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Clean Energy Strategy needs to take into account contemporary evidence on the role of bioenergy – REA

On January 14, 2019, the UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove launched what is described as "an ambitious new strategy" to tackle air pollution and save lives. Responding to the Clean Air Strategy, the Renewable Energy Association (REA) welcome the ambitions of the strategy but urges the government to commit to strong sector-specific policies and take into account contemporary evidence on the role of bioenergy in meeting carbon targets.

Modern biomass boilers, fitted with high-performance filters, achieve particulate emissions equivalent to that of conventional fossil fuelled boilers while making significant carbon savings.

Commenting on the Clean Air Strategy, James Court Policy and External Affairs Director at the Renewable Energy Association (REA) said that it includes “welcome ambitions” to bring the UK’s air quality in line with WHO limits. However, to take this plan forward, the government must now “deliver strong sector-specific policies that support technologies to address these concerns, while also properly enforcing existing controls such as Clean Air Zones and existing legislation”.

Critically, future policies must be based on up-to-date evidence that recognises the role bioenergy has to play in both improving air quality and, at the same time, meeting our carbon reduction targets. For this reason, it remains concerning that government continue to target biomass heating systems, while urban air quality problems can be best minimised by focusing on encouraging vehicles powered by electricity or renewable fuels. Similarly, much greater detail will now be required on the proposals to ensure ammonia emissions are minimised when storing and spreading digestates, ensuring this is correctly implemented and in a proportionate manner to support a growing anaerobic digestion and organics recycling sector, said James Court

Court added that from a renewable power perspective, proposals to remove future biomass power sites from future renewable power auctions “seemingly ignore the strenuous, tightly controlled and audited emission standards already in place, which also continue to be strengthened.”

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