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WPIF Director-General Letter to The Times
Fri, Aug 5, 2011

Sir

 

Coal Giant demands more incentive to burn wood pellets, straw and waste: Tim Webb, Times, Wednesday 3 August

 

What Drax and others are really asking for is more money to build more power plants to burn trees from forests in the UK and abroad.

 

While Drax may call it ‘biomass’ and include straw and waste, with insufficient take up of energy crops in the UK and abroad and strict controls on what waste can be burned, what they will be using is, in reality, ‘woody biomass’ - which is the most carbon intense, inefficient and expensive method of producing electricity.

 

Trees store carbon over years of growth and continue to store it throughout the life of the wood regardless of what products are produced from it.  Burn it, and you immediately release the stored carbon, whilst replanting a replacement will take 30 to 40 years to grow before it stores an equivalent quantity.

 

The total demand for woody biomass if the Drax, E.ON, SSE and other 60 or so planned ‘biomass’ plants were to come online would be around 50 million green tonnes of wood per year.  This would create only 0.5% of the total energy required for UK use, whilst producing electricity that is only 30% efficient, as well as increasing not decreasing our carbon emissions.

 

Most of the UK wood supply is already being utilised by the sawmilling, wood panel and other associated industries that actually make wood work the way it should by producing products that continue to store carbon. 

 

Drax, having used subsidies to buy what little remains of the UK wood basket will use them to cover the cost of importing woody biomass from abroad which is of no benefit financially to the UK and will only further add to our carbon emissions.

 

If Dorothy Thompson and John Constable’s wishes came true, the UK consumer will be paying increased prices for energy and for wood products, whilst funding electricity generation that is neither ‘green’ nor efficient.

 

Yours faithfully

 

 

Alastair Kerr

 

Director General

Wood Panel Industries Federation

 

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