Rachel Smolker, co-director of Biofuelwatch (BFW), published the following VTDigger.org commentary on the non-carbon neutral nature of biomass, which is often pitched as an environmentally friendly source of energy.
Smolker, who holds a Ph.D. in biology, is an active member of the Campaign to Stop GE Trees Steering Committee.
As codirector of Biofuelwatch, an organization that has dedicated a huge amount of time and energy into trying to myth bust the burning of trees as “renewable energy” over the past decade, I was thrilled to read Mr. Ohanian’s Jan. 27 critique of Middlebury College’s claims about its biomass plant (which by the way mirror neutrality claims made by the city of Burlington, where McNeil generating station burns biomass and wrongly claims it is “neutral”). We need to keep busting that myth over and over again for the reasons stated.
Unfortunately, a sad reality is that burning biomass is the most convenient “renewable” subsidized as such, because it is combustion — like coal. Large coal plants like DRAX in UK for example, can retrofit to burn wood with or instead of coal, and provide “baseload” power. Burning biomass is polluting like coal too, in fact it emits more dangerous particulates even than coal (per unit of power generation). The darn thing of it is that so long as the carbon accounting skullduggery is maintained, there will be the myth that we are reducing CO2 even as we are making matters only far worse.