The messages that our so-called leadership is publicising in the mainstream media is so out of touch with reality one must wonder “who the hell is writing this stuff”?
Take Bio-Mas generation………………..clear-cutting of massive forest reserves and burning it to generate electricity is so wrong on so many fronts that it boggles the mind to even comment on what is O.K. with it.
YET our Minister of Energy continues to push for Bio-Mas generation against all conceivable arguments against it. “Green Energy my ass”!……..the only thing “green” is the backroom cheque writing to investors and back-room-buddies who are given a free reign to screw Ontario electricity consumers out of hard earned dollars for what in return?…………complete destruction of OUR Natural Resources which we hold dear to our very survival in this global fraud called “green environmentalism”!
(March 5, 2014) The largest coal generation plant in the UK is transforming itself by converting half of its coal burning generation units into biomass (wood pellets) by 2016.
By that time Drax Group PLC will have 3 of their six, 660 MW units, converted to biomass and require 7 million tons of wood pellets annually for fuel. To put a context around the latter number, the information available through research on the internet indicates it takes approximately 2 ½ tons of forest to produce one ton of wood pellets. One acre of mature forest contains approximately 4 tons of wood meaning to produce 7 million tons would require about 4,375,000 acres or 6,800 square miles of forest. That amount is equal to clear cutting mature forests 10 times the size of Toronto each year.
Those units would annually generate approximately 17 terawatts (TWh) of electricity which is about 3/4% of annual electricity consumption in the UK and produce 150% of C02 emissions of coal generation and 300% of gas generation. That would result in emissions of approximately 7 million tons annually. Because biomass has received the designation of being “renewable” however, those emissions don’t count against them. Replant the forests and /40/50 years later they will have absorbed the same amount of CO2 that burning them emitted; or at least that is the message we get from the proponents.
Drax is not even sourcing the pellets from the UK. They have contracted to buy pellets from North and South America and established two wood pellet plants in the southern US to produce 900,000 tons. That production will be shipped by ocean to a special port and transported by rail to the Drax plant. Production of wood pellets also consumes electricity and the range of consumption is dependent on moisture content of the harvested forest. Consumption ranges from 250 kWh per ton to 300 kWh dependent on moisture content. Production from wet sawdust would also consume the equivalent of 400 kWh of heat energy. At a rough estimate the 7 million tons that Drax will use may consume 4 TWh without factoring in energy used or emissions created from handling and shipping them from those southern US states.
There was some bad news for Drax recently as the UK government decided that biomass subsidies would not keep climbing as the “carbon price floor”; levied on fossil fuel production (due to rise further); on electricity consumption has caused a backlash from manufacturers, consumer groups and energy suppliers concerned that the “tax will push up prices, make the UK uncompetitive and force the premature closure of coal-fired power plants, increasing the risk of blackouts.” As a result Drax’s chief executive said they “should be compensated for “harm” to its biomass-burning unit”.
Looking at Ontario and its plans for biomass, the recently announced revision of the Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) by Energy Minister Chiarelli indicates that we will be looking to acquire a maximum of 740 MW. Most of this has already been announced as two Northern Ontario coal fired generation units of Provincially owned Ontario Power Generation (OPG) are in the process of conversion. Atikokan (200 MW) and Thunder Bay (300 MW to become 150 MW) are both being converted to biomass (the latter “advanced” biomass) and represent 61% of the “planned” biomass capacity of the LTEP. While the combined capacity is significant it is unlikely that either unit will run at anything close to capacity. Concerns have already been expressed by the “Energy Task Force” that the planned pellet inventory level for the advanced biomass Thunder Bay plant will be only 15,000 tons of pellets; enough to produce about 25,000 MWh but in a cold snap could be fully utilized in a few days. The Atikokan plant is expected to operate at about 12% of its capacity meaning it will produce about 200,000 MWh on an annual basis at a conversion (capital) cost of $170 million and fuel costs of over $200 per ton. Energy produced will be exceedingly expensive and north of 50 cents per kWh.
In the event that OPG is required to run both of these units at an annual level of say; 50%, to ensure adequate power supply, they will consume 300,000 tons of pellets. Production of this volume would require clear cutting 187,000 acres (300 square miles) of mature forest and produce about 1.5 million megawatt hours of electricity (enough to power about 155,000 average households) and those clear cut forests would take over 40 years to replenish themselves. The burning of those 300,000 tons of pellets would produce emissions (dependent on moisture content) in excess of 300,000 tons. The latter is however considered irrelevant as biomass is considered “renewable” because the trees used to produce the pellets; already absorbed the CO 2 the burning process will produce.
Under the current Ontario Power Authority Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program, biomass is paid 15.6 cents a kWh and contracted generators are eligible for a cost of living addition of up to 50%. There are further “adders” for aboriginal, community groups or public sector participants (presumably OPG qualifies under the latter).