Biomass Energy: Green Or Dirty?

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Conversion to biomass energy has played a critical role in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. But is this renewable strength source genuinely as green as we previously concept? Kate Ravilius investigated




The United Kingdom went a complete fortnight without using coal to generate strength. The last time this came about become while Queen Victoria sat on the throne. From having its first coal-free day in the summer season to recording its first coal-free week in May, the United Kingdom has achieved an impressive task of weaning itself from the dirtiest fossil fuels. But as environmentalists cheer the best information and coverage-makers pat themselves on the lower back, a terrifying fact has emerged: Biomass energy plants – a major renewable-power source and in top replacement for coal-fired energy One is that their smoke stacks emit more carbon dioxide than the coal plant life they replace. In its haste to dispose of coal, Britain might also have inadvertently made global warming worse.

You should know all about the disadvantages of biomass energy


The common sense behind biomass power is easy. Trees and plant life soak up carbon dioxide from the air, use photosynthesis to separate the carbon, and then use it to build tree trunks, bark, and leaves. But when the plant dies, it decomposes and most of the carbon goes returned to the environment as carbon dioxide. Samuel Stevenson, a coverage analyst at the Renewable Energy Association in London, explains, “When we use biomass as a strength source, we are preventing this carbon cycle, the use of that stored power productively instead of converting it.” Being launched in nature.”


Now as all of us realize, burning fossil fuels releases carbon from geological reservoirs, which, if left untouched, might have remained closed for lots thousands and thousands of years. So switching from fossil fuels to biomass electricity seemed like an obvious manner for European Union (EU) international locations to satisfy their responsibilities beneath the Paris climate agreement (signed in 2016). Back in 2009 the European Union committed to 20% renewable energy by way of 2020 and introduced biomass to its listing of renewable energy sources, classifying it as “carbon neutral”. Many international locations embraced bioenergy and commenced subsidizing the biomass enterprise.


Currently, approximately half of the EU’s renewable electricity is based on biomass, and this determine is likely to boom.


Currently about half of the EU’s renewable strength is based on biomass – a discern this is probably to increase. “The advantage of biomass is that it is able to be hastily implemented and uses modern energy infrastructure,” says Niklas Scott Bentson, an power systems professional based on the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.


In the United Kingdom, the Drax Group has taken the lead with this green and leafy power revolution. In the past decade the Drakes coal-fired electricity station in North Yorkshire, which produces approximately five% of Britain’s power, has converted four of its six manufacturing devices to run on biomass. Today Drax generates about 12% of the UK’s renewable power – enough for 4 million houses.


Drax Power Station

A huge-scale operation: the Albert Hall-fashioned garage dome for timber pellets at Drakes Power Station, North Yorkshire, UK. (courtesy: Kate Ravilius)

huge scale operation

Standing next to the train music at Drakes in September 2019, I watched as 25 wagons of wooden pellets slowly disintegrated into one among 4 Albert Hall-sized storage domes. My guide informed me that most pellets are crafted from sawmill remains and waste from managed forestry in the US and Canada. This can consist of tree tops and limbs, misshapen and diseased timber no longer appropriate for others makes use of, and small timber eliminated to maximize woodland boom. Almost every day the shipments arrive at the ports of Immingham, Hull, Newcastle, or Liverpool, every containing about sixty-two,000 tons of wooden pellets – enough to keep the boiler strolling for 2 and a half days. It takes three days for the delivery to disembark and calls for the journey of 37 freight trains.


You might think that the greenhouse-gas emissions related to transporting pellets over such wonderful distances should be huge, however, I’m advised they make up a distinctly small share of supply chain emissions. “As lengthy as the timber gas is transported with the aid of ship, the gap does not count an excessive amount of,” says Scott Bentson.


The size of operations at Drex is genuinely impressive. Within hours, the value of wooden pellets of a whole freight educate goes up in smoke. Although I understand that pellets are crafted from sawdust and timber thinner, I am nonetheless at a loss for words at how huge the demand for lumber needs to be to provide leftovers at this scale. However, Drakes says that once timber waste


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