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Most wood energy schemes are a 'disaster' for climate change
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GrahamH



Joined: 23 May 2015
Posts: 395

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 17 4:20 am    Post subject:  Reply with quote    

Climate Change is difficult to question in my opinion due to the large amount of false data put out by supporters of both sides of the argument.
I personally do believe there is a change happening; why, I have no idea. There are some that argue that carbon dioxide is a good thing and that the world has never been greener.
What I do have trouble in believing are the climate change models.
I am not alone in this disbelief.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientists_opposing_the_mainstream_scientific_assessment_of_global_warming

There are some notable scientists who say we have just begun the start of an ice age.
What the heck is the ordinary person supposed to believe!

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 8723

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 17 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Good question Graham. I am sure I don't know the answer.

Treacodactyl, if you get your scientific information from the Daily Wail I am afraid you won't get a very high level of information. Reading that my general opinion was So?

Thinning is when you cut some trees in a stand down so that the remainder will have more room to grow. In completely natural woodland a lot of trees will grow up together, some will die because they can't get the light, and sometimes too many will get too tall and thin and blow over. In plantation and managed woodland a thinning is done every 10 years or so in the UK. This allows the remaining trees to grow to their full potential. No, the plantation in many countries wasn't grown for woodchip; in the wood we are working, the beech trees were planted for paper pulp (would now have to be sent to Scandinavia to be processed), and the larch for pit props (a lot less call for that now). We are now thinning the beech for firewood mainly, although some good trunks are being milled, and the larch is mainly going for outdoor structural use and some for woodchip for various purposes.

I can see that the 'shock horror' cutting of those trees in the US that the environmentalists trecked through bog to see cutting could easily be suitable for pelleting. They don't seem to be of much commercial use for anything else and if the owner wants to replace them with a more suitable species, or a commercially useful one, that is up to him, although I would hope that there was state or federal rules that he has to conform to. In the UK, if it wasn't a sensitive site, the general rule these days is native hardwoods, but no idea what it would be there.

I would much prefer to send our brash for pelleting than leave it on the ground where it is a hazard to us working, and incidentally isn't popular with people walking in the wood because it 'looks untidy', but the stuff that we can't take is very bulky and wouldn't be worth while energetically to extract.

Treacodactyl
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Joined: 28 Oct 2004
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Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 17 8:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Mistress Rose wrote:
Treacodactyl, if you get your scientific information from the Daily Wail I am afraid you won't get a very high level of information. Reading that my general opinion was So?


That's rather ironic considering the people moaning about Trumps attitude to some press. To be clear I posted a link to a BBC report first, then Carbonbrief.org which you dismissed without valid reason and only the DM to illustrate a possible point. Whatever your view on various news outlets I'm sure we can all agree that occasionally some to some investigative journalism that does point out various problems.

I am fairly aware of what thinnings are in the UK but this is where my comment about honesty comes in. The wood pellet users mention brash, thinnings etc but it seems clear the majority is fully grown trees. It would seem honest to state this and then perhaps explain why they are cut if a whole area is not going to produce many saw logs why cut? If it is to produce biomass then say so.

Now after beating around the brash for a while we're down to the question should we have any concerns about importing millions of tonnes of woodchips/pellets from trees that are felled purely to produce them?

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 8723

PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 17 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

The vast majority of trees in heavily populated regions are grown for a crop, whether that be honey, saw logs or wood chip. Yes, it would be better to say that some trees are grown for wood chip/pellets, but what would be the alternative there? Either let the trees grow naturally and fall down into the boggy ground, or plant crop trees there? Either way you end up with trees being burnt or rotting. I would dispute trees rotting not producing methane. Near here anything that rots in the clay turns to methane.

Yes we should have concerns about importing wood chip, perhaps slightly less about pellets from the risk of pests and diseases. Otherwise, as Slim and I have been pointing out, it is probably less bad than importing millions of tons/cu m of coal or gas from politically unstable countries. These also need machinery to extract them, and a lot of fuel to transport them, and as Slim has been saying, we are then releasing carbon that has been stored for millions of years, not just a few decades. The ideal of course would be to use something like water or wave power as the base load, but that just isn't possible at the moment.

Treacodactyl
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 17 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I couldn't find out much about what the trees would have been used for if there was no biomass market. If they were grown for crop what was the original use and what is being used for that now? In the UK if we suddenly produced millions of tonnes of extra wood biomass you'd see a big change in the market. Possibly the first to go would be firewood and many people would probably turn back to coal. Less wood for building might mean more concrete is used.

I'm puzzled by your comments on methane, dismissing the DM for not being scientific then dismissing scientific reports because they disagree with your view. I thought it was generally accepted boggy ground is very good at locking away carbon (isn't that how coal was formed?). Sorry but I'll take a lot of convincing to believe felling trees from boggy ground is environmentally friendly.

And going back to the original point about what's best, up to 5x more CO2 from woodfuel than coal well that would depend on what the climate is likely to do in the shorter, 10 -50 year, term. That's a question for the climate models, I bet some would favour coal or gas.

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 8723

PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 17 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Boggy ground will absorb methane and other gasses as long as it isn't disturbed, but any disturbance can release it; the origin of Jack o Lantern I understand.

I was rather perplexed with the statement that wood releaxes 5x the amount of CO2 than from coal, then realised that that is to do with the amount produced per therm. Wood is less carbon dense than coal and so less thermally dense.

Perhaps we will have to differ on this. I don't think thermal power stations are ideal, and do have a lot of drawbacks, but feel they are a stage in the evolution away from fossil fuels.

Ty Gwyn



Joined: 22 Sep 2010
Posts: 3975
Location: Lampeter
PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 17 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

https://theenergyadvocate.co.uk/2017/02/27/450m-green-subsidies-spent-burning-wood-pellets-drax/

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 8723

PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 17 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Thanks Ty Gwyn. I think that was a rehash of an article that Tre. posted.

Ty Gwyn



Joined: 22 Sep 2010
Posts: 3975
Location: Lampeter
PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 17 9:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

This is from 2014 but relevant to the situation with some good info,even if you don`t believe the daily mail,

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2581887/The-bonfire-insanity-Woodland-shipped-3-800-miles-burned-Drax-power-station-It-belches-CO2-coal-huge-cost-YOU-pay-cleaner-greener-Britain.html

Slim



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 4656
Location: New England (In the US of A)
PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 17 10:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Thanks for the second link Tv Gwyn. When you ignore the tone at which its presented, the information presented is pretty helpful to this discussion

"replacing coal with sustainably produced wood pellets reduces lifecycle emissions of carbon dioxide by 74 to 90 per cent."

"So Drax claims that burning wood ‘significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared with coal-fired generation’ – by as much, Burdett says, as 80 per cent."

So, you can argue about whether or not gov't subsidies should be used, and how long it takes forestland to re-grow, but at the point at which the woodland has re-grown, the comparitive CO2 emissions are quite a bit lower from the biomass.

In 100 years time when that area is logged again, the CO2 being re-released is from now - 100 years from now.

Treacodactyl
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Joined: 28 Oct 2004
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Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 17 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Slim wrote:
Thanks for the second link Tv Gwyn. When you ignore the tone at which its presented, the information presented is pretty helpful to this discussion


You mean when you ignore any of the stuff that disagrees with your point of view?

If you take that report at face value then what it shows is you can't rely on what has been said by the pro-biomass companies as they're are even contradicting themselves in that report.

Also the more recent research I linked to seems to have dug deeper, for example the 'waste' products used may have previously been used in a way that locks up their carbon rather than release it, so burning coal would be better without question (gas better, reducing usage best).

Slim



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 4656
Location: New England (In the US of A)
PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 17 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I'll be honest that I didn't read the whole thing thoroughly.

But the only numbers they presented didn't suggest anything all that bad about biomass, it was just tone in which they were presenting them.

No one is being quoted, they're all "admitting" and "claiming" things. Sounds like this paper would try to make postal delivery sound like scandal.

Quote:

Pressed by The Mail on Sunday, Enviva yesterday admitted it does use whole trees in its pellet process. But according to spokeswoman Elizabeth Woodworth, it only pulps those deemed ‘unsuitable for sawmilling because of small size, disease or other defects’. She claimed such trees, no more than 26 inches in diameter, make up a quarter of the wood processed at Ahoskie. Another 35 per cent comes from limbs and the top parts of trunks whose lower sections went to saw mills. To put it another way: 60 per cent of the wood cut by the loggers who supply Enviva is turned into pellets.


If that's not a B.S. presentation of information than I don't know what is.

I never said the North Carolina logging operation was necessarily god's gift to earth. But I also don't think they're likely to be breaking any rules or standards.

When you're saying 35% of the wood going through the mill is waste from trees that are actually used for lumber and/or furniture, and then turning around and using that to say 60% of the wood cut by loggers is turned into pellets, you may be technically correct, but in a stupid annoying way.

So why get all in a huff that they're turning the slash (limbs, etc) in to pellets? Isn't that where you want the pellets to be sourced from?!

If you want to dispute some of the practice, dispute the small trees that make up 25% of the mill's activities and go to pellets in their entirety. (though as the article suggests, they're at least purported to be processed in that manner because they've been deemed unsuitable for other purposes, and/or unlikely to grow to become suitable. I can pretty much guarantee you that they're not cutting down saplings with potential to become nice valuable saw logs)

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 8723

PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 17 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I would love to know how the rubbish can be used to make something that will lock in the carbon Tre. Perhaps we could find a use for our brash that way.

I agree with Slim; you can't use all trunks for saw logs as they are unsuitable. Have you ever seen a bit of timber for furniture (apart from art furniture) that has a knot the width of the whole thing in it? It would fall apart. Sorry, but we have trees that we fell, mainly for firewood, and very few are suitable for saw logs. It will be the same in the US.

No, they are probably not using best practice, but if you replace the wood, as the article suggest, with gas, or coal, you are burning 100% fossil fuel. Exaggerated claims about carbon neutrality are not the same thing as burning gas or coal. Do you want to go back to those, and if not, what is your alternative?

Treacodactyl
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 17 7:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Mistress Rose wrote:
I would love to know how the rubbish can be used to make something that will lock in the carbon Tre. Perhaps we could find a use for our brash that way.


One of the very common uses for milling saw dust (waste) is particle board, chip board, fibre board etc. Some of the fibreboards in our current house must be over 60 years old now.

Treacodactyl
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Joined: 28 Oct 2004
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 17 7:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Slim wrote:
I never said the North Carolina logging operation was necessarily god's gift to earth. But I also don't think they're likely to be breaking any rules or standards.


From the above link.

Quote:
In North Carolina, this will not be easy: as Carter points out, there is very little local regulation.


I'd guess the UK is more heavily regulated but even here I often see the rules and regs ignored or 'worked around'.

As for using brash for biomass then yes that may make sense. I'd like to see more brash and genuine wood waste used from the UK first as I know much is burnt on bonfires or chipped and left to rot, while we import stuff. I'm more nervous about importing it as it's prone to losing its traceability, is it really waste or are people being encouraged to cut stuff that would be left for wildlife?

However, when it comes to using thinings you need to be honest, what were their previous uses? Are they really thinings from a working wood or are you using that term to imply your more sustainable than you are?

It all goes back to what I've said a number of times, I want a clear statement of what is used and I'll add I would like to know how long clear felled areas will take to regrow and how much extra greenhouse gasses are released due to the biomass harvesting (e.g. methane release when harvesting from bogging areas).

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