Inefficient big biomass to get Government subsidies

Regrettably the Scottish Government has confirmed it is ready to support inefficient biomass power stations with up to £5 billion (yes, billion) of public money over the next 25 years, provided they meet a very low threshold of 35% efficiency in producing electricity with a small amount of heat.  This will wreck Scotland’s reputation as a leader in renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and could result in a massive power station adding to Dundee’s air pollution problems.

FoE Tayside was notified of this on 7 February 2013:

I am writing to let you know that the Scottish Government is today publishing its response to the supplementary consultation on changes to the Renewables Obligation (Scotland) legislation which took place between October and November last year.
The Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism informed Parliament about the response this morning.  Mr Ewing said:
“The Scottish Government is publishing today its response to a recent supplementary consultation on changes to the Renewables Obligation (Scotland) legislation and support levels.  Our response confirms that support for biomass electricity will be restricted to stations no larger than 15 megawatts installed capacity – unless those stations are accredited as combined heat and power stations.  This is slightly higher than the ceiling of 10 megawatts which we had proposed in our consultation, because – while we believe that the need for a restriction in support for biomass electricity remains essential, and we are delivering that – we also wish to support investment in a larger number of stations, subject to their receiving planning permission, which will incorporate good quality combined heat and power.  These stations could also attract vital investment in existing businesses, creating and preserving jobs.
We are publishing a response document and summary of the consultation outcome on our website this morning.  A copy of that report has also been sent to the Enterprise, Energy and Tourism committee and to the respondents to our consultation.  The document also confirms our decisions in a small number of other areas, including support for solar PV.  An amending Order containing these changes, and the others consulted upon as part of our review, will be laid before the Scottish Parliament shortly.”


This decision therefore still has to be confirmed by the Scottish Parliament, where there was a good debate on 16 January at which a number of MSPs challenged the government’s proposals (at that stage the proposed cap was 10 MW).  Clearly they failed to change the Government’s actual position (which is completely contrary to its stated policy).

Groups campaigning against the Forth Energy’s proposed biomass power stations are reviewing how best to pursue their case now, and are urging the Scottish Parliament’s Energy, Enterprise and Tourism Committee to mount a final challenge to these proposals before they are ratified in the next few weeks.

In relation to the application for the power station at Dundee, we are still awaiting publication of Forth Energy’s addendum detailing the findings from its air quality surveys, which will determine whether Dundee City Council agrees to pass on the application to the Scottish Government for decision.  The company may have held back, until the announcement was made on the Renewables Obligation; the project would not be economically feasible without these massive subsidies which enable them to make a profit from burning a million tonnes of trees from other countries very inefficiently ever year.

See further discussion under “Campaigns – Biomass Plant Proposals