The controversial subject of biomass subsidies for power stations had panels traders talking late into the night at the latest Plywood Club of London meeting.

Traders continued their discussions even after formal proceedings had closed at the Tuesday evening meeting.

Speaker Alastair Kerr, director-general of the Wood Panel Industries Federation, earlier told the meeting that power stations’ wood consumption would reach 40 million tonnes by 2030, compared to the panel sector’s 4 million tonnes.

Mr Kerr said government subsidies were an unfair advantage for the power sector in purchasing raw material and a fairer solution was needed. He said one or two European panel manufacturers had already stopped operating citing raw material issues, including competition from biomass.

He also questioned why so much focus was going on large biomass generation when it was projected to make up only 15% of total renewable energy output, which in turn would make up only 20% of total energy generation.

Members acknowledged the need for biomass as a source of energy production, but were keen to highlight the “unintended consequence” to the panel industry of the government’s current strategy.

Geoff Rhodes, industry consultant and chair of the Advisory Board at FPRI-Edinburgh Napier University, said “the trade will, as always, adapt and take on the challenge from this new competitor” and that the trade needed to consider the “ultimate value” of the panel industry and achieve this in relation to the changing worldwide raw material issues and costs.

The club also noted a desire that all other renewable sources are fully investigated by government bodies.