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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #239 - Biomass: The forests do not go up in smoke (fr, pt) [machine translation]

Date Fri, 06 Jun 2014 19:35:58 +0300

E.ON, the German energy giant, wants to convert its coal-Gardanne plant biomass. Between employment blackmail and hypocrisy of green capitalism, this project raises an outcry. ---- Now that CO2 allowances are paid (companies must buy the right to emit CO2 since 2013), E.ON (see box), owner of the power station coal Gardanne (between Aix-en-Provence and Marseille ), feared for its profits and eyeing a juicy alternative: a biomass power plant. ---- 646,000 tons of wood cut ---- The project is to convert a portion of the plant, which is nevertheless at the forefront of current technology, to burn 850,000 tons of crops per year, which would make it the largest biomass power plant in France. This with the blessing of the state, which subsidize the project to the tune of EUR 1.4 billion over 20 years, whereas naively (or complicity?) That the electricity generated would be "clean."

E.ON plans to open the center in 2015, by burning 124,000 tons of green waste (size hedges, maintenance of green spaces), 85 000 tonnes of scrap wood (objects in later life: pallets, furniture, demolition wood), 127 000 tonnes of fossil fuels, especially 646,000 tons of "forest resources", ie cut wood to be sent directly to the plant.

About half of these forest resources should be imported in the early years of Canada and South Africa primarily, but E.ON wants France to source only from 2025, in a radius of 400 km around the Central (PACA, Rhône-Alpes and Languedoc-Roussillon essentially).

This supply would be subcontracted to local industries, which occupy canvass forest owners and to make the cuts, with the financial and technical support of the multinational. So there would be a multitude of players signing many contracts, many of which concern small plots subject to more flexible than large estates law.

Privatization of forests

E.ON holds high the banner of green growth, praising the jobs created and the sustainable management of forests, and many policy makers follow suit, whether the mayor (Communist) Gardanne, or the President of the National Park Cevennes (Cévennes area are considered priority supply) has signed an agreement for the operation of the park's forests. The lack of environmental impact, lack of information and public debate, privatization of forests, and the dilution of responsibilities via subcontracting does little thought as we stirred the core of economic development . Yet the impact of this project will be multiple. It should already be aware of its pharaonic size. For comparison, the plant biomass Pierrelate (Drôme) funded by Areva, a biomass capacity of 150 000 tonnes per year, that burned 20,000 tons of wood a year after its commissioning in late 2012, n arriving 'not to supply up to the project.

We therefore how E.ON happen to supply a nearly six times larger plant, especially another biomass plant (180,000 tons per year) is being built not far away, in Brignoles (Var) request . This "need" wood may therefore deeply upset local industries, by increasing timber prices and threatening factories producing paper, all construction-wood, individual heating with wood, and small plants biomass which have increased since the 1980s (fifty nothing in Rhône-Alpes).

Gardanne is more an insult to these small plants, since thanks to an exemption fell from heaven offering to recover the heat of combustion, it will have an overall fuel efficiency of 23% according to the report prepared by the office of Eco-measurement study (41% according to E.on). Small plants, which recover heat for district heating systems have their side yields of at least 60% and up to 90% more efficient.

Electricity sales by truck

Beyond this energy aberration, environmental hypocrisy is complete. Under the guise of "clean" electricity, we will put into circulation thousands of trucks (one truck every two minutes to feed the beast), burning wood waste which may contain toxic chemicals and make clearcuts without obligation replanting. These cuts, in addition to ruin landscapes, reduce habitat areas necessary to biodiversity and benefit the development of maritime pine, invasive species which acidifies the soil, crushes all competition and diversity in forests, and ignited to nothing.

Faced with these socio-economic and environmental risks, several initiatives have been taken to thwart E. ON. Groups of Bouches-du-Rhône Friends of the Earth France and natural environment, with other local associations, filed appeal before the Administrative Tribunal of Marseille in relation to irregularities of the project (no public hearing, contradicting certain environmental laws).

One hundred municipalities PACA concerned about the future of local wood industries have adopted a motion against the project. And around the affected areas, collective form, part of which is collected in interregional coordination SOS Forest South, created last March to unite dispersed in several regions forces. This mobilization is an opportunity to reflect on the management that we want for our forests, and more generally for public goods (water, air, resources) whose fragile equilibrium ensure, inter alia, the survival of our species. One thing is certain: we will not let them fall into the hands of E ON.!

Jocelyn (AL Gard)
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