Big biomass needs subsidy to go ahead

12th August 2011


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  • Renewable ,
  • Energy ,
  • Generation ,
  • Conventional

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IEMA

Two large biomass plants given approval by DECC this week will not go ahead without greater financial support from government, warns the developer.

A spokesperson for Drax Power, which is proposing to build two 299MW biomass-fuelled power stations in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, confirmed that the energy firm’s plans are dependent the future levels of support offered under the Renewables Obligation (RO).

In announcing DECC’s acceptance of the plans, energy minister Charles Hendry highlighted the importance of such schemes in ensuring a secure low-carbon electricity supply and admitted securing investment for new power stations was vital.

However, in recent weeks Drax chief executive Dorothy Thompson has made it clear that government subsidies are needed to make biomass viable on a large scale, and that the firm has put any investment into biomass on hold.

In publishing the company’s half-year results earlier this month, Thompson revealed that at the UK’s largest coal-fired power station, which Drax operates, biomass could replace more than half the coal that it currently burns to generate electricity, but that the current level of financial support is inadequate.

Under the approved plans, the two biomass plants could produce enough renewable energy to power more than one million homes, and with the right support they could be up and running within three-to-four years.

Currently, biomass generation is awarded only 25% of the support under the RO scheme available to offshore wind. The government is due to launch a consultation on the future of the scheme in the coming months and will announce new bands under the scheme at the beginning of 2012.

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