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Scotland Boosts Tidal-Power Subsidy, Cuts Aid for Biomass, Wind

October 21, 2011

Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- The Scottish government plans to increase subsidies for tidal energy while cutting support for large-scale biomass plants and wind power under rules that force utilities to get a share of electricity from renewable sources.

Projects that harness energy from the tides will get five so-called Renewable Obligation Certificates, or ROCs, for each megawatt-hour of power produced from 2013, the government said today on its website. That compares with three ROCs previously offered.

A ROC is a tradable certificate awarded to utilities for each megawatt of renewable-energy generation. The changes to the ROC system in Scotland, which aims to get all its energy from renewable sources by 2020, are part of a U.K.-wide review that brings support for Scottish marine energy in line with England. The proposals are open to consultation until Jan. 13.

Scotland has the potential to provide as much as a quarter of Europe’s tidal power and 10 percent of its wave power, according to the government. More than 1.6 gigawatts of sites have been leased to marine developers in Scottish waters, including Marine Current Turbines Ltd., which won a permit in April to build a plant in Kyle Rhea near the Isle of Skye.

The increase in subsidies “provides the underpinning support we need for investment in our Kyle Rhea tidal array project that will be offered to the market next month,” Andrew Tyler, chief executive officer of Bristol, England-based Marine Current, said today by e-mail.

Biomass Subsidy

For biomass, Scotland has proposed a cap on the size of the plant receiving support. Smaller, more efficient facilities will be eligible for 1.5 tradable certificates, with those producing heat as well as power getting two ROCs until 2015 and then 1.9 in 2015-16. Plants above a certain generation capacity will cease to get subsidies on concern the quantity of wood they need may threaten forests and other industries that use them.

The government has “serious concerns” about the sustainability of wood biomass used in larger power plants, Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said in a statement. “U.K. ambitions for large-scale electricity-only woody biomass plants are an inefficient use of a finite resource,” he said.

In the wind-power industry, the government proposals reduce support for land-based projects to 0.9 ROCs from 1. Offshore wind farms will get two ROCs in 2014-15, 1.9 the following year and 1.8 the year after that. The plan brings support for wind energy in line with the rest of the U.K.

--Editors: Amanda Jordan, Randall Hackley

To contact the reporters responsible for this story: Louise Downing in London at; Sally Bakewell in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg in London at

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