The Wood Recycler’s Association (WRA) is urging Government to tackle barriers to building biomass plants in the UK.
Speaking at the WRA’s annual meeting, chairman Clem Spencer said: “Biomass is the future for wood recyclers…The board mills are still our main customer but they are unlikely to see much growth in the short-term. It’s high time we put a group together [to lobby the Government on biomass]. Every single one of us would like a biomass plant within 20 miles of our sites.
“We could put together a select team of WRA members who have experience in the sector. We are now at a stage where we need to help ourselves.”
Members at the meeting described the difficulties they have faced trying to build their own biomass plants. One German-based company experienced in building biomass plants reported spending a significant amount of money on a 25MW biomass facility. It has taken five years to complete but is still not open due to issues concerning environmental regulation. Another member has had its application delayed by the local planning process and now is trying to settle on a technology that investors believe is financially robust.
Spencer commented: “The blame [for the struggle to get biomass to come online] lies with the Department for Energy and Climate Change. For the last eight years we have been talking about biomass but we’re still not much further forward.
“The Government has decided that [through the Rewewables Obligation] a return to investors of 8% or 9% is enough but most will not be interested unless they get around 15%.
“We’re currently exporting a lot of our material and it shouldn’t be that way.”
One member, based overseas, explained: “The UK is quite strange when it comes to biomass. We use it all day every day in Sweden. It is very important that people realise that this is a proven technology.”