Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Have legislators gone mad?

From the Institute for Energy Research:

The Drax plant in Yorkshire, England is one of the biggest coal-fired power plants in the world with an almost 1,000 foot-tall flue chimney, 6 boilers, and 12 very large cooling towers. It consumes 36,000 tons of coal each day, providing 7 percent of the country’s electricity. Starting next month, the plant will be converted to burn millions of tons of wood chips a year, costing £700 million ($1.085 billion).

Most of the wood chips will travel 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, coming from trees downed in the United States. Drax is building 2 plants in the United States that will turn the wood from trees into chips that can be transported by ship to Yorkshire and then hauled to the power station by railway trucks. In order to prevent spontaneous combustion, the wood chips must be stored in domes where the humidity is controlled before they can be pulverized into powder. (Wood is 1,000 times more prone to spontaneous combustion than coal.)

Despite the fact that coal is the least-expensive source of electricity generation in England, the owners of the Drax plant realized that a recently instituted carbon tax on fossil fuels would put them out of business if they continued to burn coal eventually making their electricity become twice as expensive. The political incumbents in Britain decided last year to give any coal-fired power station that switched to ‘biomass’ the almost 100 percent ‘renewable subsidy’ that owners of onshore wind farms get.

The authors ask: have legislators gone mad?

With credit to Sir Bernard Ingham, we might recast that as: cock-up or conspiracy? Are our legislators so utterly inept that they think converting Drax to burn wood chips is a good idea, or are they so corrupt that they knowingly put the corporate interests of the 'green' lobby before the interests of British citizens.

I have a hard time believing that the ministers are quite so incompetent, so I must assume they are corrupt. MPs at large may well be so stupid as to think this policy is sane. Or, more likely, they haven't bothered to consider the question at all.

Whichever way you look at it, it's a damning indictment of our representatives, and the fools who elected them.

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