Viv Forbes: UK gov't wins inaugural 'Gorebalism Award for Goofy Green Policies That Have Inconvenient Outcomes'

By Viv Forbes
December 27, 2012

Green politicians need to learn Newton’s Law of Government Regulations: – “Whenever government legislates to force an economic outcome, the long term effect will be equal and opposite to that intended.”

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the world of green politics, where laws designed to help the environment are harming the environment. To publicise this stupidity, the Carbon Sense Coalition has created “The Gorebalism Award for Goofy Green Policies that have Inconvenient Outcomes”.

The winner of the Inaugural Gorebalism Award is the UK government whose green policies aim to make it uneconomic to burn coal. So the tax-payer funded Green Investment Bank has loaned £100 million to help convert the huge Drax coal-burning power station in Yorkshire to burning “sustainable biomass”. This is part of a huge finance package of one billion pounds to get the biomass green tick, earn renewable energy subsidies, and avoid the need to buy carbon credits.

Where do they plan to get the “sustainable biomass”? Each year 7.5 million tonnes of wood chips will be imported from North American forests to replace 4.5 Mt of coal.

The land required to produce wood at this rate is immense – about three million acres of forest per year.

Also, wood is less dense than coal with less energy per tonne and a greater volume per tonne. Thus a greater tonnage and a far greater volume of wood have to be handled to get the same energy. This huge volume of wood has to be harvested, hauled, chipped, dried, trucked, shipped and stored using more carbon fuels – all to produce more expensive electricity.

There is one real benefit from the scheme. When the whole process is considered, using wood will put more carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere than using coal. This will make the forests grow faster.

The same goofy green policies that have pushed Drax into burning forests also apply in Australia. Maybe wood chips from our carbon credit forests will soon fuel Yallourn or Hazelwood power stations?

Such green stupidity will take us back to the BC era (before coal) when forests and hillsides were stripped bare of trees to fuel stoves, heaters, boilers, charcoal makers and smelters.

We would all be better off if Drax burned coal, produced cheap electricity, saved those forests and, to satisfy green dogma, planted a token forest of new trees.

Viv Forbes is the founding chairman of the Carbon Sense Coalition and may be reached at Forbes has a degree in relevant sciences and a lifetime of practical experience in subjects relevant to climate history, the carbon cycle and energy technology and economics. He is semi-retired and thus will be largely unaffected by the long term effects of today’s silly policies. But he does use electricity, breeds ruminants, uses some wind and solar power and holds shares in, and acts as a non-executive director of, a small Australian coal exploration company.

9 thoughts on “Viv Forbes: UK gov't wins inaugural 'Gorebalism Award for Goofy Green Policies That Have Inconvenient Outcomes'”

  1. This idea no doubt stems from the same source that saw the Tata Tee-side Steel Plant closed down with the benefit of carbon credits that were subsequently used to build a new equivalent plant in India. No change to CO2 production, just a transfer of industry at tax payer expense and a loss of U.K. jobs

  2. The trick is in getting it to the generator. In the Pacific Northwest biomass plants come and go. They lose out because of fuel and transpo costs. Its the cost of getting thm to the plant. How it would be cost effective to ship them overland and the Atlantic is another issue. There are vasts amounts of fuel available. You are correct in stating that a big city could not be run for long on wood. Several thousand dwellings is not out of the question. I just want to see the forests cleaned up and healthy again and not just a buffet for beetles.

  3. Just wait until “spotted owls” or some other such animal is found in the forest, then requiring extra protection to preserve the habitat.

    Wood chips or other wood waste is desirable as a fuel in producing areas where wood products are being made from logs, but once the transportation cost of moving wood chips vast distance, one might think there’s little value in burning them. Most wood chips that are moved overseas from the west coast of North America are made into _higher_ _value_ products such as paper, particle board, or oriented strand board (OSB) that have large number of uses. The bulkiness of the BTUs in wood chips makes it a very expensive fuel and hardly makes up for the fuel oil used to transport them!

  4. While I agree with you on one level WB, i.e. at a local level such as a single household or small group of houses (maybe even a small town), I don’t think this resource would be sufficient for the next level like a big city or a nation. Not in the long run. Cheers. NicG.

  5. At the risk of being hanged by other commentators to this blog, wood chips would be a great fuel if harvested from overgrown areas subject to devastating forest fires.

  6. Mr, Forbes forgot to mention the loss of CO2 extracted from the atmosphere by the trees that are destroyed.

  7. Folly one again. Though, if it will put more chainsaws to use in the National Forests then it can’t be all bad.

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