UK generators using biomass in their power stations face tough new sustainability guidelines and a cut in support under the Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme.
The government outlined proposals on Friday that include requirements for wood fuel to come from sustainably managed forests and pathways to reduce the carbon intensity of biomass generation.
Meanwhile, the proposals would also see support for co-firing with biomass reduced to 0.3 ROCs (Renewables Obligation Certificates) per MWh and a cap placed on the suppliers meeting their renewables obligations through dedicated new biomass plants.
The use of biomass for electricity and heat generation has been somewhat controversial with concerns that wood fuel could be imported from nonsustainable sources.
Currently, bioenergy accounts for some 13 TWh of generation (or 3 GW capacity) out of a total 34 TWh (or 12 GW) renewable capacity.
Under the RO, solid biomass and biogas already have to report against sustainability criteria such as minimum lifecycle greenhouse gas emission savings and land use.
The new proposals will tighten these regulations from 2013 for dedicated biomass facilities and introduce new requirements that would apply until 2020.
“Biomass has the potential to provide a significant amount of renewable electricity in this decade and beyond,” commented Energy Secretary Ed Davey. “These proposals make clear our commitment to ensuring that the use of biomass power is sustainable both for the environment, and for the consumer.”
The proposals are now open for consultation, with comments on support for biomass under the RO open until October 19 and on the sustainability criteria until November 30.
For further information:
UK government cuts subsidies for large solar projects (10-Sept)
E.ON gets go ahead for 150 MW biomass plant in Bristol (13-Mar)
Drax drops plans for new UK biomass plants (23-Feb)
10 September 2012