Biomass electricity = forest destruction and land-grabs

Clearcutting of coastal native hardwood forests in North Carolina – Drax is burning pellets from native forest logging in this region. Photo: Dogwood Alliance

Campaigners have reacted angrily to Government announcements on Wednesday setting out increased support for new biomass power capacity through “strike prices”.  High levels of long-term subsidies have been guaranteed for the partial conversion of Drax Power station to biomass (allowing both to avoid having to shut down), for the biomass conversion of the currently closed Lynemouth Power station and for a large new biomass plant proposed by MGT Power at Teesside Port. Coal to biomass conversion strike price is £105 p MWh. Dedicated biomass will get £125 p MWh guaranteed.

MGT Power’s plans have already been implicated in land-grabbing in Brazil for eucalyptus plantations, [2] whilst Drax has been shown to have burnt pellets sourced from the clear-cutting of ancient wetland forests in the southern US. [3] Overall, further support was announced for more than 4GW of biomass capacity, which will see operators burning almost 30 million tonnes of green wood a year and receiving approximately £ 1 billion in subsidies for this annually. [4] Drax has already been guaranteed around £198 million in subsidies for biomass conversion under an existing subsidy scheme.  30 million tonnes of wood is equivalent to three times the UK’s  total annual wood production.

Oliver Munnion, Biofuelwatch co-director said: “This announcement speaks volumes about the true nature of UK renewable energy policy. Billions are being thrown at old, inefficient coal-fired power stations in a desperate attempt to keep them generating, whilst new, equally inefficient dedicated plants implicated in land-grabbing are also receiving support. Burning 3 times as much wood as the UK produces every year is not the way to reduce emissions – it’s a smoke screen for the business-as-usual agendas of Government and energy companies.” Continue reading

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