Newsletter July 2021

Dear Biofuelwatch supporter

Welcome to our July 2021 newsletter full of updates about campaigns that we – and you – have been supporting, and policy developments. Important reading for anyone who wants to see meaningful responses to climate change and who is concerned about protecting forests and the people and wildlife depending on them from pro-corporate false climate solutions.

  1. Channel 4 news – Drax and loss of forests  
  2. CNN news – communities in America paying the price for european ‘green energy’ 
  3. CCNF Say no to burning trees for energy petition 
  4. The Curious case of red rock biofuels 
  5. Big Con Report 
  6. COP coalition discussion on false solutions 
  7. Drax admits carbon capture claims not based on any real world evidence  
  8. Burning Wood Is Not The Answer 
  9. Burned screening 
  10. Work with us 

Channel 4 news – Drax and loss of Estonian forests

At the beginning of this month, we were pleased to see Channel 4 News had a report on the dangers of supporting biomass as the UK switches away from fossil fuel. The piece contains new evidence that wood from forests in Estonia which should be protected is burnt at Drax Power Station and certified as ‘sustainable’. You can find a link below if you did not catch it already.

CNN news – communities in America paying the price for European ‘green energy’ 

Our Cut Carbon Not Forest coalition partners in the USA worked with CNN on a crucial report investigating how marginalised communities in America’s South are paying the price for ‘green energy’ in Europe. The piece includes a video and article which is linked below. These real life stories show the human impact and injustice of the biomass industry. The report focuses on communities living in North Carolina near facilities owned by Enviva, the world’s largest wood pellet producer and a major supplier to Drax Power Station. The forests in this part of North Carolina are hundreds of years old and are being torn down; it’s believed that 25% of the whole trees in that forest were turned into wood pellets.

CCNF Say no to burning trees for energy petition

There is still time to sign the ‘Say no to burning trees for energy’ petition which is being led by the Cut Carbon Not Forests (CCNF) coalition, which Biofuelwatch is a member of. Thank you to everyone who has supported this petition so far. If you have already signed, please share it on your social media pages. We’ll be delivering the petition this autumn before the COP26 climate summit to tell the UK government that burning trees for energy threatens wildlife, our climate and communities. 

The curious case of Red Rock Biofuels

Our colleague in California has written an article on the financing, permitting and construction of a biomass to aviation fuel refinery in Lakeview, Oregon. The article exposes the myths and realities of making liquid fuels from woody biomass.  

The unfinished Red Rock Biofuels plant in Lakeview, Oregon (foto credit Lake County Examiner).

The Big Con report

We are delighted to be among contributors to the new report led by Corporate Accountability, Global Forest Coalition and Friends of the Earth International called ‘The Big Con: How Big Polluters are advancing a “net zero” climate agenda to delay, deceive, and deny’. The report details major strategies used by industries to lock in a ‘net zero’ climate agenda and the shortcomings of corporate ‘net zero’ plans across sectors. 

COP26 Coalition discussion on false solutions

The COP26 Coalition, which Biofuelwatch is a part of, recently hosted a webinar on false climate solutions, including bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) from burning trees in power stations. The first one is on geoengineering led by Silvia Ribeiro (ETC Group) who explains why geoengineering is a dangerous distraction from the fight against the climate crisis, and how it is linked to technologies that are unreliable or don’t exist. She recommends this study on how geoengineering entrenches the use of fossil fuels, the linked briefing on Direct Air Capture technology (DAC) and a map of all ongoing geoengineering projects.

The second video is on Hydrogen which is led by Pascoe Sabido (Corporate Europe Observatory). He asks us to not believe the hype when it comes to hydrogen, and tells us why the fossil fuel industry is pushing so hard for it. He recommends reading the full report on hydrogen as a fairy tale and how the fossil fuel industry is using hydrogen to hijack Covid Recovery funds across the EU.

The final recording is on nuclear lead by Andy Stirling (University of Sussex) who provides a short and crisp explanation on why nuclear power is nowhere close to being an option for reducing emissions, and links the use of civil nuclear power to the true reason the UK keeps pushing for it: Military status as a nuclear power. All his sources are directly from the UK government itself and can be found here. 

Drax admits its carbon capture claims not based on any real world evidence

Biofuelwatch published a written statement by Drax which reveals that the company’s claims that it is about to ‘deliver the world’s largest carbon capture power project’ are based on no real-world evidence at all and that Drax lacks basic information about the capture process it intends to use.

Biofuelwatch fears that Drax’s claims are intended to persuade the UK government to extend the generous subsidies the company is receiving for burning millions of tonnes of wood in its power station, with no guarantee that any carbon will actually be captured and stored. 

Drax has announced a new partnership with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engineering Ltd (MHI), and is claiming that its first biomass unit with carbon capture and storage (‘BECCS’) could be operational by 2027, with the potential to capture and store at least 8m tonnes of CO2 annually from 2030. However, written responses asked during a public consultation on Drax’s BECCS project show that the company lacks basic information about the process, with Drax admitting: ‘our BECCS assumptions for energy are not based on trials’.

Biofuelwatch investigations further show that the particular technology provided by MHI to Drax has never been tested at scale anywhere. It has been developed from a different technology used to capture CO2 in a coal power plant in Texas – however, that plant had to be shut down last year because it was uneconomic despite high government subsidies.

Burning Wood Is Not The Answer

We are delighted to share this article written by one of our co-directors, Almuth Ernsting, which looks at our current demands for biomass electricity in the context of historical examples of wood-burning and damage to forests. For the climate and biodiversity, we need to protect intact diverse forests rather than planting new ones.  

Burned Screenings

BURNED tells the little-known story of the accelerating destruction of our forests for fuel, and probes the policy loopholes, huge subsidies, and green-washing of the biomass industry. In the Southeastern US, trees are being cut down and shipped to Europe to be burned primarily in Drax Power Station in Yorkshire, the largest biomass power station in the world. Far from the renewable energy source the industry claims it to be, biomass can be as much or more polluting than coal, and the clear-felling of trees is having devastating effects for nearby communities and the surrounding biodiversity.

If you or a group you are part of are interested in organising a screening of this award winning documentary please email us at: We may be able to organise guest speakers from wood pellet-sourcing regions shown in the film.  

Work with us!

Biofuelwatch is looking for a part-time bioenergy campaigner to join our small team. If this might be you, please apply by Friday 20th August.