Wallonia abandons support for large-scale biomass plant

The Walloon government has decided to cancel its call for tenders for a biomass power plant in Wallonia, Belgium.

The Walloon government is the executive branch of Wallonia, and it is part of one of the six main governments of Belgium.

In May 2016, the Walloon government announced plans to support a 200MW biomass plant and launched a call for tenders.

However, on 12 October, 2017, L’Echo announced that the new MR cdH executive decided to stop the procedure.

“We are stopping a project that was committing us to more than 20 years of … costly conditions,” said Jean-Luc Crucke, MR, Minister of Energy.

According to L’Echo, the government saw the project as a risk in terms of biomass supply because it was “unaccompanied by cogeneration”.

Crucke said: “Supply contracts do not reach 20 years, so there is no guarantee on prices over 20 years.”

The government also expressed concern over the ability of suppliers to meet long-term sustainability certification rules.  In Belgium, subsides are made conditional in relation to sustainability certification. Crucke highlighted the issue of “theoretical carbon neutrality”.

“The deposits come from Norway and South Africa,” he explained.

There was also the issue of tight government budgets. “It is hardly acceptable to commit the government to support up to €1.3bn for 20 years to finance a technology that requires permanent subsidies to operate,” Crucke said.

However, the abandoned project will not stop the biomass industry in Belgium. The government will revive a new call for projects and focus on smaller, local developments.

“No biomass project can be authorised without ensuring that the cost and impact on employment, environmental performance and the efficiency of support are controlled,” the government stressed.

This story was written by Liz Gyekye, editor of Bioenergy Insight.

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