Biomass is important part of UK energy mix

By Robin Whitlock on November 22nd, 2012

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) has welcomed a report promoting biomass as an effective way to meet the UK’s renewable energy targets

The report ‘Knock On Wood: Is biomass the answer to 2020?’ published by Deloitte recommends biomass as an important part of the UK’s energy mix but also points out that the sector needs long-term confidence and stability from government. It also needs a reliable source of fuel from domestic sources and imports, must avoid damaging the local environment and deliver substantial greenhouse gas savings. Other issues discussed in the report include the supply chain – at present the industry is heavily reliant on ports, rail freight and other import infrastructure. A predictable public policy environment must also be established in order to attract essential private finance.

“This report is extremely timely, with critical decisions to be taken by Government over the next few months” said Paul Thompson, head of policy at the REA. “Biomass power and CHP can make a strong contribution to energy security and carbon savings – and at an affordable cost. The report clearly details the role that biomass could play in meeting UK renewable energy targets and what needs to be done to ensure this potential is fulfilled.”

The UK is now required by international law to source 15 percent of its energy from renewables by 2020 but the REA claims that at least 21 percent of this could come from biomass. The Deloitte report suggests however that electricity from biomass could possibly go beyond this figure through further conversion of coal-fired plants, many of which are due to be closed by the end of 2015 anyway under EU air quality regulations. Connecting new generators to the grid will be essential if the UK is to avoid an energy shortfall according to energy regulator Ofgem which in October warned that surplus capacity could be reduced to as little as 4 percent.

“The biomass industry has already done a lot to overcome these obstacles to growth” Mr Thompson said. “there is the potential for sufficient sustainably sourced biomass stock to be made available globally; the UK leads the world in setting domestic sustainability criteria; and the supply chain is gearing up for action. “However, policy and regulatory certainty is essential in order to leverage finance for the development of new biomass projects. Back Biomass will continue to work with Government to ensure these ambitions are met, enabling biomass to play a leading role in the UK’s future energy mix.”

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