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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
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    • CommentAuthorJTGreen
    • CommentTimeSep 8th 2010
     
    AFAIK, my hospital incinerates clinical waste onsite and uses the resulting heat. Doesn't have quite the cosy connotation of a log fire though.
    •  
      CommentAuthorDamonHD
    • CommentTimeSep 8th 2010
     
    Makes liposuction pay for itself in carbon credits though... %-P

    Rgds

    Damon
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeSep 8th 2010
     
    Should be able to calculate the 'efficiency' of eating to excess fat and then the calorific value of body fat. Instead of growing trees we can 'grow' fat people in the name of going green.
    Had chips for lunch so doing my bit :bigsmile:
  1.  
    Some good comments post here , looking at some of the issues

    http://www.aecb.net/forum/index.php/topic,2649.0.html
    •  
      CommentAuthorali.gill
    • CommentTimeSep 16th 2010
     
    Opposition to Port Talbot power plant emission changes
    Two politicians have called for the rejection of a £400m biomass plant's application to ease emissions limits.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-11295982
    • CommentAuthorGBP-Keith
    • CommentTimeSep 16th 2010
     
    This project is just too big too soon. I'm preparing a response to the AECB's discussion paper but this project plays into their hands.

    Moving our heating needs (not electrical) to Biomass should be a step-change over a period of years. This is another example of how WAG puts their foot into their mouth.
    • CommentAuthorsune
    • CommentTimeSep 17th 2010
     
    Here is a response to the paper..........don't take it too seriously though....
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeSep 17th 2010
     
    Stumbled across this while looking for something else. Not read it thoroughly yet and it is 4 years old not that that will make much difference.

    http://www.parliament.uk/documents/post/postpn268.pdf
    • CommentAuthorGBP-Keith
    • CommentTimeSep 19th 2010 edited
     
    • CommentAuthorsune
    • CommentTimeSep 20th 2010 edited
     
    Here is some evidence to back up the response paper that I posted. As I did mention it is not to be taken too seriously please understand whilst you read them that I am trying to show by example how silly the Biomass paper is. Having said that the arguments I put forward are all totally valid in that not building houses is actually much more sustainable than building them - pretty obvious, and upgrading existing stock would be a much more logical way to go - obvious again, and if you do have to build a house then build a tiny one - really obvious. Building to PassivHaus standard is an expensive luxury that in practice most cannot afford which results in a high embodied energy building where there was probably not a building before.

    The extract below is from a soon to be published research paper (not mine) which clearly shows the embodied energy of various buildings. A building can in fact be made very close to PassivHaus energy usage but without the high energy materials which are normally associated with them, and without the lengthy tinkering and detailing which adds to build cost. How often do you read about a Passiv house where, for example, SIP panels were shipped in from a special Austrian supplier - "they drove over from Austria and put it up in 3 days", they used celotex throughout the building (ie cyanoacrylate), they installed a heat pump, they built their 'ecohouse' underground using about 500 tonnes of concrete....

    But.......my paper and argument ignores the reality that new houses are being built and will continue to be built regardless of whether it is a good idea or not, and if they are built then they might as well be built to a low energy usage standard. PassivHaus is all part of the mix of solutions and is more understandable to the 'wimpy' type builders than buildings built with what I would consider 'greener' materials and simpler design.
    The Biomass paper is also flawed in exactly the same way and many others.

    The biomass paper is also blinkered in that the alternative is, largely, electrical hot water generation from a network which will not be renewable any time soon. Essentially it is a flight of pure theory, with some arguable points, but divorced from the real world which we find ourselves in, and as such it is at best naive.

    I know it is sometimes hard to get in and out of our forests these days because of the scores of poor, hungry, woodfibre insulation board manufacturers gathering near the entrance begging for the owner to sign their contract while the woodchip lorry covers them in dust on its way out, reminding me of a scene from the Grapes of Wrath.
    • CommentAuthorsune
    • CommentTimeSep 20th 2010 edited
     
    I was going to post the table of values here, but the forum code won't let me post pure html....so here it is as a pdf....
    • CommentAuthorjamesingram
    • CommentTimeSep 20th 2010 edited
     
    How about these plants
    http://www.greenbang.com/mgt-power-plans-second-biomass-plant-in-ne_11112.html
    "The company already has Government approval for a plant at Teesport which will be fuelled by some 2.4 million tonnes of clean wood chip fuel per year and provide up to 295 megawatts of clean energy.
    MGT’s second proposed plant, the 295-megawatt Tyne Renewable Energy Plant (Tyne REP), will be built on industrial land owned by the Port of Tyne in North Shields. The £400 million facility is expected to lead to the creation of 600 construction jobs, 150 on-site jobs, 300 – 400 indirect jobs and an annual spend of £30 million in the local economy."

    So 4.8 million tonnes of woodchip required in the NE per year for these 2 plants ,

    anyone know what the available supply is in this area?

    Another case of too much to soon .
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeSep 20th 2010
     
    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: jamesingram</cite>anyone know what the available supply is in this area?</blockquote>

    Is this the place where they are shipping it in from Canada?
    •  
      CommentAuthorDamonHD
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2010
     
    Yes, I believe so. And I think I wrote to them (no longer have the emails) and asked them about the CO2e/kWh implied by the transport and it was astonishingly low.

    Rgds

    Damon
    • CommentAuthortrw144
    • CommentTimeSep 23rd 2010
     
    Regarding the canadian chips. I know of a big supplier looking to bring in wood pellets from Canada - as they are manufactured and moved around canada using hydro-electric, and then shipped on sunken barges across the atlantic, the carbon footprint is supposedly very very low.
  2.  
    Posted By: trw144know of a big supplier looking to bring in wood pellets from Canada - as they are manufactured and moved around canada using hydro-electric,
    Hmm, not sure how they can move the pellets around Canada using hydroelectricity - our freight rail network here is not electrified so all internal transportation will use diesel. Large boats crossing the ocean do have a low carbon footprint per tonne of material shipped though.

    Paul in Montreal.
    • CommentAuthoradwindrum
    • CommentTimeSep 27th 2010
     
    Heres a thought.

    I burn wood.

    I fell a whole tree and use say 80-90% of the timber, the rest is too small to bother so I pile it up around new growth to keep deer off saplings.

    Therefore I am not using up all the carbon sequestered in the tree when I burn it.

    I have a fixed amount of land and in order to keep burning wood its in my interest to make it sustainable and therefore perpetual.

    Wood may be more polluting than gas when burnt but then surely these extra pollutants are released when microorganisms decompose the tree over time anyway?

    Gas use is going to lead to wars in the Arctic (Russia is currently building nuclear bases to deploy in the Arctic year round), they are non renewable, they are more expensive and it does nothing for wildlife (other than release pollutants...albeit less than wood does....).

    People are going to keep using wood and if you dont give grants then they will use less efficient boilers and create more pollution.
    • CommentAuthorGBP-Keith
    • CommentTimeOct 8th 2010 edited
     
    Interestingly, in July this year 114 environmental scientists lobbied the US EPA praising the properties of biomass as a fuel. Their main arguments (bearing in mind this is a US document so some localised US issues are brought in to the discussion) predominantly contradict those set out in the AECB discussion paper.

    I'm not sue what the outcome of the Tailoring Rule was right now or as to its significance to this debate but to point out that these scientists were prepared to add their voices to the discussion. the list of the signatories follows the document

    http://www.safnet.org/documents/biomass_science_letter_SENATE7-20-10.pdf
    • CommentAuthorGBP-Keith
    • CommentTimeOct 8th 2010 edited
     
    1. Here is the draft Green Building Press response to the AECB discussion paper. I would be interested to get opinions from other forum users before I finalise it and send it in. Green building Press is a member of the AECB.

    2. I am also going through the discussion paper paragraph by paragraph and commenting separately.

    3. We are also going to run as part of the next edition of Green Building magazine a special section on Biomass which I hope will include a much longer and more in-depth assessment of the role of biomass. if anyone wishes to contribute a story from either side of the fence then do please contact me.

    ...............................

    'Biomass - a burning issue': - a considered response

    The document that sparked this response can be found by following the link at:
    http://tiny.cc/6f2cn

    I cannot help but find myself disappointed by the recently released discussion paper from the AECB entitled 'Biomass - a burning issue'. I am disappointed for two primary reasons:

    Firstly, by the fact that such a pointedly controversial paper was commissioned, published and released into the public domain by the AECB without any recourse to the wider membership of the AECB. By doing so, I believe the AECB has, perhaps inadvertently, implied a 'position' on the matter before a sound case (for or against) has been made. This paper, far from being a discussion paper and putting both sides of the argument - for or against, concludes a clear case against biomass. Because of this strong and pointedly negative attack on biomass, I believe that this paper should have only been made available to the membership of the AECB for discussion BEFORE any thought of publication to the media was considered. This way, members who had opinions or positions on the subject could have commented on the document before it was finalised and made public.

    Secondly, in reading between the lines, it seems that the authors really wanted to take issue with the strategy and methodology that the UK government has adopted for the support of 'sustainable' heating systems, including biomass. However, to blame a fuel as they have, in this case biomass, for what may or may not be be misguided actions of government seems very unfair. In their rush to condemn the fuel, rather than the policy, with wording such as "the dash for biomass" they have been tempted by, and drawn towards, weak science and misguided data resulting in poor conclusions. Certainly, if the AECB's desire was, by commissioning and releasing this document, an attempt to undermine government policy regarding heating fuels, then I believe they have gone about this in the wrong way and consequently may end up with egg on their faces and lose not only the argument but also members.

    Biomass can be sustainable
    Not withstanding that reducing energy consumption is the most pressing requirement for us all, I believe the take-up of biomass heating in the UK and the wider world is, and will continue to be, an essential part of the 'move' towards a more sustainable and safe world. Biomass is a natural, easy to grow and harvest fuel that, contrary to the authors' claims, need not be at the 'expense' of other uses for wood. In fact, anyone with a reasonable knowledge of wood and forestry - how it is grown, thinned, harvested etc, would not have written much of what they have included in this paper.

    Early in the paper, the authors chose to dismiss many of the very important factors that make biomass perhaps the most environmentally friendly and sustainable choice for heating (where heating is required). They chose instead to simplify the matter to just CO2 calculations. To do this is to over-simplify the complex nature of the earth's ecosystems and processes. And their proposal that people should happily plant trees to just offset gas consumption is naive at best and foolhardy at worst.

    Putting aside the discussion regarding whether or not we should still be erecting new buildings that require heating at all, it is clear that we still need heat in some form and will continue to do so for some time, in most new, and certainly almost all, existing building stock. In my opinion, a key fuel for meeting this need 'sustainably' is biomass, for five fundamental reasons:
    1. Biomass is a renewable fuel (within human timescales).
    2. Biomass can be grown locally, close to the point where it is needed.
    3. Biomass is energy secure - no need to rely on supplies from other countries.
    4. Biomass requires relatively simple technology and equipment to enable it to be grown, harvested and burnt efficiently.
    5. Biomass can provide employment, environmental protection of habitat and improved lumber production, all for use in the UK.

    Whereas on the other hand, gas, the fuel which the report seems to lean towards as they regularly compare it with biomass, is unacceptable for five fundamental reasons:
    1. Gas is not a renewable fuel (in human timescales).
    2. Gas cannot be sourced locally, or even easily for that matter.
    3. Gas is not energy secure and forces us to rely on imports from other countries and can be implicated in recent conflicts with other nations and the oppression of third world countries.
    4 Gas requires complex and increasingly sophisticated technology to extract, transport, store and burn efficiently.
    5. Gas provides for very little UK employment or for any habitat protection.
    6. The carbon released from fossil fuels has been long separated from the global carbon cycle and adds to the total amount of carbon in active circulation between the atmosphere and biosphere. In contrast, the CO2 released from burning woody biomass was absorbed as part of the “biogenic” carbon cycle where plants absorb CO2 as they grow (through photosynthesis), and release carbon dioxide as they decay or are burned (see www.safnet.org/documents/biomass_science_letter_SENATE7-20-10.pdf).


    Biomass and forestry - both help to keep us in harmony with nature (in a UK context)
    Contrary to the authors' suggestion that forestry cover is on the decline, the opposite is in fact true, certainly in the UK. Since 1965, UK forestry cover has grown by 4.3% and 2.7% since 1980. Biomass is now a valued resource from many sectors. In fact trees, per-se, nowadays have an intrinsically high value in the eye of the general public, partly due to their multiple benefits - including as a fuel. A growth in forest cover has many many benefits which the authors seem to have chosen to overlook.

    My own extensive research over the years has revealed that woodland ownership in the UK is now much more diverse and there has been a large increase in the planting of native, broadleaved trees on land taken out of farming for a variety of reasons - including for fuel security. For instance, the total area of new planting and restocking in the UK was 21.8 thousand hectares in 2008-09. Although restocking accounted for 73% of this total, broadleaved species accounted for the majority (80%). As for new planting (on land not previously used for forestry), since 2004-05, 45 thousand hectares of the UK was put down to new forestry and again, most was broadleaved trees. This increased interest in woodlands and timber as a fuel is more likely attributable to a growing awareness that all nature is interconnected, and forests, woodland, trees and timber are part of what makes us human beings, rather than just robots (see Forestry Commission website for facts and figures).

    Forestry is an old profession, therefore much data is available and history proves that when value for forestry is increased, then there is more interest in managing it carefully. UK woodlands will, I believe, benefit from increased extraction of wood for fuel. Forestry is as much a skilled art as any other professional trade and until recently, UK woodlands had suffered from desperate undervaluation because little use could be found for thinnings, which is an essential step in the growing of quality lumber for building. For instance, when planting a woodland for commercial timber purposes, one would plant trees at a maximum of 1 metre apart. Then over the following 25-30 years as the saplings grow and compete with each other for light, they force each other to grow straight and true but eventually need thinning out. Thinning out would be carried out at least once when the trunks are about 125 - 200mm diameter as the woodland matures. The best, most straight and clean trees would be left to mature and grow on for high quality timber. The thinnings, especially in broadleaved woodland have little value other than as firewood (for which they are perfectly sized) or perhaps for making charcoal, (they also used to be used for pit props in the early days of coal mining).

    In an ever-shrinking world we need to choose what we do with our land wisely. Growing wood for both biomass and lumber is far more cost-effective and likely to succeed than growing trees for just lumber.

    To conclude then I would like the following to be considered:

    1. By publishing this discussion paper, the authors and by association, the AECB, are actually playing into the hands of the fossil fuel 'business as usual' camp. Clearly, the authors are entitled to their opinions but when the report is being funded by the AECB membership, their work needs to be for the collective good of AECB members or the cause.

    2. The AECB should make clear that it supports the use of biomass in situations that are well conceived and it remains a good choice fuel for sustainability measures.


    With grateful thanks to the multiple users on the Green Building Forum and others by e-mail and telephone who took the time to discuss this with me on the Green Building Forum in two notable threads:
    'Why biomass is better than gas': http://tiny.cc/flwkl
    'Natural gas - is it hydrogen or carbon': http://tiny.cc/8qc93wk54e

    The background to the above is in this thread:
    'Biomass - a burning issue': http://tiny.cc/6f2cn
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeOct 9th 2010 edited
     
    Posted By: GBP-Keith.
    Whereas on the other hand, gas, the fuel which the report seems to lean towards as they regularly compare it with biomass, is unacceptable for five fundamental reasons:
    1. Gas is not a renewable fuel (in human timescales).
    2. Gas cannot be sourced locally, or even easily for that matter.
    3. Gas is not energy secure and forces us to rely on imports from other countries and can be implicated in recent conflicts with other nations and the oppression of third world countries.
    4 Gas requires complex and increasingly sophisticated technology to extract, transport, store and burn efficiently.
    5. Gas provides for very little UK employment or for any habitat protection.
    6. The carbon released from fossil fuels has been long separated from the global carbon cycle and adds to the total amount of carbon in active circulation between the atmosphere and biosphere. In contrast, the CO2 released from burning woody biomass was absorbed as part of the “biogenic” carbon cycle where plants absorb CO2 as they grow (through photosynthesis), and release carbon dioxide as they decay or are burned (see www.safnet.org/documents/biomass_science_letter_SENATE7-20-10.pdf).



    A well considered reply Keith;

    In the paragraph about gas you don't mention biodigesters, like the new one just opened using raw sewage. plus the ones using farm slurry. I doubt It will ever satisfy all the demand this way, but perhaps a nodding mention wouldn't go amiss.
    As a cabinet maker I have been apalled for years at the ammount of timber we import. Timber we can grow perfectly well on this country. Take furniture grade Ash as an example, it grows like a weed, the European variety is far superior in look to the imported American, and the firewood is arguably the best. Oak is another. Like you, I see no reason why the growing of these high grade commodities shouldn't go hand in hand with biomass. It's a win/win.

    Mike
    • CommentAuthormike7
    • CommentTimeOct 9th 2010
     
    Posted By: GBP-Keith
    4. Biomass requires relatively simple technology and equipment to enable it to be grown, harvested and burnt efficiently.

    Whereas on the other hand,
    4 Gas requires complex and increasingly sophisticated technology to extract, transport, store and burn efficiently.


    A small point, but I suggest gas is easier to burn efficiently than biomass, other things being equal.

    Thanks for your work on this Keith - it has helped clarify my options as an owner of a small plot of land including some wood. I'm currently busy planting trees on otherwise unproductive areas to increase my future potential fuel supply. It will also enable me to manage the wood with more choices, ie. to have regard for amenity and wildlife value, rather than having to consider fuel as the dominant concern.
    • CommentAuthorGBP-Keith
    • CommentTimeOct 9th 2010
     
    Thanks guys, I'll add (or clarify) these points before I finalise. I don't have a lot of experience of biodigesters though.
    • CommentAuthorGBP-Keith
    • CommentTimeOct 10th 2010 edited
     
    Here is a reworded and slightly extended response to reflect most recent (and i think some previous) comments: The more I research this then the more 'careful biomass use' looks like our solution!

    I hope to submit this late Monday 11th oct, so if anyone has any other pints to raise i would live to hear them.

    'Biomass - a burning issue': - a considered response

    The document that sparked this response can be found by following the link at:
    http://tiny.cc/6f2cn

    I cannot help but find myself disappointed by the recently released discussion paper from the AECB entitled 'Biomass - a burning issue'. I am disappointed for two primary reasons:

    Firstly, by the fact that such a pointedly controversial paper was commissioned, published and released into the public domain by the AECB without any recourse to the wider membership of the AECB. By doing so, I believe the AECB has, perhaps inadvertently, implied a 'position' on the matter before a sound case (for or against) has been made. This paper, far from being a discussion paper and putting both sides of the argument - for or against, concludes a clear case against biomass. Because of this strong and pointedly negative attack on biomass, I believe that this paper should have only been made available to the membership of the AECB for discussion BEFORE any thought of publication to the media was considered. This way, members who had opinions or positions on the subject could have commented on the document before it was finalised and made public.

    Secondly, in reading between the lines, it seems that the authors really wanted to take issue with the strategy and methodology that the UK government has adopted for the support of 'sustainable' heating systems, including biomass. However, to blame a fuel as they have, in this case biomass, for what may or may not be be misguided actions of government seems very unfair. In their rush to condemn the fuel, rather than the policy, with wording such as "the dash for biomass" they have been tempted by, and drawn towards, weak science and misguided data resulting in poor conclusions. Certainly, if the AECB's desire was, by commissioning and releasing this document, an attempt to undermine government policy regarding heating fuels, then I believe they have gone about this in the wrong way and consequently may end up with egg on their faces and lose not only the argument but also members.

    Biomass can be sustainable
    Not withstanding that reducing energy consumption is the most pressing requirement for us all, I believe the take-up of biomass heating in the UK and the wider world is, and will continue to be, an essential part of the 'move' towards a more sustainable and safe world. Biomass is a natural, easy to grow and harvest fuel that, contrary to the authors' claims, need not be at the 'expense' of other uses for wood. In fact, anyone with a reasonable knowledge of wood and forestry - how it is grown, thinned, harvested etc, would not have written much of what they have included in this paper.

    Early in the paper, the authors chose to dismiss many of the very important factors that make biomass perhaps the most environmentally friendly and sustainable choice for heating (where heating is required). They chose instead to simplify the matter to just CO2 calculations. To do this is to over-simplify the complex nature of the earth's ecosystems and processes. And their proposal that people should happily plant trees to just offset gas consumption is naive at best and foolhardy at worst.



    Putting aside the discussion regarding whether or not we should still be erecting new buildings that require heating at all, it is clear that we still need heat in some form and will continue to do so for some time, in most new, and certainly almost all, existing building stock. In my opinion, a key fuel for meeting this need 'sustainably' is biomass, for five fundamental reasons:
    1. Biomass is a renewable fuel (within human timescales).
    2. Biomass can be grown locally, close to the point where it is needed.
    3. Biomass is energy secure - no need to rely on supplies from other countries.
    4. Biomass requires relatively simple technology and equipment to enable it to be grown, harvested and burnt efficiently.
    5. Biomass can provide employment, environmental protection of habitat and improved lumber production, all for use in the UK.

    Whereas on the other hand, mined natural gas, the fuel which the report seems to lean towards as they regularly compare it with biomass, is unacceptable for five fundamental reasons:
    1. Gas is not a renewable fuel (in human timescales).
    2. Gas cannot be sourced locally, or even easily for that matter.
    3. Gas is not energy secure and forces us to rely on imports from other countries and can be implicated in recent conflicts with other nations and the oppression of third world countries.
    4 Gas requires complex and increasingly sophisticated technology to extract, transport, store and burn efficiently.
    5. Gas provides for very little UK employment or for any habitat protection.

    Note 1: The carbon released from fossil fuels has been long separated from the global carbon cycle and adds to the total amount of carbon in active circulation between the atmosphere and biosphere. In contrast, the CO2 released from burning woody biomass was absorbed as part of the “biogenic” carbon cycle where plants absorb CO2 as they grow (through photosynthesis), and release carbon dioxide as they decay or are burned (see www.safnet.org/documents/biomass_science_letter_SENATE7-20-10.pdf).

    Note 2: Biogas from anaerobic digestion could quite safely be excluded in the above statements about gas.

    Note 3: A study by Cornell University environmental professor Robert W. Howarth in 2010 (see: http://tiny.cc/tzi0j) finds that once methane leak impacts are included, the life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint of shale gas would be worse than those of coal and fuel oil. He highlights. "A complete consideration of all emissions from using natural gas seems likely to make natural gas far less attractive than other fossil fuels in terms of the consequences for global warming." Methane is by far the major component of natural gas, and it is a powerful greenhouse gas: 25-times more powerful than is CO2 per molecule in the atmosphere (see: http://tiny.cc/tiv9y)




    Wood Biomass and forestry - both help to keep us in harmony with nature (in a UK context)
    Contrary to the authors' suggestion that forestry cover is on the decline, the opposite is in fact true, certainly in the UK. Since 1965, UK forestry cover has grown by 4.3% and 2.7% since 1980. Biomass is now a valued resource from many sectors. In fact trees, per-se, nowadays have an intrinsically high value in the eye of the general public, partly due to their multiple benefits - including as a fuel. A growth in forest cover has many many benefits which the authors seem to have chosen to overlook.

    My own extensive research over the years has revealed that woodland ownership in the UK is now much more diverse and there has been a large increase in the planting of native, broadleaved trees on land taken out of farming for a variety of reasons - including for fuel security. For instance, the total area of new planting and restocking in the UK was 21.8 thousand hectares in 2008-09. Although restocking accounted for 73% of this total, broadleaved species accounted for the majority (80%). As for new planting (on land not previously used for forestry), since 2004-05, 45 thousand hectares of the UK was put down to new forestry and again, most was broadleaved trees. This increased interest in woodlands and timber as a fuel is more likely attributable to a growing awareness that all nature is interconnected, and forests, woodland, trees and timber are part of what makes us human beings, rather than just robots (see Forestry Commission website for facts and figures).

    Forestry is an old profession, therefore much data is available and history proves that when value for forestry is increased, then there is more interest in managing it carefully. UK woodlands will, I believe, benefit from increased extraction of wood for fuel. Forestry is as much a skilled art as any other professional trade and until recently, UK woodlands had suffered from desperate undervaluation because little use could be found for thinnings, which is an essential step in the growing of quality lumber for building. For instance, when planting a woodland for commercial timber purposes, one would plant trees at a maximum of 1 metre apart. Then over the following 25-30 years as the saplings grow and compete with each other for light, they force each other to grow straight and true but eventually need thinning out. Thinning out would be carried out at least once when the trunks are about 125 - 200mm diameter as the woodland matures. The best, most straight and clean trees would be left to mature and grow on for high quality timber. The thinnings, especially in broadleaved woodland have little value other than as firewood (for which they are perfectly sized) or perhaps for making charcoal, (they also used to be used for pit props in the early days of coal mining).

    In an ever-shrinking world we need to choose what we do with our land wisely. Growing wood for both biomass and lumber is far more cost-effective and likely to succeed than growing trees for just lumber.

    Further notes on the collective phrase "biomass"
    Of course, not all biomass that is currently burned or planned to be burned will be from forestry sourced wood. Therefore, for a proper analysis to be carried out to conclusion each source fuel would need to be examined in isolation for a number of factors before any findings and/or recommendations can be drawn. Notwithstanding that, it seems to be quite commonly agreed that where and when variable origin/quality biomass feedstock is involved, the combustion plant will need to be ever-more technically advanced in order to keep localised pollution to a minimum. It would seem that when sort of activity is carried out, the plant in question becomes a suspected polluter. Perhaps this is an area where more detailed work is needed.


    To conclude then I would like the following to be considered:

    1. By publishing this discussion paper, the authors and by association, the AECB, could be playing into the hands of the fossil fuel 'business as usual' camp. Clearly, the authors are entitled to their opinions but when the report is being funded by the AECB membership, their work needs to be for the collective good of AECB members or the cause.

    2. The AECB should make clear that it supports the use of biomass, especially virgin sourced biomass (wood/straw) in situations that are well conceived and it remains a good choice fuel for sustainability measures.


    With grateful thanks to the multiple users on the Green Building Forum and others by e-mail and telephone who took the time to discuss this with me on the Green Building Forum in two notable threads:
    'Why biomass is better than gas': http://tiny.cc/flwkl
    'Natural gas - is it hydrogen or carbon': http://tiny.cc/8qc93wk54e

    The background to the above is in this thread:
    'Biomass - a burning issue': http://tiny.cc/6f2cn
  3.  
    The discussions on biomass sadly appear to ignore pollution impact from combustion emissions. UK Gov report Sep 06 detailed modern biomass boiler emissions are more hazardous than oil and far higher than equivalent gas. Gov report on renewables 2009 detailed use of biomass in energy production would add £billions to NHS costs due to air quality degradation. Operating experience highlights clean biomass creates hazardous air pollution 60 times higher than fossil fuel per useful unit of power and combustion of waste timber creates 240 times higher sulphur dioxide pollution burden per unit of power when health organisations urge immediate reduction in SO2 produced energy process.
    Reference Teesside proposed import of 2.4 million tonnes of woodchip/yr, woodchip contains substantial water plus known to be 19% air. Project details 200,000 tonne external storage capacity open to the elements. Canadian biomass supplier details 48% energy loss in processing and transport to Europe, UK Gov detail average powerplant operating efficiency 27%. Each tonne of imported biomass brings risk of pests and disease. Where is guarantee of quality compared with alternative of gas. Indigenous capability will only supply a small fraction of the feedstock needs for one large biomass powerplant.
    We need renewable energy but surely it should be clean and make best use of resources. The panel manufacturers are concerned that the rush into burning timber places 8700 fulltime jobs at risk.
    At domestic level there are serious concerns surrounding emissions inversion and fine particle pollution , the cumulative impact means only a small number in one locality quickly reduces air quality to busy inner City level. Fine particles produced are known to be mainly submicron which allows direct access to bloodstream causing further concern.
    Hoping this adds to discussion.
    • CommentAuthorGBP-Keith
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2010
     
    In response to this Brian. We should probably look at the hidden pollution caused by the ever increasing hunt for scarce fossil fuels including gas.

    Many recent wars have been to control the flow of oil and gas westward.

    Have a read of these regarding warfare:

    http://www.lenntech.com/environmental-effects-war.htm

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/k60367j606nv4206/

    http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/17450

    http://www.thedebate.org/thedebate/iraq.asp

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1130731388742388243#
  4.  
    Cant be arsed to read all above.
    But that mega expensive "Hoval" pellet burner as was removed here locally recently, as seen by myself.
    Not the first storey I have heard about pellets in Northern Ireland "bridging" due to absorption of atmospheric moisture. May just may be a problem with the new Ballycassidy (Balcas) plant
    And one solution is to import 20kg bags Ex Slovakia ( or similar)
    But ...........Erm.
    Local climatic is a North Atlantic maratime climate with shocking humidity in the winter
    Well Doh
    wtf does one expect to happen to wood pellets.
    jat
    M
    • CommentAuthoran02ew
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2010
     
    The answer must be solar its free, you dont have to dig it or grow it or drill for it. its just there every day waiting to be used!
  5.  
    GJP-Keith,
    I note your concerns re future supply of gas but we are being fed various stories , that there will be a surfeit due to shale gas coming onstream, stocks are increasing and LNG supply is becoming available from various sources.
    Biomass is likely to become the most volatile source of energy, today I note large investment in conversion of cellulosic feedstock into liquid biofuel also rapid enzyme conversion techniques are progressing.
    My primary concern is lack of due diligence applied to minimising air pollution, importing some 50 million tonnes of low grade biomass per year to burn in low efficiency powerplants producing far higher pollution per unit of power than alternatives must surely defy logic. We are even failing to apply BAT in order , to mitigate the most hazardous air pollutant fine particles. Why are we employing bag filters when aware there are alternatives bringing a threefold reduction e.g. ceramic filters?
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2010
     
    Posted By: an02ewThe answer must be solar its free, you dont have to dig it or grow it or drill for it. its just there every day waiting to be used!
    17,000 times as much of it as humans have yet found ways to dissipate energy.
    • CommentAuthorGBP-Keith
    • CommentTimeOct 23rd 2010
     
    Biomass is stored Solar. Woodlands and forests are a battery of stored solar energy that has multiple values and tasks. We need to revere the tree.

    Brianwilson, I agree with you about the illogic of importing low grade biomass but we should not condemn the concept on a few ill-conceived bad examples. I think we need to just get to work on sorting out which are good examples of biomass use and which are not.
   
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