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UK’s SSE reconsiders biomass plans after Roc changes

August 14, 2012, London, UK — UK utility Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) could scrap its plans to convert plants to run on biomass and to increase co-firing following recent government changes to renewable obligation certificate (Roc) banding.


August 14, 2012
By Argus Media

August 14, 2012, London, UK — UK utility Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) could scrap its plans to convert plants to run on biomass and to increase co-firing following recent government changes to renewable obligation certificate (Roc) banding.

The utility — which operates 4,370MW of coal-fired plants at Fiddler's Ferry, Ferrybridge and Uskmouth —previously said it would look to start increasing biomass output from 2013 if the banding review was favourable.

The UK government set the subsidy for biomass conversions at 1 Roc/MWh but enhanced co-firing has been cut to 0.6-0.7 Roc/MWh, depending on the percentage of biomass burn, from a proposed 1 Roc/MWh. The minimum percentage for enhanced co-firing has been lifted to 50pc from 15pc.

SSE was considering converting its 360MW coal-fired plant in south Wales to a 255MW biomass-fired plant, and increasing co-firing at its 2GW Fiddler's Ferry coal-fired plant. But Argus understands that both projects could be cancelled because of the banding changes, the capital expenditure involved and improved clean dark spreads.

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Following the Roc review, the scope to increase generation of electricity from biomass at coal-fired power stations is significantly reduced, SSE said.

The utility would not comment whether it plans to cancel projects, but said it is continuing to speak to the UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) about the banding results.

Unlike some of the UK's other coal-fired plants, SSE's plant have time on their side as all of the capacity at Fiddler's Ferry and Uskmouth and half of the capacity at Ferrybridge is compliant with the EU's Large Combustion Plant Directive and can operate beyond 2016.

The utility increased power generation from its three coal-fired plants by a total of 23.5pc on the year in 2011, to 16.8TWh from 13.6TWh.

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