Ha ha. Not necessarily yank gas guzzlers, Jim. A guy I've met off another forum drives a vast Dodge 4x4 which I had a go at him about "profligate" conspicuous consumerism. I was somewhat taken aback to be told by his tiny wife that they actually managed 47mpg, which went down to 32mpg when towing a fully laden ten-foot trailer, so more or less the same as my 1.9 Citroen Berlingo van!
And the debate about biomass feedstock continues to rage. Leaving wood burning out of the argument for the minute, the targetting of suitable crops "grown on marginal land", like palm oil or miscanthus grass...
...now appears increasingly disingenuous given the known consequence that the temptation to grow crops that attract the premium price ALL fuel attracts is too great to avoid a crafty redefinition of "marginal" to absorb marginally-productive land that is currently used to grow food crops.
I've seen arguments that insist crops like palm oil (particularly palm oil, in fact) have a potential for biomass feedstock once the main crop has been harvested, leaving the residue to be processed for fuel, which ignores its local use as animal feed and bedding. It's why the huge biomass-fuelled generating plant at Bristol was initially refused planning permission - its impact on overseas environments - a decision subsequently overturned by Whitehall.
It is particularly interesting to note the totally meaningless "environmental protections" included in the decision, which state (my italics to emphasise the use of catchphrase terminology to show how much someone cares):
"The Government is well aware of the concerns which exist about the potential
environmental impacts of widespread use of unsustainable biomass. It
therefore wishes to ensure that only sustainable biomass is used in renewable
It has therefore introduced sustainability criteria for solid
biomass and biogas under the Renewables Obligation (RO), and these are
applied to imported as well as to domestic biomass. The criteria include a
minimum greenhouse gas emissions saving of 60% relative to fossil fuel
measured across a lifecycle that includes cultivation, processing and transport,
together with restrictions on using biomass sourced from land important on
carbon or biodiversity grounds. Generators of above 50kW capacity must
provide to Ofgem a specified range of information on the biomass used
including its mass or volume, country of origin, biomass type and form.
Government intends that compliance with these criteria should become
mandatory for generators of 1MW capacity and above from April 2013 in order
to receive support under the Obligation4. The use of biomass from sustainable
sources is also a requirement of Planning Conditions (37) and (38), which also
ensure that where sustainability criteria apply to the feedstock to be burnt in the
generating station as a condition of eligibility for receiving financial assistance,
such as Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs), those criteria must be met
from the first date on which the Development is subject to those criteria."
It all means absolutely nothing in the real world of opportunistic commerce that is the fuel industry.
What REALLY amazes me is that all the talk about sustainable biomass feedstocks assumes that we're the only country going down this route. It's a bit like trying to get across to someone arguing the case for local biomass in the form of wood-burning technology, whether for heat or/and electricity generation using "local" "waste" timber, that the argument only holds for as long as the number of people doing it is restricted to numbers that are sustainable, in the sense of the fuel supply being sustainable year-on-year, assuming a regenerative cycle of planting and harvesting to meet a sustainable demand, and then assuming sufficient land is available that isn't needed to grow food in the first instance. And that's just "waste" timber. The sums get even more eye-watering when you start talking about cutting and planting vast swathes of woodland to feed the wood-chip burners that are pumping out vast quantities of particulate emissions that make talk of saving the environment a complete joke. Except that no one should be laughing!
Now expand that out to a global perspective.