14 Apr 2009 05:04:45
Biomass should be used efficiently to reduce emissions
Ploughing land to plant crops for the harvesting of biomass energy will only help to reduce carbon emissions if it is done in a sustainable way, Britain's Environment Agency (EA) has warned.
According to a new report from the organisation, energy crops and waste materials should be used as fuels for power generation only if they come from a sustainable source and can be used efficiently.
Highlighting the wide performance margins, it suggested that best-case use of biomass could reduce carbon dioxide production by 98 percent compared to coal.
On the other hand, the EA cautioned that worst-practice use of biomass could be potentially more damaging than the utilisation of fossil fuels, such as gas.
Its report, entitled Biomass: Carbon Sink or Carbon Sinner, identified schemes which involved planting energy crops on grassland and treating them with nitrogen fertilisers as the most inefficient.
Tony Grayling, head of climate change at the environmental body, suggested that the biomass heat and power sector can play an "important role" in helping the UK to reach its greenhouse gas reduction targets.
"We want to ensure that the sector's growth is environmentally sustainable and that the mistakes made with biofuels are avoided, where unsustainable growth has had to be curbed," he added.
Last week, a Scottish NHS trust revealed that it is currently considering using a biomass combined heat and power plant to provide one of its hospitals with renewable energy.http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/