Big Biomass

Terms: BIOMASS is the general term for solid biofuel, such as wood, straw, grasses, and waste that is burnt to produce heat or power.

Why is Big Biomass Bad?

Aerial shot of Enviva wood pellet supplier’s Northampton facility

Because of the Scale of the Demand:

42 new biomass power stations are currently proposed across the UK. If all of these are built, we will need up to 69 million tonnes of wood per year. In 2012 the UK imported 3.7m tonnes of woody biomass. We currently produce less than 10 million tonnes of wood per year in the UK. So we would potentially need to import an additional 55 million tonnes.

Because Biomass Destroys Forests:

We will have to import at least 80% of the biomass we want to burn by 2020. This is already encouraging an increase in logging of highly biodiverse old-growth forests around the world. Once gone, these forests may never regrow, particularly as they are replaced by monoculture tree plantations.

Because Biomass Harms People:

Biomass power stations emit harmful pollutants into the atmosphere which can damage the health of people living near to them. These are not just combustion emissions but also cancer causing wood dust.

Abroad, the biomass industry is destroying the healthy forest ecosystems which people depend on for their survival.

Because Burning Biomass Causes Climate Change:

Biomass contains carbon, so when it is burned it releases carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. Even if a tree is grown to replace what was destroyed it will take many decades, even centuries, to reabsorb all the carbon released that is released in the short time it takes to burn a tree.

We cannot afford even a short-term rise in emissions at a time when the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere must be stabilised and reduced immediately.

Want more information?

If you’d like more information then see these frequently asked questions about Biomass on the biofuelwatch website. (opens in a new window)

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