Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Why burn US trees in UK power stations? | Europe's Green-Fuel Search Turns to America's Forests

The BBC and The Wall Street Journal have features on biomass being harvested in the U.S. for consumption in Europe.

BBC News - Renewable energy: Why burn US trees in UK power stations?:
Environmentalists are trying to block the expansion of a transatlantic trade bringing American wood to burn in European power stations.
The trade is driven by EU rules promoting renewable energy to combat climate change.
Many millions of tonnes of wood pellets will soon be shipped annually to help keep the lights on in the UK. Other EU nations may follow.
Critics say subsidising wood burning wastes money, does nothing to tackle climate change in the short term, and is wrecking some of America's finest forests.

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Europe's Green-Fuel Search Turns to America's Forests | The Wall Street Journal (subscription)
The logging is perfectly legal in North Carolina and generally so elsewhere in the U.S. South. In much of Europe, it wouldn't be.
U.S. wood thus allows EU countries to skirt Europe's environmental rules on logging but meet its environmental rules on energy.
The wood-power industry says its approach is environmentally sound.
Environmental groups dispute that logic. They say all the carbon that mature trees have been "sequestering" is instantly released when they are burned, far more rapidly than saplings can absorb it.
If Europe's goal is to reduce carbon emissions, "it doesn't make any sense to cut down the trees that are sequestering carbon," said Debbie Hammel, a resource specialist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The European Union's environment agency said it is trying to assess the consequences of creating a U.S. pellet boom. "The European Commission is currently analyzing the environmental risks" of large-scale biomass production...

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