(Translated/edited by P. Gosselin)
German public broadcasting show SWR3-Wissen had a podcast about burning wood in Europe. In Germany’s forests, less wood is taken than what grows back, but in Europe it’s different. Here, the forest is losing total area, which also means that carbon sinks are disappearing. But deforestation is not the only problem; forests also store water and release it with a delay. These “sponges” are lost after clear-cutting. Apparently, the EU’s plans to substitute wood for coal call for expanding that as well.
In the United Kingdom, the former Drax coal-fired power plant burns significant amounts of wood.
Europe massively subsidizing a forest-destroying energy source
“Nearly nine million tons of pellets per year are burned by the Drax power plant. That’s three times Germany’s pellet production and one and a half times the UK’s wood production. With this huge amount of wood, the power plant generates seven percent of the UK’s electricity needs and gets plenty of subsidies for it: 3.5 million euros per day. Like the British, the EU is also promoting the conversion of coal-fired power plants to wood – with its Renewable Energies Directive adopted in 2009. Taxes on CO2 emissions from fossil energy are rising, but wood-burning is exempt.
Coal plants across Europe are converting to wood pellets
Several power plants in the Netherlands and Denmark have already converted from coal to wood. French power plant operator Veolia has just announced that it is converting a coal-fired power plant in Hungary over to biomass. German power plant operators are currently still hesitant. The operators of the Onyx coal-fired power plant in Wilhelmshaven are considering burning 2.9 million tons of pellets annually. Vattenfall’s power plant in Berlin’s Moabit district is to be converted; and the East German energy company LEAG has already bought two pelleting companies.”
US forests being cut down largescale to make Europe “green”
Wood pellets come to a good part from the USA. In this context, once again the reference to the US documentary Burned. It is about forest loss in the southwestern United States. A review of the film has already been presented in this blog 2020. The documentary has lost none of its topicality.