Utility Week

Utility Week 18th October 2013

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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Page 14 of 31

Policy & Regulation Biomass in brief bility audit, and plants over 50MW must continue to demonstrate compliance to qualify for Renewables Obligation Certificates. Decc says the change will "help bring forward transitional biomass technologies such as coal to biomass conversions". In addition, to provide the certainty that investors and developers need, there will be no further unilateral changes to the sustainability criteria before April 2027, when subsidies for biomass burning in existing stations will end. Some NGOs have attacked the practice of using imported biomass, but Drax, for instance, strongly defends importing biomass from the US. The company says UK biomass is not available in sufficient quantity, and in the US the timber industry creates vast volumes of waste biomass. The market there operates within a robust legal and regulatory framework. The REA agrees and says NGOs should look at the detail of sustainability and not reject biomass altogether. "The criteria will ensure that only projects with strong ecological protections and high carbon savings can be supported under the Renewables Obligation," it says. The REA is also urging the government not to withdraw support for new biomass under the forthcoming CfD regime. Unlike other renewable technologies, a large proportion of the generators' costs are fuel costs, which can vary over time. Whatever the decision on dedicated plants, once coal conversions are awarded Rocs they can not qualify for CfDs. Rocs, however, have a greater financial risk for generators because they do not vary with electricity price. Decc is using a notification process to allocate places within the 400MW cap. Priority project application closed on 20 August, with other projects able to apply from 11 September. "In the wake of these rules, the focus will now shift to large-scale CHP installations instead of dedicated power plants," says Abbhi. The REA says that it supports CHP, but there are not always suitable customers for heat nearby, and that rejecting good biomass projects for that reason does not make sense. Jeremy Bowden is a freelance journalist Plant Operator Total BiomassPlanned CapacityAlready biomassPermission Drax Drax 3960660 1980Yes Ironbridge E.On600600600Yes Eggborough Egg'gh 1960- 1960Yes Rugeley Int Power 1026 - 1026 Yes /Mitsui Lynemouth NPower 420- 420No "[EMR] potentially makes these projects uninvestable" "This decision sends a terrible message to investors" 70% How much lower greenhouse gas emissions must be for biomass than for fossil fuels for the generator to qualify for subsidies Keith Patterson, renewable energy expert, Brodies 21% Contribution of biomass towards the UK's 2020 green target of generating 15% of its energy from renewable sources – Decc figures 30m Former REA chief executive Gaynor Harnell on the withdrawal of subsidies for dedicated biomass Tonnes of biomass the UK will be burning annually by 2017 "The loopholes in these sustainability standards are big enough to drive a logging truck through" Doug Parr, chief scientist, Greenpeace UK You really can demonstrate we are making major carbon savings £11m GIB cash injection to purchase and upgrade an operational biomass plant in Port Talbot, Wales £120/MWh The draft strike price for biomass £140/MWh Dorothy Thompson, chief executive of biomass generator Drax The strike price required to bring forward biomass for CHP investable, according to the Renewable Energy Association UTILITY WEEK | 18th - 24th October | 15

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