U.K. Biomass Directory: current energy goals are achievable

By Anna Austin | December 12, 2011

The second annual U.K. Biomass Directory has been released, and it indicates that the country is in line to meet its goal of producing 10 percent of its energy with biomass by 2050.

The 332-page directory was compiled by U.K. bioenergy information provider Enagri, and lists every operating and proposed biomass plant in the country, as well as capacity information, feedstock data, development costs and timelines for more than 200 projects. It also scores them according to the technology used and the project’s development and financial status, to determine the likeliness of success. 

Richard Crowhurst, editor of the directory and Enagri’s managing director, said despite setbacks and delays, the new edition of the directory shows a healthy number of new projects coming forward. “There have also been more developments in terms of project financing and consenting in the last six months than the last eighteen, so we are starting to see some movement and investor confidence,” he said.

While development until 2015 looks fairly robust, there is not a lot of proposed activity between 2015 and 2020. Crowhurst said he thinks that may be due to uncertainty of what might be in store after the Renewables Obligation.

The RO places an obligation on licensed electricity suppliers in the U.K. to source an increasing proportion of electricity from renewable sources, similar to a renewable portfolio standard in the U.S. Banding levels from 2013-2017 are not yet final, however, as the U.K.. Department of Energy & Climate Change released its proposal in October and is in the midst of a consultation period that ends Jan. 12. (Click here for more).

The uncertainty is something that could prevent the U.K. from achieving its long-term goals, from Crowhurst’s perspective. “This will need to be addressed if we are to meet our 2020 and 2050 targets for renewable energy and carbon emission reduction,” he said. “Much of this capacity is also reliant on the total conversion of coal-fired power stations which may be unfeasible for a number of reasons.”

The directory notes that it has been eighteen months since Enagri published its first Biomass Directory, and for a brief comparison, the 2011 directory finds that a number of new developments have been announced or proposed since then, and also that a number of larger projects have received consent under Section 36 of the Electricity Act. Many projects that have been proposed for several years, however, have yet to reach financial close or to begin construction.

Another key finding highlighted by Enagri is that the U.K. has the potential to generate 130 terawatt hours of electricity from biomass by 2020, and would annually require about 50 million metric tons (55 million tons) of biomass. From that activity, about 5,500 full time jobs could be created by 2020, with just as many created in support and associated roles.

The U.K. Biomass Directory can be purchased here.

The 2012 Biomass Industry Directory, published by BBI International, will be available soon, also. It includes a comprehensive list of biomass industry suppliers, producers, researchers and government agencies available across the world. A complimentary copy is sent to Biomass Power & Thermal subscribers. Click here to sign up for a free subscription.