Biomass not sustainable, subsidies must stop, say European scientists


Governments should stop wasting billions of euros in subsidising new biomass power plants and the conversion of existing power plants because it is unsustainable, the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) has said.

‘Burning wood does not produce very much energy. That means the net amount of CO2 which is released is greater than when burning coal or gas,’ EASAC researcher professor Louise Vet told the AD on Thursday.

Biomass is seen as sustainable because burned trees are replaced by new trees but, said Vet, it takes years or even decades before the same amount of CO2 is absorbed by new trees. ‘It’s a fantasy to think that burning biomass in one go in these vast quantities is sustainable’, Vet said.

In the Netherlands no fewer than 628 biomass installations are being planned with a combined subsidy package of €11.4bn, the AD said. The government has said biomass has to become an important source of sustainable energy in order to achieve climate goals and compensate for the loss of gas production in Groningen.

At the moment big coal fired power stations in Geertruidenberg and Eemshaven are being converted into biomass power plants.

Energy company RWE, which was allocated €2.6bn, to burn biomass in its coal fired plant called the European advice  ‘bizarre and incorrect’. Umbrella organisation Energie Nederland said that if subsidies are stopped energy companies will demand compensation.

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