Image credit: Land Rover Our Planet, used under Creative Commons license.
Only yesterday Matt posted a video on why replacing coal with forest-based biomass fuels is no climate solution. And now we hear news that the UK wood industry is raising serious concerns about the use of biomass as a replacement for coal. Surely though, folks who sell wood would be happy about a new market? As I already noted in my post on what happens when waste becomes a resource, while biomass power is often seen as a great way to use up waste-streams from other industries, the fact is that it doesn't take long before genuine waste is used up and power companies start looking for primary sources of feedstock.
Given that the wood industry—and by that I mean manufacturers of lumber, plywood and other materials—rely on a steady supply of predictably-priced raw materials, it's actually not at all surprising that Business Green is reporting that UK lumber companies are deeply concerned about plans to increase biomass. Government directives to replace fossil fuels with renewable alternatives could, they say, increase imports of destructive imports, increase carbon emissions, and destabilize prices—putting lumber factories at risk:
"We have already seen a 50 per cent increase in wood prices over the last three years because of these kinds of energy developments, and we do not think they should be receiving subsidies for schemes which we believe are not carbon-friendly and which will require a huge amount of imported wood to support a tenfold increase in planned capacity," said the Wood Panel Industries Association.
Given the notion that sustainably-harvested timber in construction is a valuable carbon sink (note that there is some controversy over CO2 in construction timber), and that forests left standing are a pretty marvelous thing in and of themselves, the idea of burning up forests to fuel our appetite for power is more than a little troubling.
As always, the greenest power is the power we don't use. If governments would put half the effort into conservation that they do into promoting "new" sources of energy, we'd be ina much better position.
More on Biomass Energy
Why Replacing Coal with Biomass is No Carbon Solution (Video)
What Happens When Waste Becomes a Resource: The Unintended Consequences of Zero Waste
New Study: Biomass Worse Than Coal