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Investors from Japan are rushing into wood-burning biomass projects to lock in still-high government subsidies

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22 January 2018
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Investors from Japan are rushing into wood-burning biomass projects to lock in still-high government subsidies


Investors from Japan are rushing into wood-burning biomass projects to lock in still-high government subsidies
As the sun sets on Japan`s solar energy boom, companies and investors are rushing into wood-burning biomass projects to lock in still-high government subsidies. More than 800 projects have already won government approval, offering 12.4 gigawatts (GW) of capacity - equal to 12 nuclear power stations and nearly double Japan`s 2030 target for biomass in its basic energy policy.

The sheer number of projects has raised questions about how they will all find sufficient fuel, mostly shipped in from countries like Canada and Vietnam, while some experts question the environmental credentials of such large-scale plants. The projects approved to date that use general wood fuel would need the equivalent of up to 60 million tonnes of wood pellets, compared with global output of 24 million tonnes in 2014, said Takanobu Aikawa, a senior researcher at Japan`s Renewable Energy Institute. Other fuels such as local forest thinned woods or palm kernel shells from Indonesia and Malaysia would not make up the shortfall, he said.

Biomass plants generate energy by burning fuels, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. They qualify as renewable because plants absorb CO2 as they grow, with a lifespan of years rather than the millions of years needed to make fossil fuels such as coal.

Biomass applications jumped before an April rule change that requires an applicant to have a contract with a utility for grid connection, and the rush has continued ahead of a cut in the feed-in-tariff (FIT) on offer for large plants. As with solar, companies that win early approval keep generous FITs for up to 20 years, while late-comers miss out. The solar FIT has been nearly halved since 2012, bringing the sector`s boom to an abrupt halt.


Source article: http://www.euronews.com
January 08, 2018