Europe’s Green-Fuel Search Turns to America’s Forests
Loggers here are clear-cutting a wetland forest with decades-old trees. Behind the move: an environmental push. The push isn’t in North Carolina but in Europe, where governments are trying to reduce fossil-fuel use and carbon-dioxide emissions. Under pressure, some of the Continent’s coal-burning power plants are switching to wood.
But Europe doesn’t have enough forests to chop for fuel, and in those it does have, many restrictions apply. So Europe’s power plants are devouring wood from the U.S., where forests are bigger and restrictions fewer.
The push began in 2007, when the Commission set a goal, by 2020, of reducing Europe’s greenhouse-gas emissions to 20% below their 1990 level. It also set a goal of moving Europe to 20% renewable energy by 2020. Solar and wind couldn’t meet the latter goal, policy makers recognized. They said wood qualified as a renewable energy source as long as it came from forests that would grow back.
Europe’s nine largest wood-burning utilities consumed 6.7 million tons of wood pellets in 2012, according to Argus Media, which tracks the industry. Argus expects European pellet consumption to nearly double by 2020, with much of the new demand met from the U.S. American mills exported 1.9 million tons of pellets last year, up nearly fourfold in three years, by Argus’s figures.
Les Européens ont voulu remplacer leurs centrales au charbon pour le solaire et l’éolien. Mais comme le solaire et l’éolien ne sont pas fiables, ils ont dû convertir leurs centrales au charbon en centrales au bois en disant que le bois est une énergie renouvelable… Encore plus absurde, l’Europe doit importer son bois des États-Unis !
Vive les écologistes !