Wood Industry, NGOs In Historic Alliance Over Biomass Concerns

In a historic link-up, wood-using industries and environmental NGOs on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean have jointly written to UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark asking him to remove subsidies that currently pay coal-fired power plants to convert to burning biomass, and to commit to a comprehensive review […]

In a historic link-up, wood-using industries and environmental NGOs on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean have jointly written to UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark asking him to remove subsidies that currently pay coal-fired power plants to convert to burning biomass, and to commit to a comprehensive review of UK bioenergy policies. Burning biomass risks undermining the UK Government’s climate targets, threatens forests, and has been shown to be uneconomic compared to true renewables like solar and wind. The UK government’s use of taxpayer resources to subsidize biomass conversions also distorts the market for wood. The letter sends a powerful message that a broad set of stakeholders care about this issue and advocate reform of current UK policies.

The call comes at the end of a consultation by Clark’s department soliciting information on whether coal-to-biomass conversion should continue to be included in a list of technologies that are eligible to receive Contracts for Difference—subsidies that are meant to support climate friendly renewables.

But the science is now clear that burning biomass is not a climate solution and actually emits more carbon than coal within timeframes relevant for solving climate change. If wood pellets are made from whole trees—even in relatively small proportions—their carbon emissions will rival or exceed fossil fuels for more than five decades. The emissions risks associated with biomass are therefore too big to be ignored. There is now ample evidence that the wood pellets currently burned in UK power plants far exceed government emissions thresholds. Biomass emissions higher than the government limits would make it very costly to meet carbon budgets, as it would require investment in other, more expensive emissions abatement measures to proceed.

The alliance letter, signed by eight prominent organizations, also underscores how subsidising the burning wood on a massive scale in electricity-only power stations—such as those operated by Drax—distorts the market for wood by providing commercial advantage to bioenergy generators over other wood users.

From NRDC.org: https://www.nrdc.org/experts/sasha-stashwick/industry-and-ngos-historic-alliance-over-biomass-concerns

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