Forth Energy plans 4 biomass power plants in Scotland

By Anna Austin
U.K. power utility Scottish and Southern Energy plc and Edinburgh, Scotland, port operator Forth Ports have announced plans to construct four 100-megawatt biomass power plants at four separate locations in Scotland.

In June 2008, SSE and Forth Ports formed Forth Energy, a joint venture to develop renewable energy projects around Forth Ports' sites in Scotland and England.

The proposed plants would produce heat and energy to be used at the port sites, as well as exported to the grid for commercial sale. Locations include Dundee, Leith, Rosyth and Grangemouth.

Under the U.K.'s Renewables Obligation, dedicated regular biomass plants can earn 1.5 Renewables Obligation Certificates per megawatt hour (MWh) of output. The Renewables Obligation requires licensed electricity suppliers in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to source an increasing portion of electricity from renewable sources. The obligation levels for 2008-'09 are 9.1 percent of electricity supplied to customers in England, Wales and Scotland, and 3 percent of electricity supplied to customers in Northern Ireland.

An ROC is a green certificate issued to an accredited generator for eligible renewable electricity generated within the U.K. and supplied to customers within the U.K. by a licensed electricity supplier.

Until March 2009, each ROC represented one MWh of electricity, but since April the value of the ROC has been dependent on the generation technology type. Dedicated regular biomass generation receives 1.5 ROCs per MWh.

The feedstock at the proposed biomass power plants will be mainly softwood sourced from sustainably managed forests in the U.K. and overseas, according to Forth Energy. The amount of woody biomass needed to fuel the plants was not immediately available.

The company plans to undertake consultations on the plant proposals and seek consent to construct them next year.

SSE currently owns an 80 MW biomass power plant at Slough in Berkshire, England.