UK biomass standards give stability to 2027
August 22, 2013, London - The UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has released sustainability requirements for power generation using biomass that it says will provide clear targets and investor stability through 2027.
By Scott Jamieson
Biomass electricity will have to show over 70 per cent greenhouse gas savings
compared to fossil fuel alternatives, under changes made by the
government to ensure the sustainability of wood-fuel used to create
From April 2015, the biomass industry – which is worth over £1bn in
new investment and supports over 3,000 jobs – will be required to
demonstrate their fuel is sustainable or lose financial support.
Greg Barker, Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, said:
“The Coalition is committed to delivering clean, affordable and secure energy for consumers. This includes an important role for biomass power as part of the UK’s energy mix. The new criteria will provide the necessary investor certainty and,
crucially, ensure that the biomass is delivered in a transparent and
The tough new criteria for sustainable forest management are based on a range of issues such as:
- sustainable harvesting rates,
- biodiversity protection and
- land use rights for indigenous populations.
Organisations that do not comply with the new requirements could see financial support withheld.
All generators of 1 Megawatt (MW) capacity or more using solid
biomass or biogas feedstock will be required to demonstrate that they
are meeting the criteria in order to claim support under the Renewables
Obligation. This would cover around 98 per cent of all biomass power generation
in the UK.
DECC adds that they are also introducing a new requirement for generators of 1MW
capacity and above to provide an independent sustainability audit with
their annual sustainability report. They added that the announcement will help bring forward transitional biomass
technologies such as coal to biomass conversions, which they see as one of the
quickest and most cost effective ways to help decarbonise the UK’s
Finally, to provide the certainty that investors and developers need, DECC says there
will be no further unilateral changes to the sustainability criteria
before April 2027. The department added the following points as background to the new guidelines.
- By 2020 biomass generators of 1MW and above will have to meet a 200
kg CO2eq per MWh annual target (72% saving compared to the EU fossil
fuel electricity average). This reduces further to a 180 kg CO2eq per
MWh from 2025 (75% saving compared to the EU fossil fuel electricity
average). A threshold of 1MW and above covers around 98% of biomass
- The other 2% (those with a capacity between 50kW and 1MW) will be
required to report against the criteria, but not to comply with it.
Microgeneration (under 50kW) are not included in the scope.
- Biomass is expected to make a significant contribution to
delivering the UK’s 2020 renewable energy target. Around 38% of our
renewable electricity comes from bioenergy.
- Sustainable forest management criteria will be based on the Government’s UK Timber Procurement Policy Principles
- Mandatory sustainability criteria have already been introduced to
the RO for bioliquids as required by the EU Renewable Energy Directive
- We have introduced a cap of 400MW on the total new-build dedicated
biomass capacity (excludes biomass with CHP and coal to biomass
conversions) that can expect grandfathered support under the RO. We are
using a notification process to allocate places within the cap. This is now open for applications for priority projects (that reached financial close by 20 August). Other projects will be able to apply from 11 September onwards.