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Utility Week: Hendry dismisses anti-renewables report as 'naïve'


Energy Minister Charles Hendry dismissed as "naïve" a recent report by heavyweight think tank the Adam Smith Institute that questioned the economic rationale behind renewable energy.

Hendry told Utility Week the report - which concluded "there is no prospect of most renewable technologies being competitive with conventional power sources in the foreseeable future," - was "naïve and neglected completely the value of renewables to security of supply."

Hendry defended recommendations by the Climate Change Commission to cap the amount of generation fired entirely by biomass that can qualify for any support from the renewable obligation subsidy. He said it would protect the limited local biomass resource and encourage the conversion of old coal-fired plant to co-firing with biomass.

He said biomass and other renewable generation would shield the UK from volatile oil and gas prices and "being held to ransom by global prices we can't influence."

The minister was speaking at a parliamentary reception organised by the Renewable Energy Association for its `Back Biomass' campaign. Hendry said conversion of coal plant to biomass helped keep jobs while achieving low carbon objectives.

He said the UK would have some 3GW of biomass by the end of this year and that biomass would generate 30-50TWh by 2020. He described the technology as "the holy grail of renewables" in its potential to provide "carbon negative" power that was despatchable unlike wind and other renewable technologies.

He emphasised the need to streamline the planning process for biomass and to improve its acceptability to the public. He said a recent poll showed 57 per cent of those questioned were in favour of biomass-fired generation compared to 88 per cent for solar photovoltaics and 82 power cent for wind "which may surprise you if you read the Daily Mail."