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Physics World

Last May the UK went an entire fortnight without using any coal to generate electricity. Like other countries across Europe the UK is doing a good job of weaning itself off fossil fuels. But as environmentalists cheer the good news a terrible truth has come to light: biomass power plants – a key renewable energy source and one of the main replacements for coal-fired power – emit more carbon dioxide from their smokestacks than the coal plants they have replaced. In its haste to get rid of coal the UK may have inadvertently made global warming worse.