Will biomass be the fuel of the future?

York Press: A biomass storage silo at Drax Power Station, near Selby A biomass storage silo at Drax Power Station, near Selby

There seems to be some confusion surrounding the use of biomass fuels.

With an interest in science and some initial scepticism as to the influence we have over the planet’s climate, I’d like to offer an explanation.

While biomass does produce CO2, it simply recirculates CO2 that was already in the present-day atmosphere. The problem with fossil fuel is that it releases CO2 removed from the atmosphere millions of years ago by prehistoric forests (coal) and sea creatures (oil) when the earth was warmer than today.

Provided sceptics are happy to accept that the Earth is a 4.5 billion-year-old ball of rock, not a 6,000-year-old disc balanced on a turtle, then this should make sense.

If we release this long-trapped CO2 by burning all the fossil fuels then the Earth’s atmosphere will return to the prehistoric mix of gases along with the predicted overall temperature rise.

I accept the science may not be 100 per cent correct yet; after all, we’ve only measured the climate for some 0.000006 per cent of the Earth’s entire history. Although using clever methods such as tree ring and ice core analysis, climate scientists can get a pretty good idea of how things have changed over the millennia.

Whether the current “blip” is a result of human activity or not, it seems sensible to be cautious. There is no harm in putting sustainable solutions in place, while the result of not doing anything (only to discover the scientists are right) could prove catastrophic.

Richard Hind, Alma Grove, York.


• I read Mr Roe’s letter with great interest and would like to add my observations.

Biomass imported across thousands of miles of ocean is not green; the bulk carriers moving this stuff use upwards of 200 tonnes of the most polluting bunker fuel in the world.

Like every other consumable, coal is a finite resource and we will run out, and coal takes a lot longer to form than a tree does.

My son has recently been on business working with the Chinese, and they were proud to show him their latest coal-fired power station, which they said “can generate more electricity than the whole of Australia”.

The Chinese are building these at the rate of one a month.

James Whitehead, Whenby Grove, Huntington, York.

Comments (3)

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2:18pm Tue 31 Dec 13

ColdAsChristmas says...

Richard, if just 10% of coal power stations in the world changed over to biomass it would not be long before there wasn't a forest tree left in the world. Not very sustainable. Trees are necessary to turn CO2 into oxygen, therefore we need both. A long propaganda campaign has brainwashed people into believing that coal is dirty and CO2 causes warming.
Coal may be dirty but necessary, it made the UK but other than a glass jar experiment; there is no evidence to suggest that CO2 causes global warming. Remember, CO2 levels have been rising but temperatures have not been since 1998.
As for a 6,000 year old disc idea, why on Earth did you throw that bit of rubbish in?
Richard, if just 10% of coal power stations in the world changed over to biomass it would not be long before there wasn't a forest tree left in the world. Not very sustainable. Trees are necessary to turn CO2 into oxygen, therefore we need both. A long propaganda campaign has brainwashed people into believing that coal is dirty and CO2 causes warming. Coal may be dirty but necessary, it made the UK but other than a glass jar experiment; there is no evidence to suggest that CO2 causes global warming. Remember, CO2 levels have been rising but temperatures have not been since 1998. As for a 6,000 year old disc idea, why on Earth did you throw that bit of rubbish in? ColdAsChristmas

7:51pm Mon 6 Jan 14

Buzzz Light-year says...

Really?
[bold]Really?[/bold] Buzzz Light-year

12:27pm Tue 7 Jan 14

Sillybillies says...

Buzzz Light-year wrote:
Really?
Deal with the issues!
[quote][p][bold]Buzzz Light-year[/bold] wrote: [bold]Really?[/bold][/p][/quote]Deal with the issues! Sillybillies

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