Category Archives: uk

[NEWS] Academics Slam Chatham House Bioenergy Report as “Misleading”

– by Liz Gyekye, March 13, 2017, Bioenergy Insight

wood pellets bioenergy insight

Photo: Bioenergy Insight

More than 125 academics have joined the International Energy Agency Bioenergy Technology Collaboration Programme (IEA Bioenergy) slamming Chatham House’s recent report on bioenergy, calling it ‘misleading.

The group of academics from across the world and the IEA state that the report “does not present an objective overview of the current state of scientific understanding with respect to the climate effects of bioenergy”.

They are urging the Chatham House author to “reconsider flawed policy recommendations.”

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[NEWS] Report: Biomass Energy Impacts Climate Change

– by Matt McGrath, February 23, 2017, BBC News

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Getty Images

Using wood pellets to generate low-carbon electricity is a flawed policy that is speeding up not slowing down climate warming.

That’s according to a new study which says wood is not carbon neutral and emissions from pellets are higher than coal.

Subsidies for biomass should be immediately reviewed, the author says.

But the industry rejected the report saying that wood energy cuts carbon significantly compared to fossil fuels.

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[NEWS] Is Wood a Green Source of Energy? Scientists Are Divided

– by Warren Cornwall, January 5, 2017, Science

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Drax Biomass (Daily Mail)

It took half a century for an acorn to grow into the 20-meter-tall oak tree standing here in a North Carolina hardwood forest near the banks of the Northeast Cape Fear River. But it takes just seconds to turn the oak into fuel for the furnace of a European power plant.

A logging machine—a cross between a tank and a one-armed crab—grabs the tree with a metal claw. With a screech, a spinning blade bites through the trunk. Ultimately, the thickest bits of this tree and hundreds of others from this forest will be sliced into lumber. But the limbs from large trees like this, along with entire small or crooked trees, go to a specialized mill to be squeezed into tiny wood pellets. Shipped across the Atlantic Ocean, they will likely end up fueling a giant power plant in the United Kingdom that supplies nearly 10% of the country’s electricity.

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[NEWS] Drax Biomass Signs Deal with Enviro Group to Avoid Logging in Wetlands

– by Stephanie Riegel, October 19, 2016, Business Report

drax_logoGeorgia-based Drax Biomass International—which stores the wood pellets it manufactures in those two massive white domes at the base of the Mississippi River bridge in Port Allen—signed a deal today with an environmental group, pledging not to source its timber from the cypress and tupelo stands found in forested wetlands like the Atchafalaya Basin.

The pledge was largely symbolic. In the two years since the company began operating in Louisiana, it never has sourced its timber from forested wetlands. However, a DBI spokesman says it wants to be an industry leader in establishing best practices because others in the wood pellet and logging industry are eyeing the cypress-tupelo swamps as a potential source for mulch and wood pellets.

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[OPINION] The High-Flown Fantasy of Aviation Biofuels

[Read the opposing view, “Takeoff for Aviation Biofuels: How, Where, When?” by Jim Lane, editor and publisher of Biofuels Digest.]

– by Almuth Ernsting, Co-Director, Biofuelwatch

On 24th February 2008, pictures of Richard Branson tossing a coconut into the air next to an aircraft at Heathrow were broadcast around the world, as he announced the world’s first biofuel flight. Biofuel, he claimed, would “enable those of us who are serious about reducing our carbon emissions to go on developing the fuels of the future.”

Environmental NGOs denounced his test flight as a publicity stunt, intended to deflect attention from the fact that aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, and most carbon intensive form of transport. As far as Branson and his airline, Virgin Atlantic, were concerned, the flight was indeed no more than a stunt: The “biofuel test flight” burned 95% ordinary kerosene and just 5% biofuels, made from coconut and Brazilian babassu nut oil. Virgin Atlantic has not used any biofuels since that day.

Since then, however, at least 24 other airlines have blended biofuels with kerosene. By September 2015, more than 2,050 such flights had taken off, most by commercial airlines, some by the US and Dutch military and US and Canadian research institutes. This year, KLM has launched a series of 80 passenger flights with biofuel blends, and since March, United Airlines has been using such blends for regular flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco. They aim to expand their use to all their flights out of Los Angeles. Across the aviation industry, biofuel use and investments have moved far beyond what could be considered a mere publicity stunt.

Even if biofuels were carbon neutral – which is far from the case – there is no realistic prospect of them making any significant dent in aviation’s contribution to global warming. Between 2002 and 2012, global jet fuel use increased by one-fifth, to 5.42 million barrels a year (around 695,000 tonnes). Apart from a minor dip during the global financial crisis in 2008-2009, it has been growing year after year. Global biofuel production has reached the equivalent of around 70.8 million tonnes of oil a year, accounting for little more than 2% of the world’s transport fuels. However, as we shall see below,only a small fraction of the biofuels which are being produced annually today could conceivably be upgraded for use in aviation. Nearly the world’s entire biofuel infrastructure is for ethanol and biodiesel, which cannot be used in aircraft.

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[NEWS] Booming Wood Pellet Production Inching Toward Watershed Forests

– by Jeff Day, August 25, 2016, Bay Journal

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Enviva logging for biomass energy (Dogwood Aliiance)

A growing industry that’s harvesting “woody biomass” from forests for energy generation could gain a toehold soon in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Like virtually every other form of energy, it’s also generating intense debate about its environmental impact.

Biomass from trees is already used to generate a small amount of power in the United States; wood chips generate electricity at several small plants owned by Dominion, the Virginia-based energy company. (The term “biomass” generally refers to any plant material used for fuel. Woody biomass is made from trees.)

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[EXCLUSIVE] Where Do Environmental Groups Stand on Bioenergy?

– by Josh Schlossberg, The Biomass Monitor

One-quarter of renewable energy in the U.S. in 2015 came from wind (21%) and solar (6%), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Meanwhile, 43% was from generated from bioenergy, combusting trees, crops, manure, and trash for electricity and/or heat, or converting these materials into liquid transportation fuels.

So where do the nation’s largest and most influential environmental groups stand on bioenergy, the largest source of renewables?

The Biomass Monitor contacted representatives for the following organizations (listed alphabetically) to determine their stances on biomass power and heating, liquid biofuels for transportation, and trash incineration: 350*, Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, National Wildlife Federation*, Natural Resources Defense Council, Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club, and Stand (formerly Forest Ethics).

*350 and National Wildlife Federation representatives didn’t respond to repeated inquiries, so organizational platforms are based on information found online.

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