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Biomass Energy

Two years ago Michael Moore released his controversial film ‘Planet of the Humans’ which investigated the use of prime forest as a biofuel. This was condemned by the climate scientists and activists.

Today the BBC published an investigation into the same problem “Drax: UK power station owner cuts down primary forests in Canada”

Are some of the ‘Greenwash’ problems starting to get exposed? What is next?

  • You know, if this was managed effectively, it could be a potential solution i.e. if you can negate the emissions NOW and not in 100 years when things are regrown. 

    The problem I have with this is timing, while we're seeing a quite frankly ridiculous amount of forest fires, logging etc. why would someone even think it makes good PR to continue with something like that? 

  • The real objection I have is why waste all the energy to grind up the trees into pellets then transport them to a port upload and reload a ship to move the pellets half way round the world at huge cost, then unload and reload onto a train and transport to DRAX to be unloaded and stockpiled before finally being lifted 100 feet up into a hopper and being burnt.

    The economics of this is ridiculous and certainly not a green solution.  Far cheaper to burn fallen wood and trees from our own forests and burn on a moving grate to save having to grind into pellets.  Just one lorry trip from forest to power station and no double handling.  Modify the boiler to a chain grate which could also burn paper and plastic  refuse in fact anything and everything that is inflammable.  The chimney scrubbers would need to be modified as well of course.

  • I don't think they are too worried about the PR, so long as they are generating electricity and making lots of money.

  • Far cheaper to burn fallen wood and trees from our own forests and burn on a moving grate to save having to grind into pellets.

    It may be, but there would be far too little of it.

  • Wood chip heating works on a small scale in forested areas. Our village, 14 000 inhabitants, has a wood chip fired boiler using local waste wood. When you walk in the woods the felled timber is always in two piles, one for the sawmill and one for the district heating. The sawmill waste then also goes for heating. We pay 12 rappen (11p) per kWh.

    There is also a heat recovery system from ground water flowing through the village and from the local lake. The information (in German) is here:

    Unsere Wärmeverbünde – GW Pfäffikon (

    It is not sensible to run Drax on wood pellets and it only works due to the 'green' subsidies.

  • Interesting how that works from a community standpoint. Though wouldn't there be emissions to negate from the burning of those items ?

  • Well one hopes the forest is re-planted after it has been cut, and those new trees as they grow are also going to be 60 percent carbohydrate in the leaves and more like 80% in the trunk, and all that carbon comes out of the air, not the ground.

    As a rough figure every tonne of tree you cut down after drying the sap contains about half a tonne of carbon that was taken out of the air while it grew. The rest is hydrogen and oxygen and trace quantities of other elements that came up with the water through the roots..

    When you burn it fully you put all that carbon  back into the air - but that which is used for building is not, and even if none of it was not used, if you were to part burn it and store or bury the charcoal,  you have a simple and easily measured carbon capture method. (slow but cheaper and more practical and easier to scale up than some of the other methods proposed)