Burning the Biosphere

When I was a kid, Mum did the washing in a copper of boiling water over an open fire in the back yard. We collected the wood from the back paddock with a horse and dray. It was all very “green” (but we thought it was just hard yakka). Greens want us to return to this primitive method for generating heat, and even electricity.

It is sensible for industrial plants such as sugar mills to burn readily available organic waste such as bagasse to generate power. But to deliberately build power stations to run on wood chips is a step back to the BC (before coal) era when forests were clear-felled to produce fuel and charcoal to feed boilers and furnaces.

Coal is an energy-dense fuel, and often has huge deposits in a concentrated area. Long-life power stations can be built close to the coal deposits, thus minimising transport costs and land disturbance.

Wood, however, has very low energy density and biomass energy is always spread over large areas of land. The fuel gathering operation must move every day, with enormous waste of transport energy and displacement of plants and animals.

Carbon Sense Coalition

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4 responses to “Burning the Biosphere

  1. We have excess fuel in our forests. Harvesting this fuel makes sense to me, both for the energy and the mitigation of wild fires.

  2. My uncle lived in a 4 room farmhouse (2 up,2 down) in the middle of Missouri that his parents built. He cooked and heated with wood. He probably averaged 6 hours a week cutting,hauling, splitting, stacking the dozen cords of oak, maple, and hickory he used each winter. He had 3 chain saws, a tractor, 200 acres of woods, 6 wedges, and a splitting maul (he was a magician with an axe, hated gas powered wood-splitters). In the winter, after splitting for an hour, I would come inside to cool off and get a cold drink. Great exercise, as is bending over and picking up all the pieces. And the joy of jumping out of bed in the frigid AM to stir the fire in the pot belly, and drop some fuel in before you got frostbite was wonderful. His place taught me the true meaning of civilisation, i.e., indoor plumbing.

  3. Isn’t all this “Sustainability”?

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