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Click Green: UK is "light years" behind Europe on renewable energy targets


The UK is “light years” behind Europe in the race to hit renewable energy targets according to a leading expert in biomass fuel.

Dr Sacha Oberweis from Stafford University made the comment ahead of a a series of seminars and workshops on biomass fuel quality and emission testing as part of the ARBOR project launched by the University last year.

The project, a £6 million European funded initiative involving organisations from UK, Ireland, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Belgium, aims to accelerate development and use of biomass fuel in North West Europe.

The project will be profiled as part of SI2 event taking place on March 28, where Staffordshire business community are being invited to visit the University's Stafford campus and find out more about existing projects and innovative work with companies.

“We are light-years behind countries such as Germany and the Netherlands. We rely on imported energy sources and there is a clear potential for the use of Biomass and sustainable alternatives,” Dr Oberweis said.

“Innovative pilot projects will help both, the implementation of biomass as a viable energy source and to meet the goals set by the National Renewable Energy Action Plans for renewable energy by 2020.”

Under this action plan, 20 per cent of all Europe’s energy consumption must be from a renewable source - in the UK this means an increase from 2.9 percent in 2010 to 14.2% by 2020.

To help combat this deficit, a wood gasification plant and a sawdust burner have been approved for manufacturing in Stoke-on-Trent, with current university students looking at possible design improvements as part of their final year Engineering design project.

“Stoke-on-Trent has the largest number of municipal parks in all of Europe, currently the green cuttings from these parks are not being used to their full potential,” the expert added. “This waste could be turned into a reliable source of energy far greater than wind or solar which is more expensive and reliant on certain weather conditions.”

The ARBOR project has supported the establishment of a European Centre of Excellence for Biomass Trigeneration based at Staffordshire University, which will look to implement innovative approaches from across Europe.

“This centre will be a major step forward by the UK in bringing a closer focus on the role of biomass as a key source of renewable energy,” Dr Oberweis added.

“The belief that Biomass energy would lead to deforestation of woodlands and energy crops replacing food crops is wrong, this centre will highlight to policy makers and the wider public what is possible from using only waste green material.”

A feasibility study is being undertaken to determine the most suitable site for a biomass wood combustion boiler in Stoke-on-Trent.