Open Conference Systems, RUC Sunrise Triple C Conference: Climate – Change – Communication

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Communication on natural gas, biomass and forests as a problem for energy management
Rolf Czeskleba-Dupont

Last modified: 2010-04-16


The presentation aims at differentiations in communicating on resources for future energy supply.

In my research fellowship at Aalborg University I have earlier reflected upon the introduction of natural gas in Germany and Denmark compared to the U.S.of A. where its energy efficiency was publicly discussed (rcd 1983).

Before Denmark's introduction of natural gas in 1984 problems of public communication existed, and they are again prominent, now that an exit strategy for fossil fuels is on the agenda. Lack of knowledge on the virtues of this resource is in the meantime aggravated by lacking knowledge on the climate effects of substituting biomass - seasonally or completely - for the combustion of natural gas (local cases and Law on CO2 quotas).

The short and long term potential of contributing to global warming from the combustion of different kinds of biomass, coal, oil and natural gas must be known in order to alert against planning failures. Measured at the chimney outlets, CO2 emissions almost double when substituting biomass for natural gas. The period of recovering this CO2-debt has to be accounted for in order to document CO2-neutrality. It makes a difference, whether plants in short rotation are used - or stem wood (Sørensen 3.ed., 2004). The regeneration time of forests - perhaps not: plantations (Martinez-Alier 2002) - stretching over decades, IPCC warnings must be taken into account that the CO2 sink function of forests threatens to change into a source, when global warming exceeds 2,5 degree C (rcd 2009a).

So, it is a 'maximum feasible misunderstanding' (Moynihan) to give unconditional CO2 credits for the local or regional combustion of stem wood. Both global (CO2, methane) and local pollution (particles, dioxin, tar) from wood combustion has to be taken into account, when planning for heat and electricity generation by atmospheric combustion (rcd 2009b).

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