Channel 4 on the “green” energy scam

Channel 4’s Dispatches had a half-hour programme last night on The True Cost of Green Energy.  You might be able to see it by following the link (though you have to register, and for me it doesn’t work, the video just hangs).

The presenter Antony Barnett is of course fully signed up to climate alarm, and the programme started with the usual words of worry and images of melting ice. But he seemed genuinely concerned by the insanity brought on by so-called green energy policy, whereby trees in America are cut down, pelleted, shipped across the Atlantic, and burnt at Drax power station. The story is a familiar one to those who follow Bishop Hill or Paul Homewood, but it’s good to see it getting a wider airing.

Barnett travelled to Virginia, to see for himself the clearing of trees carried out by US company Enviva.  He discussed the effect this had on the wildlife and showed that there did not seem to be any replanting of trees, as is sometimes claimed.

He also showed an experiment at the University of Nottingham, which demonstrated that burning wood actually produces more carbon dioxide than burning coal, for the same amount of energy produced, and that was not even taking into account the extra energy used to dry the wood, grind it into pellets, and ship it across the ocean.

But absurdly, burning wood is classified as carbon-neutral, so these emissions simply are not counted. Worse still, Drax recieves enormous subsidies, about £700 million per year, for this bogus green energy production, a subsidy that is paid for through our higher electricity bills.

The Daily Mail also picks up on the story:  Burning green pellets is ‘filthier than using coal’…and British consumers are subsidising the use of pellets in pursuit of Government green policies, and also reports that subsidies and bills are set to rise further.

There’s also an article at The Ecologist.

So next time you hear a claim about how successful the UK has been at reducing its carbon dioxide emissions and switching to ‘renewable’ energy, remember to press the bullshit button.



  1. 25 years ago Greens were chaining themselves to trees now they are burning them !!! you couldn’t make it up – but they did.

    Just today one commercial outfit implored me not to print their email message to me so that I could save the trees – I have sometimes replied that Drax burns several trillion email messages per day.


  2. What other accounting tricks or outright deception is being used to pretend the magical climate goals are being met?
    The evidence to support tje “climate crisis” is doctored, so it is no surprise that the evidence justifying the “solution” is doctored as well.


  3. Any programme like this is useful but this one somewhat inept. The North American segment was the best clearly showing one of Drax’s wood suppliers clearcutting a Virginia forest taking out all hardwood trees and causing, as all forestry does, environmental havoc. This explicitly trashes Drax’s environmental statements regarding its wood supply. But then they let Drax off the hook by allowing them to claim that the forest clearance met its criteria. Why didn’t the programme go back to Virginia and nail this lie and document other sites.
    When it came to proving that burning wood pellets produce more CO2 than coal, this was very poor. They couldn’t even get a sample of the pellets Drax uses, allowing them to boldface claim the pellets they use were superior. Stupidity I know, but how many viewers were left believing channel 4? A better approach might have been to show the energy expenditure (and hence the CO2 release) at each stage of the process of transporting and producing the pellets to the Drax site. I wonder how many viewers followed the argument that Drax is allowed to discount all of its stack emissions when calculating its total emissions?
    A much needed programme, but could have been much better. I give it a C- (the North American segment B+).


  4. Alan, my sentiments exactly.

    I was glad the programme saw the light of day, even if it was made by a climate alarmist and broadcast on a climate alarmist TV channel. It made a good point, but did so, poorly.

    As always, one of the things that makes me despair of the climate alarmist religion types is their happiness with trashing the environment, and their failure to understand that so much of what they espouse and support (at great expense to the taxpayer and/or end energy user) often makes matters worse (even in their own terms). Unless you are personally profiting from it, you have to be extraordinarily stupid to believe that it makes environmental or financial sense to chop down north American forests, turn them into pellets, and transport them across the Atlantic to burn, when the alternative (which has now stopped) was to dig up and burn some coal from 10 miles away.

    At least some of them are starting to see (if only at the fringes) the extent of the stupidity that has been unleashed, but I fear that that the brainwashed majority will take no notice, and the juggernaut will roll on.


  5. >The North American segment was the best clearly showing one of Drax’s wood suppliers clearcutting a Virginia forest taking out all hardwood trees and causing, as all forestry does, environmental havoc.

    Environmental havoc?

    Lets remember that these forests were cut down in the 18th and 19th centuries and the land farmed. Then, once the prairies were opened up for farming, this land reverted back to forest as it was uneconomic to farm.


  6. A climate believer journalist incapable of professionally performing a critical review on a straightforward topic?
    Expect nothing better.
    A prerequisite for being an enviro true believer is to have one’s critical thinking faculties greatly reduced.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. BillBedford. I am totally unrepentant. Forestry almost by definition is, in my view, environmental havoc. If indeed the forests were regrown on earlier farmlands, by now they would be climax vegetation and disturbance to them would constitute ecological disturbance. Removal of whole forests over large areas removing all tree species means the destruction of whole ecosystems. The programme was at pains to establish, using experts, that some tree species were already uncommon and probably should have been protected (although I admit this part was rather tree-huggy).
    I am somewhat surprised that you believe the clearcut forest featured in the programme was once farmland. The presence of tree species with breathing roots means the region is waterlogged. Farming would have required permanent drainage features. I looked a the aerial scenes in the programme again and saw none. You may know more about this part of Virginia than I do, but it looks to me as if this region has always been waterlogged.


  8. There are so many fallacies in the Ecologist article.
    A plague on all their houses.


  9. I wrote yesterday’s post almost immediately after downloading and viewing the channel 4 programme. I have had more time to think. My view now is that I would keep the North American footage as the centrepiece of a programme devoted to exploring the immorality of our government massively subsidising a system that, on spurious environmental grounds, involves cutting down whole forests in another part of the world and transporting the wood to the UK. I think giving Drax an opportunity to muddy the waters was a big mistake. If the government or Drax want to object or tell a different story, let them spend their own dollars doing so.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Alan, I agree. I suppose Channel 4 feels it has to provide balance and so allowed Drax to promote their greenwash at the end of the programme, unchallenged.

    Geoff, yes, it’s interesting that it got little publicity. The Guardian did discuss the problem back in December.


  11. Paul. Balance in TV documentaries upon climate or renewable energy; what a simply revolutionary idea. Can’t see it catching on except on BBC Radio 4 where any sceptical comment by an ex-Chancellor must be swamped by green gloop.


  12. Ron, thanks, what a pack of lies. From the transcript:

    Disastrous hurricanes. Widespread droughts and wildfires. Withering heat. Extreme rainfall. It is hard not to conclude that something’s up with the weather, and many scientists agree. It’s the result of the weather machine itself—our climate—changing,

    JOHN HOLDREN (Harvard University): We’re seeing one-in-a-thousand-year floods with astonishing frequency.

    MARSHALL SHEPHERD: We’re seeing more intense storms.

    KATHARINE HAYHOE: If we look all around us, we see over twenty-six-and-a-half-thousand independent lines of evidence that the planet is warming.


  13. Does Katie Hayhoe understand of what she speaks. As performers in the radioactive programme “I’m sorry I haven’t a clue” know to their cost it’s almost impossible to produce a list where consecutive items are completely unrelated to each other. But Katie knows of “twenty-six-and-a-half-thousand independent lines of evidence that the planet is warming”. Go on then darlin.


  14. “Radioactive programme” should be “radio programme” (but then some weeks ….)


  15. I am fairly sure most commenters/readers here are familiar with the “Energy Matters” blog. For those of you who aren’t you may find Euan’s latest post of interest as he summarized the results of a series of evaluations looking at most forms of electrical generation. Today’s post adds in some weighting factors for the various externalities.

    The preliminary results do not look great for biomass- I assume this is primarily true if the mass is being shipped thousands of miles before it is used. Euan’s evaluation method(s) is trying to control for leakage.

    I am not sure biomass would be as bad for my local area- as confirmed by Euan in the today’s comments. I transport much of our biomass about 10 miles away by truck where it gets treated for either use in an electrical generation facility, located about 40 miles away, or to a biogas facility (also known as a dump) located about 30 miles away.


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