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International Sustainable Energy Review: REA launches “Back Biomass” campaign


Today the Renewable Energy Association launched a new campaign urging Government to ‘Back Biomass’ heat and power in its proposals on the incentives regime for renewable energy:

Sustainable biomass offers a proven, practical, secure source of low carbon energy as part of a balanced energy mix. The Back Biomass campaign aims to deliver the clear message to Government that it must not let the opportunity to reap the benefits of this flexible and affordable technology slip away as they fix the details and levels of future support for planned projects over the coming months.

Support levels

The Government has committed to making decisions on the Renewables Obligation (RO) by the end of 2011, to set support levels applicable to renewable electricity generation and combined heat and power from 2013 to 2017. To ensure confidence is maintained and projects proceed, the biomass sector is calling on Government to ensure that decisions taken not only provide sufficient levels of support to leverage the huge sums of private investment required, but are taken on time. Until industry and investors receive clarity, many projects hang in the balance.


Rigorous new Government sustainability criteria will require generators to demonstrate at least a 60% reduction in Green House Gases in order to be eligible for financial support. Industry welcomes this measure, which will drive 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 campaign launches with the support of Energy Minister Charles Hendry MP, who commented:

“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.”

“The UK industry has been at the forefront in ensuring biomass electricity is sustainable and that it delivers real greenhouse gas savings. The very clear sustainability criteria we now have in place will mean we know where biomass has come from and how it has been grown.”

The campaign aims to raise awareness of biomass as a practical, sustainable, renewable part of the UK energy mix. It calls on the Government to create the certainty industry needs to invest, in order to help achieve the targets set out in the Government’s Renewables Roadmap.

Gaynor Hartnell, Chief Executive of the REA, said about the campaign:

“It is highly significant that the Government has just increased its ambition for power generation from biomass. There are a number of large projects in development that would produce very cost-effective renewable electricity and can deliver steady baseload power. Their contribution towards our legally-binding renewables target is essential. They had been delayed by a policy glitch, but the new Government swiftly resolved this. Provided support levels are maintained in the forthcoming banding review, Government can look forward to these plants making their contribution towards meeting the UK’s targets.”