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Biomass Renewable Projects

Volume 407: debated on Thursday 19 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to develop biomass renewable projects. [119882]

The Government are committed to biomass and have launched a number of programmes to support and promote bioenergy in the UK.The Bioenergy Capital Grants Scheme (BCGS), joint-funded by DTI and the New Opportunities Fund and worth £66 million, will support the early deployment of biomass-fired technology and builds on support made available under the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO). The BCGS, launched in February 2002, has proven very popular and has become over-subscribed with funds now fully allocated. In total, 21 projects across the UK will be supported by the Scheme, covering heat, combined heat and power and electricity generation from biomass.DEFRA, as part of its England Rural Development Programme, has made available £29 million for the establishment of energy crops including short rotation coppice (SRC) and miscanthus under the Energy Crops Scheme. A further £3.5 million is to be made available for the establishment of infrastructure to facilitate the harvest and supply of energy crops to the power generator.The Woodland Grant Scheme and the Farm Woodland Premium Scheme, co-ordinated by the Forestry Commission in mainland UK and Forest Services in Northern Ireland, provides grants to create and manage woodland, which can help in the production of wood fuel. The Woodland Grant Scheme also supports the establishment of SRC in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.The Clear Skies Initiative, a £10 million grants programme launched by DTI in February 2003, supports eligible community and domestic wood fired heating projects.Biomass is also supported through the Renewables Obligation, which came into effect on 1 April 2002, and electricity supplied by dedicated biomass plant or through co-firing will qualify for Renewable Obligation Certificates and be exempt from the Climate Change Levy (CCL).Finally, grants are available for research, development and demonstration projects through the DTI's £19 million New and Renewable Energy Programme. There are two calls for proposals to the Programme each year. Work on improving the yield and pest resistance of energy crops and developing advanced conversion technologies such as gasification and pyrolysis has progressed through the Programme.

The Government will continue to review the level of support given to biomass and explore new ideas and opportunities to further promote this renewable energy resource in the UK.