Thursday 1 March 2012

Reporter’s Blog

Reporter’s Blog

Drax washes its dirty laundry in public?

This year's prize for most highly publicised U-turn on a renewable energy must surely go to power firm Drax, dramatically cancelling its plans to build a dedicated biomass plant.

Drax was probably waiting for the solar FiTs furore to die down so it could get a shot at that gong.

It came as no shock to some in the slowly growing industry who saw it coming a mile off.

At a packed out ecoConnect forum on biomass last week, David Williams, chief executive of Eco2 said he "wasn't surprised" Drax made the decision to ditch its 300MW plant in Selby.

In its statements to the press, Drax pinned the blame on poor financial support from DECC's renewables obligation.

But Mr Williams suspects they're trying to blame the government for not stumping up enough subsidy, when really the root problem will have been finding the money for it.

He suggested: "There aren't enough banks to fund a Drax 300MW plant... In the current commercial environment."

He was also scathing of the way Drax did its negotiating through the press.

Which makes me wonder, is that such a negative thing to do?

Wariness of overexposure is understandable, given the barrage of negative publicity biomass received a decade ago.

But was Drax washing its dirty laundry in public? Or actually sparking a well-needed debate about government backing for new energy sources?

The industry is pretty clear biomass will be indispensable if we're to meet UK and EU low carbon targets by 2020. It is expected to be the consistent packhorse in the renewables stable.

Perhaps the industry needs to become more high profile if it is to make it clear to the Government that to succeed, biomass needs a bigger slice of the subsidy pie - or pressure on banks to lend more.

Written by

Bruna Pinhoni

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