Five new biomass power plants were proposed last week as UK energy companies moved to take advantage of the government's increased support for the fast-growing sector.
Four of the plants were proposed at ports in Scotland by Forth Energy, the joint-venture between Scottish and Southern Energy and Forth Ports. The plants are planned for Dundee, Leith, Rosyth and Grangemouth and would together boast a total installed capacity of around 400MW.
The new generation of biomass plants, such as the recently approved plans for facilities at Tilbury in Essex and Teeside in the North East, tend to be located near docks so they can easily access imported supplies of wood chips.
Biomass plants count towards energy firms' renewable targets, as long as the biomass being burnt is from sustainable sources, according to the Renewables Obligation Order 2009.
The Scottish plants would be fuelled mainly by softwood sourced from sustainably managed forests, according to Scottish and Southern Energy.
Ian Marchant, chief executive of Scottish and Southern Energy, said the company was fully committed to the expansion of the biomass sector. "It is clear that biomass will play an increasingly important role in energy production over the next 10 years and it is an area in which SSE expects to be a significant player," he said.
Scottish and Southern Energy already owns and operates an 80MW dedicated biomass plant at Slough in Berkshire.
The news came as E.ON also submitted a planning application to the Department of Energy and Climate Change last week for a 150MW biomass-fired energy plant at the Royal Portbury Dock in North Somerset.
If the project gets the green light, construction is expected to begin in 2010 with a view to the plant being fully operational as early as 2013.
E.ON already owns and operates the 44MW Steven's Croft project, which is currently one of the UK's largest biomass plants.
The European Commission is currently developing proposals to ensure the sustainability of sources of solid biomass used in such plants.
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