Thursday, October 25, 2012

[biofuelwatch] Centrica bails on British biomass plants

Utility blames government's "preference" for converted plants or co-firing for dropping planned plants at Roosecote and Brigg

Centrica Energy has pulled the plug on two planned biomass power plants, citing the government's "preference" for alternative biomass and coal technologies.

Neither the proposed 80MW biomass power station on the site of Centrica's existing Roosecote gas-fired power station, nor a 137MW biomass power station adjacent to the company's existing gas-fired plant at Brigg will now go ahead.

The company said the likely exclusion of dedicated biomass projects from the capacity mechanism outlined in the Energy Bill and proposals to cap support for the technology under the existing Renewable Obligation subsidy scheme were the primary reasons behind the move.

"While the Government has declared its support for biomass as part of the UK's future energy mix, recent clarification on the regulatory framework relating to dedicated biomass plants indicates a preference for co-firing and coal conversion to biomass," Centrica said in a statement.

The proposed cap was unveiled in a government consultation last month, which identified new dedicated biomass plants as more expensive and "increasingly less attractive" in the longer term than co-firing a mixed fuel of biomass and coal or converting existing coal plants to run on biomass.

Despite Centrica's decision, a Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) spokesman insisted the proposed changes to the policy regime would not kill off new dedicated biomass plants in the UK.

"We said in our consultation that the more shovel-ready projects are likely to come forward," he told BusinessGreen. "These [Centrica plans] are smaller projects further away from coming to fruition."

He added the government would publish the results of its consultation by the end of the year.

However, Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association (REA), said the UK "cannot afford" to have large companies such as Centrica dropping out of the biomass power sector.

"This is bad news for employment, the supply chain and energy security," she said. "With a capacity crunch looming in 2015, Government should be doing its utmost to encourage such shovel-ready projects.

"It must act swiftly to repair investor confidence in biomass, and renewables in general. Right now the Government seems to have an institutional bias against new biomass power projects."


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Biofuels are a wide range of fuels which are in some way derived from biomass.

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