Is burning wood for fuel carbon neutral and sustainable – or dirty energy?

Forests for Fuel?  Wed 21st Jan 7.15pm Fleetville Community Centre

Is burning wood for fuel carbon neutral and sustainable – or is this a modern myth and dirty energy? Join Transition St Albans for a lively event – with two expert speakers on Wed 21st Jan 7.15pm Fleetville Community Centre – free


Dr Ian Shield – Rothamsted Research Institute, and Duncan Law Biofuelwatch present different perspectives on this active debate.

Our meeting in January explores Biomass and Bio-crops with two fascinating expert speakers, who will present different perspectives on the debate.

Wood burning (biomass) stoves are considered to be a cheap and low carbon energy source for households – see Energy Saving Trust click here.

Biomass is also a key pillar of the government’s renewable energy strategy which proposes to use biomass to provide up to 11% of the UK’s total primary energy demand by 2020 – see DECC click here

But there is an active debate about whether we should be encouraging the burning of wood or other crops to produce energy. Is it really a sustainable and carbon negative strategy?

Duncan Law from Biofuelwatch presents the case against the use of wood for energy:

‘As fossil energy becomes more expensive biomass burning is set to grow exponentially and it is simply not possible for global forests to supply this increasing demand. 80-90% of UK demand will have to be imported currently from the US and Canada but increasingly from S America and Africa.’

Dr Ian Shields from Rothamsted Research Institute will talk about the carbon cropping theme of their scientific strategy to optimise carbon capture by grasslands and perennial energy crops, such as Willow, to help underpin the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy.

The aim of their research is to provide renewable and sustainable alternatives for fossil fuel-based products and to translate these into robust technologies and practices that can be used by policymakers, agribusinesses and energy companies to help energy security and mitigation of global climate change.   The research focuses on optimising the sustainable yield and biomass composition of perennial non-food crops (especially willows) for bioenergy, biofuels and other industrial products, within the constraints of low-input cropping systems and land-use scenarios that minimise conflicts with food production, ecological and environmental impacts.


At the start of the meeting on 21st January at 7.15pm there will be a short Emergency General Meeting to amend the TSA constitution regarding the timing of AGMs. This is so that we can hold the AGM a bit later than usual this year.

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