Energy from sawdust, how sustainable is that?

Energy from sawdust, how sustainable is that?

The coal-fired power station in Geertruidenberg runs from this Wednesday partly on wood pellets. Because energy from biomass counts as sustainable.

This Wednesday the first ship with wood pellets moors at the Amercentrale in Geertruidenberg. Pellets, pressed sawdust in the form of dog biscuits, will replace part of the polluting coal from 1 November in the Brabant power plant that supplies a million people with power.

Good news for the environment? The five coal-fired plants in the Netherlands now account for around 10 percent of the annual CO2 emissions, which contribute to the greenhouse effect. And the combustion of biomass, of which the pellets are an example, takes place on a climate-neutral basis – at least that is the condition. And the co-firing of pellets implements the Energy Agreement concluded in 2013.

Nevertheless, opinions about the use of biomass are strongly divided. RWE, the manager of the coal-fired power plant, of course points to the positive aspects. Ultimately, this operator wants to have its two coal plants run entirely on the pellets in the longer term.

But the environmental movement is not happy with this development. In fact, initially, among others, Greenpeace wanted to prevent the coming co-incineration by means of summary proceedings. But because a disputes committee will decide on the legality of the co-firing next month, the legal weapons will be kept in the closet for a while. Use of the conflict is that the durability of the used sawdust, a residual product according to RWE, is not guaranteed.

The controversy is illustrative of biomass: it sows division. For one, it is a blessing, for the other a potential attack on the environment.


Link to article (In Dutch)