Tag Archives: wood

Half of Europe’s renewable energy ‘comes from wood’

November 30 2012. Source: EurActiv

Practically half of the EU’s renewable energy currently comes from wood and wood waste, according to the EU statistics office Eurostat, but a lack of sustainability criteria for measuring its environmental impact is stoking fears of a hidden carbon debt mountain.

The new Eurostat numbers were issued in conjunction with the UN’s Year of Sustainable Energy For All (SE4ALL), which sets ambitious renewables, energy efficiency and universal energy access targets.

According to the Eurostat statistics, on average, 49% of renewable energy in the EU 27 states came from wood and wood waste in 2010, and most EU states met the majority of their renewable energy obligations this way.

Forest products were most popular in the Baltics, accounting for 96% of Estonia’s renewable energy and 88% of Lithuania’s. At the other end of the table, Norway and Cyprus only used wood materials for 11% and 13% of their renewable energy needs respectively.  Continue reading

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Green Economy, Pollution, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Government Backs $1 Billion Plan to Make Gasoline from Wood

The desire to replace fossil fuels with wood in the manufacture of everything from liquid fuels to chemicals to plastics to electricity is driving a massive new demand for trees.  This is being met through the destruction of native forests, the expansion of industrial timber plantations of usually non-native and destructive trees and in the future industry hopes to meet this demand with trees genetically engineered for their specific end use.  GE trees will be socially and ecologically disastrous.

To sign the petition against the development of GE eualyptus plantations in the Southern U.S. click here.

–The GJEP Team


Cross-posted from the New York Times Green Blog

The Energy Department has offered a Texas company a loan guarantee for a $1 billion project to build four small factories that would turn wood chips into an oil substitute.

The loan guarantee, if finalized, would be about four times larger than any previous guarantee for biofuels. Its aim is to spur industrial-scale production of substitutes for gasoline and diesel from renewable sources beyond food crops like corn and sugar, a goal that many companies are chasing but none has yet achieved.

Federal law provides a quota for such fuels, which are meant to reduce both oil imports and carbon dioxide emissions, but for the last two years the Environmental Protection Agency has had to cut the quotas for lack of commercial production.


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Destroying forests for no gain

Cross-posted from The Boston Globe

By Mary Booth and Richard Wiles

MOST PEOPLE understand that cutting and burning forests adds climate-warming carbon dioxide into the air. Most people, apparently, except for those at the EPA.

Less than 10 days after the EPA began requiring that new power plants mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, the agency caved to industry demands and exempted the biomass industry from regulation of greenhouse gas emissions for three years.

The EPA’s capitulation clears the way for a boom in biomass power that threatens to consume millions of acres of forests, perpetuate coal use, and accelerate climate change. It’s hard to imagine a worse “renewable’’ energy policy than this.

Proponents of biomass power claim that the carbon dioxide emitted from burning mill waste and logging residues should not count, since these materials would emit carbon dioxide anyway if left to decompose. But this is irrelevant, because these sources of “waste’’ wood are insufficient to fuel biomass power plants at the scale proposed.

Expanding biomass power means burning trees, and fueling the more than 200 proposed biomass facilities and coal plants that plan to burn wood will require increased forest cutting on a potentially massive scale. As demonstrated in a state-commissioned Massachusetts study, burning trees for power dramatically increases carbon dioxide emissions per unit energy generated, relative to fossil fuels. In a typical New England forest, it would take more than 40 years of forest regrowth and carbon sequestration just to bring biomass carbon pollution down to the level of coal. The state is now restricting the eligibility of biomass power for renewable energy credits, a science-based policy that is unique in the world.

The rest of the country, still in thrall to the industry, is increasingly faced with proposals to turn forests into fuel. In North Carolina, Duke Energy got the state utility commission to sign off on co-firing whole trees with coal to produce “renewable’’ energy. American Electric Power recently calculated that delivering just 200 megawatts of biomass power in Ohio would require the equivalent of clearcutting up to 750,000 acres of forests over the coming years.

The explosion in biomass power is being driven by massive federal giveaways, at taxpayer expense. It is estimated that each facility will cost taxpayers $30 million to $60 million even as ratepayers pay more to cover the cost of the “renewable energy credits’’ that most states grant to biomass power.

These same ratepayers need to know that expanding biomass power will not only worsen carbon dioxide emissions, but will also destroy standing forests, our best defense against global warming.

There is no science behind the EPA’s decision to exempt biomass power from its greenhouse gas rules. The political rationale is not obvious either, since the original requirement threatened no jobs, affecting only new facilities and those making major modifications. If the EPA really needs three years to study whether burning biomass emits carbon dioxide, shouldn’t it also hold off on permitting new biomass facilities until the science is in?

Mary Booth and Richard Wiles have founded the Partnership for Policy Integrity to bring science to public policy issues.

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