The UK Publishes Its Biomass Policy Statement

The UK Publishes Its Biomass Policy Statement

Late last year, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published a biomass policy statement providing a ‘strategic view on the role of sustainable biomass’ in achieving net zero. The policy statement contains a ‘strict biomass sustainability criteria,’ to ensure that the process of burning biomass and capturing the released CO2 “delivers genuine negative emissions.” The policy statement gives an early indication of priorities and intentions for biomass use ahead of the publication of the highly anticipated full Biomass Strategy in 2022.

The policy statement outlines some key principles for biomass use across the UK economy in the short-medium-to long-term to deliver towards net zero in greenhouse gas intensive sectors such as power, heat, transport and industry. It also examines the role of biomass energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) in contributing to net zero and the potential routes for BECCS deployment specifically within the power, industry, renewable fuel and hydrogen production sectors. In the policy statement, the UK government summarise some key research and innovation gaps that need to be addressed to enable biomass, bioenergy technologies and the wider bioeconomy to deliver net zero.

The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology welcomes the publication of the policy statement. Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, CEO has commended the policy statement for “recognising the critical role bioenergy plays in delivering the 1.5oC Paris Agreement and the UK’s own net-zero targets.”

On the other hand, Richard Coulson, chair of the Wood Recyclers Association (WRA), urges policy makers to ensure they recognise the ‘valuable contribution’ waste wood supply-chain already contributes towards the UK’s goal to reach net zero carbon emissions through the reuse, recycling and recovery of waste wood. The WRA have expressed concerns that the policy statement does not fully acknowledge the role that waste wood has to play in reducing emissions. For example, solid biomass, including wood, waste wood, animal and plant biomass, represented 33% of total renewable demand in 2020 with approximately two thirds being used in electricity generation and the remaining third used to produce heat.

The government will need to consider adopting an ambitious strategy that builds upon the skills, experience and supply chains already in place. The full extent of the government’s view on how biomass can best contribute towards net zero across the economy remains to be seen but those involved in the biomass sector will undoubtedly be expecting big things. The Biomass Strategy is due to be published in late 2022… watch this space.

For information or advice on any of the topics raised, please contact our Energy Team.

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