UK seeks comments on role of biomass in achieving net-zero goal

By Erin Voegele | April 20, 2021

The U.K. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on April 20 opened a public consultation seeking evidence on how sustainable biomass should be sourced and used to support the country’s net-zero target. Comments filed during the consultation period will inform the development of the U.K.’s upcoming biomass strategy.

According to the BEIS, information provided by stakeholders will support a review of the amount of sustainable biomass available to the U.K., and how the resource can be best utilized across the economy and in different end uses, considering existing and future demand, to support the U.K.’s net-zero target. Evidence gathered during the consultation will also inform an assessment of the country’s current biomass sustainability standards.

“This assessment will consider the risks and opportunities provided by biomass in delivering our wider environmental targets, including on biodiversity, air quality and water,” said the BEIS in the consultation documents. “This Call for Evidence will also inform our considerations on the role of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage in reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the economy, and if and how the technology could be deployed.”

The BEIS is specifically seeking evidence on the availability of sustainable biomass from domestic and international sources; potential end uses to support the net-zero target in context of availability of sustainable biomass feedstocks; the sustainability of the supply chain and opportunities for strengthening existing criteria; accounting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from biomass use; bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) technology and its potential applications to deliver negative emissions; and opportunities for innovation to support wider deployment of technologies with potential to support the net-zero goal.

The U.K. Renewable Energy Association issued a statement welcoming the government’s biomass strategy call for evidence. Bioenergy is already the largest contributor to renewable energy production across the U.K.’s heat, power and transport sectors, said the REA, noting that the government’s commitment to developing an up-to-date strategy is crucial to realizing the energy transition.

“The REA warmly welcomes the publication of the government’s biomass strategy call for evidence,” said Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the REA. “Bioenergy is already the largest contributor to renewable energy production across the U.K.’s heat, power and transport sectors and government’s commitment to developing an up-to-date strategy is of great importance to realizing the energy transition.  In 2019, the REA Bioenergy Strategy demonstrated that 16 percent of primary energy demand could be sustainability met through bioenergy use. As such, this announcement recognizes that bioenergy is an essential component for getting to net zero emissions by 2050.

“As a starting point, government must consider the range of existing bioenergy skills, supply chains and technologies already present in the U.K. across heat, transport and power,” she continued. “Strategically important innovations, like bioenergy carbon capture and storage, will be delivered by building on the U.K.’s world leading biomass sectors and adhering to strict science-led sustainability governance. Such developments require the market to direct how biomass is best used, delivering both immediate and future carbon reductions.

“The REA look forward to working closely with BEIS throughout the development of the biomass strategy, highlighting how the industry will play its part in the successful decarbonization of the U.K. energy system,” Skorupska added.

The public consultation is open through June 15. Additional information is available on the BEIS website