Biomass remains a threat

Friday, September 01, 2017

In response to the recent “six questions” letter regarding wood-fueled energy, i.e., biomass incineration, I offer these six questions:

Will our lungs be able to discriminate between woodstove generated particulates and biomass incinerator particulates added to the load?

Will the state be offering incentives to biomass incinerator operators to reduce fine particulates, or just incentives to build biomass incinerators?

If we had more coal in Massachusetts than we had 100 years ago, would building more coal-fired power plants suddenly become a good idea again?

If building houses has caused more deforestation than commercial forest practices, will consuming even more of our forest products and releasing massive amounts of CO2 result in fewer houses being built?

If the financial incentives for intermittent wind power are troublesome, versus the continuous power available from incinerating biomass, would it make sense to use incentives to find a way to store intermittent wind (and solar) power for later use, or to reduce base load, rather than burning trees 24 hours a day at typical 25-30 percent efficiencies?

Simply because something is “renewable” should we take that to mean that using that resource to add massive amounts of carbon dioxide to our already overloaded atmosphere and oceans is a good thing? (Find and watch “Chasing Coral.” We're killing our oceans with carbon dioxide.)

The answers to these questions shouldn’t surprise anybody.

If you haven’t noticed, the threat that we barely defeated here in Greenfield, biomass incineration, is creeping back in on a tiger's paws. Public perception is being softened and politician's are being persuaded that biomass incineration is good for what ails us. As it turns out, the arguments against biomass incineration are also a renewable resource. I only hope we all have the energy to resist this threat once again.

Gary Greene