RePlanet Australia has asked the federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, to stop burning timber from native forests as biomass for energy production. In a letter, our Australian chapter requests this practice to be removed from eligibility under the so-called Renewable Energy Target.
Photo: Stephanie Edwards/Pixabay
While biomass is considered ‘renewable’, its carbon intensity is significant. Burning biomass has emissions in the range of 78 – 230 grammes of CO2 equivalent per kWh, compared to 3 – 5 grammes for wind, solar and nuclear. However, referring to biomass as ‘renewable’ gives the impression that it’s good for the environment and the climate.
‘Stimulating biomass does not align with the stated goals of this government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions’, says Tyrone D’Lisle, founder of RePlanet Australia. ‘In our view, this creates an incentive for logging companies to continue to log native forests, threatening biodiversity and climate goals.’
In countries such as Germany and the UK, native forests are being logged for the purpose of providing biomass for power generation. This is occurring due to a lack of regulations and as a result of biomass demand outstripping supply from plantation forestry. Australia could face similar supply issues if biomass were to increase as a share of total energy consumption.
‘Sadly, this may lead to an increase in climate-related natural disasters such as bushfires, droughts and flooding’, says D’Lisle. ‘Already, Australia has been experiencing such events with increasing severity and frequency.’
RePlanet Australia suggests that the government change the policy to a ‘Clean Energy Target’, remove the renewable requirement and instead legislate an emissions intensity cap. An example of such a cap would be the European Union Sustainable Finance Taxonomy, which has a cap of 100gCO2eq/KWh.
D’Lisle: ‘Removing the renewable requirement, and legislating an emissions intensity cap instead, will allow for a diverse range of energy generation and encourage innovation in the energy sector.’