CCC Call For An End To Biomass Subsidies

By Paul Homewood


h/t Ian Magness



Bioenergy is classed as renewable, qualifying it for government subsidies. But the Climate Change Committee warned the cash for burning trees no longer delivers value for money. However, it supported plans to add carbon capture and storage to existing biomass plants.

The government should stop the flow of multimillion pound subsidies to energy companies that burn trees, its climate watchdog has urged.

The controversial energy source involves burning woody biomass pellets to generate electricity.

It is classed as renewable in the UK because new trees are planted to absorb the carbon dioxide released as trees burn.

That made companies like Drax, which used to burn coal but is now the UK’s largest bioenergy provider, eligible for £617 million in government subsidies last year.

In the same year, it posted bumper profits of £731 million as energy prices soared.

In its strongest edict on the issue yet, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) today warned for the first time that subsidies for biomass must end when the current round expires in 2027.

Bioenergy is too expensive and "even sustainable biomass supplies have significant lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions", the CCC said, in a much broader report about Britain’s energy future.

There never was any logic to burning trees in the pretence that it would reduce emissions. But if Drax closes as a result of the cancellation of subsidies, another 3GW of baseload will disappear from the grid. Without those subsidies, Drax would already be bankrupt.

The CCC however still support BECCS at Drax:


The CCC also said the UK should abandon biomass in its current form from around 2030.

But it threw its support behind plans to make biomass carbon negative by capturing and burying the emissions under the North Sea in depleted oil or gas fields.

The process is known as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

BECCS will play an "important role" in meeting climate targets because it can remove CO2 from the atmosphere while also generating electricity, the CCC said.

Energy thinktank Ember estimates Drax’s proposed BECCS plant would require £31.7 billion in public subsidies.

It is not clear how many years these subsidies would be spread over, but I would guess about 15 years. Either way it is another £1000 + for households to fork out. And the savings in emissions will be tiny; according to Drax, 8 million tonnes a year of CO2, which is just 2% of total UK emissions.

Meanwhile virgin forests will continue to be destroyed in North America.


March 10, 2023 at 04:50AM

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