The Renewable Energy Association (REA) should be campaigning for genuine renewable energy as an alternative to current polluting and climate-destroying methods of production.
Instead they’ve been busy helping some of the Big Six, Drax and Eggborough, to lock us into decades more of inefficient and polluting power stations. And they’ve also found plenty of time to lobby for more biofuels to be burnt in cars – undermining any attempts to limit the amount of palm oil, soya and other crops turned into fuel.
Their new CEO moved to REA straight from managing RWE’s Didcot coal power station. Before that she had worked for the Dutch RWE subsidiary, which burns more (imported) wood than any other company in that country, all of it in their coal power stations. Energy companies that run coal power stations have a vested interest in getting subsidies for co-firing or converting units for biomass, not just for the extra funding but often also because it allows them to meet European sulphur dioxide regulations and thus avoid having to shut down their plants.
While our Government has been eroding subsidies and other supports for onshore wind and solar PV, the REA has not issued one single press release in the past year denouncing those policies. Nor have they launched a dedicated campaign for any type of energy other than biomass!
The campaign they have launched is called Back Biomass. Back biomass is funded by 11 big players in large-scale biomass electricity, including Drax, Eggborough, E.On and RWE. The REA has enlisted the same PR giant as Drax to counter and undermine any critical voices against burning millions of tonnes of wood in inefficient power stations: Edelman. Amongst their targets have been Friends of the Earth, RSPB and Greenpeace. Edelman is the world’s largest PR company. They promise to “ help them [corporate clients] forge relationships with legislators, officials, special interest groups and sovereign governments to achieve their economic and political objectives” and to “run public affairs programmes like political campaigns, orchestrating a wide range of strategies and tactics including research, coalition building, stakeholder mobilisation, media relations and grassroots activities.” They have plenty of experience as a PR company for mining giants, unconventional fossil fuels and the nuclear industry.
Edelman’s work for the REA Back Biomass campaign has been highly successful, with the Government now cutting support for onshore wind and solar in favour of big biomass electricity.