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Back Biomass statement on Biofuelwatch report “Biomass: The Chain of Destruction”



This Biofuelwatch ‘report’ appears to be intentionally misleading in its misrepresentation of the biomass sector in the UK.


Despite claiming to present an overview on the UK’s biomass sector and its supply chains, the report fails to mention the words “Sustainability Criteria” even once. The Sustainability Criteria form key a regulatory mechanism for the sector.


Other NGOs are already entering into a process of dialogue to make sure these Criteria establish the effective, workable safeguards for which they were designed. Biofuelwatch refuses to countenance a biomass sector that provides sustainable, low-carbon, renewable energy.


Highly regulated


Like any other renewable energy source, biomass can be managed either poorly or responsibly. The Sustainability Criteria, adopted by the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change in 2011 and updated in 2013, have been established to address legitimate concerns about the regulation of the sector’s international supply chains. They, alongside other regulations and policies,  take into consideration a range of important issues, including:


  • the origins of feedstock;
  • the land uses of feedstock sources;
  • the impact of feedstock on ecosystems, food supplies and communities;
  • the rate at which woody biomass is harvested compared to its growth in the source forest;
  • the extent of any change in land use related to the sector;
  • the carbon emissions of the storage, processing and transportation of the feedstock.

Other elements of the biomass industry, such as the creation of new biomass facilities, are regulated through the Environment Agency and its planning system in the same way as any comparable facility.




The report repeatedly claims that biomass receives ‘generous subsidies’. In fact, biomass receives the second lowest level of renewables subsidy. Under the Contracts for Difference framework, conversion biomass has one of the lowest draft strike prices and is part of a suite of renewable technologies which, taken together, are cheaper and quicker to build than some non-renewable low carbon options. Biomass provides critical, reliable baseload power that complements intermittent renewable technologies in a cost-effective way.


By making use of existing infrastructure, the biomass sector is one of the most cost-effective parts of the renewable energy industry, requiring less assistance from UK taxpayers and helping to lower electricity bills.


In summary, this report demonstrates Biofuelwatch’s agenda and strategy. They use partial understanding of forest management techniques and forest economics, ignore key pieces of the regulatory system and totally misrepresent the UK’s biomass sector.