Green energy boasts hit unintended target

Chalk it up to yet another victory for the law of unintended consequence.

When the Scottish Government - and governments across Europe - got into a boasting war in the setting of renewable energy targets, little thought was given on the adverse knock-on consequentials. But now they are emerging. A clear problem has now been identified with the resort to the use of biomass for large-scale electricity plants in the UK. These plants are now drawing strong objections from two fronts - environmental campaigners and the Wood Panel Industries Federation (WPIF). The latter fears that 8,700 UK jobs are under threat, many of them in Scotland, due to the proliferation of biomass plants.

It says the industry is being priced out of existence because the wood they use to create their chipboard and wood panels - such as MDF - has gone up in price by 30 per cent over the past four years. It is also competing against government subsidies for biomass. Environmental campaigners say that such plants across the UK would use an estimated 27 million tonnes of biomass each year by 2025 - more than the entire amount currently in world trade. A campaign is now on against "severe market distortion" from the government's system of subsidies, known as the Renewables Obligation. Care needs to be taken by the government that it does not defeat its own aim by over-ambition.