The UK Government has published a new Biomass Policy Statement, setting out the strategic aims for the role of biomass across the UK economy in the short, medium, and long term to deliver towards net-zero. The publication of this new statement on November 4, 2021 – Energy Day at the ongoing COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland – recognizes the critical role bioenergy plays in delivering both global and the UK’s net-zero targets.
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The Biomass Policy Statement sets out a high-level summary of the UK Government’s position on the role of biomass for Net-Zero and sets out specific information about policies in England.
It follows a recent Call for Evidence to help develop the policies needed to make the best use of biomass across the economy in support of Net-Zero.
Both of these will in turn inform the UK’s upcoming Biomass Strategy, due to be published in late 2022.
Commenting on the statement, Dr Nina Skorupska, CBE, CEO of Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) said that the REA “firmly welcomes” the Government’s reasserted policy commitment to the use of biomass in the UK, “recognizing the critical role bioenergy plays in delivering the 1.5 ⁰C Paris Agreement and the UK’s own net-zero targets.”
Releasing this Policy Statement on COP26 Energy Day sends a clear signal that the UK remains committed to ensuring that biomass is done right, in line with existing stringent sustainability governance arrangements, both at home and internationally. The REA looks forward to ongoing engagement with the Government to finalize the Biomass Strategy next year, helping to inform a vision for the continued sustainable use of biomass. In doing so, we also reiterate the importance of building on the success of existing bioenergy sectors, where immediate carbon savings are already being realized across power, heat, and transport, Dr Nina Skorupska said.
Recognizes off-grid heating
The UK Pellet Council (UKPC) too has very much welcomed the “hugely significant announcement by the UK Government and one that clearly defines the key role biomass will play in future Net-Zero and heat decarbonization policy.”
The statement includes a strong commitment to biomass across the economy including heat generation, especially for rural and off-grid areas. It stated that the Government ‘recognizes that not every home off the gas grid will be suitable for low-temperature heat pumps’ and how in most of these cases, ‘solid biomass will be a suitable alternative’.
This the UKPC points out, will provide a fit-for-purpose solution for a significant number of homes using fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and LPG.
This is huge progress and a massive step forward towards achieving UK carbon reduction targets. The policy statement encompasses all aspects of biomass as an integral and much-needed low carbon technology, not just within future heat decarbonization policy, but also how the biomass heat sector works hand in hand with sustainable forestry management, creating green jobs and a successful, circular rural economy, said Mark Lebus Chair of the UKPC.
In particular, the UKPC and Biomass Heat Works! have worked tirelessly to address, highlight and reiterate the need for biomass for heating, especially in rural off-grid areas.
To see this commitment and intention laid out by the Government will secure the role of biomass as an integral part of the renewable energy mix in the long term. We will of course continue to work very closely and collaboratively with ministers and representatives from the Department for Business, Energy, and Industry Strategy to help support and deliver their ambitions and Net-Zero targets moving forward, Mark Lebus said.
Encompasses all aspects
The policy statement encompasses all aspects of biomass as an integral and much-needed low carbon technology, not just within future heat decarbonization policy, but also how the biomass heat sector works hand in hand with sustainable forestry management, creating green jobs and a successful, circular rural economy.
It also outlines how ‘biomass has a role to play in all areas and is a vital resource for the key green technologies’, how it should be used in ‘hard to decarbonize sectors with limited or no low carbon alternatives,’ how ‘71 percent of renewable heat is currently produced from biomass,’ and how ‘individual sectors are expected to contribute to climate mitigation and adaptation, all touching on either the production or use of biomass.’
Furthermore, the statement highlights that the forthcoming Biomass Strategy, due for release in 2022, will also consider how biomass can best support decarbonization across the wider economy, to help create jobs, improve air quality and the environment, supporting the green industrial revolution which the Prime Minister set out in his Ten Point Plan.
Urgent action has to be taken to address the climate crisis and we are pleased the UK government is demonstrating climate leadership in its ambitions to deliver policies which will attract the private sector investment needed for more green technologies to be deployed, including bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), commented Will Gardiner, CEO of Drax Group.
Drax Group is the world’s single largest pellet consumer, and one of the world’s largest wood pellet producers with operations in the United States and Canada.
With the right business model from the government, Drax is ready to invest £2 billion in BECCS and could deliver the world’s largest carbon capture project here in the UK, permanently removing eight million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere each year by 2030. With sustainable biomass and BECCS, we can kickstart a whole new sector of the economy, creating and supporting tens of thousands of jobs in the North, as well as stimulating an export market and supporting the UK’s Net-Zero target. We look forward to working with the government to ensure the most sustainable biomass feedstocks are used in our BECCS project, Will Gardiner said.