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Large-scale biomass plants needed in future – IEA

1 Jun 2012, 11.19 am GMT

Large-scale biomass plants needed in future – IEA

London, 1 June (Argus) — There is a need for large-scale biomass-fuelled power plants in future energy generation to limiting emission levels, according to the IEA.

Biomass should not be limited to only the most efficient uses, but also to those that will have the biggest impact on CO2 mitigation, the IEA, which this week released its Technology Roadmap — Bioenergy for Heat and Power to 2050, said.

“Replacing coal with biomass in large-scale power plants has a big impact on CO2 emissions, which makes it a viable option for biomass use,” IEA bioenergy analyst Anselm Eisentraut said at the World Bioenergy conference in Jonkoping, Sweden. “We need a cost-driven approach to CO2 mitigation rather than looking at efficiency only.”

The Scottish government is proposing to remove subsidies completely for large-scale power only biomass plants from 2013, arguing that using biomass for heat production, or combined heat and power production, has a much higher efficiency level than for power production.

“I understand that heating is a more efficient use of biomass,” Eisentraut said. “But it is much more effective [in terms of emissions] to replace coal with biomass than natural gas, for example. And putting more biomass into large coal plants is the only way to get around the emission levels produced in these plants.”

The IEA predicts that up to 2bn t CO2 equivalent can be mitigated by 2050, especially when combined with carbon capture and storage. But energy efficiency measures make up 40pc of these emission reductions to 2050, Eisentraut said.

“Big investment decisions require a stable policy framework, and it is up to policy makers to ensure long-term policies are put in place — developers need certainty to make decisions,” he said.

Key policy actions include ambitious frameworks, unified and robust sustainability criteria and international collaboration including technology transfer and an introduction of standardised product specifications.

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