This website has been set up by the Renewable Energy Association (on behalf of the biomass industry) to help deliver a clear message on the benefits of sustainable biomass power and combined heat and power (CHP).
The REA’s Back Biomass campaign is an industry led and government supported initiative launched in summer 2011 to urge the Government to ‘Back Biomass’ power as a crucial part of a secure, affordable, low carbon future for the UK. Power and CHP from sustainable biomass offers proven, practical, secure low carbon energy as part of a balanced energy mix.
Our objective is to deliver a clear message to Government that sustainable biomass power and CHP has a unique role to play in a resilient, competitive low carbon economy. As well as stimulating economic growth and valuable green jobs in the UK, investment in biomass generation infrastructure will boost energy security and support other types of renewable generation coming on to the grid. Taxpayer’s money is tight and the UK is potentially facing an energy capacity crunch in the next few years. Biomass offers a highly affordable and rapidly deployable way to generate low carbon energy and keep the lights on.
A key part of the campaign is around driving up standards in the sustainability and conservation of forestry, helping to ensure that biomass is cleaner and more sustainable than it has ever been. The industry strongly welcomed the introduction by Government of rigorous new Sustainability Criteria from April 2015 meaning that only sustainably-sourced biomass which complies with strict environmental regulations can receive UK subsidy. Biomass feedstock therefore cannot be taken from protected areas, and must have at least 60% overall lower lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil generation.
The UK needs a balanced energy mix, drawing on all low carbon forms of generation. No one technology can provide a ‘silver bullet’ solution on its own. The Government’s Electricity Market Reform White Paper, ‘Renewables Roadmap’ and Bioenergy Strategy, as well as reports by the IEA, AEA and IPCC all advocate a significant role for biomass in the UK’s future energy mix.
The Renewables Obligation (RO) is the main mechanism by which Government currently incentivises renewable electricity generation. Ofgem issues Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) to electricity generators relating to the amount of eligible renewable electricity they generate, with support levels published annually by 1 October of the previous year. However, the RO will close to new generators in 2017 as the Government introduces Contracts for Difference (CfDs), a new support mechanism that is intended to incentivise £110bn worth of private sector investment in the UK’s energy infrastructure by 2020.
With the Energy Act having received Royal Assent on 18 December 2013, there has been a raft of policy announcements on the operation of new CfDs, with Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) explaining how it intends to calculate support levels for renewable technologies, including different forms of biomass.
There is good news and bad news for the biomass sector: on the positive side, DECC has outlined a support level for biomass conversion that should give much needed confidence to investors that biomass conversion is a crucial part of the UK’s renewable energy future. However, support for CHP appears too low and there is no support proposed at all for dedicated biomass without CHP, meaning support for this important technology endures a further blow at a time when numerous projects are shovel-ready. Furthermore, DECC has confirmed the introduction of a 400MW cap on the total new dedicated biomass capacity that can expect grandfathered support under the RO, arguing it is too costly.
A final decision on support levels for different types of biomass technology was made when final contract terms were published in December 2013. The Back Biomass campaign strongly urges the Government to reconsider its apparent unwillingness to support dedicated biomass and CHP to be consistent with its positive support for conversion. The UK desperately needs new power generation capacity and has a legally-binding renewables target to meet. Investment in new energy infrastructure like biomass power and CHP could be a cornerstone of short and long term economic growth and competitiveness for the UK. It will also help keep Britain’s lights on as demand increases and a large amount of existing generation capacity is retired in the next few years.
The biomass industry is ready to deliver, but Government policy must support it through consistent, far-reaching policy. It should not be a case of choosing between converting coal fired power stations to biomass or building new projects; they operate at different scales and both can play a crucial role.
It is vital that the Government supports a range of different biomass power and CHP technologies so it can deliver the new infrastructure, economic growth and balanced energy mix the UK so desperately needs for a sustainable future.
Back Biomass Sponsors
The Back Biomass campaign has been supported to date by the following organisations:
British Sugar, Drax, Eggborough, E.ON, Enviva, Estover Energy, Eco2, Future Biogas, Helius Energy, RES, RWE, USIPA and the Wood Pellet Association of Canada.
About The REA
- REA - the voice of the renewables industry in the UK
- The Renewable Energy Association represents renewable energy producers and promotes the use of all forms of renewable energy in the UK
- A trusted voice for the industry, we represent the full range of the renewable energy technologies across; power, heat, transport and renewable gas
- Our ever-increasing membership ranges from major multinationals through to sole traders
- The Solar Trade Association is affiliated to the Renewable Energy Association, creating a combined membership of over 900 companies