A Portuguese scheme to support biomass energy installations located close to forest areas regarded as critical, due to the risk of fires has received the go-ahead from the European Commission, noting that the new installations would produce both electricity and combined heat and power through cogeneration.

The measure aims to incentivize forest owners to clean the forests at risk by using the forest residues to produce biomass energy, the Commission said, adding that this will help to prevent future forest fires in Portugal.

The aid will be provided in the form of a feed-in premium – a top-up payment over the market price – to the selected installations for every unit of electricity produced, as well as an environmental tariff premium, known as the PDIF, linked to the use of biomass from Portuguese forests in the critical areas, the Commission said on January 8.

The scheme will run for 15 years and have a budget of around €320 million that will be funded via an increase in energy tariffs.

According to the Commission, the measure meets the requirements of the 2014 Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection and Energy, as it will help Portugal increase the share of electricity produced from renewable sources to meet its climate targets, all of which are in line with the environmental objectives of the EU, without unduly distorting competition.

The Commission also said the EC found that measure is in line with the 2014-2020 Agricultural Guidelines, applicable to the environmental component of the premium.