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Biomass-fired power plants in the UK meet new challenges

Power plants in the UK meet new

Burning wood is the most popular renewable energy source in Europe. It is considered to be environment-friendly. However, the recent data reveals that the situation is opposite.

The UK is extending its use of biomass

Since the United Kingdom is transforming its energy system, it is obvious that the demand for alternative sources is to increase. That is why biomass industry is becoming more and more popular in the country. Energy producers assure, that biomass is absolutely safe and green source of power. However, the scientists warn that biomass-fired power plants are not that harmless as they are claimed to be.

Nowadays, five coal-fired power stations – Tilbury in Essex, Ironbridge in Shropshire, Eggborough and Drax in Yorkshire, and Lynemouth in Northumberland are converting their units to burning wood utilization. The main reason for such power plants transformation is that biomass combustion leads to lesser carbon dioxide emission, according to the energy producers.

They also state, that the trees, which will grow instead of those cut down, will be able to sequester all the carbon dioxide released. In other words, biomass-fired power plants are supposed to be absolutely clean.

The use of burning wood contributes to the climate change

However, the latest data reveals that the situation is far contrary. Supposing that the new-grown trees are able to neutralize general carbon emissions made by biomass-fired power stations, a new issue arises. The point is that it takes several decades for trees to become mature enough for that.

A great amount of carbon will therefore stay in the atmosphere. The greenhouse gas release will be increasing with every passing year. Moreover, the new tree plantations will evidently not be able to cope with such a big quantity of carbon in the atmosphere.

Nevertheless, the fact is that the use of burning wood is not reducing the carbon dioxide release. Conversely, it is increasing it. The greenhouse gas emission is half-bigger on condition that the biomass-fired power plants are used instead of those, which are driven by the fossil fuels.

The European Union welcomes the use of biomass

Whatever the case, the burning wood remains the most popular renewable power source in the Europe Union. These countries does not pay any attention to the disturbing data touching effects of the biomass usage.

The main goal of the European energy policy is to replace all the coal-fired power stations with the biomass-fired ones by 2020. For instance, there were approximately 40 billion pounds of wood pellets burned by the European countries during 2013, which is in an order of 79 per cent of world biomass consumption. The governments also provides financial incentives in order to increase the use of biomass in the energy production.

The logic of the European Union is that burning wood does not produce new carbon, but it only emits the old one stored in trees. However, the situation changes on condition that the dust and chips from sawmills are combusted. Nevertheless, such contradiction is not paid appropriate attention to.

The excessive carbon release does not only result in the atmosphere heating. It is also exceedingly harmful for the population health. In case people breathe carbon-full air, there is very high risk of the lung and heart diseases.

Deforestation leads to the global climate change

There is one more reason for the rising concerns. The United Kingdom needs six times more burning wood than it is able to produce. In this context, this country imports wood material from different countries. There are the Southern states of the USA, Canada, Russia, the Baltic States and Portugal.

As biomass industry is rapidly growing, the British companies are going to extend the number of wood exporters. Brazil, West and Central Africa along with a wide range of the developing countries will be involved.

There are many biodiverse forests, which are being clear-cut in order to create monoculture tree plantations. These plantations are used to provide biomass industry with wood pellets. Such an approach is able to destroy the ecosystem completely. It is important to underline, that this process is to appear irrevocable.

The scientists are united in the certainty, that it acceptable to utilize the biomass in order to reduce the use of fossil fuel. However, theу state that wood pellets should be used at a local level and owned by the communities. For instance, it will be useful to heat a school with sawdust or chips. But it will definitely be harmful for the environment to develop global biomass market by cutting down the forests.

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Biomass-fired power plants in the UK meet new challenges

  

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Views: 1613 Added: 05-11-2015