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This biomass story is getting interesting. First many thanks to Cassio for providing a link to the DECC model. A quick look - and, yes, it is "very, very complicated". But, yes, it states (in several places) that burning wood can be more CO2 intensive than burning coal. The question (unanswered I think by the report on the model) is - do any of these cases apply to UK projects? The answer - according to the Private Eye story and now to a report in The Times (paywalled but see this), confirmed, I suspect, by Dorothy Thompson (the Drax lady) with her weaselly answer on the Today programme - is that they may well do so. For the truth, I'd be inclined to be wary of the biomass industry article (thanks again, Cassio).

This is an important and developing story. And BTW I don't think Tallbloke's intervention was at all helpful - Harrabin's contribution to that Today discussion was useful.

Jul 25, 2014 at 12:14 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

And a relevant new posting by Tallbloke, taking Harrabin to task:

Jul 25, 2014 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterCassio

And here's a biomass-industry-oriented article on the DECC's model:

Jul 25, 2014 at 11:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterCassio

Harry Passfield on Jul 25, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Harrabin:"But, as I say, it's very, very complicated."

Nothing that cannot be solved with a few more bureaucrats in Whitehall.

Give them the conclusions needed and they will be able to work back to the appropriate assumptions required.

They might as well work to their strengths.

Jul 25, 2014 at 11:35 AM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher


Thank you for the link. I was struck by the announcement near the bottom of the first page, that the report was "Part of:
Increasing the use of low-carbon technologies", below which it asked, "Is there anything wrong with this page?"

I am tempted to reply, "what has the burning of forests got to do with low-carbon technology?"

It was fun to hear Dorothy Thompson accusing Harrabin of inaccuracy. Time to order some popcorn, perhaps...

Jul 25, 2014 at 11:30 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Alex: Thank you for the transcript of the Today prog. I was struck by this from Harrabin [my bold]:

That doesn't mean it can't be done sustainably, but it does mean that it's an awful lot more complicated than we previously thought. And a group of academics have written to - US academics have written to this government, saying that we should stop subsidies for this practice, completely - there's no real carbon saving, and it harms wildlife. But, as I say, it's very, very complicated.

Seems to me he could almost have used the BBC's other C-word - 'controversial' - to describe the Drax operation!

Maybe we could coin a new adjective for this sort of thing. We have 'fracking' - which pleases the Neanderthals in opposition; now we have 'Draxing' or 'Dracking' to explain controversial wood burning. At least the subsidies are sustainable. /s

Jul 25, 2014 at 11:15 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Here is DECC's BEAC (Biomass Emissions And Counterfactual) model, published yesterday:

Jul 25, 2014 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterCassio

Green Sand: perhaps if the seemingly unjustifiable subsidies for biomass (mature trees - see below) were diverted to windmills all would be well.

Jul 25, 2014 at 8:44 AM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

O dear - Peak Subsidy!

Offshore wind farms in doubt as subsidy pot can fund just one project

" Finite budget for green energy subsidies is now on the verge of exhaustion, leaving nearly a dozen proposed offshore wind farms facing uncertain fate

Plans for a series of new offshore wind farms have been thrown into doubt after the Government disclosed it would only award enough subsidies this autumn to fund one such project.

Wind farm developers who fail to secure a subsidy contract this year will be forced to wait and attempt to secure funding in future years, with no guarantee of how much money – if any – will be available.

The disclosure underlines a growing realisation in the industry that the finite budget for green subsidies is now on the verge of exhaustion and there is simply not enough cash left for many projects now in the pipeline to be built this decade........"

Jul 25, 2014 at 8:35 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

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