NSW Govt backs clearing of “Invasive Native Species” for burning to generate electricity in the Cobar region

Fascinating article from The Land – page 1 and page 3 – I have had Cobar people telling me about this for months.

Is this the sort of scheme where you might expect to read about “carbon credits”?- I do not see that here – but there is another article to come. Has anybody got a view re these Cobar INS when burnt releasing heat equal to “…between brown and black coal.” Another point not clear is what happens to the ash. Is that trucked back to the source land to be added as soil carbon? Many vital details yet to emerge.
On another timber subject – turn to page 11 and there is an account of how the properties from crashed often ASX listed “managed investment schemes” MIS, to grow plantation timber – are hitting the land market. Near a $Billion worth. These huge disasters date from more than a decade ago. Where is that Beijing phone number.
Going back to 2006 or so I recall this news from Cobar as landholders disagreed with the NSW Govt over land clearing – this from December 2006.
Note Cobar has grid electricity through Essential Energy.

9 thoughts on “NSW Govt backs clearing of “Invasive Native Species” for burning to generate electricity in the Cobar region”

  1. A realistic person would have to ask how much drying & homogenizing would have to be done to harvested woody weeds before they became a fuel with an economic GCV of any equivalence to brown coal let alone black coal. i.e. the real economics of the fuel.

    Luckily ( for fuel storage) they do not have the mooted 500mm of rain out in Cobar for carbon to veg to humis – carbon farming.

    www.bom.gov.au/nsw/cobar/climate.shtml

    I can’t imagine who would subsidize this & be happy about it.

  2. Removing invasive plants is a good thing IMO, and burning is the only realistic way of getting rid of the material (or maybe they could turn it into charcoal?). If they can extract some useful energy from burning the material at a cost less than than the value of the energy produced then seems a reasonable scheme.

    Singapore produces substantial amounts of electricity from burning household waste.

    www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/05/22/waste-energy-singapore-s-experience.html

  3. Government initiatives really help the environment?

    Drax, the largest power station in England, has switched 3 of its 6 units to wood chip. This is from clear felled forest in the USA, which is chipped, shipped to the UK (special new port facilities) and railed (special new wagons) to be stored in vast new ‘silos’ (designed to minimise spontaneous combustion) and burnt. In burning the result is a 3% increase in overall CO2 emissions plus whatever the rest amount to, but under EU/UK regulations this is a reduction in emissions and attracts a subsidy higher than even for wind farms.

    The result is that instead of making a big loss on its coal burning and having to shut down, the Drax Co. makes money.

  4. There are 12 million hectares (or 120,000 square km) of grasslands and open woodlands throughout western NSW that are invaded and degraded by “woody weeds”

    The four predominant woody weed species (narrow-leaved hopbush Dodonaea attenuata, turpentine Eremophila sturtii, punty bush Cassia Eremophila var. Eremophila and silver cassia C. artemisioides) cause most of the problem in western NSW.

    Prior to European settlement, fire maintained this region as a mosaic landscape of thick luxuriant grasslands, open woodlands, and patches of dense shrub lands. This was the vital tool for maintaining this landscape, both natural from lightning strikes and deliberately lit by the Aboriginals.

    Europeans stopped the aboriginals using fire and lightning strikes were put out. It was these fires which destroyed the young shrubs and trees, allowing the grasses to dominate the landscape.

    In situ fire management is the most cost effective way to control the problem…….not this proposed govt subsidized scheme.

  5. Redress, I commented a couple of weeks that ‘carbon farming’ projects in the North mainly involve controlled burns to reduce/eliminate larger bushfires. This promotes tree growth at the expense of grasslands. The ‘carbon farming’ results from more and larger trees. I believe this is the exact opposite of what you are proposing.

  6. “The result is that instead of making a big loss on its coal burning and having to shut down, the Drax Co. makes money.”
    I assume you are referring to a “big loss” which would be incurred by paying the penalty carbon tax( to the EU?) for burning coal.
    So what you believe is that it is more economic to chop down trees in the US, process the logs/biomass into pellets in the paddock or at a plant, transport them to a ship, ship them to England,transport them to Drax, store them & keep them dry & then `burn them with only a 3% increase in overall CO2.
    I’ll bet Rajendra P sidelines as an economist. ( probably uses the same envelope back as Kevin Rudd) PEACE, LOVE, DOPE & VEGIES BABY!!! /sarc.

  7. pattoh is correct, it makes no sense to use wood for power due to costs of collection, the small power output, the low specific energy of wood which results in high capital cost per MW and the high operating cost of feeding the fuel. Some sugar mills burn the waste from sugar cane crushing but it is marginally economic even though the material has been transported to the mill. In more recent times waste is being returned to farms as mulch.
    The reason for low specific energy of wood is that is has an high air dried moisture and the composition has an high oxygen content. The progress of coal formation is wood to peat, to brown coal, to lignite and then to various grades of black coal through heat and pressure as the coal goes deeper. In the process the coal loses oxygen and inherent moisture. The ash content tends to increase but the flyash of black coal has some value while the ash from brown coal has no value. Black coal that has been subject to volcanic intrusion nearby can give anthracite with a high carbon content and very little volatiles. Vietnam has a large anthracite deposit.
    With regard to Drax, I believe the idea to use wood from US was just a publicity stunt and has not yet happened. I understand using wood pellets (from dried saw dust to allow break-up in the coal mills) instead of pulverised coal would reduce the capacity of the boilers by 30-50%. To use wood chips would require retro-fitting a grate and even then would give reduced capacity of around 50%.

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