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UK Biomass Industry ‘far exceeding’ sustainability standards

In conjunction with fellow industry specialists, Hoval, Land Energy, and Verdo Renewables, CPL Renewables has written a paper entitled ‘Delivering the UK’s renewable heat objectives through wood fuel’. The paper addresses concerns raised primarily by environmental groups that the governments sustainability standards are weak, and do not account for emissions produced during the removal of timber from forests, the manufacturing of biomass, and the fuel used during transportation.

Tim Minett, chief executive of CPL said “It is natural for there to be a level of scrutiny about the relative impacts of any renewable technology, and biomass is no exception. As an industry we have responded to this by compiling real data from across the supply chain to show that biomass actually produces relatively low levels of carbon compared to other technologies.”

Government sustainability standards currently require that a biomass boiler produces 60% less greenhouse gas emissions compared with the EU fossil fuel heat average. The emissions target will then be raised to a 72% saving from 2020, and a 75% saving from 2025. CPL and fellow authors have calculated that they already save 80-90% in carbon emissions compared to oil, well exceeding these targets.

The authors also back the requests of environmental groups for the government to conduct further analysis on the indirect impact that biomass can have on land use change. As the report says “A strong case has been made that changes in land use and alternative uses for biomass material can have an emissions impact and this has not been included within existing sustainability methodology.”  

The supporters of this paper agree that further analysis of the emissions from bio energy is welcome and support the DECC’s work in investigating issues such as carbon debt and land use change. These factors may need to be taken into account in the future to ensure sustainability standards keep pace with scientific understanding. 

Click here to view ‘Delivering the UK’s renewable heat objectives through wood fuel'.