jueves, 27 de junio de 2013

Renewable energy: Why burn US trees in UK power stations?

American wood is brought to Europe to burn in European power stations.

Self-study activity:
Watch this short BBC video clip explaining the process which allows American wood to be brought and used as fuel in Europe and say whether the statements below are true or false.

The activity is suitable to intermediate students.

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1 Not everybody agrees with the process.
2 All of the pine trees will be used as fuel.
3 Environmentalists object to the trees being turned into wood chips.
4 The sawdust helps take water out of the wood chips.
5 Environmentalist disagree with this energy policy.

You can read the transcript below.  

It’s hard to believe but trees like this are being felled in the southern United States to be burned to make electricity in the UK. The process is controversial. Let me take you through it. And here where it starts with baby trees like this just a month old. These will grow into towering pines. Parts of them will be used for construction in the United States and parts for creating power in the United Kingdom. And these are the trees in their teenage years. The best specimens will be cut to be used in the plank industry and the poor quality ones, twisted or small, will be used either for wood pulp or in the wood fuel industry. Next stage is for the trees to be turned into wood chips and dumped, here on this mountain of wood. And it’s the massive scale of this operation that so alarms environmentalists. The wood chips are then again mixed in with sawdust from sawmill thanks to this extraordinary machine. The chips and the sawdust mixed together get fed into this piece of equipment that looks like a washing machine drum, except it is not putting water in it, it’s taking water out, and here’s what comes out at the back end of the process: Billions and billions of tiny wood pellets to be burned in power stations in the UK. Now environmentalists say that it is madness to be growing trees in the USA to keep the lights on in Britain. This industry is helping the UK meet its targets on renewable energy and rightly or wrongly it is here to stay.

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