Insanity is a possibility, but more likely this is just the great law of unintended consequences - so often a feature of well-meaning politicians. Drax, a major UK energy generator is about to convert one of its major power stations to burn wood. Since wood is categorised as a renewable energy source this plan will enable them to escape the EU's strictures against fossil fuels.
Drax Group Plc will spend $1 billion to turn the U.K.’s biggest coal-fired plant into western Europe’s largest clean- energy producer. The U.K. utility plans to convert one of the facility’s six units to burn wood pellets by June, Chief Executive Officer Dorothy Thompson said in an interview. Drax at a later date plans to switch over two more units to the fuel, investments that if completed would mean the facility harvests a forest four times the size of Rhode Island each year.
For UK readers, Rhode Island is about one seventh of the size of Wales. Once again, environmentalism is leading to the wholesale destruction of the environment. This is yet another price that we have to pay for our leaders' green obsessions.
Selby-based Drax plans to spend as much as 700 million pounds ($1.1 billion) through 2017 upgrading its boilers, ordering millions of tons of biomass from around the world and building facilities to store the fuel, including four silos each bigger than London’s Royal Albert Hall, a 135-foot (41-meter) high oval concert venue with an 800-foot circumference.
That it is profitable for a company like Drax to ship tonnes of ultra-low-energy-density fuel around the world demonstrates just how far our political leaders have distorted the market. The good news, however, is that we are able to identify the culprit:
The emphasis changed earlier this year when the government confidentially requested the industry’s view on full conversion.
“We decided the government must be looking at that quite seriously if they were going to ask for people’s opinions on it,” Thompson said. As a result, Drax carried out a series of undisclosed trials to see how a unit would react to burning “exceptionally high” levels of biomass, she said.
When the government on July 25 announced incentives that rewarded full biomass conversion over co-firing, the company’s shares plunged 25 per cent, with investors still unaware of Drax’s trials. The stock recovered some of its value after the executive team outlined the new strategy on a conference call with analysts later that day. Drax closed on Sept. 19 at 504 pence, down 2.8 per cent from July 24.
The encouragement from the UK government means that it is possible to point the finger of blame at Ed Davey. So now you know.
(As an aside, it's interesting to wonder what part scientific advice has played in this decision)