Bioenergy industry calls for targets on renewable heat generation

The British bioenergy industry has hit out at the Government's draft climate change policy, saying it does not properly support the use of renewable energy for heating and combined heat and power (CHP) generation.


Despite the fact that bioenergy is predicted to make up 81% of new energy capacity developed between 1995 and 2010, the bioenergy industry’s trade association says the UK Government has so far failed to support renewable energy for heating and CHP.

Instead, it has concentrated on promoting energy efficient technologies and on supporting the development of grid-supply renewable electricity generation capacity.

In a response to the Climate Change Draft UK Programme, British BioGen (BB) also says biomass recycled from the waste stream must be adopted in the European Renewables Directive’s definition of renewables. However, it welcomes the exclusion of landfill gas and mass burn energy from the definition.

The draft climate change policy, which was published in March, would require the UK to reduce its greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions by 20% on 1990 levels by 2010, significantly more than the 12.5% reduction required by the Kyoto Protocol (see related story).

Other proposals contained in the Government strategy include increasing market share of renewable energy to 10%, doubling the capacity for combined heat and power generation (CHP) by 2010, a tax on energy use by business, known as the Climate Change Levy (CCL), emissions trading on domestic and EU level, and a number of energy efficiency targets.

BB says the Government should alter its energy policy to reflect the bioenergy industry’s ability to deliver “secure, diverse and sustainable supplies of electricity.”

To do this, the Government should not just set targets for renewables based on electricity, but also set targets for other energy sectors, such as heat. BB argues that biomass is the largest single renewable energy market. Targets for heat would show, says BB, that the Government is serious about supporting the whole renewables industry fairly.

BB proposes that the Government:

  • set targets for biomass heating and CHP penetration in institutional, commercial and domestic markets
  • reduce VAT on certified domestic biomass heating appliances to 5%
  • support a system to certify biomass heat equipment, installations and fuel supply
  • purchase a large tranche of biomass heat carbon credits to get the carbon offset market going
  • support major biomass heating information campaigns
  • invest in R&D for biomass heating and CHP and cooling

BB also says it is disappointed to see that the UK’s target of 10% renewable electricity is the third lowest in Europe. It therefore urges the Government to ensure that this target is made legally binding.

Further direct market stimulation is also required, says BB. Under the 10% obligation agreement, project developers will need 5.5 – 6p per KWh to enable them to build bioenergy projects. At present, the scheme has a price cap of 2p per KWh. BB therefore supports the proposal that the DTI fund the next phase of projects using money from the CCL (see related story), but says that the £50 million available annually is unlikely to be sufficient.

Other points made in BB’s response to the Draft Climate Change Programme include:

  • BB has approached the DETR for funding to help establish a trading system for carbon credits generated by a biomass heating installation. BB believes carbon credits produced from bioenergy could cost less than £5 per tonne CO2
  • the Waste Strategy should ensure that more waste wood is recycled to produce a fuel for domestic or commercial renewable heating.
  • BB calls for the Government to promote biomass heating at the domestic level. At the moment, says BB, the Government has no plans within the Climate strategy to do so
  • Government departments, with the exception of MAFF, could do more to develop the market for energy crops, says BB
  • the public sector could play a more important role in the promotion of renewables. This should not just be in the form of targets for electricity, but for all aspects of the renewable market. Clusters of public sector buildings and installations that use renewable heat and power generation could make other commercial and domestic buildings to switch from conventional sources, especially in rural areas

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