts of global climatology and in a widespread secondary literature it is taken for granted that such mechanism is real and stands on a firm scientific foundation. In this paper the popular conjecture is analyzed and the underlying physical principles are clarified. By showing that:

    (a) there are no common physical laws between the warming phenomenon in glass houses and the fictitious atmospheric greenhouse effects,
    (b) there are no calculations to determine an average surface temperature of a planet,
    (c) the frequently mentioned difference of 33ºC is a meaningless number calculated wrongly,
    (d) the formulas of cavity radiation are used inappropriately,
    (e) the assumption of a radiative balance is unphysical,
    (f) thermal conductivity and friction must not be set to zero, the atmospheric greenhouse conjecture is falsified.

    If true that the earth’s atmosphere does not exhibit greenhouse phenomena, then we might do well to stop referring to GHGs, and talk real science and the burning of carbonaceous material in terms of atmospheric pollutants.

  11. Bitter&twisted says:

    A large proportion of the blame for this expensive farce can be laid at the door of ex-con and current con-artist, Chris Huhne.
    The scamster should be prosecuted for fraud.

    [reply] what – again? 😉

  12. oldbrew says:

    Daily Mail joins the biomass bashers.

    A pre-programmed robot spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: ‘All biomass power plants in the UK have to meet mandatory sustainability criteria to ensure they reduce carbon emissions.
    ‘Biomass conversion projects are a useful way to convert old polluting coal power stations into lower carbon electricity sources, whilst helping us maintain energy security and keeping down bills.’

    So a £450 million pound bung is ‘keeping down bills’? Government accounting must be clever stuff.

    ‘lower carbon’? – is a fail, see report above.

  13. craigm350 says:

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News and commented:
    We told you so comes to mind

  14. Sparks says:

    First of all, the Fallacy that cutting down trees and burning them in a power plant effects earths climate is nonsense, Burn all the trees on the planet in a furnace and it will have absolutely no effect…

    Secondly, “American wood pellets” is not what you think, from these bunch of liars, the reality is that American forests are owned in the UK and Ireland by American “green” interests, they have been chopping down forests destined for the furnace for years, these are the same people who raised profitable funding from well meaning people around the world, to acquire these forests and sell them off, and the forests end up as expensive subsidised fuel…

  15. Sparks says:

    A few years ago, the reality was that I could have offset my so called “carbon foot print” by logging on to an American website affiliated with Al Gore’s global warming cause, and actually pay money for trees that were planted in an area across from were I live, planted using public funding years before, anyway, the trees were chopped down and obviously sold to make some snake oil salesman a juicy profit, all bought and paid for by… guess who?

  16. […] Source: UK biomass: £450m lost over failed green power programme  | Tallbloke’s Talkshop […]

  17. FTOP says:

    Only in the Orwellian mindset of those out to save the planet could a scheme this illogical be hatched:

    In order to save the world, we are going to close coal plants because they release CO2
    Then, we are going to switch to a less dense energy source (wood) that will require us to cut down old growth forests
    Of course, our energy source will release less of the most important food source needed to regrow the trees we just cut down

    After pursuing this Quixotic folly, they then find out that their source releases more of what they are trying to curb making the stupidity of the plan even supersede its initial level of illogic.

    Makes one understand why wine & spirits were invented.

  18. oldbrew says:

    FTOP – the climate alarm industry has its own alternative ‘logic’.

  19. hunter says:

    I was warning my family in North Carolina- in the lumber business- that this scam would not last and to tell their friends selling the wood pellets to put away some of the loot for the inevitable time when the Euro-fools would wake up.

  20. oldbrew says:

    This was the top story on ‘climate change’ loving BBC Science And Environment news yesterday.

    Most wood energy schemes are a ‘disaster’ for climate change

    “The simplest way is to limit support to those type of biomass that really represent genuine carbon savings, primarily sawmill waste and post-consumer wood waste,” said Duncan Brack.

  21. oldbrew says:

    Booker weighs in…

    Date: 25/02/17 Christopher Booker, Daily Mail

  22. oldbrew says:

    Drax in bid to buy assets of embattled US firms

    Yorkshire power generation company Drax is to try and acquire out of bankruptcy the operating assets of two US-based pellet manufacturers.

  23. catweazle666 says:

    “Drax in bid to buy assets of embattled US firms”

    Bad idea.

    I’ll put good money Trump is targeting bogus “Green” companies such as them at this very moment.