Biomass strategy empty of policies

The government’s long-awaited biomass strategy contains no new measures to promote biomass heat, in spite of admitting it is the best carbon-saving use of biomass.1

The UK strategy, published jointly by the Trade and Industry, Transport and Environment departments, was issued with the energy White Paper in May (see pp 40-42 ).

It was developed in response to the government’s biomass task force report (ENDS Report 370, pp 18-19 ), which urged the government to support biomass heat as it "comes in at a lower price per tonne than any other carbon saving".

This view was echoed by the House of Commons Environment Committee last year, which said there was an urgent need for "clear and quantifiable targets" for biomass heat (ENDS Report 381, p 52 ). Support for it should be increased to a level on a par with biofuels.

An economic analysis accompanying the biomass strategy ranks the different uses of biomass in terms of the cost of carbon saving.2 Biomass heat comes out on top with biofuels clearly at the bottom. However, the strategy dismisses the suggestion that "incentives should be reordered to reflect this".

"Such an interpretation would be overly simplistic," it says, "as it does not take into account the relative importance of biomass fuel sources in delivering climate change goals and targets. For example… transport biofuels are essential to carbon savings in the transport sector."

The strategy also calls for a "significant and substantial" increase in the use of biomass but does not offer any new measures to achieve this. The potential UK market is 8.3 million tonnes of oil equivalent.

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