Government "deaf" to wood burning carbon emissions

Published:  29 July, 2014

The government has confirmed that burning wood to fuel power stations can create as much, or even more harmful carbon emissions as burning coal.

A report from the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) said that sometimes much bigger carbon savings would be achieved by not utilising whole trees for energy.

While the government has now promised to strengthen the regulations on burning wood, and to make standards mandatory, the Wood Panel Industries Federation (WPIF) insists that manufacturers have been making the same point for some time.

Director General of WPIF Alastair Kerr said: "This report has now confirmed what we have long said - that tax payers may have been subsidising power stations to burn wood in a way that creates more carbon emissions than burning coal.

"This should not be considered a new development. Indeed, WPIF and others, including Greenpeace, have been telling the government this for years. When DECC published its report 'Life cycle impacts of Biomass Electricity in 2020', we were reminded of the old adage: ‘There's none so deaf as those who choose not to hear'."

Mr Kerr continued: "WPIF is not against burning wood for energy, but we have long argued that policies which determine the use of tax payers' money must be premised on the principle of the ‘hierarchy of use' - a way of prioritising economically, socially and environmentally higher added-value applications for material use over those having lower added value.

"It is essential that only waste wood which could not have been reused or recycled should be incinerated. Current energy policies undermine the hierarchy and promote the burning of an environmentally valuable resource. Perhaps now, a more balanced debate will take place, and hopefully it won't be too late."

WPIF is a representative organisation giving voice to the industrial manufacturers in the UK and Ireland of Wood Chipboard, Oriented Strand Board (OSB) and Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF).

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