– by Jacqueline Froelich, January 1, 2017, NPR
The wood pellet fuel industry is growing in the United States. The largest chip mills across the South are gobbling up hardwood forests to meet demand for overseas customers.
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
Wood Pellets are big business. U.S. companies send almost a billion dollars worth of wood pellets to the European Union, which uses them to power energy plants. But the appetite overseas for wood pellets has conservationists in the U.S. worried about our forests. Arkansas Public Media’s Jacqueline Froelich reports.
– by Warren Cornwall, January 5, 2017, Science
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.
– by Stephanie Riegel, October 19, 2016, Business Report
Georgia-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.
– by Matt Williams, April 2, 2016, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
The dogwood trees are in bloom at this time of year in North Carolina. Tiny white flowers single them out from the other foliage that lines the interstates. And turkey vultures are ubiquitous, circling above them in flocks of three or four, tilting as they glide on the hot air.
With other European NGO colleagues I’m visiting my friends from the Dogwood Alliance, one of the American NGOs we work with on bioenergy. This is the first of a few blogs I’ll try to post during the course of my trip.
As we’ve driven past strip malls, diners and wetland forests filled with cypress trees I’ve been spotting birds like great blue heron and rough-winged swallow as well as stunning butterflies suck as the tiger swallowtail.
The southeastern USA is the source every year for millions of tonnes of wood pellets that are shipped to Europe, mostly the UK, to be burned in power stations.
– by Dr. Luis Contreras
A conspiracy is a secret plan by several parties to do something unlawful or harmful. Everyone involved has something to gain by pretending their actions are legal. Questions are discouraged and replaced by a simple code: “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Some conspiracies remain secret for a long time, others are so obvious it’s hard to imagine who was the mastermind behind the plot.
After trying to develop a system to capture and store carbon dioxide underground (CCS), Drax’s 4,000-megawatt coal-fired power station in the U.K. aborted the failed mega-project, wasting $1.5 billion of public funds. Standing forests, giant green ecosystems, are the only known way to take CO2 out of the air using sunlight and water, releasing oxygen, and storing carbon deep in the forest soil. Forests are our best hope for survival. The treasure in the forest is not only the trees you can see from a distance but the life-sustaining world beneath the forest top soil. No trees, no soil, no water, no food, no life.
Drax could have taken out the six coal-fired power plants and built a solar farm in a short amount of time connected to the grid. Complemented with offshore wind farms, it would provide a low-cost, zero-emissions, reliable, and resilient 24/7 solution.
Instead, Drax ignored 21st-century technology and looked for something to burn: trees. The idea of burning trees from far away forests provided a very expensive, poor way to keep the 35-year-old facilities in operation, replacing coal with wood pellets.
The green conspiracy claims: a “sustainable” supply of wood and the illusion burning wood pellets is carbon-neutral.