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Lynemouth Power joins firms in launching COP26 bioenergy declaration

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Lynemouth Power Station joined other leading bioenergy organisations in launching the ‘Glasgow Declaration on Sustainable Bioenergy’ at COP26 in Glasgow.

The signed declaration outlines the important role that bioenergy will play in net-zero ambitions agreed by the international community during the summit, a conclusion backed up by independent analysis from the International Energy Agency.

It sets out a vision for the sustainable growth of the bioenergy sector to 2050 and reaffirms the ongoing commitment to sustainability principles including the management of natural resources, carbon accounting and protecting biodiversity.

Lynemouth Power Station was the first UK coal-fired station to fully convert to biomass electricity generation and has made significant progress to date having recently reported emissions 43% below grid average for 2020-21. It was one of the largest renewable investment projects in recent years and now generates 420 MW of low-carbon electricity, enough to supply around 450,000 homes.

“We’re facing a climate challenge and to reach net-zero by 2050, we must do more,” said Fiona Macleod, managing director of Lynemouth Power.

“The Glasgow Declaration brings together key players in the biomass supply chain – from sustainable forestry through to the pellet producers, the shippers and ports to the electricity generators – all combining to reaffirm our commitment to work together to meet the net-zero challenge and the international commitments made during COP26.

“We have achieved a lot so far, especially here at Lynemouth, and have a solid base upon which to build. Therefore, we want to make the maximum possible contribution to net zero by realising the full potential of sustainable bioenergy.”

Around 7% of the UK’s electricity is now supplied by bioenergy. Macleod noted the important role bioenergy plays, working alongside other renewables such as wind and solar.

“Biomass power stations don’t generate electricity from otherwise useful timber,” said Macleod.” Instead, they take the residue from sustainable forestry such as bark, twigs and thinnings, and the sawmills (sawdust and offcuts), transforming what would otherwise be waste into useful biomass pellets.

“This, therefore, increases the value of working forests by providing an income for lower-value fibre. An increase in the active management of forests improves their health and protects against the threats of disease, wildfire and infestation.”

However, Macleod also warns against complacency and for Lynemouth Power Station, this also means a comprehensive review of options for the plant from 2027 onwards, when the current Contract for Difference scheme ends. This includes the potential for BECCS, with negative CO2 emissions from BECCS allowing the UK to offset CO2 emissions from hard to decarbonise sectors.

“This means working collaboratively with the wider bioenergy industry and the UK Government,” said Macleod, “and we have had very constructive dialogue with the government during the review of its Bioenergy Strategy. We, therefore, welcome the recent update.”