WBMR: Regulatory uncertainty erodes EU bio-power development

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WBMR: Regulatory uncertainty erodes EU bio-power development

April 30, 2014 - 16:56
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Forth Energy stopped development of two Scottish biomass power projects and cancelled a third recently, which would have consumed about 3.5 million green tonnes/yr of wood fuel, mostly in the form of industrial-grade pellets (1.75 million tonnes equivalent). The large facilities would have been located at Grangemouth, Rosyth, and Dundee, and cost a combined £1.1 billion (US$1.8 billion).

While a partner in the bioenergy projects was lost, a statement from Forth noted somewhat hopefully, "Both projects (Grangemouth and Rosyth) have gained consent from the Scottish Government and Forth Energy is investigating options to attract other developers to take the projects forward. Forth Energy has withdrawn its application for the proposed plant at the Port of Dundee following an objection from Dundee City Council."

Presumably, much of the pellet volume would have come from North America, where export facilities are currently in an aggressive growth mode. Instability in European renewable energy credit programs, however, has called the industry into question, as Electrabel closed its 180 MW wood-fired power plant in Ghent, Belgium, and RES recently cancelled its 100 MW, £300 million biomass power project at Port of Blyth, England.

Electrabel used about 800,000 tonnes/yr of wood pellets, mainly from Enviva's operations in the US South Atlantic region, and Pacific BioEnergy in Prince George, BC. RES would have consumed about 700-800,000 tonnes/yr of wood pellets.

In 2012, Forth Energy dropped plans to develop a wood biomass power plant at the deepwater port of Leith, Scotland, citing conflicting plans for development at the port site. The £600 million facility would have had a capacity of 200 MW of electricity and 60 MW heat.

This is an excerpt from a story that appeared in RISI’s Wood Biomass Market Report (WBMR).  WBMR covers biomass projects as well as market news and prices for North America and Europe.  Click here for more information or to subscribe.