Scotland announces support levels for biomass

By Anna Simet | February 08, 2013

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has announced future support levels for biomass, which encourages smaller-scale combined-heat-and-power (CHP) generation and sways away from large-scale biomass combustion.

The RO Scotland, known as the ROS, is the Scottish government's main means of increasing renewable electricity generation in the country, and it works in tandem with identical legislation covering the rest of the U.K. It obliges electricity suppliers to produce a certain number of RO certificates, or ROCs, as a proportion of the amount of electricity which they supply to their customers in Scotland.

The new support levels come as a response to a consultation the government launched last October.

Under the new ROS banding levels, biomass power stations with a capacity exceeding 15 MW will not receive support under the RO unless they are operating as a CHP facility. Power stations that have been operating as CHP plant and lose their heat contracts will still remain eligible for reduced support for five years or less, time during which they could regain their CHP status.

Ewing said 15 MW is a slightly higher ceiling than the 10 MW the government had proposed prior to the consultation, but forecasts for additional supplies of wood in the marketplace indicate that new capacity that might be built will not affect existing users and will create opportunities for businesses in the forest supply sector.

The government believes there should be a greater focus on biomass in smaller scale energy projects wherever possible, Ewing said, and responses to the consultation reflected that.

The RO has helped to almost triple renewable output in Scotland, according to Ewing, while the sector has attracted around £2.8 billion ($4.4 billion) of investment since 2009 and created 11,000 jobs.