South Yorkshire Woodfuel

Global Context

The reliance on fossil fuels for energy has left our planet facing a serious environmental problem, known as climate change. An increased concentration of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has led to global warming. Average global temperatures rose about 1 degree in the 20th century, and scientists say that has contributed to the thawing of the permafrost, rising ocean levels and extreme weather. Concerns about these issues have been growing for a number of decades and several international attempts have been made to try and address them, one of the most important of these is what has become know as the Kyoto Agreement or "Kyoto Protocol To The United Nations Framework Convention On Climate Change".

This was agreed in December 1997, when Governments from across the world developed a set of proposals aimed at tackling Global warming. To that end under Article 3, a CO2 reduction of 5% by 2012, based on 1990 emissions, was agreed.

National Context

For the UK, the aspirations contained in the Kyoto Treaty, where taken further and have been expressed in the UK's 'Climate Change Programme', published in 2000. Here the strategy of the UK Government in meeting the Kyoto targets is laid out.

  • 12.5% reduction of a "basket" of six greenhouse gases from 1990 levels by 2008-2012
  • the domestic goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 20% by 2010.
  • long-term target is a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050.
  • the Energy White Paper (EWP) - titled Our Energy Future - Creating a Low Carbon Economy' was published on 24 February, 2003 confirmed these targets.

Responsibility for meeting these targets has been devolved to the Regions and Devolved Administrations and each Region has set its own strategy with regard to renewable energy and sustainability.

The government has appointed a biomass task force to optimise thecontribution of biomass to set a range of targets and plicies set bt goverment. The task force publishe it's report in October 2005. To view it click here.

Additional reading - Biomass as a Renewable Energy Source

Lifecycle Emmisions Comparison

Lifecycle emmisions comparison In terms of electricity generation, biomass has life cycle emissions of between 20 to 80 grams of CO2 per kWh. This compares favorably to fossil fuels such as coal, with life cycle emissions of 955g/kWh and combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) with emissions of 446g/kWh.

The Carbon Cycle

Diagram of the carbon cycle Diagram of the carbon cycle. Carbon released by burning biomass is re- absorbed by new growth biomass in a cycle that, well managed, reduces the amount of displace carbon in the atmosphere significantly. There is some "locked" carbon released during the harvesting and processing activities but this in a negligible amount- especially when compared to the recovery of locked carbon resources such as Gas or Oil.

Global and National context - find out more about global and national steps being taken to reduce carbon emissions.

Economic advantages - as fossil fuel costs rise woodfuel is becoming a realistic alternative - How does the cost of woodfuel compare with other systems?

Environmental benefits - woodfuel is the renewable fuel which cuts down on carbon emissions and benefits the local environment

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