Dorothy Thompson, the chief executive of Drax Group which operates the UK’s biggest power station, has spoken of her dismay at recent changes to government policy on renewables.
Drax power plant in England provides around 7 per cent of the UK’s electricity supply and is in the process of converting three of its six coal units to run on biomass – two are complete and the third is due for completion next year.
This work was carried out on the understanding that the biomass units would not be hit by the UK Climate Change Levy, an energy tax designed to be an incentive to cut emissions that did not apply to renewable technologies.
But in August the government changed the rules of the levy to include renewables, a move that Thompson said “was a shock for shareholders and a shocking change of policy”.
She told the Economist Energy Summit in London that putting the Climate Change Levy on renewables “was like putting an alcohol tax on orange juice”, and added that the government’s move had added a bill of £18m a year for Drax.
She said that “biomass is the perfect back-up for the unreliability of wind and solar” and added: “With biomass we are just at the beginning of the journey. Burning pellets is as competitive as burning coal.”
However she claimed that the UK “is behind the rest of Europe on biomass”.
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