By Linda Taylor, Group Marketing Director
Bioenergy is the little-known leader of British renewables. That was the declaration made by the REA following the first instalment of its Bioenergy Strategy Review. Six years after the Government’s last Bioenergy Strategy this report tells us that much has changed. Bioenergy has become far more cost-effective, it has developed an established portfolio of technologies and it also now benefits from comprehensive sustainability management. This has led to bioenergy becoming the largest contributing renewable technology in the UK, providing 7.4% of primary energy supply.
I have been fortunate enough to represent AMP Clean Energy and sit on the Oversight Panel of this important industry-led review. It has been hugely encouraging to see industry unite behind a common goal and looking around the table at our meetings, bioenergy certainly represents a broad church. From the NFU, to Drax, Enviva, to Supergen Bioenergy Hub amongst others, our discussions demonstrated the impact bioenergy now makes across the heat, transport and power sectors.
In terms of AMP Clean Energy, our contribution has centred around biomass heat, being the market leading wood fuel supplier in the UK. Bioenergy now provides around 4% of UK heat, and, according to the report, well-established technologies such as biomass boilers provide the ‘lowest cost renewables option’.
Biomass heat has been the most successful technology under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) for decarbonising the public sector, agriculture, leisure, schools and academies as well as care homes. In the agricultural sector, biomass use for heating has grown considerably in the last ten years and now makes up 35% of energy use.
The biomass heat industry has flourished under a supportive legislative environment, but current policy uncertainty is leading to investor inertia. With the RHI due to close to new applicants in 2021, we risk undermining the expertise and supply chains that have been built up over the last ten years.
For my part, I want to spread the message about the benefits of bioenergy to UK heat decarbonisation, far and wide. The next report in the review will tell us what the future potential of bioenergy is across heat, transport and power. In the case of heat, it is already clear that bioenergy could be the lifeline the UK Government needs if it is to stand any chance of meeting its renewable heat targets.
To read the REA’s first report in its Bioenergy Strategy Review visit: