Wood Pellets

To what extent will biofuels be part of our energy future?

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biffvernon
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Wood Pellets

Post by biffvernon »

Trouble at source

https://www.foe.co.uk/blog/our-forests- ... g-ed-davey
Adam Macon - campaigns director of the American NGO Dogwood Alliance - is asking UK Energy minister Ed Davey to stop subsidising the destruction of US forests.

The vast forests in the Southern United States are some of the most biodiverse and important ecosystems in the world. Our Southern forests have the highest concentration of tree species diversity in North America and the highest concentration of aquatic diversity in the continental US, including the richest temperate freshwater ecosystem in the world.

The precious remaining coastal wetlands and bottomland hardwood regions that span from coastal Virginia to Mississippi and Louisiana, contain rare forest types and unique carnivorous plants like the Venus flytrap and pitcher plants. They also provide local communities with areas to recreate and experience the natural world.

Yet despite the numerous environmental and economic benefits standing forests provide to communities across the US South, these critical forest habitats are increasingly being destroyed, processed into wood pellets, and shipped to the UK to be burned for electricity. The demand for wood as a fuel source in the United Kingdom is driving the expansion of wood pellet manufacturing and export in the Southern US.

With 20 existing wood pellet facilities and 33 proposed, the threat is something that individuals and communities across the US South cannot ignore. It’s crucial that we show UK and EU policy makers that the biomass industry is bad for our environment, our communities, and our climate.

Large-scale burning of wood pellets is not a solution to climate change or feasible alternative to coal. Mounting scientific research (even by the UK’s very own Department of Energy and Climate Change) shows that burning wood pellets manufactured from trees will increase near-term carbon emission and accelerate climate change. Yet, DECC and Ed Davey continue to heavily subsidize this industry and therefore the destruction of our forests.
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biffvernon
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Post by biffvernon »

Anybody got a pellet boiler? Or thought about it but decided not to?
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Post by emordnilap »

Is this anything to do with it?
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Catweazle
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Post by Catweazle »

biffvernon wrote:Anybody got a pellet boiler? Or thought about it but decided not to?
Yes, I thought about it and decided no. However, my decision wasn't based on forest destruction ( I didn't know about it ) but on the variable quality of pellets and reported unreliability of the boilers, plus the fact that after the crash nobody will be making pellets any more whereas I can cut logs myself.
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biffvernon
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Post by biffvernon »

What about gaming the system - taking the RHI payments for 7 years? You don't actually have to burn any pellets as the heat isn't metered.
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Post by kenneal - lagger »

Most people in this country recreate in bed not a forest!

Biomass and biofuels such a palm oil are the biggest pot of greenwash that anyone has ever devised. The government advisers who rubber stamp these policies should be taken out and shot as ecoterrorists.
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ericgarmin
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Post by ericgarmin »

I used to have a wood pellet boiler but modernisation of my house was needed. Went for a combi boiler in the end.
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Post by woodburner »

ericgarmin wrote:I used to have a wood pellet boiler but modernisation of my house was needed. Went for a combi boiler in the end.
Goody!! I make quite a bit looking after and fixing combi boilers. The only thing nearer to the work of the devil is Saniflo turd mincers.
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Post by johnhemming2 »

As someone who has (assisting my father) worked on rewiring various properties. I wouldn't mind doing combi boilers, but saniflo is something I would dearly like to avoid.

There must be something between combi boilers and saniflo. If only general plumbing work (on the shitty end)
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Post by woodburner »

Program on Channel 4 Dispatches this evening showing the destruction in SE US forests that is being funded by effectively illegal UK taxpayer subsidies, to run Drax on wood pellets. It’s telling that no measurements of CO2 output are made, because the pellets are sourced from “responsibily managed� forests. :roll:
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Post by kenneal - lagger »

I saw that too. There has been a campaign by FOE and Greenpeace for a while now to get this stopped but it seems to be central to the government's "green" policies so carries on.

I was asked, as a "locally respected environmentalist" :oops: , a few years ago by a couple of friends who set up a business importing biomass pellets from Argentina to endorse their product. I had to decline as I didn't think that carting biomass however many thousand miles across the equator and Atlantic was a "green" option.

That was without looking at the source of the product which was pampas grass. Harvesting masses of pampas grass might have been a good thing with my beef farmer's hat on as it might have put the value of grazing land up in Argentina and increased the cost of their beef.

The Argentinians would probably have to increase the fertiliser application rate to the pampas if they were producing any significant volumes which wouldn't do their environment much good nor the carbon neutrality of the pellets with all the natural gas used to produce the extra fertiliser.
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Post by PS_RalphW »

It's about the same as the EU mandating a percentage of biodiesel in fossil diesel. It is made from palm oil from plantations on clear felled rainforest land which , apart from the ecological damage, emitted the same CO2 in their destruction as the palm oil in biodiesel will prevent over the next 70 years.

EDIT

looks like the EU is slowly being made to see some sense on this

https://www.euractiv.com/section/agricu ... 17-levels/
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Post by kenneal - lagger »

The other problem with Drax and most other thermal power stations is the amount of heat which is wasted up the cooling tower. They should all be made into combined heat and power generators to get their efficiency above the 35% that most are now or closed down.
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Post by BritDownUnder »

kenneal - lagger wrote:The other problem with Drax and most other thermal power stations is the amount of heat which is wasted up the cooling tower. They should all be made into combined heat and power generators to get their efficiency above the 35% that most are now or closed down.
Isn't that cooling tower 'wasted' heat a necessity of the Carnot efficiency that is part of the Laws of thermodynamics with a heat source (presumably the plant boiler steam temperature) at a certain temperature and a cold sink (I am guessing the cooling tower at a lower temperature).

The cooling tower temperature is probably around 30C. I think you get your cooling effect largely from spraying water at the bottom and some of it evaporating and going up the stack - using a lot of water in the process BTW. If you wanted to use this heat you would probably have to raise the cold sink temperature to something nearer to, say 80C, so that you could pipe the hot water to a district heating system in Leeds or York. I am sure it is possible and in places like Denmark it would be done. That would reduce the Carnot efficiency of the electricity generating part a small bit but the people in Leeds and York would get a lot of free hot water (maybe Capitalists would make them pay for it, i know) and a bit less power. Given at most times of the year the electricity the plant supplies would go to heating and hot water anyway so the efficiency will gain a lot, maybe electricity generating efficiency will go from 35% to 30% but you would get about 50% of hot water so the overall efficiency has increased to around 80%. One power plant in China I worked on generated electricity, 'hot' steam for some unknown industrial process, 'cold' steam for some other process, 'hot' water at 90C for a brewery and 'cold' water at 40C to heat their own offices. Very far sighted.

Another thought, you probably could have greenhouses surrounding the power plant using some of the heat and help reduce the UK's food deficit. Perhaps all the ash from burning biomass could be used as fertilizer.

Why is this not done? I have no idea. Probably it would require a lot of investment, NIMBYs would not like a lot of hot water pipes laying, Power companies are making enough profit anyway with relatively little capital invested having bought the power plant off the state cheaply and don't want to invest a lot of extra money to help the environment.

Take your pick.
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Post by adam2 »

Steam power plants reject heat at very low temperatures, often at about blood heat.
Water at these temperatures is almost useless for space heating since it is only very slightly in excess of room temperature.
Huge volumes of water would be needed, with large pipes and significant pumping energy.

The power plant could be designed so as to reject heat at a higher temperature that is more useful for space heating, but this would significantly increase the cost of the electricity.
It would only be worthwhile if a significant and PAYING demand for the heat existed.
There is a general belief that heating provided thus should be free, but it is in fact rather expensive after installing and maintaining all the pipes and pumping plant and paying for the more expensive electricity.

There are district heating schemes, and they are hated by the users.

CHP makes more sense when there is a large and paying demand for hot water in a fairly small area. It is then often worth installing such equipment.
Hospitals, hotels and industrial laundries are good examples.

Retrofitting district heating to a large existing power plant with cooling towers, and little nearby heating demand is unlikely to be viable.
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