Canadian Biomass Magazine

Biomass could supply over a fifth of UK electricity

November 5, 2012
By Deloitte

November 5, 2012, London, UK – Biomass could contribute far more than the fifth of UK electricity it is expected to deliver by the end of the 2020s, according to a major new report by Deloitte.

The report argues that burning wood chips or pellets could play a significant role in meeting climate targets and improving UK energy security, allowing the biomass sector to comfortably meet or exceed the 21 per cent of electricity share it is expected to provide by 2030 under the UK government's Bioenergy Strategy.

It notes converting existing coal-fired plants to run on biomass can "provide attractive returns for investors" and be competitive with other renewable technologies, while providing reliable base-load power that may be lost as EU pollution laws force fossil fuel plants to close.

Companies including Drax, the UK's largest power plant, have been encouraged to make the switch to biomass after the government confirmed subsidies for converted coal plants and those co-firing biomass and coal under the Renewables Obligation scheme earlier this year.

However, the report warns that the success of the biomass sector rests on it being able to overcome a number of obstacles to investment, including regulatory uncertainty, feedstock availability, sustainability, and financing.

The report also warns that if the biomass industry is to have a major role in decarbonizing the UK power sector, then the sector needs a clear and consistent regulatory regime from government, which has yet to decide what level of subsidy biomass will receive in its forthcoming Energy Bill.

"As the amount of intermittent generation technologies in the UK's energy mix increases, flexible fuel sources that can provide stable and predictable electricity will become increasingly more valuable," said Dean Cook, UK sector leader for renewable energy at Deloitte. "Sustainably-sourced biomass could provide this stability.

"Biomass has the potential to help answer the UK's energy challenges. With many of its power stations being forced to shut down … the question is whether the UK would be missing an opportunity if it did not give biomass more consideration."

Click here to read the full report.

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