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Utility Week: Dedicated biomass left off renewables support list



The future for dedicated biomass plant is uncertain after the Department of Energy and Climate Change revealed yesterday the technology is not guaranteed to get support under Electricity Market Reform. 

A list of draft contract-for-difference strike prices for different forms of renewable generation indicated dedicated biomass generating heat as well as power could get £120/MWh.

However, there was no entry for power-only plant. A footnote said: "The policy of whether and how dedicated biomass will be supported under CfDs will be confirmed within the draft EMR Delivery Plan, published in July 2013."

Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association, said the omission was "striking".

Government has imposed a 400MW cap on the amount of capacity that can get "grandfathered" support - that will not be cut at a later date - under the Renewables Obligation. There is up to 1,000MW worth of dedicated biomass schemes under active development.

This makes it "particularly important to get clarity on the government's intentions" for support under the CfD regime, Hartnell said.

"There are hundreds of megawatts of biomass projects looking to commission under the new support regime and their contribution of clean, baseload electricity will help keep the lights on when the capacity crunch comes.

"This is a technology with a long-term role to play. It helps with the objective of keeping waste wood out of landfill and is a good use for agricultural by-products such as straw and chicken litter. In the long term, when coupled with carbon capture and storage, this technology could actually be carbon negative.

"Biomass has been a mainstay of renewable energy policy since the mid-1990s and over the last few months biomass projects have been encouraged to apply for CfDs. It would be inconceivable and nonsensical for Government to turn its back on this technology."