Wool over eyes

Zac Goldsmith said he planned to “look very closely” at how wood used in industrial biomass burners run by energy company Drax was sourced.

Speaking to the environment, food and rural affairs committee, the environment minister said: “When you’ve got a system as big as Drax, then if you get it even slightly wrong in terms of the input that’s going to have big implications, so we’ve got to be sure that we’re not.

“I’m not an expert on this, and I probably will never be an expert, but I will be looking more in detail.”

It comes after an investigation by The Telegraph linked Drax’s suppliers to logging in some of Europe’s most important forests, including rare habitats that are supposed to be protected under EU law.

Similar concerns have been raised over trees used to make pellets in the US and Canada which are then shipped to be burnt in the North Yorkshire power plant.

Drax and its suppliers argue that they abide by the strictest sustainability standards and that all allegations about the supply are unfounded.

Despite Drax receiving £2.3 million a day in green subsidies from the Government – on the basis that the trees are a renewable energy source because they are replanted – the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has admitted it does not collect information on where the trees are replanted.

Entirely and wholly missing the point. The energy required to produce (not grow, but cut, chop up, transport) the wood chips makes this entirely not CO2 net zero over time.

Which forest is cut down doesn’t matter – no forest should be for this stupidity. But guess what they’re going to go check? The stupid bit, right?

25 thoughts on “Wool over eyes”

  1. Of course this is one of those things that is obvious bollocks to the man in the street. Cutting down trees, overseas, into little bits, shipping them to the U.K. and burning them to produce electricity? Is it fuck carbon neutral, spare me the science.

    Of course Goldsmith knows that too, the slimy little weasel.

  2. “Drax and its suppliers argue that they abide by the strictest sustainability standards and that all allegations about the supply are unfounded.”


    “Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has admitted it does not collect information on where the trees are replanted.”

    So, how do they know that the allegations are unfounded if nobody has checked?

  3. I believe the burning of biomass happens all over Europe. the reason being that the EU declared biomass burning a renewable form of power. For a long time it was the EUs biggest form of renewable power the the source of much green pride and virtue signally by the EU twateratti.

  4. I for one quite like the biomass concept, but only with purposely planted woodland that is regularly coppiced, other “energy crops” or to a lessor extent “waste”. It is a convenient way of storing the energy from sunlight.

    As I write we are generating 2.84GW from biomass but only 0.28GW from solar. Yes the transport of the biomass is not carbon neutral but it “could” be done so. Also that transport CO2 cost is minute compare with the energy being transported.

  5. Burn coal and use Goldsmith as a firelighter.

    Or at the very least have the shite beaten out of him by hired crackheads or fentanyl freaks. Who all then get a fortunate overdose to reduce them to zero witness value.

  6. ” Yes the transport of the biomass is not carbon neutral but it “could” be done so. Also that transport CO2 cost is minute compare with the energy being transported.”

    That’s the wrong comparison. It should be the end-to-end carbon+capital cost of seed-to socket generation against that of well-to-socket (gas fired) generation.

  7. The whole concept of “carbon neutral” is just SO mind numbingly stupid, as this demonstrates. The sheer creativity required to make it “work”. I suppose its the only “wood” most of these anemic, streak of piss eco freaks will ever get to experience though.

    Oh and £840 million a year for one power station. Bargain!

  8. “Also that transport CO2 cost is minute compare with the energy being transported.”

    Wood is an extremely bulky fuel for its energy-worth. And shipping is the last bastion of unenvironmental practices.

  9. So, diesel-powered chain saws cut the trees down. Diesel-powered chippers chip them into pellets. Diesel-powered trucks then take them to the railhead in Western Canada where diesel-powered trains take them all across Canada to the Eastern seaboard docks, where diesel-powered ships cross the Atlantic to Liverpool, where diesel-powered trucks take them to Drax.
    The same Drax sitting directly over a coal-field.

  10. Diesel powered chainsaws? Really??

    But yes otherwise this is a question that has been getting on my tits for a long time. The bovine stupidity of these cunts, thinking that Drax could possibly be a good idea, as you say, sat on a fucking coal field.


    What Ecks said.

  11. “only with purposely planted woodland that is regularly coppiced”

    Why waste money planting? Buy land below about a thousand feet altitude, fence it to keep grazing animals out, and your woodland will spring up spontaneously.

    Maybe former arable full of nitrogen fertiliser wouldn’t do, but then you wouldn’t use that anyway. There will be other exceptions – cliff tops that are too windy, highland bogs, and so on. But broadly the natural vegetation of the great bulk of British land is trees, and deciduous coppice-able trees at that. Easy-peasy. Stupid but easy-peasy.

  12. Just on the zero carbon (by which I think I understand them to mean zero Co2) thing, what do they plan to do in relation to the daily invasion of a thousand people?

    Will they kill a thousand people already living here, or will the zero carbon principle be what it takes to get them to repel boarders?

  13. @David Boycott

    It’s not terrible. Chipped wood is about 10% of the energy per volume as petrol. You can pelletize it to take you to 30% of the energy density of petrol (i.e. better than liquid hydrogen) but then when you transport it in marine bulk cargo carriers you can’t fill them as you hit the weight limit before the volume one. Either way the transport energy is tiny compared with the energy being transported.

  14. Doesn’t the Drax wood come from the US East Coast like the Carolinas or somewhere ?
    Also I thought that the point of Drax was that it had its own rail head, where the trains run on er… diesel

  15. @dearieme

    The downside of self seeded natural woodland is that it’s relatively expensive to manage. It takes a lot of manual labor to keep it thinned out and clear of debris and also to harvest. Large scale tree planting is cheap at say 50p/tree. Less for a big project but up to £1 each for a smallish one. You can then treat it as a crop and manage then coppice/harvest very efficiently with machinery and without ever letting any of the trees get too big.

  16. AndyF

    Many years ago, when I still watched the rubbish, Countryfile extolled the virtues of growing willows. Apparently they grew quickly when juvenile and could be coppiced to make biomass. Is that still A Thing, I wonder ?

  17. Firstly, don’t blame Zac Goldsmith for this – it’s the fault of Ed Millionaireband.
    Secondly, burning wood to generate heat inside a house is comparable on efficiency with coal, but in a power station it is even less efficient than coal due to the greater bulk so you need a larger furnace to generate the same number of BTUs/hour and hence greater heat loss, plus the energy wasted in boiling off the residual water content of the wood, so Drax biomass generates significantly more CO2 per kWh than coal.
    Thirdly, yes the CO2 generated by cutting down trees, trimming off small branches and twigs, transporting them to a factory, pelletising them, transporting them to a port, shipping them 5,000 miles, unloading and transporting them to Drax, miles inland is significant.

  18. One of my better investments in recent years has been in Enviva, which does exactly that – cuts down trees in N America, pelletizes them, and ships to Europe to meet their green goals. One interesting point that is often not discussed is that quite a bit of money can be made maneuvering around greens. If they throw a rock in a pond and you can figure out where the ripples might go, jump on it. You might make a bit of money and it will piss them off further.

  19. Is Drax the one burning wood chips from forests in the southern US? Carolinas, I think? Logging here isn’t zero carbon – trains, trucks, and logging equipment all use fossil fuels. I’m pretty sure the ships going back to the UK with their loads of American tree chips aren’t sailing vessels, either. So how in the name of Gaia is this Drax behemoth zero carbon or net zero or whatnot?

  20. Fair point, AndyF. On the other hand that planting cost will immediately be fixed in a politician’s mind as a sunk cost which must always be defended. Whereas my idea of natural woodland has the advantage that the costs of establishment are modest and so there will be less political screeching when the whole stupid idea is abandoned.

  21. @ ComputerLabRat
    Drax gets a subsidy because the Labour Government declared burning biomass should be classified as “renewable energy” because new trees would grow to replace those burned. That is not the same as “carbon neutral”.
    The useful site “gridwatch.co.uk” shows figures for “renewables” and “carbon neutral” which are different things. Despite this a lot of uninformed (or deliberately misinforming) people choose to assume/pretend that they are the same.

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