Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Ed Davey versus America

A biomass power station with wood pellet supply A biomass power station with wood pellet supply Shutterstock
26 Nov
2014
50,000 Americans have petitioned Ed Davey to end the UK’s programme for wood pellet power generation

Hardwood forests in the southeast US are being cut down to provide wood pellets for the UK’s energy industry, outraging environmental activists.

‘The precious remaining coastal wetlands and bottomland hardwood regions that span from coastal Virginia to Mississippi and Louisiana, contain rare forest types and unique carnivorous plants like the Venus flytrap and pitcher plants,’ said Adam Macon, campaigns director for US forest NGO, the Dogwood Alliance.

Dogwood gathered 50,000 messages asking Ed Davey, secretary of state for energy and climate change, to end government support for biomass energy.

Wood pellets are used in biomass power stations across the UK, which the government hopes will generate low-carbon electricity. The Department for Energy and Climate Change has approved two biomass stations at Selby and Immingham that will provide power to 500,000 homes.

Dogwood’s campaign takes a nationalist tone, urging Americans to ‘see how our forests fuel Europe’. North America’s wood pellet industry has existed on a small scale since the 1930s. Biomass demand has encouraged growth in the last decade with 1.1 million metric tonnes produced in 2003 and 6.2 million tonnes in 2009,  according to a US Department of Agriculture report.

Biomass success relies on short transport distances to the plant, reduced moisture content in the wood through drying and greater efficiency at the plant, according to the report. A Department for Energy and Climate Change report suggests that by 2020 between 3.4–7.5 per cent of the UK’s energy supply will come from biomass. US wood pellets will be the main source for biomass supply, but the report indicates that the output of greenhouse gas from biomass depends on multiple factors. In some scenarios biomass produces more green house gases than coal.

Related items

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in PLACES...

Mapping

A new, double-sided world map projection seeks to minimise the…

Water

 Water scarcity is predicted to rise – two experts share…

Mountains

New collaborative research from the University of Oxford and the…

Places

Conceived during the late 1800s, Letchworth Garden City was the…

Places

Multiple failed attempts to build on a patch of land…

Deserts

New 'deep learning' technology is helping to identify trees in…

Places

The land around the Kinabatangan River in the state of…

Places

Highlights from the column that keeps you connected with the…

Places

At the end of a perplexing and thought-provoking year, we…

Places

The city of Mosul is slowly putting itself back together…

Places

The story of a unique Italo-Slovenian community that came to…

Places

Bisecting Georgia's northwestern region, the Enguri River has come to…

Forests

A study in Northern Minnesota is experimentally heating the air…

Places

Some of the quirkiest geopolitical oddities are  Europe’s semi-independent microstates (SIMs). Vitali…

Places

Ninety years after depopulation, the Scottish islands of St Kilda…

Mapping

Not all passports are created equal

Forests

The impacts of deforestation are wide ranging. But while some…

Places

Community trekking is the latest development to emerge from the…

Cities

Scientists are using sophisticated data modelling to predict how cities…