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Friday, 2 July 2010

Good biofuel, bad biofuel...

Last week, I was in the press for having written to Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, about my concerns over the re-application for a biofuel plant at Avonmouth. With so much going on to try to prevent that plant, which will burn palm oil ( a renewable, but not environmentally sustainable fuel) from being established in Bristol, it is easy to just think of biomass as a bad thing.

So it was really refreshing to be able to visit Blaise Nurseries with Charles Hendry, Minister for Energy and Climate Change and Henbury's Councillor, Chris Windows. At Blaise Nurseries, they put waste wood products in boilers which generates energy. The wood comes from cast-offs from manufacturing ( with strict quality control) and from waste from woodland management; all genuinely sustainable, renewable sources, and turning waste into a source of energy.

There are also a lot of side-benefits: an expansion in woodland planting and woodland managing - which in turn demands new skills and new jobs. Lots of people talk about how climate change can be an opportunity for renewable technology, and how the South West is so well placed to take advantage of this, but it really becomes an exciting and tangible concept when you visit somewhere like Blaise Nurseries. 

We are way behind Europe when it comes to doing this - but it shows that it really can be done and become a mainstream way of generating energy, and of course, we can learn from the mistakes made by our European neighbours without having to make them ourselves! 

1 comment:

Jules said...

Thanks for the post. Spot on - developing a renewables sector which is genuinely sustainable has got to be a priority if we are serious about creating a genuinely low-carbon economy. A sustained kick-start (through incentives/targetted support such as feed-in tariffs) will be needed, though, a major challenge in the current climate of cuts.