The European Commission has authorized, in line with the EU rules on state aid, a Portuguese plan to support biomass energy installations located in areas close to forest zones considered as “critical”, due to the risk of fire. The plan will last 15 years and have a budget of around 320 million euros and will be funded through an increase in energy rates.
The new facilities will produce both electricity as heat and electricity (cogeneration). The goal of the measure is to encourage forest owners to clean forests at risk of fire, and to harness the energy potential from forest waste to produce energy from biomass. The purpose of this action is to help prevent future forest fires in Portugal.
The aid will be granted in the form of a feed-in-premium remuneration model, which involves assigning the premium in the energy tariff to the facilities selected, for each unit of electricity produced, as well as an environmental tariff premium (called PDIF), linked to the use of biomass from Portuguese forests in the referred critical areas.
The Commission concluded that the measure complies with the requirements of the 2014 Guidelines on state aid for the protection of the environment and energy, as it will help Portugal increase the proportion of electricity produced from renewable sources to meet its climate targets, in line with the environmental objectives of the EU.
Pellet from scrub to prevent fires
Another initiative to fight the threat of forest fires in the Iberian Peninsula has been developed through the European project EnerbioScrub, which for four years focused on the research of the use of scrub to manufacture pellets. The prevention of fires, through forestry, is one of the strengths of a program that is also committed to the use of a product with high potential.
In the Iberian Peninsula there are around 15 million hectares of scrub that make the majority of areas burned in forest fires every year. In Spain alone, according to data from the Ministry of the Environment, in the decade 1996-2005 a total of 860,000 hectares were burned, of which more than 80% were shrub formations.
Hence the importance for our country of innovative methods for the sustainable collection of flammable shrub biomass for its transformation into biofuels from the European project EnerbioScrub.