The operators of Britain’s first “biofuel” power plants are considering burning palm oil which is blamed for causing rainforest destruction in south-east Asia. At least four new power stations are being planned around the UK to burn vegetable oils with the assurance that they will generate less pollution than burning climate-change-causing fossil fuels. Two that would power more than 50 000 homes at Portland in Dorset and Newport in South Wales are considering using palm oil. W4B Energy which has submitted a planning application to build the £30m Portland plant says it would use only sustainable supplies certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil RSPO . Vogen Energy behind the plant at Newport says production of its palm oil would not harm the environment.
But environmentalists say using any palm oil would be unwise because it would put pressure on supplies even if the supplies which go into the power stations are officially sustainable. Some green groups are also unsure whether the RSPO system for certifying “sustainable” supplies is sufficiently robust. Most of the 38 million tonnes of palm oil produced globally is used in food and cosmetics. But the need for biofuels to mix with petrol and as “feedstock” for power stations is putting pressure on demand which is forecast to grow at 6 to 10 per cent a year.
Conservationists are concerned at the loss of primary forest in Sumatra and Borneo and elsewhere to make way for plantations. New plantations result in large losses of wildlife and are blamed for imperilling the future of the tree-dwelling orangutan which could become extinct in the wild in 20 years.
Bad idea. It is unfortunate that imperiling other species is something humans do so well. I agree with Mr. Smith in the Matrix: We are like a virus. We consume everything. We do not live in harmony with our surroundings.