Scottish, UK Energy ministers to discuss cuts in biomass-to-power subsidies
Oct 31, 2011 - Scotland's Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said he would meet today with UK's Minister for Energy and Climate Change Charles Hendry to discuss cuts in government support for large-scale biomass-to-power projects.
Earlier this month, Ewing issued a consultation regarding a proposal to terminate support for large-scale biomass-to-power projects. The government is planning to introduce a cap on the size of biomass power projects, so large-scale facilities will no longer get support, but the measure will not affect smaller heat-only or combined heat and power installations.
At a meeting with Hendry and bioenergy stakeholders today, the Scottish minister will seek to convince the UK government to follow suit and drop subsidies for large-scale woody biomass in power plants. The proposal is motivated by the fact that biomass is inefficient and would need more wood that the UK is able to produce.
"Even if every stick of wood grown commercially in the UK went to biomass, it would supply less than a third of the fuel we will require by 2020 if the UK government's plan for biomass goes ahead," Ewing said. He added that increased demand for woody biomass can result in growing timber prices, which in turn will threaten hundreds of jobs in traditional wood industry.
According to data provided by the minister, UK's large-scale biomass electricity plans would require some 37 million-67 million tonnes of biomass by 2020, while the Forestry Commission's current Softwood Production Forecast for Great Britain estimates an annual average production of nearly 12 million green tonnes between 2017 and 2021.