Renew On Line (UK) 52

Extracts from NATTA's journal
, issue 152 Nov-Dec 2004

   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1. £50m for wave and tidal

2. Renewables over 5%

3. North Sea -CO2 sink?

4. Biofuels push

5. Solar Worries

6. Deep sea wind

7. The Wind debate : New anti-wind lobby

8. Policy Developments  New Planning Guide

9. Regional Developments: NW, NE, Scotland

10. World Developments : US, China, EU

11. Nuclear News: Nuclear  Economics

4. Biofuels push

Regen SW- the renewable energy agency for the South West- has joined counterparts from other English regions to call on the Secretary of State for Transport to place an obligation on all filling stations to provide at least five per cent of their fuel from biofuels.  In an open letter to Minister Alistair Darling, Regen SW, Renewables East and Renewables NW outlined the environmental and rural employment benefits that could come from the production and use of biofuels. Matthew Spencer, chief executive of Regen SW, said: “Our addiction to crude oil causes huge environmental damage and makes us dependent on some of the most unstable regions in the world. Biofuels offer us the prospect of being able to slowly wean ourselves off this addiction. Producing petrol and diesel from grown crops is not technically difficult, it’s getting access to the pumps which is the issue.”

In parallel the Renewable Power Association held its  first Biomass Conference in York in  July 2004- which attracted quite a crowd. Jonathon Scurlock  reports.

Judging by the full-take-up of the 150 delegate places available (and the crowded atmosphere in the conference room), the meeting was a considerable success- and it was well organised. It is encouraging to see this relatively new trade association standing up for the historically fragmented biomass sector.  Yet it is hard to feel completely satisfied at a time when biomass generation is dwarfed by wind power, both in the scale of its industry gatherings and in the regard with which it is held by Government- despite the very considerable size of the biomass resource.  The key industry activity at present appears to be the emergence of co-firing as a “big brother” to the more modest developments in dedicated biomass-fuelled plants.  Bronwen Northmore, speaking for the DTI, made it clear that she regards biomass power as having commercial significance only in the next decade, after the Government’s stated target of 10% renewable electricity has been achieved (or missed!). 

A number of other government departments and agencies stated their positions, but the presentations and news from power plant developers was fairly downbeat.  Slow (if steady) progress all round, and a number of projects running into significant (and unexpected) NIMBYism.  Perhaps they should have talked to a few wind developers first?  The most encouraging presentations came from opposite ends of the spectrum: Drax Power Ltd., who offer potentially colossal future markets for co-firing (and hosted the conference field trip the following day); and Wood Energy Ltd., a fast-growing developer of small-to-medium sized wood-fired heating projects. 

Given the likely future importance of Regional Development Agencies (and regional government) in implementing the measures in the Energy White Paper, they were noticeable only by their absence. 

Two particularly newsworthy items were discussed: the emergence over the next 9 months of Producer Groups funded under DEFRA’s forthcoming Bio-energy Infrastructure Scheme, which will enable the growers of willow, other energy crops and forest thinnings to collaborate; and the 2005 Renewables Obligation Review, which it is hoped will not upset the value of ROCs, but will clarify government policy on post-consumer biomass, notably different grades of scrap wood, and choice of technologies- advanced gasification is no longer emphasised as an article of faith!

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