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Drax To Face Court Over Wood Dust Pollution

September 3, 2021
tags: ,

By Paul Homewood

h/t Ian Magness


A very interesting story in the Telegraph today:




Note that no action is being taken against the coal power units, and I suspect it is an awful long time since one was, if ever. This may suggest that Drax have been negligent when they converted the bio units, or maybe wood dust cannot be contained as easily as coal dust.

Either way, I have long argued that burning biomass is intrinsically more polluting than coal, for the simple reason that you have to burn more of the stuff than coal to get the same amount of power.

It is of course deeply ironic that the green lobby has consistently attacked coal power because of pollution, and not just carbon dioxide emissions.

  1. Broadlands permalink
    September 3, 2021 7:09 pm

    Do these facilities that capture carbon dioxide from the source (and directly from the air) emit CO2 of their own? Surely, the operations involving the transport and storage must use carbon fuels. Is there a net saving…seems doubtful.

    • richardw permalink
      September 3, 2021 8:56 pm

      I think the point is that smokestack emissions are very similar to those produced when using coal. The green political con is that as the forests cut down to feed Drax regrow, the CO2 is ‘recaptured’. It only takes about 100 years assuming the forest is allowed to regrow, but apparently the time dimension does not figure in the green political calculator.

      When Drax first started to burn woodchips a few years ago, those naive enthusiasts in the Environment department published a calculator to show the carbon emissions performance of the project. The first version which I saw showed that the carbon costs of felling, processing and shipping the chips amounted to around 50% of the carbon that would have been produced generating the same amount of energy from coal. The calculator was quietly withdrawn thereafter as presumably it dawned on them that promoting woodchips as a green source of energy for generating electricity by saying that they produced 150% of the carbon emissions of coal was not a good idea.

  2. Ian Magness permalink
    September 3, 2021 7:29 pm

    “ I have long argued that burning biomass is intrinsically more polluting than coal, for the simple reason that you have to burn more of the stuff than coal to get the same amount of power.”
    Paul, I suspect in the fullness of time it will be proven that the new E10 petrol that’s been imposed on us for a few weeks (where I live anyway) will fall victim to the same common sense. My evidence is as yet anecdotal but there is no question that the E10 has materially reduced the mpg I get from my car. If I had the data I would thus not be remotely surprised to find that my CO2 driving emissions have gone up, not down. The losers are, of course, motorists as you have to buy more petrol but at the same price. Brilliant, simply brilliant Boris.

    • Broadlands permalink
      September 3, 2021 7:47 pm

      It’s worth remembering that the 10% ethanol added to fossil fuel petrol comes from biomass. It just isn’t burned directly, but very soon after it reaches the gas pumps. And it is replacing agricultural products people can eat Brilliant.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      September 3, 2021 8:18 pm

      E5 has already been exposed as counterproductive, increasing CO2, E10 will obviously be worse. E10 has also already been shown to decrease mpg in tests. GWPF recently carried a story on destruction of forest habitat to grow more oil crops. All the research is already out there for you, you don’t have to speculate.

    • Brian Jackson permalink
      September 4, 2021 1:38 pm

      Hi Ian.
      Get a diesel car. My Skoda Yeti does 45mpg on ordinary diesel in the hilly Pennine country west of Halifax UK where I live. Done 92000 miles and still running sweet as can be……….I’ll be keeping it whilever diesel fuel is available. I’ll never buy a virtue signalling electric car- I’d rather not travel. I know how much material has to be mined to get all the makings of an EV – as a mining engineer I should know.

      • Coeur de Lion permalink
        September 4, 2021 3:00 pm

        I have a Citroen Picasso diesel which gives me 500 miles for £56 in five minutes. I pay £20 a year road tax with AdBlu additive. So clean! I’m bubblewrapping a couple for my grandchildren . IONITI charges £0.65 per KWh. Work it out for yourself

  3. GeoffB permalink
    September 3, 2021 7:52 pm

    Here is my comment on Daily Mail article on E10. It also uses arable land that could produce higher value food crops, like you I suspect it is a backward step as far as CO2 reduction is concerned. Not that I think it is necessary to reduce CO2.

    Greens never fully think through their campaigns, it is almost certainly produces more of the demonised carbon dioxide that they believe is destroying the planet. (When it is the elixir of life, providing all of our food by photosynthesis). The use of arable land to grow the plant source needs fertiliser, produced by the Haber process. (Blue hydrogen, (made from methane producing vast amounts of CO2) and atmospheric nitrogen. Then the corn is fermented to produce weak alcohol, this creates CO2, finally we have to distill this to concentrate the alcohol, so we have to boil the liquid, using natural gas, which creates more CO2. Basically we are making vodka. The original push came from Brazil using sugar cane as the source, this just about works as you can burn the sugar cane fibres to distill the alcohol.

    • Brian Jackson permalink
      September 4, 2021 1:40 pm

      Greens are congenital incapable of thinking……..

  4. T Walker permalink
    September 3, 2021 8:55 pm

    Are we sure it isn’t fairy dust their producing??

  5. It doesn't add up... permalink
    September 3, 2021 9:09 pm

    Meanwhile I note that Drax has been able to get as much as £500/MWh in recent days in the drum tight electricity market. The prospects for winter are grim.

    (accessible version of I think an FT article)

  6. John Hultquist permalink
    September 4, 2021 12:38 am

    Can someone find photos or video of the storage and handling of wood pellets along the supply chain to DRAX?
    I use a softwood (pine) wood pellet in a cat litter box. A lot of litter is clay-based but the “dust” from the pine seems better than the dust from clay. It is better as an admendment to the garden, because I don’t need clay for that purpose. {Both pellets and pressed logs are sold for use in home fireplaces. Use an images tag and search-up “pellets and logs” to view the types of things sold.}
    I’d like to see good photos of the pellets used at DRAX and what is known about them.

  7. John H permalink
    September 4, 2021 8:00 am

    Can’t the numb headed warmists in government realise that if it takes 50 to 100 years to replace the felled trees for wood chips, it will be too late because Greta and her crazy friends keep telling us that we only have 5 years to save the planet.

  8. Ian Johnson permalink
    September 4, 2021 10:10 am

    How much energy is used to dry the timber for these pellets?

    • September 4, 2021 4:52 pm

      The torrefaction process involves heating the wood waste in the absence of oxygen to extreme temperatures, typically 200℃ – 400℃.

      This changes the chemical composition and removes low quality energy, meaning that the torrefied pellets then produced are more durable, more hydrophobic and create much less ash.
      . . .
      1 tonne of torrefied wood pellets will provide the same heat on burning as 1.27 tonnes of standard wood pellets.

  9. Jack Broughton permalink
    September 5, 2021 8:17 pm

    It has been known for a very long time that electrostatic precipitators (that were normal on coal fired power plant like Drax) do not work as well on wood: coal ash is more conductive. Wood fired boilers need bag-filters to achieve the low emissions targets required.

    Drax must have known this when they converted the boilers: they clearly / conveniently forgot to mention it! The cost of changing from ESPs to Bag-filters is very high.

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