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Last Updated:[08-10-2009 06:55:20 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Biomass Power Plants Feared to Create Deserts

tradenews Hundreds of biomass power plants, those operational and under construction, are exponentially increasing the demand for wood, and are likely to trigger industrialized plantation of trees. A sudden increase in demand for particular woods has led to rapid growth in monoculture tree plantations worldwide.

Monoculture trees or commercially sourced trees are widely blamed for drying up hydrological basins and polluting air and soil by using pesticides and other agrochemicals. Furthermore, natural forests are sacrificed to encourage industrialized tree plantation with adverse impact on the biodiversity.

Several studies have shown natural forests contained far more species than monoculture tree plantations. Since 1980 tropical forest plantations have expanded by almost fivefold.

Simone Lovera, of the non-governmental Global Forest Coalition told Tierramérica that Europe was going to cook the world’s tropical forests to fight climate change. She was referring to the number of mega biomass plants coming up across Europe. Tierramérica is a communications platform for Sustainable Human Development and Environment in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In the last two months in the UK alone, energy companies have announced the construction of at least six new biomass power generation plants to produce 1,200 megawatts of energy, primarily from burning woodchips. A single power plant requires millions of tons of biomass, and the new plants are expected to burn 20 to 30mn tons of wood annually, nearly all imported from other regions and equivalent to at least one million hectares of forest.

The advocates of natural forests questioned the logic of carbon emissions by transporting the wood from far off places and then burning them to produce energy with another carbon emitting process of biomass plants. Experts claim reforestation of fast growing trees through pesticides and other agrochemicals will cause irreversible damage to the soil thereby to expedite the desertification process of once lush green natural forest cover.

Interestingly, burning wood for energy is regarded as carbon neutral by the US, and this has fuelled proposals for some 102 biomass or bio-fuel energy facilities in the region. However, a study by the Massachusetts Environmental Energy Alliance, a US environmental group, indicates that burning trees for energy produces 1.5 times as much carbon as coal and three to four times more than natural gas.

By Jose Roy

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