Research suggests that the use of wood pellets as a source of power is worse for the environment than the use of coal – and is being subsidised by British consumers.
Acres of trees have been felled in the US and shipped over to the Drax power station in North Yorkshire to be burned as biomass, which has been promoted as clean and greener than coal.
However, research by British academics says burning these wood pellets produces more carbon emissions than coal.
In January, this was supported by researchers from MIT Sloan School of Management, who said that wood pellets used in power plants across Europe and the UK emit more CO2 per kilowatt hour than coal.
A leading British think tank, Chatham House, has also warned that the UK is wasting hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayer’s cash on burning American wood pellets in biomass generators – and that the practice causes more pollution than the coal it replaced.
Channel 4’s Dispatches conducted an experiment at the University of Nottingham, which found that 8% more carbon was produced when burning wood pellets than coal, when generating the same amount of electricity.
Professor Bill Moomaw, who helped lead a Nobel Peace Prize winning team on climate change at the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said: “If we take the forests and burn them, the carbon dioxide goes into the atmosphere instantly, in a few minutes. It takes decades to a century to replace that.”