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REA: Decarbonisation £44 billion more expensive without biomass says new Government report


The Back Biomass campaign welcomes the publication today of the Government’s Bioenergy Strategy which identifies a key role for biomass in the future low carbon energy mix.
As well as laying out a number of fundamental principles governing the deployment of bioenergy, the strategy asserts that that the exclusion of biomass from any plan to decarbonise the energy system would result in significantly higher costs to the taxpayer. Referencing recent analysis by the Energy Technology Institute, the Government believes this figure could be as high as £44 billion.
The Government takes a more bullish stance than the Climate Change Committee on the potential contribution of bioenergy to 2050 targets, holding that penetration levels of around 12% could be feasible without jeopardising sustainability. The Government also identifies bioenergy as the only renewable source that can be used across all three energy sectors: transport, heat and electricity.
The Back Biomass campaign particularly welcomes the Government’s overarching emphasis on the importance of sustainability, and the pro-active role it identifies in steering  sustainable development of bioenergy internationally as well as leading by example here in the UK. 
The Back Biomass campaign (and the biomass industry more broadly) have consistently supported the Government’s position on sustainability, welcoming the new Sustainability Criteria incoming from 2013. This legislation ensures that no biomass power generator above 1MW in size will be eligible for subsidy unless they can prove biomass feedstock was sourced sustainably (this excludes protected areas such as wetlands and primary forest) and results in a minimum 60% greenhouse gas saving compared to fossil fuels.
REA Chief Executive Gaynor Hartnell said:

Like the Government, the Back Biomass campaign firmly believes that biomass has an important role to play in providing renewable energy and other significant socio-economic benefits for the UK.

It is particularly good to see the Government making clear that ongoing work to make the industry more sustainable will be done in partnership with industry to ensure businesses can deliver these increased carbon savings in the most cost effective way possible.”
New projects announcements alongside PM’s speech
A speech by the Prime Minister today at the Clean Energy Ministerial Meeting in London not only reasserted his “passionate belief” and “pride” in the potential of the UK renewables industry, but also included a  number of energy announcements expected today. The Back Biomass campaign is delighted to welcome the two biomass developments referenced as clear evidence of green growth in action:

  • Helius Energy has announced that it is working with a club of banks to project finance its 100MW Avonmouth dedicated biomass project at the Port of Bristol. The project will cost around £300m to construct and will create approximately 450 full time jobs during the construction phase and 40 new full-time long-term operations jobs. Further jobs will be created in relation to the maintenance and supply of the plant.

  • ECO2 is expected to announce that construction will begin on the Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant within the next fortnight. Up to 250 people will be working on the site during construction of the 38MW straw fuelled biomass combined heat and power plant which is expected to employ up to 80 people when operational in 2014.