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Back Biomass News Bulletin


Back Biomass News Bulletin - 11 March 2013



In Brief

  •  Industry alert on Energy Bill
  • Clearing up confusion between biomass and biofuels
  • Recent news and announcements
  • Policy update on Renewable Heat Incentive
  • Biomass industry meets Energy Minister
  • Publications and Back Biomass material

Industry alert on Energy Bill


We now understand that the next stage of the Energy Bill (Report Stage) will be after Easter, on the week commencing either 15th, 22nd, or 29th April. The second day of Report stage is likely to take place after the Queen's Speech, which is on Wednesday 8th May.  The Bill, designed to kick start investment in low carbon infrastructure, is crucial for the industry but risks being hijacked by anti-biomass lobbying. You may be aware of some amendments tabled to the Bill last week which would greatly restrict the operation of biomass plants over 15MW.

If these were passed, it would mean a number of new plants could not be built - a terrible outcome for our economy and our energy future. Biomass power and combined heat and power is a cost-effective, reliable, rapidly deployable renewable technology – one of very few options available to the UK to shore up capacity in the run up to Ofgem’s predicted 2015 capacity crunch. 

We encourage you to find your local MP and urge them not to support attempts in Parliament to undermine the biomass sector at this crucial time for jobs, growth and energy security.
Clearing up confusion on biomass and biofuels

An article by Roger Harrabin (BBC News) and a piece on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on 6 March discussed the role of biofuels, headlined that MPs are “due to decide on Wednesday whether to accept controversial plans for new subsidies to burn trees and plants in UK power stations”

The Back Biomass campaign issued a response to this. We made the point that there was "no dramatic” new change in policy, nor was it a major event in the parliamentary process. Rather, MPs were considering amendments to the Renewables Obligation (Amendment) Order which happens regularly (following robust consultation) to adjust support levels for various renewable technologies. 
The Government also introduced a 4% supplier cap on bioliquids, putting an entirely new limit in place to restrict the biofuels that NGOs are worried about. However, the coverage included some obvious, and basic, confusion between fuels made from vegetable oils such as palm oil, and solid biomass.  These are very different and should not be confused.

Recent news and announcements

In recent good news for the industry, it was announced last week that Drax’s £225m project to convert its coal-fired power station into a biomass plant is to receive a Government guarantee; while on 23 February Thurrock Council’s planning committee confirmed it has given plans to upgrade Tilbury Power Station the green light. Please check out the newsroom section of our website for the latest developments in the biomass sector.

Policy update on RHI

Last week the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published its response to a consultation on Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) put out in July last year. It proposes that the tariff subsidies for a range of technologies, including biomass installations, should change but does not indicate what the new levels should be (DECC has committed to consult on proposed changes in “the Spring” ). Any uncertainty on tariffs is extremely unwelcome. We are calling for DECC to resolve this as soon as possible.
However, on the positive side, the document confirms that the new Sustainability Criteria (which guarantees minimum greenhouse gas emissions savings) will apply to all RHI installations. There will be two main routes to comply: 1) declarations at the time, backed up by an annual report and 2) use of fuel from a registered supplier list. The Government hopes to introduce the GHG criteria by April 2014.

Biomass Industry meets Energy Minister

At a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Biomass on Tuesday 26th February, Energy Minister John Hayes MP presented a positive stance on biomass on behalf of the Government. He asserted that “bioenergy must be a central part of the country’s renewable energy offer” and gave a strong endorsement of biomass, describing it as one of the most “predictable and controllable renewables” able to boost energy security during times of tight margin. 

The Minister said bioenergy is central to the Government’s energy strategy, and that by 2020, 11% of the UK’s primary energy could come from bioenergy without a significant impact on food or the environment. Please find a more in-depth summary here - the next Biomass APPG meeting will be towards the end of April and will focus on the issue of the supply chain, so watch this space for more info!

Publications and Back Biomass Material

We are pleased to announce that we have updated our Mythbuster booklet, which now includes new sections on the role of biomass in complementing other wood product industries. Feel free to get in touch with us if you would like a hard copy at and we would be happy to send one to you. 

You can also follow the latest Back Biomass news by following us @BackBiomass. Please follow us and retweet to get our message out there! As always, please send us case studies and any examples which showcase the benefits of biomass.

Please download and share these key documents to show the benefits of biomass. If you have any great stories, do get in touch at and visit our website