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IP/10/1517

Brussels, 17 November 2010

State aid: Commission approves €11 million aid for biomass project in France

The European Commission has authorised France under EU state aid rules to provide an €11 million grant for the construction of a 43 MW boiler using renewable sources (biomass). The heat will be produced and delivered on the industrial site operated by Roquette Frères in Beinheim. The Commission concluded that the aid is in line with EU state aid rules, because on balance, the positive effects of the measure outweigh the potential distortions of competition.

Commission Vice-President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia said: "The Beinheim biomass project will contribute to reaching the EU 2020 environmental objectives without unduly distorting competition."

The boiler will represent a 43 MW heat production capacity and partly replace the current capacity based on natural gas (76 MW in total). It is expected to result in annual CO2 savings of 75.000 tons for Roquette Frères, compared to the use of natural gas. More generally, it will encourage the diffusion of the biomass technology at commercial scale and participate in reducing the CO2 abatement costs over the coming years.

The development of renewable energy is part of the climate and energy package for reaching the EU 2020 environmental objectives. The Commission concluded that the French measure is an appropriate and proportionate measure necessary to achieve an objective of EU interest. In particular, the Commission found that the aid is proportionate in view of the risks for the investment related to the current and future gas and CO2 prices.

Furthermore, the Commission considered that the distortions of competition and the effect on trade were limited and that, on balance, the positive effects of the measure outweigh the potential negative effects on competition.

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number N650/2010 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of State aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News.


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