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NGOs call on UK government to end biomass subsidies

A group of NGOs have called upon the British government to end subsidies for biomass and instead invest in other renewable sources.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and its partners the Dogwood Alliance and Southern Environmental Law Centre have written to Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond ahead of the upcoming Autumn Budget announcement.

A significant amount of the UK’s renewable energy generation comes from old coal-fired power stations that have been converted to burn biomass, primarily in the form of wood pellets imported from the southeastern US. NRDC argues that biomass-burning relies on government subsidies to be financially viable.

The group also contends that coal-to biomass conversions are costlier than solar and wind, and unnecessary for ensuring the reliability of the country’s energy supply.

An NRDC statement explains the NGOs position: “The coalition is therefore calling on the government to stop any future subsidy for costly and unnecessary biomass electricity and act quickly to ramp down existing subsidies.”

A major concern of the NRDC is that wood exports to the UK are harming the forests, and forestry industry, of the southeastern US.

“Taking action to stop these subsidies will save hundreds of millions of pounds in taxpayer resources better invested in truly clean, reliable, and cost-effective energy solutions in the UK,” the statement says.

“It will also help ensure that traditional wood-using industries have a level playing field when sourcing wood and can offer the most competitive prices to their customers.”