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Lynemouth biomass plant given EU state approval

Plans to convert a coal fuelled plant in Lynemouth to biomass have been granted state aid approval, the EC has announced. Owners RWE now intends to press ahead with the plans for conversion.

The European Commission opened its investigation early in the year and made its ruling on December 1, 2015. It announced that the UK government support for the project was in compliance with EU state aid rules and said the conversion would help the UK to reach the environmental and energy targets set out by the European Union without “unduly distorting competition”.

Plans to convert the station were first announced in 2014, and the government is supporting the project by paying a premium in addition to the market price. The project will continue to receive aid until 2027.

Commenting on the announcement, Andree Stracke, Chief Commercial Officer of RWE Supply and Trading GmbH said:

"We welcome this confirmation of the government support for biomass power generation, which provides a reliable base load to complement other renewables such as wind and solar.”

Stracke added that the company hope to have converted the plant within the next 18 months and he said it would allow the export of 390 MW of low carbon electricity to the National Grid, thus aiding the government’s climate change aims

The government has set itself a target of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. One of the ways the government intends to reach its aim is by switching to low carbon alternatives and becoming less dependent on fossil fuels.

When the conversion goes ahead, Lynemouth power station intends to use renewable wood pellets, which will be exported from the United States, Europe and Canada. In addition, a sustainability management system will be put in place to ensure that the biomass fuel produced by the plant will meet the minimum sustainability standards that have been set out.

The plant, which is based in the Northumberland in the UK, has the capacity to make enough electricity to power more than 450,000 homes. In addition, converting the Lynemouth plant from coal power will have a positive impact on the environment and on the economy in the north east.

Moreover, it will burn 1.5 million tonnes of wood pellets annually, and produce an estimated 2.3 TWh of power.

The Lynemouth power station has been powered by coal since the early 1970s and was previously owned by Alcan. In 2012, RWE took over the running of the plant and as a result the Lynemouth Power Company was established.

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