Burning trees for energy produces 1.5 times as much carbon as coal – study shows
By Stephen Leahy*
UXBRIDGE, Canada, Sep 24 ’09 (Tierramérica) (Revised Sept 1’10)
Millions of trees, especially from the developing countries of the South, are being shipped to Europe and burned in giant furnaces to meet “green energy” requirements that are supposed to combat climate change.
In the last two months alone, energy companies in Britain have announced the construction of at least six new biomass power generation plants to produce 1,200 megawatts of energy, primarily from burning woodchips.
Those energy plants will burn 20 to 30 million tonnes of wood annually, nearly all imported from other regions and equivalent to at least one million hectares of forest.
“Europe is going to cook the world’s tropical forests to fight climate change; it’s crazy,”Simone Lovera, of the non-governmental Global Forest Coalition, which has a southern officed in Asunción, Paraguay, told Tierramérica.
Europe has committed to reducing its carbon emissions 20 percent by 2020 in an effort to fight climate change. Biofuels and biomass energy will have key roles in achieving those goals, experts say.
[UPDATE: New story details regarding subsidies, increased air pollution from wood burning and the big lie that says ‘burning wood is carbon-neutral': see Europe’s Green Energy Portfolio Up in Smoke?]
“Biomass is a very promising sector for energy companies,” says Jarret Adams, a spokesperson for Adage, a joint venture between French nuclear power giant Areva and the U.S.-based Duke Energy.
Adage is building a 50-megawatt, wood-burning power plant in the southeastern U.S. state of Florida, the first of 12 such “green energy” plants to be built over the next six years, Adams told Tierramérica.
“Burning wood for energy is considered carbon neutral by U.S. federal and state authorities,” he said. In other words, the process of generating electricity by burning wood emits an equal or lesser amount of carbon dioxide than the quantity absorbed by the trees through photosynthesis.
When Tierramérica questioned the assumption of carbon neutrality, Adams replied, “It is, but who knows for certain?”
- Mass. Study: Wood Power Worse Polluter Than Coal (usnews.com)