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Justmeans: UK Body Promotes Biomass as Sustainable Energy


The UK Renewable Energy Association (REA) yesterday launched a campaign to promote biomass as a source of heat and power. The 'Back Biomass' initiative aims at getting the government to include biomass in its proposals on the incentives regime for renewable energy.

The campaigners say biomass heat and power from sustainable sources "offers proven, practical, secure low carbon energy as part of a balanced energy mix."

The timing of the campaign is related to the late 2011 deadline that the UK government has set to make decisions regarding Renewables Obligation (RO), when it will establish its level of support to renewable electricity generation and combined heat and power between 2013 and 2017.

Campaigners hope to ensure confidence is maintained and projects proceed. The biomass industry is asking government to ensure that decisions taken provide "sufficient levels of support to leverage the huge sums of private investment required", and are taken on time. They argue that both industry and investors need to be clear in relation to the government's position. Until then, many projects hang in the balance, they say.

They add they support more rigorous sustainability criteria whereby government will require generators to demonstrate at least a 60% reduction in greenhouse gases in order to be eligible for financial support.

"We want a balanced energy portfolio and we want biomass to play a central role in this. Biomass electricity is both predictable and controllable and I am very interested in the potential for co-firing and conversion. I am confident that the bioenergy industry can deliver our ambition for around 6GW of biomass electricity by 2020, as set out in our Renewables Roadmap", said Energy Minister Charles Hendry MP, who supports the campaign.

"We believe that the UK needs a balanced energy mix, drawing on all forms of renewable energy. There is no silver bullet. However our campaign aims to highlight the unique qualities of biomass heat and power in terms of strengthening energy security, facilitating the integration of other forms of low carbon generation on the grid, rural diversification and contributing to the low carbon economy. It is vital that the Government provides certainty for the industry to help the industry invest and ensure that this opportunity isn't missed", said Gaynor Hartnell, Chief Executive of the REA.

While biomass campaigners may win over official support, they are faced with a great deal of civil opposition to biomass and biofuel options being explored at the moment. There are several organizations in the UK campaigning constantly against planned incinerators. They claim bioenergy is not the answer to climate change. On October 01st the Breathe Clean Air Group will be marching down the streets of Urmston (Greater Manchester) to protest against biomass plant proposals in the region. BCAG says locals fear the incinerator could emit toxic fumes.