Bar raised for biomass

WOOD fuelled biomass stations with an installed capacity greater than 15MW must provide good quality combined heat and power or miss out on support under the renewables obligation (RO).
The move follows a Scottish Government consultation about future support levels for biomass and solar power technology.
The RO is the main support mechanism for renewable electricity projects in the UK, placing an obligation on suppliers to source an increasing proportion of electricity they supply to customers from renewable sources.
The UK Government has ruled out placing any limits on biomass until installed capacity exceeds 400MW but Holyrood’s energy minister Fergus Ewing says the bar will be higher north of the border.
“We have made clear our concerns over competition for a finite supply of wood, and our belief that there should be a greater focus on biomass in smaller scale energy projects wherever possible, and the responses to our consultation reflected that,” said Ewing.
“We are removing support for those biomass stations over 15 MW that do not provide good quality combined heat and power.
“This is a slightly higher ceiling than we had proposed, but our forecasts for additional supplies of wood in the market place mean that new capacity which might be built will not affect existing users – and indeed will create opportunities for businesses in the forest supply sector.
“Sustainable biomass provides huge opportunities for the people of Scotland – jobs in construction, jobs in the plants and in the forest supply sector, reduced emissions and reduced energy bills. Providing the forest supply sector with new markets will also allow them to plant more trees.”
Ewing cited industry figures that show ROs have helped to almost triple renewable output in Scotland, while the sector has attracted around £2.8 billion of investment since 2009.
Estimates from the industry meanwhile have suggested that there are presently around 11,000 jobs in the renewables sector in Scotland with further potential for growth if the country’s renewable resources are successful developed.
Stephanie Clark, policy officer for trade body Scottish Renewables, welcomed the move, saying that an increased threshold limit would ensure that Scotland has additional capacity for biomass production.
She added: “Biomass can play an increasingly important role in Scotland’s energy mix and will contribute to wider efforts to reduce the net carbon emissions from heat and power which is afterall, the largest source of our energy needs.”