Irish biomass under question over pellet import fears

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Irish biomass under question over pellet import fears

Irish Department of Energy officials have been questioning plans to convert three peat-fired power stations to wood pellets due to concerns about a lack of fuel for the biomass power plants.

This is according to a report by The Times, based on information revealed under the Access to Information on the Environment regulations.

The conversion of the power plants would mean having to import the vast majority of the wood pellets until "at least 2020", according to the report. Despite the conversion projects being based on increased jobs and moving towards a "home grown supply of biomass," the Department of Energy has admitted that, even by 2020, just a third of the biomass will be sourced domestically, with the rest being imported.

According to released documents, Department of Energy officials, last December, stated: “large-scale levels of imports would raise considerations as to the environmental sustainability of such operations."

The concerns voiced by the Irish Department of Energy echo those from environmentalists all over the US and Europe who are concerned about the amount of timber pellets being imported from the US to the European Union to be burned in biomass power plants. The burning of imported whole trees in the form of timber pellets is anything but sustainable and yet biomass plants are being subsidised by the taxpayer as a renewable source of energy.

Here at Norbord, we oppose the conversion of power plants to burn trees, as this is not sustainable and releases significant amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Using timber in more responsible ways, such as in the construction industry, allows the timber to retain its carbon for decades.