"CO2 (equivalent) saving from short-rotation willow coppice (SRC) is ZERO" – official

DEFRA and ADAS (the UK agricultural agency) are now circulating a study comparing net GHG impacts of different bio-feedstocks which concludes that the net CO2 (equivalent) saving from short-rotation willow coppice (SRC) is ZERO because of the direct and indirect GHG emission from the fertilisers used, whereas there is near 100% CO2 (equiv) saving from Miscanthus (“elephant grass”) because it doesn’t need fertilisers. Some of the wood wastes show up to 600% CO2-equivalent net saving because of the methane emissions in the “base case” where they are put to landfill (I presume this applies to most natural forest-floor debris and dead trees). …….Chris Hodrien

6 comments on “"CO2 (equivalent) saving from short-rotation willow coppice (SRC) is ZERO" – official

  1. This is all about the assumptions made about where willow is grown. One way would be to plant willow in riparian strips say 10-25m wide along rivers in farmed landscapes, where the trees would scour groundwater of its surplus nutrient load and so improve water quality at the same time as enhancing riparian habitat. A win-win-win solution!

  2. Whilst people get very excited by biomass consider some caclutaions our TD director Stuart graham did last week.

    Wood vs. wind

    Bamboo @ 4.4kWh/dry kg. Fastest growing plant
    13000 kg/acre/5 years
    =11544 kWh/acre/year
    =31.6 kWh/day

    Scots Pine @ 5.5kWh/dry kg
    7000 kg/acre/5 years
    =7700 kWh/acre/year
    =21 kWh/day

    11.2MW wind farm
    23000 MWh/30.5Acre/year
    =2065 kWh/day

    Consider the energy ages, wood, coal, oil and now we advocate going back to wood?

    Use biomass and biowastes by all means to meet local needs and exploit local resources but do not expect bio-mass to be the primary or even a significant element of our forward energy needs.

  3. Actually, this is all about pure, unadulterated bullshit. It is such a load of pants that it isn’t worth wasting the breath to argue with. The assumption that Oliver highlights is only one of many. Why do people feel they have to generalize? We can prove anything with the right set of assumptions. It’s some sort of disease that has infected every public body, every body dependent on government contracts, and every body interested in publicity (particularly including the media and academia). That covers most of the “working” (specifically, employed but not usefully productive) population.

  4. By the way, there doesn’t seem to be anything about this on the DEFRA, DECC, ADAS or GNN websites. What’s the reference?

  5. Dave McG,

    If you go to the island of Mykonos, you will see that the wind age also preceded the coal, oil and gas ages. As did the water age, and the biomass age. I take it you do not view that as a reason not to go back to wind and water, even though it is apparently a reason to view biomass as old-hat (fashion being so important in these things)?

    Nice rhetoric, pity about the underlying argument.

  6. I reckon that wind turbines cannot be any more environmentally “friendly” per kilowatt-hour than hydroelectric generation. Dams obstruct fish, and wind turbines kill bats and big birds.

    Because the maximum power capacity of a 600-foot high turbine is 5 or 6 megawatts, and that’s only available when the wind is one Beaufort scale step less than a gale. You’re lucky if its annual available production is 1.25 megawatt-years, and luckier still if you have a demand when it’s available.

    By contrast, there’s enough uranium and thorium available to run nuclear power for a thousand years, if you build your reactors to renew their fuel like the USA’s Integral Fast Reactor.
    But the best plan is to be like the French, or pre-Thatcher Britain, and run the reactors under public, national ownership.

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