Monday, November 4, 2013

[Biofuelwatch] New alert: Guaranteeing disaster for communities and forests: Say no to Public Loan Guarantees for biomass

The UK Treasury has shortlisted three very large biomass electricity developments for public loan guarantees. They already guaranteed Drax £75 million earlier this year for partially converting its power station to burning imported wood rather than closing it down.  Under the UK Guarantee Scheme, the government is offering loan guarantees to companies investing in large-scale infrastructure. This means that if anything goes wrong with the company's investment which causes them to default on loans  to a bank or another lender, the government will pay back those loans for them, out of general taxation.  In other words, tax payers carry the risk of private investments.

The three biomass projects that have been shortlisted are 

- The proposed conversion of the 2000 MW Eggborough coal power station to biomass: Without conversion to biomass, this power station, like Drax, would likely have to close in the near future.  China General Nuclear Power Group is reportedly bidding to acquire the plant in order to convert it to wood pellets.  Just like Drax, Eggborough would burn pellets made from up to almost 16 million tonnes of wood from slow-growing trees, most likely from North America.  This is more than one and a half times as much as all the wood produced in the UK every year!  Converting Eggborough to biomass would significantly increase pressures on remaining natural, biodiverse forests in the southern US and Canada.
- A 100 MW biomass power station proposed by Helius Energy in Avonmouth near  Bristol: This would burn around one million tonnes of imported wood.  Helius Energy have not announced any supply agreements yet so they could be sourcing wood from anywhere in the world.  There is a strong chance that they will be looking for wood from fast growing eucalyptus and other tree plantations  in the tropics.  See here for a case study eucalyptus plantations for biomass exports to Europe in Maranhão, Brazil which is threatening  the livelihoods and lands of traditional  communities and the rich biodiversity of Cerrado forests;
- A 60 MW biomass and waste power  station proposed by Tilbury Green Power in  Tilbury:  The company has permission to burn virgin wood (likely imported), chemically treated waste wood,  municipal waste and commercial and industrial waste.  As well as threatening forests (by planing to burn 300,000 tonnes of virgin wood a year), the power station would emit a particularly large number of different pollutants, threatening the health of a community that has long been exposed to high levels of industrial and traffic pollution.  

Please go to to write to the the Government and insist that they must not offer loan guarantees to those destructive biomass schemes.  And please help us spread the word about this important alert.  Many thanks!
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Biofuels are a wide range of fuels which are in some way derived from biomass.

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