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UK ‘Back biomass’ campaign receives government support

26 Aug 2011, 11.15 am GMT

UK 'Back biomass' campaign receives government support

London, 26 August (Argus) — UK energy minister Charles Hendry has said he is confident that the UK can deliver 6GW of electricity from biomass by 2020, as set out in the renewables roadmap, after the Renewable Energy Association (REA) launched its “Back biomass” campaign this week.

The campaign, launched with Hendry's support, aims to encourage the government to favour the use of biomass for heat and power production in its upcoming decision on the current renewable obligation certificate (Roc) banding review.

“We want a balanced energy portfolio and we want biomass to play a central role in this,” Hendry said. “Biomass electricity is both predictable and controllable and I am very interested in the potential for co-firing and conversion. I am confident that the bioenergy industry can deliver our ambition for around 6GW of biomass electricity by 2020, as set out in our renewables roadmap. The UK industry has been at the forefront in ensuring biomass electricity is sustainable and that it delivers real greenhouse gas savings,” Hendry said. “The very clear sustainability criteria we now have in place will mean we know where biomass has come from and how it has been grown.”

Biomass developers in the UK are hoping the government will increase the number of Rocs a dedicated biomass plant will receive for each MWh of electricity produced over 1.5/MWh. “The biomass sector is calling on government to ensure that decisions taken not only provide sufficient levels of support to leverage the huge sums of private investment required, but are taken on time. Until industry and investors receive clarity, many projects hang in the balance,” the REA said in a release.

The REA has teamed up with UK generator Drax, German utility Eon and UK developer Res to launch the campaign.

“There are several large projects in development that would produce very cost-effective renewable electricity and can deliver steady base-load power,” REA chief executive Gaynor Hartnell said. “Their contribution towards our legally binding renewables target is essential. Provided support levels are maintained in the forthcoming banding review, government can look forward to these plants making their contribution towards meeting the UK's targets.”

The UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) said it will be “late August at the earliest” before it announces proposed revisions to Roc banding levels. The announcement came amid reports that a decision on Roc banding has been delayed until the end of the year.

Decc is seeking further feedback from the UK's independent Committee on Climate Change to advise the UK government on setting carbon budgets. It has also been suggested that the government will await feedback and input from its new UK bioenergy strategy, which is due to be set up later this year.

Decc began its review of the Roc banding in October last year, when it commissioned an independent review on market costs and the potential of all eligible renewable energy under the Roc system. The report, published in June, appeared to support electricity generation from biomass, which it is hoped will persuade the government to raise support for planned biomass plants and converted coal-fired plants.

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