‘The Case for Energy Crops’ How developing countries can help themselves and boost UK energy security

Energy & Transport
Monday, July 19, 2010

Britain needs to build a considerable 8GW of new renewable electricity generation in under ten years in order to meet legally binding green energy and greenhouse gas reduction targets.  The Bow Group believes that if Britain is to avoid a potential energy crunch then it will have to invest in new renewable energy sources including bioliquids from energy crops. The recent announcement by Caroline Spelman that DEFRA is to launch a £100,000 research project into the UK's use of palm oil is long overdue but risks delaying new bioliquid renewable power plants.  Coupled with DECC's ongoing refusal to provide long term ROC support (grandfathering) for sustainable bioliquids to generate electricity, the UK risks exacerbating an energy gap in the middle of this decade, at the end of the Coalition's fixed term. Bow Group Energy Committee Chairman and author of the report, Tony Lodge, said "Yesterday, DECC reaffirmed its plans to reduce carbon emissions by 30% by 2020.  This ambitious target can and will only be achieved if Government provides a fair, equal and long term financial support structure for baseload reliable renewables like biomass and bioliquids so that they can expand quickly.  DECC should also support planning applications where sustainable bioliquid plant is proposed.   Otherwise green energy growth and carbon reduction targets will be widely missed and old dirty plant will not be replaced in time, thus causing an energy gap as early as 2015/6."  'The Case for Energy Crops' finds:- As much of this new renewable generation as possible should be baseload and not weather dependent intermittent plant, such as wind and solar.- DECC should grandfather all bioliquids which can prove their sustainability. New traceability technology can prove that energy crops used for renewable electricity generation as bioliquids have not involved overseas deforestation, erosion of vital wetland, peatlands or land used for growing food- Britain must close its three vital oil 'peakload' oil-fired power stations at Grain, Littlebrook and Fawley by 2016. These plants, which are activated and ramped up quickly during 'tight' energy demand periods represent 3.7GW of capacity.- There is 3.8GW of biomass and bioliquid plant under construction, in planning or announced (p12) which could, with proper Government backing, be on line by 2016 to replace all lost oil peakload plant. Without this replaced plant, an energy crisis will be exacerbated, at the end of the Coalition's fixed five year term.Generating sufficient vegetable oil to provide the UK with 2GW of renewable electricity from energy crops requires approximately 2.1 million hectares of land under production. To put this in perspective that represents 3% of the land mass of Mozambique. Such a project can generate over £1 billion annually for those growing the crops and thus help alleviate poverty and unemployment.- Bioliquid-fired power plant can help diversify the UK's increasing overdependence on imported gas for the generation of electricity. Over 23GW of ongoing, approved and planned power plant construction in the UK is gas-fired.