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 email@example.com. 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.