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Using wood biomass for power 'misguided', say experts - 5 Jan 2018




Policies that hope to reduce the effects of climate change by burning wood biomass for energy could result in a failure to meet emissions targets, according to one of Britain's leading climate experts.

Professor John Beddington, a former chief scientific adviser for the UK government, has suggested that there is a significant risk that an increase in the burning of wood biomass for fuel to help Europe meet renewable energy targets could be "misguided".

"These policies may even lead to a situation whereby global emissions [of carbon dioxide] accelerate," he said in a recent blog on Carbon Brief, one of the UK's leading climate and energy website. Instead, Professor Beddington argues that Britain should focus its investments on wind and solar projects.

Along with a number of other climate experts, Beddington conceded that the use of wood biomass as a fuel was implemented with the intention of replacing fossil fuels, which raise carbon levels in the atmosphere when combusted. However, they argue that burning wood to produce electricity is actually inefficient, releasing four times as much carbon as gas and one and half times more than coal to create the same amount of energy.

Phillip Williamson of the University of East Anglia mirrored Beddington's concerns, stating that it could have a negative impact on the farming industry or the world's natural forests if plants continue to use it as a source of energy.

"Such [wood biomass] policies haven’t been properly thought through and risk making matters worse, not better," he said. "And even if further carbon dioxide release can be prevented, the scale of bioenergy required seems likely to have serious land-use implications, either at the expense of food production or resulting in natural habitat loss."

 


 

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