Wood burning.. real numbers for a green-hyped energy

Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt’s and Dr. Sebastian Lüning’s blog “Die kalte Sonne” has a discussion on the US movie “Burned: are trees the new coal ?” (streaming here) which shows what happens in American forests that are the source for European wood-burning installations (power stations, heating…). Since the EU made what I think the completely wrong decision to hype wood burning as “green” and “renewable”, massive quantities of wood are transported from the US East to the EU, where converted power stations like the UK Drax burn yearly wood felled from a surface of 830 km2, corresponding to 1/3 of the surface of Luxembourg (link). “Die kalte Sonne” gives a very instructive document from the Swiss Bafu (Bundes Amt für Umwelt) which shows the emissions of wood-burning installations, compared to natural gas and light oil (HEL) facilities. You may find the document here.

Concerning fine particle and dust emissions (“Staub”), just compare the numbers that I highlighted in turquoise (the unit is mg/MJ, i.e. a mass per unit of energy produced, not a mass per m3 of air!). A “normal” household heating has a power < 50kW; so comparing these, we see that wood burning has dust emissions per energy unit that are between 250 and 1000 times higher than corresponding oil or gas installations. That says it all!

PS: You may read the research paper “The Burning Question: does Forest Bioenergy Reduce Carbon Emissions” (link)

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