Biomass Burning to Combat Climate Change!

Recently I read the Report titled "Energy [r]evolution-A sustainable India Energy Outlook" that has been published by Greenpeace International and European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) in January 2007 with a foreword by Dr R K Pachauri, Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report ends up recommending incinerators for energy generation from biomass. In chapter 8 concerning energy technologies', on page no. 77 of this report, it talks about 'biomass energy'. On page 78, the report talks of 'biomass technology' wherein 'thermal systems' are mentioned and it goes on to recommend 'direct combustion', 'gasification', 'pyrolysis' (co-incineration processes) as ways of converting biomass into energy for heat as well as electricity.

Initially, I was saddened to note that the Greenpeace International & EREC Report has a foreword from Dr Pachauri whose The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) has consistently supported incineration despite its own assertion that the techno-economic feasibility of incinerator technologies is not established. TERI is supported and sponsored by several corporate criminals and some NGOs who have allowed themselves to be coopted. In India, TERI-BCSD, India (Corporate Round Table for development of strategies for Environment and sustainable development- Business Council for Sustainable Development, India) is working as a secretariat network of corporates. In 2002, TERI became a partner of the WBCSD (World Business Council on Sustainable Development), a coalition of some 140 international companies like Dow Chemical, DuPont etc. It distributes Corporate Social Responsibility Awards to corporate criminals.

Later, it made me all the more sadder that the Report itself recommends incinerators. It is understandable when TERI and NGOs coopted by it support incinerators but one is at loss of words when environmental organisations do the same.

TERI defines Biomass. It says, "Biomass is a renewable energy resource derived from the carbonaceous waste of various human and natural activities. It is derived from numerous sources, including the by-products from the timber industry, agricultural crops, raw material from the forest, major parts of household waste and wood."

In India, it is being argued that large part of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is biomass and it is suitable for fuel. As per a Ministry of New and Renewable Energy document titled ENERGY RECOVERY FROM URBAN WASTES, "Any waste of renewable nature or biomass can be mixed to the extent of 25% with MSW ". The use of the word biomass seems an exercise to obfuscate the issue of municipal waste burning.


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