RWE starts controversial permit process for biomass with BECCS Amer power plant
From coal to conversion full biomass power plant
RWE, the largest energy company in the Netherlands, has started the procedure to convert its second coal-fired Amer power plant to 100% biomass combustion with CO2 capture and storage (BECCS for short). According to Fenna Swart, chairperson Clean Air Committee, it is incomprehensible that RWE wants to convert the very outdated coal-fired power plant to full biomass combustion with CCS. “With this RWE indicates that it ignores the current mood in society regarding the disastrous effects of biomass and BECCS on climate and biodiversity.” BECCS, according to CSL, is an unproven technology, extremely expensive and very damaging to forests and biodiversity. Moreover, it is a stupid use of government subsidies. Science has been indicating this for a long time’.
Dutch forest cleared in 4 years
Back in October, RWE published a note for the start of the environmental impact assessment of the complete conversion of its Eemshaven (Groningen) coal-fired power plant to BECCS. RWE wants to burn 6 million tons of biomass there annually. To that will now be added the Amer power plant with 2.5 million tons of biomass annually. The woody biomass to be burned is obtained through industrial systematic clearing of forests in the Baltic states, the US and Canada, among others. Burning an annual total of 8.5 million tons in the two RWE coal-fired power plants would clear the entire Dutch forest in just over 4 years.
Increasing biomass co-firing also part of environmental impact report
The current biomass co-firing falls back to the 2011 nature permit due to the cancellation of the current permit. This means that co-firing will fall from 1.2 million tons annually to 0.5 million tons of biomass. The increase in co-firing should therefore also be part of the environmental impact report, according to the Clean Air Committee. However, in the Notitie Reikwijdte en Detailniveau (NRD) on the plan for a BECCS for the Amer power plant, RWE states that this only concerns CO2 capture and storage.
Submission of Views Committee Clean Air ism forest protection organizations
Together with foreign forest protection organizations from the U.S. and the Baltic states, the Clean Air Committee has submitted their views on both initiatives to the competent authorities, the provinces of Groningen and Noord-Brabant, respectively. In the statement they elaborate on the disastrous effects of RWE’s unfortunate plan for climate, biodiversity and air quality.
Contact for press:
Comité Schone Lucht
Ph: +31 (0)6 415 14 330
Scientists indicate that the so-called “climate measure BECCS” actually emits rather than captures CO2 (see also Appendix 3). For example, scientist Dr. Tim Searchinger of Princeton University (USA) reiterated this during the biomass round table discussion on June 15 in the House of Representatives. In BECCS, the energy sector deliberately overlooks some major CO2 emissions. As a result, biomass combustion with CO2 capture and storage is completely wrongly called CO2 negative.
1. Viewpoint on NRD for the EIA “BECCUS at Amer power plant”
Viewpoint (link) on the Notitie Reikwijdte en Detailniveau (NRD) for the EIA “BECCUS at the Amer Power Plant”. Clean Air Committee, Dogwood Alliance (USA) and Save Estonia’s Forests. Dd November 27, 2023.
2. Background information BECCS
a. BECCS, a counterproductive climate solution and false promise
BECCS is the burning of biomass for power generation combined with capture and storage of CO2. It is a false promise, disastrous for climate and biodiversity. An attempt by energy companies to continue to fuel their coal and power plants with biomass. This memorandum details the major drawbacks.
b. Statement 87 scientists on BECCS (February 2021)
c. Coal Ban Act
As of January 1, 2025, the RWE Amer power plant may no longer burn coal. Because the Amer power plant is an old power plant with relatively low efficiency, the coal-fired power plant must close as early as January 1, 2025 (incidentally, the energetic efficiency with biomass combustion is even lower than with coal combustion). This is stipulated in the Law banning coal in electricity production (https://wetten.overheid.nl/BWBR0042905/2022-01-01). Energy company RWE wants to fire the coal-fired power plant on biomass after stopping coal combustion. The CO2 released in the process, the company wants to store it underground or reuse it.
3. Schematic representation of CO2 emissions at BECCS