Sustainability Criteria for Biomass in UK
By Anne Lewis-Schneider
The biomass industry in the UK is estimated to be worth more than £1 billion. New criteria for this sustainable renewable energy supply have been put in place by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), which will come into effect in April of 2015. That time has been set as a deadline for firms to prove that the fuel is sustainable in the long run according to very stringent criteria changes. The industry is said to have created more than 3,000 jobs to date. According to the DECC 38% of the renewable energy supply in the UK is from biomass woody fuels and companies will have to prove this sustainability or lose the financial support they currently receive.
Sustainability has to be proved by the biomass technology sector and renewable energy suppliers have to meet targets set by DECC, and hopes are that these new regulations will produce a saving of more than 70% in greenhouse gasses when compared to that of fossil fuel energy generation.
This is hoped to bolster investor stability and make sure that biomass is delivered in a sustainable manner. This new ruling sets the target for biomass generators that are 1MW and larger to meet targets of 200kg of carbon emissions permitted per MWh by 2020 and a further drop to 180kg by 2025.
The Renewable Energy Association (REA) has welcomed the new targets saying that it will ensure that only strong ecologically sound projects with high carbon emission savings can expect support from the Renewables Obligation forum. REA has welcomed these steps to ensure that the best environmental practices are ensured in the future usage of biomass fuels for generating heat and electricity.
Any new biomass plants that are commissioned will have to supply both heat and energy, according to REA chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska, to be eligible for relief from Renewables Obligation. She went on to say that that is all well and good for plants that have an outlet for both heat and energy, but that there is not always a need for the heat-load that is generated in certain areas. Combined heat and power is indeed a desirable use of biomass resources but is not always practical. REA is of the opinion that government will regret its decision to limit growth to plants that only supply both energy sources.
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