Europe is in a bind.
It has ambitious goals for changing its polluting energy system, and plans to source 20% of the EU’s total energy from renewables by 2020. But the main way it’s getting there is a method with murky credentials: biomass.
Biomass can include many things, from quick-growing elephant grass to trees. But no matter how you do it, burning organic material still releases CO2 and other gases. Most biomass sources, while renewable, are still polluting. They’re only “carbon neutral” if enough plants or trees are planted to absorb the carbon produced.
Now, the European Commission is conducting a state-aid investigation into UK-based Drax, a coal power station that’s converted some of its boilers to burn wood.