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Green Wise: Biomass campaign calls for swift action on green subsidy

Government is being urged to act swiftly and provide the right level of support for biomass as it looks to make changes to current subsidy measures for renewable energy.
In a new campaign 'Back Biomass’, the Renewable Energy Association (REA) and companies including Drax, E.ON, Future Biogas and British Sugar, are calling on ministers to provide "sufficient levels of support" for the biomass industry and not to delay as they fix the details and levels of future subsidies for renewable energy projects. The industry says any delay could negatively impact on investor confidence in biomass.

In its recent Renewables Roadmap report, the Government said biomass could deliver six gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity by 2020. It is expected to launch a consultation in the coming weeks on the Renewable Obligation (RO) subsidy scheme, which it wants to replace with a new system of long-term contracts in the form of Feed-in Tariffs with Contracts for Difference (FiT CfD). 

Biomass projects
Describing the Government’s decision to increase its ambition for biomass as "highly significant", Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive of the REA, said: "There are a number of large projects in development that would produce very cost-effective renewable electricity and can deliver steady baseload power. 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."

RO too low
Earlier this month, the Government gave formal consent to two new biomass plants planned by Drax Power. Together, they will provide enough green electricity to meet the needs of over a million homes, but the current RO is considered too low by Drax to make biomass plants competitive.

The Back Biomass campaign, which launched yesterday, received the support of Energy Minister Charles Hendry.
"We want a balanced energy portfolio and we want biomass to play a central role in this," he 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 6 GW of biomass electricity by 2020, as set out in our Renewables Roadmap."