Mislabelling renewable energy: greenwashing forest fuels

April 23, 2020
Wood-pellets-and-rounds-

When you think about renewable energy, you (like me) probably think about some familiar images: wind turbines, solar panels, even geothermal plants. What you probably aren’t thinking of is burning things to make power. Because after all, since when is burning s#!% a climate solution? Isn’t the idea to move on from burning things like coal and oil, to less polluting energy production?

When you think about renewable energy, you (like me) probably think about some familiar images: wind turbines, solar panels, even geothermal plants.

What you probably aren’t thinking of is burning things to make power. Because after all, since when is burning s#!% a climate solution? Isn’t the idea to move on from burning things like coal and oil, to less polluting energy production?

Unfortunately, the label of renewable energy can be dangerous. In the case of biomass energy, which here means burning wood to generate power, the labels of “renewable” and “carbon neutral” have been used to propel the growth of biomass energy — at great cost to forests and the planet.

In places like the U.K., where coal plants are being converted to burn wood products, companies receive huge amounts of subsidies to transition away from coal. The largest among these is Drax, which runs a power station east of Leeds and receives the equivalent of a billion dollars a year in subsidies.