UK takes action to ensure adequate supply of wood pellets for RHI

By Erin Voegele | October 26, 2022

The U.K. government on Oct. 25 announced it will implement a 12-month suspension of certain fuel quality requirements for domestic and non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme participants using wood pellets to help ensure adequate fuel supplies this winter.

The U.K. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on Aug. 22 opened a public consultation on its proposal to temporarily suspend certain fuel quality requirements for RHI participants using wood pellets. The suspension aims to ensure adequate wood pellet supplies following supply disruptions associated with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

As of April 1, 2022, wood fuel used by participants in the non-domestic RHI (NDRHI) and domestic RHI (DRHI) must meet certain standards designed to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions of harmful air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. For the purposes of its Aug. 22 notice, the U.K. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said was referring specifically to the requirement that all wood pellets used by RHI participants meet the ENplus A1 standard, or an equivalent.

Imports of wood pellets from Russia and Belarus to the EU and U.K. was suspended in April 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The U.K. officially banned the importation of wood pellets from both countries on June 23, 2022.

The BEIS estimates that up to 40 percent of the ENplus pellets used in the U.K are imported from Russia and Balarus. The agency said it recognizes that the suspension of wood pellets imported from these countries is likely to impact the availability and price of wood pellets in the coming months and through the winter of 2022-2023.

According to the BEIS, it received 52 responses to the public consultation, which was open Aug. 22 through Sept. 11. The agency said most respondents expressed overall support for the proposal to temporarily suspend the fuel quality requirement for RHI participants using wood pellets. While the use of non-ENPlus pellets could have some short-term negative impact on fuel efficiency and air quality in some cases, the BEIS said those impacts have been deemed as acceptable so that homes heated by biomass do not experience significant price rises or a lack of fuel supply this winter. The BEIS also noted the 12-month suspension could be extended in the future.

Additional information is available on the BEIS website