A new report from the Forest Defenders Alliance, an international coalition of environmental NGOs, demonstrates that many wood-burning power plants and wood pellet manufacturing plants in the EU appear to be using tree felling for biomass, logged directly from forests, despite claims to use sawdust and other mill waste for fuel and feedstock.
European Commission scientists have warned that burning trees for energy undermines both the EU’s climate and nature restoration goals. The report includes photos of more than 40 biomass and pellet plants across Europe that appear to be utilizing tree trunks (stemwood) for fuel and feedstock. Report photos were sourced from a variety of publicly available information and on-site photographs, including Google Maps/Earth satellite view, Google Street-view function, images and videos from companies’ own websites, and on-site photographs.
The report compares evidence for use of logs with company website statements about the type of wood they utilize, finding that about a quarter of the companies make misleading claims, usually that they utilize sawdust and other mill residues, with no mention of stemwood.
The report also examines company claims about climate impacts of tree felling for biomass, burning forest wood. Despite unequivocal statements by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and leading scientists that forest biomass should not be assumed to be “carbon neutral” or beneficial to the climate, 25 of the companies – more than half – make misleading claims of this nature, in direct contradiction of accepted science. The claims often rise to a level that seemingly should trigger scrutiny under the EU’s consumer protection laws.