During the public consultation period, AVEBIOM presented submissions on the draft Ministerial Order which regulates the auction system for renewable energy electricity generation and the corresponding schedule for the period 2020-2025. The Association proposed beginning with an allocation of 200 MW for biomass in 2020 and adding a further 100 MW per annum up to 2025, for a total capacity of 700 MW, at plants with installed capacities of a maximum of 20 MW.
This increase in installed capacity and the limitation on the size of the power plants would enable the recovery of around seven million tonnes of biomass per annum, whilst also consolidating a large network of suppliers that would create a great deal of employment in rural areas.
However, the recently ratified Order does away with the minimum quota of 80 MW initially allocated to biomass in the 2020 auction and establishes an auction schedule for this technology every two years, accumulating annual targets with the argument that this “facilitates feasibility and the participation of projects of a sufficient dimension”.
Javier Díaz, President of AVEBIOM, believes that the decision to do away with the 2020 auction is a strange one, pointing out that “if the aggregated capacity of the first two years, i.e., 140 MW, had been auctioned immediately, limiting the concentration of all this capacity to just a few projects, it would have provided relief for companies with projects in areas of great biomass density”.
In 2020, auctions will be held for a minimum of 3,000 MW, of which at least 2,000 MW will be allocated to wind and photovoltaic power, while the remaining 1,000 MW will be allocated freely or without quotas for specific technologies.
“Auctioning 1,000 MW without specifying technologies will unquestionably favour the massive installation of photovoltaic capacity, says Javier Díaz.
“Moreover, permitting the submission of large-scale biomass projects, as has already happened in previous auctions, detracts to a great degree from the benefits of biomass, by concentrating enormous consumption of around 450,000 tonnes of biomass per annum in a single 50 MW plant, which obliges the supply of biofuel from long distances to the facility, points out Díaz.
Moreover, the introduction of 700 MW of new capacity would enable greater use of agricultural biomasses, such as pruning waste from vineyards and fruit trees, straw and other agrobiomasses. This would be perfectly in line with the principles of the circular economy and would reduce the pressure on forest biomass, which currently accounts for over 60% of the solid biofuels used to generate biomass-based electricity.