It has been suggested that all remaining coal power plants would need to be closed by 2023 unless fitted with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) or converted to biomass sources of fuel.
The Conservative Government however has recently removed ‘grandfathering’ rights for new biomass conversion projects and has not funded the development of new projects in the CfD mechanism. This means it is extremely difficult for any existing coal plant to move to biomass sources as is intended.
Biomass power can provide reliable baseload power that is flexible to meet demand – helping balance supplies on the electricity grid. Biomass must be sourced from sustainable supplies and meet minimum emissions savings relative to oil and gas plants in order to receive support.
The Renewable Energy Association said that what is needed is a properly funded biomass-conversion allocation fund under the CFD mechanism, a date for the next auction, and the reinstatement of ‘grandfathering rights’ in the Renewables Obligation scheme.
Dr. Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive, said: “This is a welcome aim, if confirmed, as it is critical that we move away from high carbon sources of energy to sustainable low carbon forms. This is illustrated by the coming climate talks in Paris, and biomass power offers that opportunity.
“This shift currently however is impossible, as DECC on the one hand seek to encourage the transition of coal plants over to biomass, but on the other have taken away the policy levers to enable this shift.
“We look forward to seeing a Conservative energy strategy that delivers on its principles of decarbonisation, affordability, growth, and innovation.”
Frank Gordon, REA Senior Policy Analyst, added: “What is needed is a clear policy supporting low carbon power, not just a series of cuts. In particular this means a commitment to the next round of CfD allocation and adequate budget for converting coal plants to biomass in it, as well as reinstating protection for new plants against future policy changes.
Renewables are constantly coming down in price and biomass power is one of the cheapest forms of low-carbon large scale generation, much cheaper than nuclear power (at £105/MWh for 15 years, compared to £92.50 for 40 years based on CfD ‘strike prices’). Biomass plants can also adjust their power output at short notice, in addition to providing reliable baseload power.”
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