Scotland’s new rules offer bright future for CHP

The Scottish government’s recent announcement on renewable obligation support (ROC) has provided a boost for combined heat and power technology development, with support designed to encourage heat recovery from larger biomass plants.

Support for large-scale biomass power production will be focussed on those plants which recover heat alongside power production. Strict efficiency standards will effectively require that all plant with electrical capacity of more than 10 MW must operate as CHP plants.

Recognising that there is a limit to the amount of sustainable biomass fuel available, new plant will be required to operate at greater than 70 per cent efficiency in order to qualify for ROCs, which will only be possible if surplus heat is captured rather than vented to the atmosphere.

A biomass power station typically operates at around 20-30 per cent efficiency, while CHP plant can reach efficiencies of over 90 per cent.

The new requirement will only apply to plant larger than 10 MW, so as not to hinder deployment of smaller, decentralised biomass plant that place a lesser demand on fuel resources.

On making the announcement, Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said:

“Given the Scottish Government’s concerns over competition for a finite supply of wood and the responses to our consultation which reflected that, it is right that we are removing support for those biomass stations over 10 MW that do not provide good quality combined heat and power.”

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