Canadian Biomass Magazine

Forth Energy progressing on UK biomass plants

April 10, 2013
By Argus Media

April 10, 2013, London UK — Scottish biomass developer Forth Energy is progressing with plans to build three new dedicated biomass-fired plants capable of generating a combined 300MW of power and 260MW of heat at three sites across Scotland.

Forth Energy, a joint venture between UK ports operator Forth Ports and UK utility Scottish and Southern Energy, plans to build the plants at sites in Grangemouth, Rosyth and Dundee after cancelling plans for a fourth plant in Edinburgh last year. Each of the plants is at a different stage of the approval process. Forth Energy has recently published the findings of a detailed air quality assessment in Dundee, which shows that the city's air quality issues are traffic-related, with the plant adding negligible levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

“At the request of Dundee City Council we carried out detailed air quality monitoring over a 12-month period to help understand in more detail what was causing existing levels of NO2,” Forth Energy managing director Calum Wilson told Argus. “The report shows that the levels are traffic-related and that the contribution from the plant would be negligible. We have published our report for public consultation as part of the consenting process.”

“The plant in Dundee would be well placed to support the development of renewables manufacturing. It would support the city's ambitious development plans. And it would help put Dundee on the map as a low-carbon city."

The Scottish government has stated that to receive support under the UK's renewables obligation (RO) scheme, dedicated wood-fuelled biomass plants of above 15MW must be combined heat and power (CHP) plants. The Dundee plant is likely to have several heat off-takers, but it remains unclear what the minimum level of heat output is for a plant to be defined as a CHP unit. Wilson confirmed that Forth Energy is in discussion with potential heat off-takers around the plant.


In contrast to the UK government, which has a 400MW cap on power-only biomass plants, the SNP-led Scottish government has ruled out placing any limits on installed dedicated biomass capacity, but has made clear its support of CHP plants. Under RO banding, dedicated power-only plants now receive 1.5 renewable obligation certificates (Rocs)/MWh until 31 March 2016, while the subsidy will be reduced to 1.4 Rocs/MWh from 1 April 2016. These plants will also receive an extra 0.5 Rocs/MWh for the CHP uplift, but this extra support will be closed to new accreditations from 1 April 2015. The Scottish government has also proposed limited transition arrangements that will allow CHP stations that lose heat clients the time to replace them before losing their support.

Forth Energy's Grangemouth plant is the most advanced in terms of securing the necessary approvals, with the firm looking at supply baskets as it awaits a decision from the Scottish government. “We are actively talking to producers and moving towards heads of terms for our Grangemouth plant,” Wilson said. “We are looking predominantly at North America for supply and could use wood pellets or wood chips.”

The third plant, earmarked for Rosyth, continues to progress and is with the Scottish government as part of the approval process. Forth Energy would not speculate on when it expects to receive final approval for any of the plants, with the Dundee project now with the local council and then to pass to the Scottish government for approval.

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