Renew On Line (UK) 53

Extracts from NATTA's journal
, issue 153 Jan-Feb2005

   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1.     Wave and Tidal move ahead

New Marine Renewables Centre

2.     Biomass Boost

£3.5m more

3. Wind power developments

Largest wind farm yet...      

4. Micro power shows off:

Micro wind boom

5. Funding programmes

£15.5m for Community Energy

£8.5m for Local  renewables

6. Policy Developments

Climate  Review

Emission Trading Review

Party Positions

7. Policy Issues and lobbying

‘Double the Climate Change Levy’

RO costs more than REFIT


8. Around the World

Australia, New Zealand, India ,Canary Isles, EU, US

9. Global Developments

IEA Research on renewables falls…

..but Solar hits 100 million

‘No’ to Large Hydro...

Climate Change 'a real threat'

10. Nuclear News

Ten new nukes? Not yet !

2. Biomass Boost

The government has set up a task force to boost production of biomass- headed by former farmers’ leader Sir Ben Gill. It aims to stimulate biomass supply and demand in a bid to help meet renewable  targets and to boost farming, forestry and the rural economy. Food and Farming Minister Larry Whitty also unveiled a new £3.5m UK-wide Bio-Energy Infrastructure Scheme offering grants to help harvest, store, process and supply biomass for energy production. He said: “We must look to the future in our search for low-carbon energy sources. Biomass energy has the potential to be of huge benefit in terms of combatting climate change, boosting farm diversification and creating more rural jobs. Barriers have to be overcome if we are to establish confidence in the industry, and we want to make it easier for producers to get their biomass out of the fields and forests and onto the market, to make it a viable alternative energy source.”

 Since 2002 the government has given £66m in capital grants for biomass projects, while Defra has paid farmers £1million since 2001 under the Energy Crops Scheme, which gives grants of up to £1,600 per hectare to support biomass crops production.

The government has also published its response to the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP) report on biomass (see Renew 152). It says it agrees with the RCEP that biomass has the potential to reduce CO2 levels significantly if substituted for fossil fuel in the generation of heat and electricity and to help significantly towards meeting renewables targets for electricity supply- and renewable heat and combined heat and power. However, it does note that ‘it is important not to consider biomass in isolation but to take account of its relative benefits compared with other renewables and  other potential uses for biomass material such as for road fuel and production of chemical  feedstocks and other renewable materials for industry’. In particular it notes that there will be land use conflicts. The RCEP had talked of biomass requiring perhaps up to 7m hectares- so as to generate 12% of UK energy, including heat. The government responded that ‘this would be in addition to land use for biofuels for transport’ and represented ‘a major diversion of land from food production’.

It noted that the DTI/Carbon Trust Renewables Innovation Review had suggested that biomass might generate 6% of UK electricity by 2020 using 350,000 hectares, but it said it did not propose to set targets at this stage, although the issue would be fed in the Climate Strategy review,  which is now underway (see later).  The RCEP had recommended that biomass heat production should be emphasised, but while it agreed in general, the government said that adding a formal heat requirement for funding for new projects could create an extra hurdle for developers.  However, it was exploring ways to promote the heat option, and existing programmes did include support for biomass fired CHP at various scales.

For the full response see:

Wood fuel for N. Ireland

Northern Ireland’s new bio fuel pellet plant at Balcas timber processing facility, outside Enniskillen, uses pellets, manufactured from sawdust and wood chips from Balcas’ timber processing activities. Balcas is building a Combined Heat and Power Plant on its site to provide all its own electricity and heating requirements from the pellets. The Balcas plant will produce 50,000 tonnes of fuel pellets annually, sufficient to provide the energy requirements of 10,000 Northern Ireland homes and to generate enough electricity to power all Balcas’ electricity requirements.

Balcas Managing Director, Ernest Kidney, said: “Inside the next decade, bio fuel pellets could deliver the energy for a quarter of new rural homes in Northern Ireland. Bio fuel pellets can provide the energy needs of communities where the hinterland precludes wind generation, where the topography is hostile to overhead and underground cabling and where the fuel itself grows from the hillside to the roadside. Throughout Europe, timber based bio fuel pellets already provide heat, power, and price stability. Timber is a cheap and renewable resource and the bio fuel pellets industry provides a bonus of well-paid rural jobs in harvesting, production and distribution.”

The project has been supported by a £1m interest free loan from the NIE SMART programme.

Meanwhile, local councils throughout Northern Ireland will soon have the opportunity to make use of the new Solar21 renewable energy support programme run by Northern Ireland Electricity in partnership with solarcentury.  Solar 21 aims to encourage councils to install  Solar Photovoltaic on public buildings and is being supported by NIE’s Smart programme, which aims to encourage the local market for small scale renewable energy options, and by the Energy Saving Trust.  The new scheme will contribute 75% towards the costs of systems.

·        Northern Irelands Dept of Agricultre & Rural Development has announced a new fund aimed at assisting the establishment of short rotation  willow coppice plantations of 3ha and above for energy use. Up to £2m funding may be available, depending on the quality of applications.  Details:,

Greener Didcot

Following the lead of the Drax coal plant in Yorkshire (see Renew 150), Energy Utility RWE npower is to start burning biomass as well as coal at its Didcot power plant in Oxfordshire. Taking advantage of the new co-firing rules within the Renewables Obligation, the plant will take 30,000 tonnes of processed willow coppice from ESD Biomass

Natural Mine Methane

Recent German studies confirm that Mine Methane is not a fossil thermogenic by-product of coal but is actually biogas produced by anaerobic bacteria reducing CO2 dissolved in the water percolating through the fractures in the coal.  Mine methane was excluded from the current review of the Renewables Obligation, since (unlike in Germany) it was not considered a ‘renewable’, but that now seems incorrect.

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