biomass

Biomass Industry Intensifies Fight For Carbon-Neutral Status As Obama Admin Carbon Rules Draw Near

The science is fairly convoluted but also entirely clear: Bioenergy — burning wood and other forest biomass as a fuel source — produces more carbon emissions than coal.

Even if all the forests we fed into power plants were to one day regrow, in theory sucking all that carbon back out of the Earth’s atmosphere, it would be far too late to be any kind of solution to the global climate crisis.

Yet 21 members of Congress recently wrote a letter urging the US Environmental Protection Agency to “take action to remove regulatory ambiguities in the treatment of utility-scale biomass power as a renewable resource.”

For The First Time In 40 Years, Economic Growth Did Not Lead To More Carbon Emissions In 2014

More than 160 countries are now consciously uncoupling from fossil fuels by adopting renewable energy policies and targets, which helped make 2014 the first year in the past four decades that economic growth was not accompanied by a rise in carbon emissions, according to a new report.

The 10th annual edition of REN21's Renewables Global Status Report found that, despite 3 percent growth last year in the global Gross Domestic Product and a 1.5 percent increase in energy consumption, CO2 emissions levels held steady at 32.3 billion metric tons, the same as in 2013.

Biomass Is Not A Zero-Carbon Fuel Source, So Why Does The Clean Power Plan Propose To Treat It That Way?

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan is the foundation of President Obama’s climate strategy. The plan, which is to be finalized later this year, sets state-by-state targets for reducing emissions from existing power plants, especially coal-fired power plants, which will be essential to meeting the commitments made in the climate deal President Obama struck with China late last year.

Booming U.S. Renewable Energy Sector Growing Faster Than Expected

The mainstreaming of renewable energy is happening even faster than projected.

According to the latest “Electric Power Monthly” report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which includes data through the end of 2014, some 13.91% of electricity generation in the U.S. last year was from renewable sources.

“Given current growth rates, especially for solar and wind, it is quite possible that renewable energy sources will reach, or exceed, 14% of the nation's electrical supply by the end of 2015,” noted Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “That is a level that EIA, only a few years ago, was forecasting would not be achieved until the year 2040.”

That number includes conventional hydroelectric power, which comes with severe environmental impacts of its own and is not generally considered a true “clean energy” source (the same can be said of biomass and biofuels, which is also included). So it’s worth noting that 2014 was the first year that electricity generation from non-hydropower renewable energy sources exceeded hydroelectric generation.

Wind energy continues to be the biggest clean energy source by far, supplying some 4.45% of 2014 electricity generation in the U.S. versus .45% from solar and .41% from geothermal. But solar is making great strides, seeing more than 100% growth last year while wind grew just 8.3% and geothermal by just 5.4%.

Liz Truss Believes Biomass Subsidies Harm Food Security, So Why Did She Only Scrap Subsidies For Solar?

Environment secretary Liz Truss scrapped solar subsidies in favour of biomass despite years of working to cut subsidies to biomass, documents reveal.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) secretary has been a vocal opponent of solar subsidies since she entered office last July, citing concerns over losing land for grazing and crops, as well as driving food production overseas.

But documents obtained by DeSmog UK under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show that Truss voiced the exact same concerns about biomass production long before her appointment as environment secretary.

Biomass - bad for trees, bad for the planet

A new report out today finds that using forest timber (biomass) for heating, electricity generation or liquid ‘biofuel’ could severely harm forests and accelerate global warming.

The report titled, Fuelling a Biomess, and authored by Greenpeace Canada, points to scientific evidence showing how using forests for energy can be worse for the climate than burning coal. 

The US is set to overtake Canada as the world’s biggest exporter of wood pellets, which are used in power plants and burnt instead of fossil fuels.

The report recommends:

  • Using woody biomass for energy production should be restricted to a local, small-scale use of mill residues.
  • Approval of new wood-based bioenergy projects should cease, pending public hearings, a full accounting of the life-cycle climate and biodiversity footprints, and a re-thinking of government policies. 

You can read a complete version of the report here: Fueling a Biomess, burning trees for energy puts Canadian forests and climate at risk.

[Note: a big warm hello to all the DeSmog readers! Been a while since I have written here, but I think I have the time to do so now.]

Fossil Fuel Propaganda In Education: Connecting the Dots

Get ‘em while their young!

It’s a widely know fact that children, whose immune systems are weaker than adults and still developing, are especially susceptible to getting sick from the chemicals and toxins found in fossil fuel pollution. They are also susceptible to another kind of fossil fuel pollution: educational propaganda.

Scientists have even discovered that brains don’t fully develop and mature until the age of 25. That’s why kids continually shove unidentified objects up their nose, light random things on fire, eat worms, and think licking the light socket might be the best ideas of their short-lived little lives. It’s also why they won’t be able to tell the difference between well-rounded educational materials and industry propaganda.

That’s also why it’s disturbing to see the array of news reports showcasing coloring books, cartoons, and lovable characters that the fossil fuel industry has come up with to entice little tykes. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill energy education. The reason these materials are so exploitative is because none of them explore any of the pitfalls of dirty energy.  There’s nothing about public health concerns, water pollution, or the decimation of local ecosystems. And there’s definitely nothing about climate change, which surely belongs on the top 10 list of things kids should be peeing their pants about (after the closet monster of course).

Chart: The Deadliest Energy Sources in the World

Deaths per terawatt hour by energy source

How deadly is your energy source? The very real and lethal effects of our global energy choices become clear in this interactive data visualization, showing the death rate, as measured by the number of deaths per terawatt hour (TWh), for each of the major global energy sources, e.g., coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear, hydro, peat, and biomass. Take a closer look at the chart here:

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