Scotland says ‘bye’ to biomass

The Scottish government has launched a consultation to cut financial support for large-scale biomass development, putting the funds towards tidal energy instead.

The Renewables Obligation Scotland (ROS) will be looked at under the consultation and only smaller, ‘more efficient’ biomass plants would receive support, with large-scale biomass electricity plants no longer being eligible to receive financial support.

The changes could threaten developments such as those planned by Forth Energy in Leith, Dundee, Grangemouth and Rosyth, as they will not have the public subsidy backing to get up and running.

Instead, the Scottish government says it will set up an £18 million fund which will help develop Scotland's first commercial wave and tidal power arrays.

This investment is part of the £35 million the government has put aside to plug into the marine and tidal industry over the coming three years.

The government believes tidal energy has a greater potential than electricity derived from biomass, and first minister Alex Salmond says: ‘We know Scotland's waters are host to awesome forces and that there is enough wave and tidal energy around Scotland to meet our demands for power several times over. Scotland can lead the world in marine energy.’

The government says increasing the amount of energy derived from biomass could have ‘potential detrimental impacts on Scotland's timber industries and the thousands of rural jobs they support’.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing says: ‘While the Scottish government supports the deployment of woody biomass in heat-only or combined heat and power plants, UK ambitions for large-scale electricity only woody biomass plants are an inefficient use of a finite resource. We have serious concerns around the sustainability of supply. If proposed levels of imports are not matched with forecast demand or become more difficult to access, there is the danger that energy generators will find it easier to access their feedstocks from domestic wood processing industries' well-established wood supply chains.’

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